15 mistakes in Google Ads: how to find, neutralize, and prevent


15 minutes


A properly set Google ad campaign usually pays off. If there are Google Ads mistakes or inaccuracies, the campaign can still bring results, but it will cost more.

When performing audits of client accounts, the Penguin-team PPC Agency often encounters typical mistakes. Correcting them leads to increasing efficiency, as well as simplifying management and analysis of Google advertising campaigns. Helpful thing this troubleshooting, whichever side you look at!

I have collected the main mistakes in the Google Ads settings, and I will tell you how they affect the effectiveness of advertising and how to deal with them. I will also give you some recommendations to improve the results.

# 1 Conversions not set

Conversions are valuable actions on a website. It can be a purchase, a completed feedback form, a call, etc. Lack of conversion tracking in an ad account is a common and serious mistake in Google Ads and it is a fiasco.

Without correct conversion setting:

  • You won’t know which campaign or keyword brought in the conversion;
  • You do not have information about the return on investment;
  • You do not understand what brings the result and if it does at all;
  • Everything is bad.

There are 2 ways to set up conversions in Google Ads:

  • Setting goals in Google Analytics with import to an advertising account;
  • Setting goals via the Google Ads conversion tracking tag.

Each setup method has its own advantages, so I recommend using both at once.

Google Analytics has many reports for analyzing data that are not available in an ad account. In addition, it will allow you to analyze the effectiveness of other traffic sources, not just paid one.

When set up with a Google Ads tracking tag, conversion data get to your account faster – within three hours. For comparison, Google Analytics has about nine hours delay. The system also takes into account associated conversions, which is more data for analyzing advertising campaigns, training and effective operation of smart campaigns and bidding strategies.

If you use two methods at once, you don’t import conversions from Google Analytics into your Google Ads account. This will lead to doubling conversions and incorrect data in the reports. Only import conversions from Google Analytics if you can’t customize them using the Google Ads tag.

# 2 Micro and macro conversions are added to conversion tracking

Conversions can be divided into 2 categories:

  1. Macro conversions. These are the main goals of the business: a purchase, a call, a confirmed form, and more.
  2. Micro conversions. These are intermediate actions that can lead to a macro conversion: adding an item to the cart, subscribing to a newsletter, viewing certain pages, and so on.

Micro conversions allow you to track user behavior on the website and understand the degree of interest in a product or service. Ultimately, however, we measure the effectiveness of an advertisement by the profit it brings, not the number of pages viewed.

В облік конверсій додані мікро- і макроконверсіі - помилки в Google Ads

As you can see in the example, the Google Ads campaign received 28 conversions at a cost of $12.14 per conversion. But if we look at the result in terms of conversions, we can see that 27 micro conversions were received, and only 1 completed form (a valuable business action). As a result, the cost of conversion is not $12.14, but $340.06. There is a difference, right?

Tacking micro and macro conversions itself is not a mistake in Google Ads. You can add both micro and macro conversions to an advertising account, but I recommend including only macro conversions. This way you will see more accurate data on ad performance, and smart strategies will learn from the correct data on macro conversions and show better results.

To analyze advertising taking into account micro conversions, just add the “all conversions” metric to the report.

ошибки в Google Ads

# 3 Payment systems are not excluded from the traffic source

This mistake in Google Ads settings applies to e-commerce projects.

During the checkout process, the user is taken to a separate page to pay for the product, for example PayPal. For Google Analytics, the user left the website without a purchase.

Не исключены системы оплаты из источника трафика - ошибки в Google Ads

After successful payment, the user returns to the website, but for Analytics, the conversion source is not advertising, but PayPal. Analytics assigns the conversion to the last indirect source, which in our case is the payment system.

Here’s an example where you can see that 13 conversions were received from Google Ads, but the system assigned them to the source “opp.app-wallee.com/referral” (payment system):

Не исключены системы оплаты из источника трафика - ошибки в Google Ads

To avoid such an fallacy in Google Ads, you need to exclude all payment systems in the Google Analytics settings in the “List of excluded referral sources” section:

Не исключены системы оплаты из источника трафика - ошибки в Google Ads

After excluding the payment system, Analytics will not consider this source as a traffic source. The conversion will be assigned to the last source through which the user came to the website and made a purchase.

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#4 Campaign settings

When setting up search campaigns in Google Ads, you need to pay attention to two points, the incorrect setting of which can affect the effectiveness of advertising.

4.1 Enabled GDN in search campaigns

Search ads and display ads have different effectiveness. On the search network, ads are shown to users with high intent: they are already looking for certain products / services and the likelihood of a conversion is high. While the display audience is colder, ads have a low conversion rate, and the approach to working with an audience is different.

When setting up search campaigns, it will be a mistake to leave GDN enabled. Therefore, it is important to disable this option:

  • this will increase the effectiveness of the Google ads campaign: the budget will be spent only on the target audience;
  • this will simplify the analysis: the data will only be from the search network, excluding the GDN.
КМС в поисковых кампаниях - ошибки в Google Ads

4.2 Targeting includes people interested in your target location

What other mistakes are there when setting up Google Ads?

By default, Search and Shopping campaigns are always set to “Presence or Interest”. With it, ads will be shown not only to users from your geotargeting, but also to users who are interested in target location, for example, indicate it in search queries or view pages about it. This can lead to traffic from unwanted locations. This is especially true for local businesses that provide services within specific locations and have a small advertising budget. Therefore, if the physical location of the user is important to you, always select the target destination “Presence”. That way, you can be sure you’re only paying for traffic from your targeted locations – minus one Google Ads mistake.

В таргетинг включены люди, интересующиеся вашим целевым местоположением - ошибки в Google Ads

Setting “Interest” is relevant, for example, for advertising hotels, apartments for daily rent. That is, for users who are not in the target location, but are interested in it and plan to visit.

# 5 All keywords added to one ad group

The more keywords you add to one ad group, the more likely they differ by subject matter and that you have a Google Ads mistake.

Все ключевые слова добавлены в одну группу объявлений - ошибки в Google Ads

The example shows that 309 keywords have been added to one group. And one ad is used for all keywords. It:

  • Makes it impossible to write individual ads for keywords;
  • Reduces the relevance of the ad to the search query;
  • Affects the quality score;
  • Can lead to an increase in CPC.

I recommend grouping similar keywords into separate ad groups. You can write more relevant ads by adding keywords to your titles and descriptions. This will increase the CTR and quality score of your ads. And the higher the quality score, the lower the CPC. Accordingly, you can get relevant traffic with less advertising costs.

# 6 Keywords in a broad match type

Using broad match type keywords is not a mistake in Google Ads and has its benefits. It would be a mistake to use this type of match in the early stages of working with an ad account, since there is a high probability of draining the budget for irrelevant traffic.

«Ads may show on searches that are related to your keyword, which can include searches that don’t contain the keyword terms», — Google Ads Help.

An example of how broad match works:

Google Ads Help broad match type

Therefore, we at the Penguin-team PPC Agency recommend starting to set up search campaigns with keywords in exact or phrase match. This way you are using your budget for the most relevant traffic and, therefore, the conversion rate will be higher.

# 7 Duplicated keywords

Duplicated keywords are a common mistake in Google Ads. The larger the ad account becomes, the more likely duplicates will appear. Having duplicates in your account has a number of consequences:

  • Several identical keywords will participate in the auction to display the ad and they will compete with each other. This can increase the cost per click;
  • For a duplicate keyword, an ad from a less relevant group may appear and the effectiveness of the ad decreases;
  • The process of analyzing and managing an advertising account becomes more complicated.

To avoid problems, periodically check your account for duplicates and delete them. You can do this in the Google Ads editor:

Проверка на наличие дублей

# 8 No negative keywords

Negative keywords are a powerful tool for controlling traffic quality, and their absence is an expensive mistake in Google Ads. By not using negative keywords, you pay for non-targeted traffic, your conversion rate goes down, and your cost per conversion goes up.

Let’s see an example. At the request “buy a cover for iPhone 11” there is an advertisement for a designer covers for Samsung.

Отсутствие минус-слов - ошибка в Google Ads

In this case, there are two options, and both have negative consequences for the advertiser:

  • Users will read the ad and will not click on it, since they are not interested in Samsung cases. The CTR of ad goes down, which affects the Quality Score and CPC;
  • Users, without delving into the text, click on several ads, including an ad with cases for Samsung. Finding that the page does not match their search, they will leave the website without a purchase. In this case, the advertiser has already paid for these users.

Therefore, before launching a campaign, you need to carefully work out a list of all possible words and phrases that are irrelevant to your business in order to cut down most of the non-targeted traffic.

Do not forget that the system does not take into account word forms. Having a negative keyword “car” in the campaign, the system will not show ads for queries containing the word “car”, but will for “cars”. Therefore, you need to add all the forms, including British / American spellings.

# 9 One ad per ad group in search campaigns

You cannot know exactly which ad message will attract a user. And having only one ad per group, you will not be able to assess its effectiveness, because there is nothing to compare with. Plus, there is no way to test different elements of your ad and thus influence the effectiveness of your ad. Yes, this is also a mistake in Google Ads.

Google recommends adding at least 3 ads per group, one of which is responsive. During the auction, the system takes into account many signals to ensure that ads receive more clicks. Penguin-teamPPC Agency recommends adhering to Google’s advice;)

Best option: 2 text ads and 1 responsive ad per group.

Several advantages of this structure:

  • Responsive ads usually get more impressions and have a higher CTR: the system tests combinations of titles and descriptions, selects the most effective ones:
Результаты адаптивных объявлений
  • The more ads there are in the group, the longer it will take to collect statistics for each ad, the more difficult it is to assess their effectiveness. With three ads, data is collected faster and is a convenient option for testing.

# 10 All products in one group in Shopping campaigns

The most common mistake when creating a Google Shopping campaign: all products in one group. This structure can only be used for small online stores (up to 50 products) with similar products and the same price.

In all other cases, this is ineffective. Products can differ in price, margin, demand and competition, and by applying the same setting for all products, you significantly reduce ad performance.

The more detailed the structure of Google Shopping campaigns is, the easier it is to manage.

Penguin-team PPC Agency has a whole guide on choosing a Google Shopping structure depending on the business and its goals – read it!

# 11 Missing Ads in Google Shopping Campaigns

This is an atypical and rare mistake in Google Shopping campaigns, as Shopping campaign ads are generated automatically when you create an ad group.

Не добавлены объявления в кампаниях Google Shopping - ошибка в Google Ads

But that might be the reason why your campaign isn’t getting impressions.

These ads can be manually disabled or they may not be copied in Google Ads Editor. As a result, the campaign, ad groups, products are enabled, all settings are correct, but there are no impressions.

Check all settings carefully when copying campaigns. And in order to add an ad to a group, you can simply click + and create a new ad:

Не добавлены объявления в кампаниях Google Shopping - ошибка в Google Ads

# 12 No extensions 

Extensions are a useful tool for improving the quality of your ads. Ignoring extensions is missing out on opportunities. If you don’t add an extension, then:

  • You get lower CTR. Usually, extensions increase the CTR by several percent, which affects the ad quality score and cost per click;
  • You miss the opportunity to provide the user with more useful information about your product / service / business as a whole;
  • You do not stand out from the competition.
Расширения в объявлениях

I recommend adding all extensions that are relevant to your business in order to increase the effectiveness of your advertising.

# 13 Display targeting too broad

The choice of display targeting is very important when setting up a GDN campaign. Of course, creatives and an offer are also important, but showing ads to the “wrong” audience, even the coolest offer will not bring results.

For example, if you don’t add keywords to your search campaign, your ads simply won’t show. But GDN does not work like that. If you do not select targeting, ads will be shown to everyone. This will lead to a drained budget with no result.

There are many targeting options in Display Network that allow you to fine-tune and show ads to the most interested audience.

Настройки таргетинга в КМС

Before launching a campaign, first of all, determine the purpose of the advertising: to increase brand awareness, attract more potential customers, remind people already familiar with your business, and more. And already starting from the goal, set up targeting – this way you can avoid mistakes in Google Ads. Don’t be afraid to combine audiences, the more detailed the targeting settings are, the higher the advertising effectiveness.

BOOST your Google Ads campaigns – leave your request to get tech&marketing audit and a plan for optimization FOR FREE!

# 14 Improper work with smart bidding strategies and smart campaigns

Smart bidding strategies use machine learning to adjust bids for each auction based on multiple signals to achieve specific goals. These strategies include Target CPA, Target ROI, Max Conversions, and Max Conversion Value. Basically, the use of these strategies can increase the performance of advertising several times, and improper work with them can worsen the result.

One section of the article is not enough to describe all the nuances of working with smart strategies. But I will highlight the main mistakes that can “break” it:

  • Drastic changes in the budget. Strategies are very sensitive to changes. After a change in the budget, they can start retraining, which leads to 2 weeks of unstable campaign work. To avoid this situation, increase your budget no more than 20% at once and no more than once every two weeks.
  • Launching a strategy without historical data. The system learns conversion data and without them has no opportunity to work effectively. Use a smart strategy when there are at least 20 conversions in the campaign in the last month. The more data in the campaign, the better the strategy will learn and work.
  • Launching a strategy on non-real input data (this item refers to the Target CPC and Target ROI strategies). If in the last 30 days the average ROAS of a campaign is 300%, and you have set a target ROAS of 600%, with the current statistics, the system will not be able to achieve this goal. As a result, either the campaign will stop working, or the system will start experimenting – and the result will be unpredictable. Set your target ROAS or CPC at the average of the last 15-30 days. If the campaign is running smoothly and the system succeeds in achieving the set goal, you can gradually increase the target value, but no more than 20% at once and no more than once every two weeks.

Still have questions about mistakes in Google Ads? Text us in the comments!

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