PPC3 More Big PPC Mistakes Even Pros Make & How to Fix Them

3 More Big PPC Mistakes Even Pros Make & How to Fix Them

Mistakes aren’t bad … if you learn from them. Not even seasoned PPC professionals are perfect. Here’s hoping you can avoid these blunders involving geotargeting, keywords, and conversion and tracking – or fix any errors you’re guilty of.

oops-mistake-signMy last post talked about three big mistakes that PPC pros make, and how to fix them. Believe it or not, when I asked long-time PPC pros to share their biggest mistakes, there were more than I could fit in one column!

With that, here are the rest of the biggest PPC mistakes even the pros make, and how to fix them.

Geo-Targeting Mistakes

“Stupid things I’ve done: Made a state specific campaign, targeted a different (wrong) state.”

“Accidently targeted the entire U.S. instead of the small Texas city a dentist was in. Luckily I caught it after day 1!”

“Set up a campaign for a local appliance repair shop, forgot to set local geotargeting. Didn’t catch it until 3 days later and saw the first search query report. Wasted money.”

Geotargeting isn’t easy, especially in view of the recent launch of Enhanced Campaigns, which offers bid modifiers by location.


Like the example of the Texas dentist, I once ran a campaign with broad keywords that was supposed to be targeted to one city – targeted to the entire U.S. instead. I caught it a day later, but not before hundreds of dollars were spent on unqualified traffic.

How to avoid geo-targeting mistakes: Put some time into mapping out campaign structure before you even think about setting up the campaigns in the engines. With Enhanced Campaigns, you’ll have settings not only at the campaign level, but at the location adjustment level. Check the work of new hires before anything goes live to make sure the geo settings are correct. After the changes are live, check the settings again in the online interface to make sure everything is the way it should be. And check the campaigns the next day for any anomalies!

Keyword Mistakes

“I worked on setting up a medical industry account and didn’t check any of the ads for acronyms that double as drug names. The account never ran…”

“I added a list of negative keywords as positive keywords. Didn’t notice for 4 hours and spent a day’s budget in that time.”

“Month 3 on the job: set up bidding on competitor terms with dynamic keyword insertion on – in a highly brand-protective finance niche. Client, understandably, went ballistic.”

“Put “+2013” as a keyword in campaign with a budget of $1,000/day when modified broad match first came out. Client’s entire budget = $333/day. Didn’t catch it for a few days.”

“Added “keyword” as a keyword during bulk upload.”

The last one, infamously, was mine. I couldn’t figure out why our campaign spend quadrupled overnight, and it took me a few hours to discover that I’d added “keyword” as a keyword. People actually clicked on the ad like crazy!

With so many details to consider, like match types, dynamic keyword insertion, spelling, and other factors, it’s easy to slip up when adding keywords.

How to avoid keyword mistakes: Run your “off the cuff” keyword ideas through a keyword tool. Seeing hundreds of irrelevant keywords in a list will help you to notice what should be eliminated. Be very careful with DKI. Frequently, I’ll use Excel to create all possible ad permutations for DKI – it’s easier to spot the bad matches when seen in the context of the ad. And if you work for an agency, sending the keywords to the client for approval helps, too. Sure, it’s embarrassing to have a client ask “Why would we want to bid on +2103?” But better that than to have them see their bill after you’ve mistakenly spend money on that keyword!

Conversion & Tracking Mistakes

“I didn’t check conversion codes in AdWords when taking over new account. Client had been tracking & optimizing for the wrong things.”

“Launched a display test with a big budget. Forgot to check on day 2. Spent a lot of money. ZERO conversions. Sad client, poor me. Moral of story: if you test, watch like a hawk or else end up paying (literally) for your mistakes.”

“PPC mistake: not properly checking tagged URLs in Bing Ads (adCenter at the time) and paying for clicks to 404s.”

“I made decisions based off wrongly installed conversion tracking code.”

How to avoid conversion and tracking mistakes: Technical issues such as wrong or missing conversion tracking and URL tagging can derail even the most seasoned PPC professional. Accurate conversion tracking is so important that it’s a good idea to perform a regular conversion audit to make sure you’re tracking everything you want and need to be tracking. Periodically check all your URLs to make sure the pages are still live. And, as with all the other mistakes, check results frequently! Catching errors early goes a long way to mollifying a frustrated client or boss.

Mistakes aren’t bad if you learn from them. Here’s hoping you can learn from some of these!


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