Advertising is hard. It's as much an art as a science (and usually an inexact science).
Google Search Ads are tough to get right: getting impressions, getting clicks, getting enough clicks, writing and testing good copy, optimizing campaigns – there’s a lot of potential for mistakes.
This article discusses these possible pitfalls and how to prevent them.
Here are 8 ways good Google Ads go bad, based on our team’s real experiences working in a digital marketing agency.
If you're looking for a partner for your digital marketing efforts, get started with us today!
Table of Contents
- Website Out of Date
- Poor Landing Pages
- Search Ads in Categories with Little Awareness
- Using an SEO Strategy in Paid Search
- Bland Copy
- Repetitive Copy
- The Wrong Offer
- Lack of Tailoring
8 Ways Good Google Ads Go Bad
1. Website Out of Date
Does your website still look like this?
The 1996 website for the movie SpaceJam can be accessed here: https://www.spacejam.com/1996/
If it does, it would be worth updating to more modern standards before you start running Google Ads.
The best ad can still underperform if your website and landing page look out-of-date or confusing.
Your website often gives potential customers their first impression of your company – you should look well put together and professional!
Templates from services like Squarespace and Wix are a great place to start if you need something affordable and modern, but aren’t so design-inclined.
2. Poor Landing Pages
Related to website design, make sure your landing page (the page users will see after they click your ad) is clear, concise, and informative.
A Good Hero Section
You should have a hero section - a picture of your product or service with a clear call to action (CTA) beside it. More on the CTA later.
You should also include plenty of relevant information about your product or service and what makes you different from your competitors.
Ideally, your landing page should also be designed specifically for your ad.
While homepages are tempting to use as landing pages, we strongly recommend building a landing page tailored to the advertisement, with a clear path to conversion.
Google prefers this, too, and will rate a landing page that matches your ad and ad copy as more relevant than one that doesn’t. This increased relevance should lead to your ad getting more impressions, more clicks, and (hopefully) more conversions.
Calls To Action
As for your CTA – you should develop a path to conversion, then make the next step (or steps) for leads clear: phone numbers they can call, places to message representatives, a big button with an unambiguous action, like “Sign Up.”
Leads click on your ad because it answers their question; if they reach a landing page that confuses them, they’ll probably go somewhere else.
E-Commerce Landing Page CTAs:
If your ad is promoting a specific product, make that next step obvious with a good call to action like:
- Request a Demo
- Buy Now
- Sign Up for the Waitlist
A very simple hero section layout example
Lead Gen Landing Page CTAs:
Make your lead submission form prominent at the top of the page, and include plenty of details about what you offer and what distinguishes you from your competitors in the sections below it.
Collect necessary details in the fields of your lead form - you don't want it to be too long or too short
It’s important to include your CTA at the top of the page – rather than only including it at the bottom of the page – because users don’t always make it to the bottom of the page. It also tells them up front what their next step with you should be.
3. Search Ads in Categories with Little Awareness
Sometimes we get asked to put together Google ads that serve a purpose akin to billboards: Ads informing users about a new product or service. Problems arise if these "billboards" are going up in categories few people are searching for in the first place.
It’s understandable and intuitive to assume all advertising channels are alike. The problem is that they are not, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
When it comes to an advertisement on a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP), a person has to search for something related to your product to see it. That is a challenge when your product is new or in a little-known category with an underdeveloped market.
People, unfortunately, do not type the exact action you want them to complete into the search bar. You need to do proper keyword research and meet people where they are, then introduce them to other marketing materials once you’ve earned their attention.
Remember, Google Ads is an inbound channel. They work best to reach people who are:
- Already in the market for what you offer
- In the market for you specifically
If you want to reach new people who have no idea who you are or what you offer, you’re going to need to choose more disruptive outbound channels (like streaming ads or social media advertising).
These are channels that show your ad to people who, for better or worse, aren’t looking for it at the exact moment they see it.
This can help:
- Build awareness for your category
- Build awareness of your brand
- Push a promotion
- Acquire initial customers and generate word of mouth
Beware of Bidding on Tangentially Related Keywords in Google Ads
Trying to introduce your product through adjacent or slightly related search terms is likely to receive suboptimal performance; this is because Google wants to match users with highly relevant ads and landing pages.
If Google doesn’t think your landing page will give users what they’re looking for, Google won’t show it.
Example: If you sell a new type of chair, and you want to advertise it on searches for “sofas,” Google probably won’t serve your ad as often as ads for sofas.
Because people looking for sofas want sofas, and a very small percentage of them are going to change their mind based on an ad alone.
It’s better to use a mix of organic and paid channels demo-ing and building demand for new products, then running ads on searches related to it once people are looking for it or products like it.
4. Using an SEO Strategy in Paid Search
This is tricky because there is a crossover in thinking between SEO and paid search: you want to do keyword research and create content tailored to common searches with both.
The key difference between SEO and paid search is need:
In SEO, you want users to take action once they’ve come to your website.
In paid search, you need it.
That’s why content for SEO should be more focused on answering general questions and being a resource for users that builds a relationship over time.
With paid search, your entire landing page will be optimized around getting a return on your investment: nice pictures and ad copy about what makes your product the best, and why this user should take their next step with you now.
Paid search should generally focus on people ready or very close to ready to make a purchase, and landing pages in paid search are generally going to be more focused on your business and your product rather than answering general user questions.
If a lead can’t become a customer immediately and give you a return on your investment, they should be taken as close as possible: a meeting scheduled, or contact details provided for a sales representative to follow up with.
You want to begin nurturing your leads and building relationships with them quickly.
With this in mind: SEO (while not free) can often be a more affordable way to slowly build a relationship with a prospective customer who is not quite yet at the decision/purchasing stage of their journey.
If you are paying for someone to view your landing page, you should be reaching people willing to take a substantial next step.
5. Bland Copy
The language in your ad should be engaging and attention-grabbing – without being spammy or sounding like a scam. While this is a hard balance to achieve, sometimes advertisers are a bit too reserved with their approach.
Bland copy– like copy that just says your company name and the name of the product you’re offering – is probably not going to answer a user’s question or intrigue them.
Remember to keep your ideal customer in mind and speak to them directly. Capture their attention by answering their search query while also highlighting what makes your business stand out.
6. Repetitive Copy
Sometimes the copy within a Google Ad can be too repetitive, particularly when using Google’s Responsive Search Ads (RSA).
RSAs are great, and you should include lots of headlines for Google to mix and match when you use them! But it’s important to have enough variety, too.
We recommend not repeating adjectives across headlines.
We also recommend using pins to categorize types of headlines, and to ensure ones containing the same words or phrases don’t appear next to each other in the ad.
7. The Wrong Offer
Getting a lead’s contact information so that they can keep receiving marketing materials or be reached out to by a sales representative is a standard strategy in digital marketing.
Businesses will often offer something in exchange for their leads’ contact information, such as an informational brochure or a special discount.
This ties into making sure your conversion action is impactful and gets you closer to a return on investment – make sure you’re offering something substantial for both you and your lead, and try to have multiple points of conversion on the page (a phone number they can call or message, a live chat option, a lead form, etc.).
Sometimes there's too much focus on this special offer and not enough on the product or service you're selling; sometimes it's better to just show what you do and make the next step buying or booking an appointment.
8. Lack of Tailoring
Ad Groups are your friend in Google Ads.
Ads and landing pages should be split up and tailored to specific sets of keywords. This is where good keyword research is essential.
Below is a general example of how a hypothetical advertiser might structure their ads.
For keywords related to researching your product category, you might want to put together general ads about your solution that urge leads to request a demo or fill out a lead form.
For branded keyword searches, you might want to have an ad that very efficiently explains your product and asks for their contact details.
If people aren't sure where to buy your product, take them to a store page and include local options for pickup if available.
Google Ads are hard to do perfectly, but by avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be on the right track to well-optimized ads that generate leads and conversions and get great results for your business.
To get your Google Ads in top shape, just make sure:
- Your website looks modern
- Your landing pages are polished and tailored to your ads
- You’re reaching people looking for what you do
- You're optimizing for solid conversion actions that lead directly to a return on your investment
- Your copy isn’t too bland or repetitive
- You’re offering the right stuff
- Your ads are tailored to all the many things people are searching for.
Easy, right? Just kidding!
Proper Google Ads management is a lot of work that requires constant refinement.
Something you want a full team dedicated to? Look no further than Two Trees PPC!
Get a quote from us and start growing your business today.