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8 Ways You’re Doing Google Ads Wrong & How to Make It Right

Not seeing the ROI you're expecting from PPC? Here are eight ways you might be wasting your budget on Google Ads and how to address each situation.

8 Ways You’re Doing Google Ads Wrong & How to Make It Right

Google Ads is a powerful platform for driving awareness, traffic, and conversions.

A finely tuned and optimized account can provide a tremendous return on investment and deliver against digital marketing goals.

Odds are that you have a dedicated resource on your team, an outsourced resource, or maybe you’re that person or team that’s charged with properly managing the Google Ads account.

Regardless of structure and responsibility, it is important to remember that no matter how well our Google Ads account is performing and returning (or not) on investment, Google will gladly accept our payments.

There are eight important things that you need to make sure you’re not overlooking or doing wrong.

I have outlined those items and ways to make them right if you find that you’re losing money or oversight in any of these areas.

This topic resonates with me as I have previously shared ways that you’re wasting money on your investments in content marketing and SEO.

1. Assuming the Previous Manager Had Things Optimized

If you’re taking over an account or did at some point and didn’t blow it up and start from scratch, you might have some hidden baggage.

There are plenty of valid differences of opinion and ways to strategically operate a Google Ads account and do paid search.

However, even the best occasionally forget a setting or miss something when Google updates the system.

I strongly recommend auditing the account and not taking things for granted.

Even if you’re taking over from your best friend or most trusted colleague, you need to spend some time understanding all of the settings, account structure, negative matching, and to get a handle on the what and why of how they are configured before you get too deep in your own process and strategy.

2. Not Customizing Settings for Your Needs

Google Ads accounts start out with a lot of defaults and one-size-fits-all formatting. There’s danger in ignoring settings and not routinely reviewing them.

A quick example of one of these settings comes into play if you’re targeting a specific country, region, or radius.

That is the setting that applies to how you’re targeting people in or “interested in” the region. If you’re only seeking to advertise to people physically in an area, then you need to make sure you’ve got it configured correctly.

Another example of settings to beware of are the “auto-applied” ad settings.

If you receive the automated Google created ad adjustment recommendations and don’t review, edit, or turn them off within 14 days, they’ll automatically be applied to your account.

You should always want to have full control of your account so owning the settings and keeping automated things out (if you don’t want them or agree with them) is critical.

3. Not Conducting Regular Audits

It isn’t enough to perform just an initial audit when you take over an account.

You need to perform regular audits at least annually.

Even the best need their accounts and work checked.

Just like a writer, it is hard to work on something for a long period of time and see a typo looked over many times.

The more you’re looking at an account, the more you need someone else to take a periodic look.

4. Skipping Competitor Research & Monitoring

Audience research to uncover the right targeting for keywords, placements, remarketing, and matched lists are a big part of setting up an account and strategically optimizing it over time.

This is a natural approach.

Beyond the audience though, we need to put a focus on our competitors.


  • What they’re spending.
  • What their ads say.
  • What keywords they’re targeting.
  • How to make adjustments.

Go in a different direction or prepare for what it will take to target the same audience.

5. Overusing Broad Match & Lacking Match Type Strategies

Find a match type strategy that works for you.

Whether it impacts how many keywords you have in an ad group, your use of broad match, use of dynamic ads, or other factors, be intentional in how you set match types.

Know where you’re prospecting and learning versus where you’re targeting the bottom of the funnel, ready to convert prospects.

6. A Disproportionate Focus on Quality Score

Quality score matters, but it isn’t the only thing to focus on.

If you’re obsessed with it, consider how it might be blinding you from other factors.

If you’re feeling guilty of not looking at it enough now that I’m mentioning it, well, it is time to take a look and make sure you’re doing well enough to not waste spend compared to competitors with low scores.

7. Being Too Hands-Off

I’ve learned some lessons over the years about what happens when not enough oversight is given to a campaign.

I audited a large bank and found that their auto-pilot efforts had wasted more than $13,000.

In another, more personal case, I was managing a campaign for a local mortgage company with branches around a specific metropolitan area.

All of the best practices and strategic optimizations were in place and we were getting close to their cost per lead goals a few months into the campaign.

What happened next, I couldn’t have predicted.

I had all of my competitor monitoring set up and running.

However, I found that overnight I was losing traffic and that my costs had gone up significantly.

Thankfully, I caught this in a 24-hour period, and over the next few days was able to tell exactly what had happened.

One national lender was present in the market and was willing to bid crazy amounts to win the auction.

A second national lender entered the market also willing to bid really high.

Those accounts were on auto-pilot and were running an automated bidding war against each other paying more than twice what the norms had been per keyword.

That second competitor entering started the cycle.

To this day, their compliance and legal teams would cringe to know they were showing up for things like “payday loans” with how loose and quick they were trying to spend money.

Had I just stuck with my normal competitor monitoring and reports (as noted and encouraged above), it would have taken me weeks or more to understand why my numbers were off and it would have been harder to correct from.

8. Operating in a Silo

At some point, and maybe on an ongoing basis, your company has invested in branding and content.

Paid search can operate in much more of a silo than other digital marketing channels.

Please resist the temptation to stay too deep in it.

Branded content, messaging, and specific calls to action that align with the brand overall can help you.

While you might be focused on generic keywords, you can often benefit from being consistent in voice and wording of ad copy, ad creative, and landing page messaging for those that have had other touchpoints and exposure to your brand.

Tap into:

  • User testing.
  • Testimonials.
  • Value propositions.
  • Calls to action.
  • Other brand assets.

Leverage these so you don’t have a disconnected experience for your paid search traffic and audience.

Plus, you definitely want to get out of the silo to get feedback and visibility on what happens after the conversion to help advise your targeting.

This requires collaboration with sales, product managers, and more.


We all want to have the most strategic and optimized Google Ads accounts possible.

Whether we build the accounts from scratch, inherit them, or put all of our time and attention into them, there’s always a risk of not being aware of the things that can waste money.

Time and money are our resources and we need to invest them to get the greatest return on investment possible and to ensure we’re not missing anything.

Happy optimizing!

More Resources:

Category PPC
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Corey Morris President / CEO at Voltage

Corey is the owner and President/CEO of Voltage. He has spent nearly 20 years working in strategic and leadership roles ...

8 Ways You’re Doing Google Ads Wrong & How to Make It Right

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