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10 Don'ts for Google AdWords

Rocco Alberto Baldassarre
10 Don'ts for Google AdWords

Last month, we shared "10 Dos for Google AdWords" on the blog. That list wouldn't be complete without a list of "don'ts" to match!

See the list after the jump. Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments.

1. Don’t Pick Broad or Irrelevant Keywords

The desire to get traffic can lead you to make poor decisions when setting up your AdWords strategy. For example, you might decide to run your ads for broader and high volume keywords only to find that their ROI is not as good as targeted ones.

Targeting relevant keywords over keywords with the highest search volume will yield better results. The best way to move forward with keyword selection is to actually identify the keywords that are relevant to your business. You will likely generate fewer clicks, but the clicks you get will be far more likely to convert. Additionally, your CTR and CPA will be much better!

2. Don’t Underestimate the Influence of your Landing Page

Did you know that no matter how perfect your AdWords strategy is,the majority of your conversions still come from your landing page? Keep this concept in mind when planning your campaigns, and make sure to align your keywords, ads and landing pages. Optimizing the effectiveness of your landing page is essential to the success of your online marketing strategies.

3. Don’t Focus on Outbidding your Competition

Showing up on top of the search results for your target keywords is obviously a great goal. However, before investing the bulk ofyour marketing budget into chasing the highest rankings, are you sure that your plan is a profitable strategy for your company? What metrics do you use to confirm ROI solely from a high ranking? Is it even quantifiable?

Pay-per-click marketing requires smart strategies focused on measurable results (leads or sales) rather than on results for which it becomes hard to show ROI (such as showing up as number one on Google's paid results). Just ranking high isn't enough. You need to show how that ranking relates to your conversion strategy, too.

4. Don’t Smash All Keywords into a Single Ad Group

Segmenting your ad groups is fundamental if you want to show a positive ROI. There are several reasons for doing so:

  • You can create ads specifically tailored to your keywords
  • Increased Click-Through-Rates ultimately allow you to generate a better quality score
  • Your ads will stand out from those ofyour competitors
  • It becomes easier to create custom negative keyword strategies, since you will be able to apply different negative keywords to different ad groups

5. When You Must Use General Keywords Make Sure You Use An Extensive Negative Keywords List

Sometimes you may be forced to use general keywords over keywords that are more focused in order to get the attention of your target audience. But, as we've already established, general keywords may include a high percentage of irrelevant traffic from users that might be looking for something different than what you're offering.

For instance, if a PPC consultant builds a campaign around the keyword “AdWords,” his traffic could be watered down by hundreds of promotional guides, login pages, free tutorials and how-to videos also competing for that keyterm. These searches aren’t likely to convert for anyone, let alone the new advertiser. Therefore, when you're forced to focus on general terms (such as in the case of a niche product that lacks much traffic), you will need to make sure to have an extremely compelling negative keywords list, or risk being buried under the competition.

6. Don’t Tell Google to Optimize Ads by Clicks

You want to be able to test your ads as much as possible in order to find out what reduces your costs while maximizing conversions. In order to do so, make sure to rotate your ads evenly. Rotating your ads equally will make sure the competition between the ads is comparable. That way, you have best chance of identifying which ads perform well and which can be discarded.

7. Don’t Underestimate Geographic Targeting

You may think Geo-Targeting is something only local advertisers need to consider. Don't be fooled. Geographic Targeting is just as relevant for businesses that are advertising at a national level. Did you know that if you target sub-regions of a whole target area, you will be able to set up bid adjustments based on your campaign performance?

This is an underutilized tactic, but a good account manager should know the importance of this feature and take full advantage of it.

8. Do Not Bid as High as Google Suggests

Did you know that the position of your ad on the page is not solely determined by the cost-per-click you're willing to pay? Your position is actually calculated based on a value called Ad Rank. The Ad Rank is the result of a mathematical formula:

Ad Rank = Max CPC * Quality score

This means that working within a good account structure, in addition to your ads and landing page content will enable you to lower the cost of a good placement.

9. Don’t Send Traffic to Generic Pages

You are paying for clicks and therefore you need to take the maximum advantage of that traffic! As stated before, the importance of optimized Landing Pages cannot be underestimated. Do not send people to a generic page or users will simply abandon your search funnel. Create landing pages that are tailored to the ad groups you have in your campaigns. This will maximize your conversion rates but also boost the quality score.

10. Don’t Forget to Update Your Knowledge

PPC is a changing world and you have got to keep up with the changes or your ROI might be affected dramatically. If you do not have the time to monitor industry news sources religiously, think about joining webinars or using tools such as to group all the posts you need to read on a daily basis into a digest that is easy to read at your leisure.

Bonus Point: the 4 Boxes Theory

Are you wondering what makes a successful website? Here is an easy, but effective theory outlining the pillars of a successful website!


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Rocco Alberto Baldassarre is the Founder and CEO of Zebra Advertisement, a results-oriented SEM consulting firm. Rocco consults companies with up to $5 million in PPC advertisement budgets, speaks three languages and was shortlisted as a Young Search Professional of the Year by the 2014 U.S. Search Awards.
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Great article, but I still don't get the importance of the landing page. I can understand how it can work in some situations, but in others, such as selling a product, I don't see a need for it. I actually see it as a distraction and another click for the user to buy my product. I am paying for conversions, people buying off the site is the conversion. I am not paying for a searcher to convert from a landing page only to be redirected to my site.
Rocco Alberto Baldassarre
Hi Joe,

In case of products, you can refer to your product page as a landing page. In that case optimizing your product page is extremely important.

Articles like this help to focus efforts on PPC. Many organizations are throwing PPC budgets to the wind. It is amazing how many organizations send consumers to a generic page vs. a landing page with a strong call to action. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on Bing, Yahoo, and Facebook. What industries benefit most from advertising on those networks? Any data on which consumer segments use Yahoo and Bing over Google? Thanks for sharing.
Rocco Alberto Baldassarre
JD Valerio
HI JD Valerio,

I like to think about online marketing as beneficial to all companies. To give you an example, an auto part company would probably spend a lot of money for little results on direct FB ads but if they use FB and Twitter to set up cross channel remarketing they could be highly successful at it.

Overall, I recommend you to use the following rule of thumb:

1. Can you identify precise interests in your cusotmers? If yes, Social media are a gold mine

2. Do your users have various interests and mostly look for your service when they need it? Use search engines and remarket on social media!

I hope it helps,
Patrick Healy
I think the Quality Score is based primarily on a) the CTR, b) the ad relevance and c) the quality of your landing page. At least that's what I'm seeing these days.
Rocco Alberto Baldassarre
Patrick Healy
Very true, Patrick. Negative keywords will help you with a and b the most!
David Rothwell
You missed the most important "Don't" - "Don't forget to figure out what you can spend on clicks to make profit, before you even buy them ..."
Leonard Sipes
Thanks Rocco: I use Ad Words without much success. Are you suggesting that I guide people to my contact page rather than my website? My site ( gets decent traffic but few inquiries; but it's not something (recorded audio and video interviews) that most people search for. Best, Len.
Rocco Alberto Baldassarre
Leonard Sipes
Dear Leonard,

My first tip would be to structure your site in a way that tells the customers what you can help them with right away. This is probably what causes your AdWords to not be successful.

Additionally, try to tell people why they would want an audio and video interview and what benefit it will bring them (give people some sample uses so they can see the benefits).

Another important point could be to use proper negative keywords (such as free).

I hope it helped,
Leonard Sipes
Rocco Alberto Baldassarre
Thanks Rocco: Appreciate it. I shared your article and lots of others from my list shared it as well. Best, Len.

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