8 Google 'Tricks' That Could Be Costing You Thousands Of Dollars

Google recently announced a 17% increase in revenue with $14.1 billion coming from the Google Adwords platform. With shareholders seeking constant increases in revenue Google has been streamlining and improving their platform to allow advertisers to quickly fine tune their campaigns. Along with the improvements of the platform there are a few default options and crafty techniques/tricks used that are good for Google but not so good for their advertisers. Here are the main things that you should immediately check and fix in your own campaigns to improve your ROI and potentially save you thousands.

Search With Display Selected

When creating a new campaign the default option for the type of campaign is ‘Search with Display Selected’, this type of campaign essentially means Google will show your ads both on the search keywords you pick and throughout the internet on websites in the Google Display network. From a conversion point of view the Display network significantly underperforms Search and as such should be created in a separate campaign allowing you to bid according to performance. Most new advertisers with small budgets should just use the Search network so it is important to change this setting to the ‘Search Network only’ and also pick ‘All Features’ to show all settings.

Googles default option when creating a new campaign is with the Display network on.

Googles default option when creating a new campaign is with the Display network on.

 

Letting Google Bid With No Limit

With pay-per-click networks, the key to a successful campaign is the ability to fine tune your bidding so that your cost per conversion is at a profitable level. The default bidding strategy when creating campaigns is allowing Google to ‘help’ by trying to maximise the number of clicks. What this means is that you have absolutely no limit on any of your keywords and Google can bid what they want. This may be good if your focus is clicks but from a conversion point of view this is not a recommended setting and manual bidding should be selected. In one case I have seen multiple advertisers on the same keyword who had this setting selected which sent bids (as optimised by Google) skyrocketing to over $60 per click – not a profitable bid level.

Googles default option is to allow them to set the bids, not a great idea if seeking an ROI positive campaign.

Googles default option is to allow them to set the bids, not a great idea. I recommend manual bidding.

 

Optimising Ads For Clicks

If you are focused on conversions (which you should be) then you will be writing ads to lower your costs, maximise your conversions and ultimately increase sales. Having multiple ads in each ad group is a must to improve the performance as it is impossible to tell exactly which ad copy will resonate best with your audience without thorough testing. The default option in Google Adwords when creating campaigns is ‘Optimise for Clicks’ which is even named as an ‘Ideal Setting’. This setting will show the ad which has the highest click through rate. Whilst this setting maximises the clicks you receive (and profits Google makes) the truth is that the highest clicked ad is not always the highest converting. For that reason it is extremely important to use one of the ‘Rotate’ settings which will actually split test your ads and allow you to make a decision on the most profitable ad.

Whilst it is 'Recommended' for advertisers the ad with the highest click through rate may not be your best performing. Rotating ads is best practice.

The ad with the highest click through rate may not be your best performing but is the default option. Rotating ads is best practice.

 

Relying On The Keywords Tab To Check Performance

Frequently when discussing Adwords with advertisers they point out the performance of certain keywords as dictated by the keywords tab. These ‘keywords’ however are closer to keyword groups than actual keywords (unless exact match has been used) and the stats are a compilation of a group of keywords. If not checking the actual search terms used and relying on the keywords tab a lot of low quality and poor keywords will be missed as you will only see the results based on the keywords you want to bid on, not the actual search term which generated the ad. It is important you constantly check the hard to find Search Term report regularly.

Most new advertisers assume that the stats they see under the Keyword tab are for those keywords, the truth however is found in the Search Term report.

Most new advertisers assume that the stats they see under the Keyword tab are for those keywords, the truth however is found in the Search Term report.

 

Adding Keywords With The Default Match Type

If you have found and are regularly using the Search Terms report you are far ahead of most advertisers and are likely using the reports to find new keywords to add to your campaign, or keywords which are low quality to add as a negative keyword. Once you have ticked the appropriate keyword you will notice that the match types are different when adding each type of keyword. Not surprisingly, these default options favour Google with positive keywords added as broad by default and negative keywords as exact. It is important you review these keywords and add them in the correct match type. You should almost always add the negative keyword on a campaign level as well not the default ad group level.

When adding new keywords or negative keywords the default options are broad and exact respectively, both not the best practice.

When adding new keywords or negative keywords the default options are broad and exact respectively, both not the best practice.

 

Advertising On Mobile Apps

There is no denying that the use of Tablets and Mobile devices is growing and showing no signs of stopping. With it has come a range of advertising options including ‘In App’ advertising, essentially this is an advertisement that pops up or is located in an App. Unfortunately these ads are currently renowned for being low quality, having a high incidence of accidental clicks (when playing games for example) and are generally not something most advertisers would want to spend money on initially. Luckily there is a way to turn In App ads off which will improve your Display & Remarketing campaigns significantly, check out the instructions here. If you want to experiment with In App advertising then go for it, I recommend however creating a new campaign with just that placement so you can control budgets and bidding more easily.

By default all display network campaign ads are shown on Ipad and Mobile apps which significantly underperform.

By default all display network campaign ads are shown on Ipad and Mobile apps which significantly underperform.

 

Advertising On Anonymous Display Sites

Annoyingly, Google allows some sites on the Display network to hide their URL from advertisers (or possibly Google chooses this in some cases). The reason a site would want to hide their URL in the first place is if they also offer their ad inventory through other networks for higher prices than Google real time bidding can achieve. If their current advertisers then start seeing this excess inventory available through Adwords for cheaper this would threaten the sites overall ad revenue. Whilst each site used to have a unique anonymous URL, recently these sites have been showing as one combined placement making optimisation of each anonymous placement impossible.Without the ability to optimise these websites as per a normal display campaign the performance can be a lot lower. For that reason I would recommend adding ‘anonymous.google’ as a negative placement. If you want to experiment with this traffic you should use a stand alone campaign which allows budgets and bidding control.

Google allows some websites in the display network show in a combined 'anonymous' placement which makes optimisation hard.

Google allows some websites in the display network show in a combined ‘anonymous’ placement which makes optimisation hard.

 

Remarketing to All Countries

Remarketing is one of the best new developments within Google Adwords in the past few years and consistently delivers a lower cost per conversion than the standard Display network. When you create a campaign the default geographic targeting option is ‘All Countries & Territories’ which for most advertisers will include a sample of website visitors who are not in their target market. You may think that people from overseas are not visiting your website so this setting doesn’t matter, but even for the most niche local businesses I have seen huge amounts spent on overseas website visitors who have no chance of converting. Immediately after creating a remarketing campaign I recommend changing this setting to the main geographic target. If you want to target multiple countries it is best to utilise an individual campaign per country allowing budget and bidding control.

The default option with remarketing campaigns is targeting all countries, despite the fact you may only service customers in your own country.

The default option with remarketing campaigns is targeting all countries, despite the fact you may only service customers in your own country.

 

There are likely many more setting mistakes you are making with your Adwords campaign so it is important to always review your campaigns performance, keep up-to-date on the latest changes to the platform and more importantly take ‘Recommended’ settings with a grain of salt and review each and every setting to find the optimal choice. If you have spotted any other tricks that advertisers new and old should look out for please add this into the comments.

Duncan Jones

About The Author - Duncan Jones

I am a growth marketing specialist from New Zealand and im passionate about growing businesses through creative and performance focused digital marketing. I insist on tracking everything, follow a proven growth process that i've created and I still love the thrill of getting a first conversion then optimising & scaling the campaigns for clients across a huge range of industries. You can find me on LinkedIn here, find out how to hire me here or you can contact me here.

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