Before we start analyzing each of the most common mistakes, let’s clarify what is contextual advertising and why you should use it to increase traffic and, consequently, the profit of your website?
What is an online search campaign? How does it make a website more profitable?
An online search campaign is a great online marketing tool which, if used correctly, can continuously generate new leads and customers. Contextual advertising is a term used for ads displayed to users when they enter any request in Google Search. It is customized individually for every company taking into account various domains as well as customer needs and requests. Search campaigns are highly effective, but only if handled by professionals!
The creators of a search campaign service called Google Ads (previously known as Google Adwords) has developed a tool in which you can specify your exact target audience and make them notice you using properly configured ads. And everything could have been very simple if it weren’t for the words “properly configured”. Not everyone can handle this task. Especially, if you have no experience in creating and managing advertising campaigns or use Google Ags for the first time.
Let’s imagine a common situation. You have registered in Google Ads, created context advertising, and, of course, ads, indicated landing pages, a budget, and launched a campaign. And”¦something went wrong. A week has already passed, you have spent all your advertising budget but received no inquiries or calls from your website. Now you will need to clarify why contextual advertising isn’t working.
The truth is that the best option is to ask professional help. An experienced person can find out the possible reasons for your problems and tell you why your search campaign is ineffective. Well, I also recommend choosing this solution. Nevertheless, you can still diagnose some issues on your own since most mistakes related to search campaign customization are quite common, especially among newbies.
Here Are 27 Main Reasons Why Your Search Campaign is Ineffective
We have selected 27 different mistakes that may hinder your search campaign from working correctly. You should carefully go through them simultaneously checking your advertising campaigns for these flaws. Here we go!
MISTAKE #1. YOU CHOOSE WRONG CAMPAIGN GOALS DURING CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING CUSTOMIZATION
Before starting any advertising campaign in Google Ads, you need to define your goals. Only after that, you can move to the next stages. In most cases, people make a poor choice of the goals of search campaigns because they don’t realize how these goals work. They also don’t know which goals are suitable for a certain product or service. To help you avoid such mistakes, here is a list of all goals with detailed descriptions.
The goals of Google Ads contextual advertising are divided into the following categories:
- Sales – helps to drive sales in an app, website, or offline store and increase telephone sales.
- Leads – helps to find potential customers who are only getting ready to buy or realize that they need your product. This goal turns potential customers into real ones.
- Website traffic – this search campaign goal helps to attract more visitors to your resource. Use it if you don’t sell anything online. For example, you just want to tell users about your offline service or have some interesting articles to publish. Exciting content is an additional source of potential customers.
- Product and brand consideration – this goal encourages potential customers to discover your brand and learn more about it.
- Brand awareness and reach – allows you to cover the maximum audience to increase your brand recognition. Use it if your project is long-term and you don’t plan to sell anything right away.
- Application ads – helps to promote your app and increase the number of downloads. Yet make sure to test whether your expectations match user preferences and clicks. Use this goal to boost app installments and interactions with the app.
- No goal advertising campaign – use this option if all the goals listed above don’t suit.
Now you know better how to choose search campaign goals. In case you use such ads to generate more sales, select the Sales or Leads goal. Remember that increased attention to your brand and brand awareness won’t give you direct sales.
MISTAKE #2. YOU USE IRRELEVANT KEYWORDS DURING CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING CUSTOMIZATION
Keywords and keyword phrases are one of the main components of search campaign customization. They help you display ads to the necessary audience which is ready to complete the target action. Therefore, the wrong choice or use of keywords will make contextual ads ineffective or won’t generate the expected results.
First of all, to choose keywords for Google Ads search campaigns you need to use Keyword Planner. Yet everything it much more complex than it seems at first glance.
The requests that you perceive as relevant may be absolutely useless from the commercial perspective. For example, “skoda rapid 2016 photos” request is, most probably, entered by a user who just searches for the photos of this model. Such users are not going to make a purchase – they just want to check out the pictures.
Hence, you need to focus on the requests that can lead to conversion. The most common example are keyword phrases that include such words as “buy”, “price”, etc.
Also, remember that:
- The keywords you or your teammates select mustn’t repeat in different groups of ads or campaigns. Otherwise, the search engine will display multiple ads and offers that will compete with each other.
- One group of ads should include no more than 10-18 keyword requests. It would be difficult to include more keywords in contextual ads.
- Make sure to choose the most relevant keywords or (even better) phrases consisting of 2 or 3 words. This way the requests are more likely to reflect the intention to make a purchase after clicking an online contextual ad.
Remember that you just need to select and add keywords to your contextual ads. During the Google Ads customization, each word will be assigned its match.
There are the following keyword match types:
- Exact match (buy a mobile phone). Your ad is shown only for this request. Thus, if a user enters “buy a Samsung mobile phone”, your ad won’t be displayed. Choosing such requests, you must be 90% sure that these exact matches will bring your customers.
- Phrase match (buy a mobile phone). When a user types “buy a mobile phone Samsung”, your ad will be displayed since it includes the phrase you have indicated. The primary disadvantage of this match type is that without the use of negative keywords your ad may also be displayed for irrelevant keywords.
- Broad match (buy a mobile phone). Your ad will be displayed when a user types something like “buy a mobile phone used reviews”. Yet if you sell new mobile phones, you will waste a good share of your budget on the wrong target audience.
MISTAKE #3. WRONG ORDER OF KEYWORDS DURING CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING CUSTOMIZATION
This mistake is most often made by newbies when they configure contextual ads in Google Ads. What is it all about?
A single campaign must include only the keywords that correspond to the selected category. Don’t mix mobile phones, laptops, and smartphone accessories. For each group of keywords, make sure to cluster certain products or a group of products. Only in this case, search campaigns will be properly configured.
MISTAKE #4. LOW QUALITY OF KEYWORDS IN SEARCH CAMPAIGNS
Keyword quality score is another important contextual advertising indicator. It reflects the relevance of a keyword request based on its target page and use in ads as well as the CTR (the number of clicks on your ad). The maximum keyword quality score is 10. If any of your keywords has a score lower than 6, remove it from the list or change the description of an ad and try to include this keyword again.
MISTAKE #5. YOU DON’T USE NEGATIVE KEYWORDS IN SEARCH CAMPAIGNS
Negative words in contextual ads are the selected requests or words that don’t trigger your ad.
Lists of negative words allow you to make your search campaigns more effective and cut expenditures. Use them to eliminate non targeted impressions and avoid paying for transitions that initially cannot be conversion-oriented.
Here is an example of a contextual ad: You sell a new phone and don’t display your ad when someone types “buy a used mobile phone” because the word “used” is included in the list of negative words.
Remember that for quality search campaigns, you need to indicate negative keywords separately for every campaign and include all possible keyword variations.
Let’s analyze a detailed example to see how this works. There is a search campaign for a company that offers washing machine repair service. Predictably, we will rely on the following target requests:
- Washing machine repair
- LG washing machine repair
- Samsung washing machine repair
- Washing machine repair at home
- + The requests with the name of your city and some other requests
In this case, you can select such negative keywords as on your own, video, independently, manual, etc. Choose the words that are often included in requests but have no commercial value for your business.
On the web, you can find ready-made lists of negative keywords for online stores that contain, for example, such words as used, photo, download, forum, and others.
MISTAKE #6. INSUFFICIENT USE OF ADS IN CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING
Since you use different types of calls-to-action in ads, we recommend using no less than 3 ads for one group of keywords.
This will make your online promotion more effective and will help you to attract more potential customers.
MISTAKE #7. YOU IGNORE CUSTOMER LIFETIME VALUE (LTV) IN SEARCH CAMPAIGNS
Once you define the lifetime value of every customer in terms of your search campaigns, you will be able to calculate the optimum marketing budget and stop wasting it.
The LTV formula includes 3 values = (Average purchase) * (Number of repeated transactions) * (Customer lifetime span).
Here is how you calculate LTV: If an average customer check is $30, the repeated transactions take place every 2 months (6 times per year), and customers use your services for 2.5 years, the customer lifetime value is = 30 * 6 * 2.5 = $450.
Based on this number you can estimate that one customer will bring you $450.
MISTAKE #8. SIMULTANEOUS USE OF SEARCH AND DISPLAY AD FORMATS
When you configure Google Ads search campaigns, you can select whether you want to display content only as a Search ad or also as a Display ad. If you customize contextual ads for the first time, it’s very easy to skip the option with the 2 ad types selected by default. Leaving the Display ad type, you won’t be able to fine-tune the segmentation of your advertising campaign rates. As a result, you won’t understand which clicks and conversions come from Search ads and which – from Display ads.
Note that it’s better to create Search and Display campaigns separately.
MISTAKE #9. NO COMPETITOR ANALYSIS BEFORE THE LAUNCH OF CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING
There is one simple and proven rule which is, actually, applicable not only to online marketing. If you want to become the first and get the most out of your efforts, analyze your competitors, and just do better than them. Search campaigns may be absolutely useless when your competitors use more effective techniques than you.
Therefore, you need to research the market. Before you configure search campaigns, select several main requests and simply google them. Define who are you going to compete with, what titles should be used, and what should be taken into account. Also, make sure to analyze the look of every ad and understand if there is any competitor that has top positions for all the requests. Only after you process the collected data, you can launch contextual ads.
MISTAKE #10. YOU DON’T CHECK THE PRICES OF YOUR COMPETITORS DURING CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING CUSTOMIZATION
If you have analyzed your competitors and still see the qualitative or quantitative advantages of your product in terms of search campaigns, consider another factor. Compare the price of your product with their prices. If you find out that competitor prices are much lower, offer your customers some additional value or something they won’t be able to refuse from. Nowadays, almost all customers compare the pricing of different services. Thus, there is no point in wasting money on search campaigns if you don’t offer your customers anything better than they can get somewhere else.
MISTAKE #11. YOUR CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING DOESN’T FORWARD CUSTOMERS TO THE CORRESPONDING PRODUCT OR CATEGORY PAGE
It’s very important to choose the right keywords for different product or category pages. If your contextual ads offer to buy a certain product, the related keywords must include its name, brand, and other characteristics. Most importantly, after clicking these ads, users must be forwarded directly to the product page (not to the category). If the page doesn’t match the primary requests and needs of users, your ads won’t be displayed in TOP 3. Even if if gets to the TOP 3, you will pay silly money for 1 click.
Also, don’t forget that the work of your website is highly important. When users visit your page from a contextual ad, it may take over 3 seconds to load. As a result, they may leave the page for clicking which you have already paid. These issues need testing. If there are any problems, make sure to eliminate them before launching online contextual ads.
When you are about to launch a search campaign, pay special attention to usability. The thing is that most online store owners ignore such factors. This category of problems may also include the absence of photos, undescriptive product information, missing information about delivery and payment options, shopping cart errors, and other issues with placing an order.
As a result of poor usability, even a large number of ad conversions may not generate sales. In this case, a search campaign will turn out to be unprofitable.
MISTAKE #12. LACK OF INFORMATION ON THE PAGES USING CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING
When users click a contextual ad and go to a product or category page, they expect to see the most detailed and full information right away. It’s not only about the price but also about the characteristics and other informant information. In case some details are missing, your search campaign will be just a waste of money. Take care of your page content in advance.
The budget for search campaign is a thorny question. It is one of the key reasons why your contextual ads may be counterproductive. In particular, the contextual ads may be properly configured but don’t give the expected result. Sounds familiar? Analyze how many clicks are made during 1 day or 1 week and how your budget is spent. Make sure to define the optimum budget, sufficient to achieve marketing goals and have a high percentage of impressions from the very beginning.
MISTAKE #13. INCORRECTLY CONFIGURED REGIONS FOR SHOWING CONTEXTUAL ADS
Make sure to select the location for the display of your contextual ads very carefully.
For example, your target region is New York and the New York metropolitan area. Yet in the campaign settings, you target the whole country. Hopefully, at least your ads indicate the right city – this will save you from squandering the budget on clicks.
You manufacture tailor-made furniture, deliver, and assemble it solely in the New York metropolitan area. A resident of Chicago, Washington, or any other city clicks the ad, browses your catalog, checks the delivery and payment details to see that you are located in New York and provide services only locally. The end.
For the sake of justice, we must admit that there is a chance that someone will make an order. Yet this chance is really minor. Why do customers need your services if they can find the necessary company in their city? Thus, if location targeting is crucial for your business, pay attention to it.
MISTAKE #14. LOW AD RANKING OR WRONG TARGET AUDIENCE OF GOOGLE ADS CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING
In some business fields, the position of an ad is vital. For example, people that need a tow truck will most likely click on the first ad in the list because they need to make a call and use the service right now.
At the same time, if your ad has a low ranking but generates a lot of clicks, such conversions may be generated by a non-target audience with rather informative than commercial interest.
In general, as we have already mentioned, your search campaign strategy must be based on your business field. If users need to research your type of product or service before making a decision, there is no need to pave your way to the top position at any cost. Otherwise, you will just waste your budget without getting the expected result.
MISTAKE #15. GOOGLE ADS CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING IS JUST NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUR BUSINESS FIELD
Ok. You have read all the listed mistakes in our list, analyzed your campaign, and fixed everything. As a result, you have an almost perfect advertising campaign with the ads forwarding to an almost perfect site. Yet there are still no sales. What is the problem then? Can a search campaign fail?
It turns out that in some business fields, the use of search campaigns to attract buyers is just unprofitable. The market may be oversaturated, your product is peculiar, or anything else. Such issues may also result from the characteristics of your niche or certain product categories, target audience location, demand type (deferred, emotional), etc.
In this case, you should use other capabilities of Google Ads, including remarketing, display or banner ads. Perhaps this will be more effective than search campaigns.
MISTAKE #16. NO UTM PARAMETERS IN CONTEXTUAL ADS
UTM parameters are identifiers of the clicks made in Google. They are used in contextual advertising to analyze how users interact with ads shown in Google for a certain request, by a website, or other offline sales channels. UTM parameters also help to monitor offline sales generated by online contextual advertising. This way you can track sales with a much longer decision cycle.
UTM parameters in contextual ads can be configured automatically or manually (separately for every ad). Such a link is automatically added in Google Analytics (if you have Google Analytics scripts), and you will be able to track all the necessary information.
MISTAKE #17. WEBSITE HAS NO RESPONSIVE LAYOUT AT THE MOMENT OF CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING CUSTOMIZATION
We mean any, both obvious and non-obvious, obstacles that can get in the way of a potential customer. A responsive layout helps to adapt the look of the website to different devices and screens. Thanks to this, every user will be able to find the necessary information regardless of the device or browser used.
MISTAKE #18. IGNORED GOOGLE ANALYTICS DATA ON CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING
When you launch a search campaign, make sure to monitor as many indicators as possible. Here are some key contextual advertising indicators that can be analyzed in Google Analytics:
- Bounce rate. This indicator shows the ratio of all website visits to the number of single-page visits when users have left a website after viewing only one page. If a contextual ad has over 75% bounce rate in Google Analytics, you should review its settings, calls-to-action, and other search campaign mistakes listed in this article. Such contextual ads are costly and pretty useless.
- Pages per session. If this crucial indicator is higher than 1, we can assume that users find the information or product interesting and are likely to buy it.
- Total clicks. If this number is low, you need to work on your ads. Make sure to constantly monitor total clicks.
- Number of users that clicked an add. When this rate is lower than the total number of clicks, this means that some users have clicked an ad several times.
- Number of conversions. Be sure to set Google Analytics goals which need to be achieved by website users, like making a call, number of placed orders, number of transactions, etc. Only this way you will be able to check whether your contextual ads are effective.
- Total advertising campaign cost. This is the amount you have spent on a campaign. If the profit from orders exceeds the cost of the advertising campaign, it may be considered effective.
MISTAKE #19. YOU DON’T USE PLERDY FOR TRACKING CLICKS ON A PAGE
Website owners quite often fail to monitor the behavior of users who come to their resource from contextual ads or other traffic sources.
There is a simple solution to this task. Plerdy heatmap allows you to view the sequence of clicks made from contextual ads and analyze every website element to further improve it. Check what such users do on your website to understand what they pay attention to and click. As a result, you will have a better understanding of your target audience and know how to increase the efficiency of your search campaigns.
Plerdy heatmap provides you with maximum information about user actions. If used correctly, it can increase sales by up to 50%.
MISTAKE #20. YOU HAVE CONFIGURED EVERYTHING AUTOMATICALLY
By configuring your contextual ads automatically (using Google Ads tips) without any customization and regular analysis of advertising campaigns, you will definitely waste your budget. Remember that universal Google Ads rules of settings may not be 100% suitable for your business field and advertising goals. It’s better to use ads without automatic configuration.
MISTAKE #21. TOO LOW COST PER CLICK
Keeping your finger on the pulse of contextual advertising, you need to understand that customers, especially quality customers, are worth paying for. Cost per click may fluctuate on a daily basis, so don’t forget to monitor it. This will help you to remain noticeable in search results and avoid getting lost somewhere on the second page. Google Ads will notify you when the cost per clicks changes and offer to review the optimum price for the necessary position. At the same time, you shouldn’t raise the cost per click for keywords that don’t generate targeted traffic.
MISTAKE #22. YOU DON’T ANALYZE A CRT FOR CONTEXTUAL ADS
A CTR shows the ratio of ad impressions to the number of clicks made on ads. For online contextual advertising, a good CTR should be higher than 10%. If not, you need to improve calls to action in your ads or check them for other mistakes listed in this article. In case you don’t manage to increase the CTR, it’s better to close the contextual ad.
MISTAKE #23. YOU DON’T ANALYZE KEYWORDS AND THEIR AVERAGE POSITION IN CONTEXTUAL AD RESULTS
Every request is recorded and analyzed based on the ranking of ads. If an add with a keyword takes the 6-7th position, nobody will see it. What is the possible reason? How to improve this?
The best solution is regular fine-tuning of the ads. If an add is interesting and stands out from competitors, its ranking will continuously increase. Making your page relevant to the selected keywords is not enough to improve its search position. In case you have faced this problem, select other keywords, create a new page, or close contextual ads.
MISTAKE #24. YOUR PRODUCTS OR SERVICES REQUIRE A LONG DECISION CYCLE
There are different types of products. For example, some products trigger an emotional response and make people buy them right away. There are also expensive products which require a long decision-making process. A flat is a very costly product, nevertheless, some people continue promoting real estate in contextual ads. However, in this case, contextual ads are one of the numerous sources of potential customers, and only comprehensive work can help you to achieve sales.
MISTAKE #25. POOR WORK OF MANAGERS
Not only poorly configured search campaigns may result in low income. For example, if contextual ads have been used to increase the number of inquiries or sales, but your managers haven’t coped with the flow of requests, contextual ads will be neither useful nor profitable. In many cases, a search campaign brings no positive results only because your managers fail to process all the requests in time or process them incorrectly.
MISTAKE #26. YOU HAVEN’T USED ADDITIONAL EXTENSIONS
Don’t forget that in Google Ads, you can improve your search campaigns using free extensions. Website owners very often ignore this opportunity and just don’t add extensions to their contextual ads. Nevertheless, Google Ads extensions can help to almost double the number of clicks. They include the following functionality:
- Location. You can indicate your address in an ad. After clicking it, users will see the directions to your place. If you are a local business, such an extension is just a must for search campaigns.
- Additional links to other pages of your website. If you use contextual advertising to sell a mobile phone, you may add the links to a page with the related accessories, headsets, cases or other phones with similar characteristics. This way users will see that you are the company that can offer a broad range of services right away.
- Immediate call. Add a one-click call option to simplify the calling procedure. Thanks to this extension, you will be able to start communication with your customers directly via phone.
- Search bar. Users can search for something on your website without leaving Google search results.
- Reviews. This will allow you to show that a product is really good and encourage users to view all related reviews.
Such extensions not only make contextual ads very convenient to use but also increase the width of your ad making it more noticeable among other ads.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT”¦
This common saying is probably the best way to describe Google Ads as an online marketing tool. Reading tons of articles on how to create and launch an advertising campaign overnight, you can miss one very important thing that the authors of such texts often forget to mention.
We have collected the most common mistakes of contextual advertising which make it partially or totally ineffective. In reality, the number of mistakes related to search campaign configuration cannot be calculated, since, like any other field, contextual advertising has its nuances which can be acquired with years of experience.
You can create a search campaign really quickly and easily. Yet this doesn’t mean that it will be effective. This is where you need the help of a specialist with relevant experience, competence, and knowledge of possible pitfalls.
I hope this article will help you to avoid the majority of mistakes made by aspiring advertisers and benefit from the spent budget. In case you need any help with customizing or running a Google Ads campaign, you can always ask our specialists for help.