Common PPC pitfalls and how to avoid them

We’ve spent a few quid with Google over the past year on their pay per click service. It drives traffic to our website and it has generated conversions, but boy have we wasted a lot of money on trial and error.

Here’s an overview of the mistakes we made initially, so you can skip the learning curve…

What to turn off:

  • All countries but your own
  • Display network
  • People searching about your location rather than in your location
  • Non-business hours
  • Mobile traffic

All of the above are potential PPC money pits, and so it’s best to disable them when you first start out.

Turn on:

  • Your location, start as small as possible

Start small, and test. Too often we thought “screw it, let’s target all the big cities in the US and the UK and hope the numbers work out”. They don’t.

The Ads themselves:

Use exclusive and SPECIFIC language and be sure to include the call to action like “contact us”, “call us”, “sign up for a quote”. You want to dissuade people who won’t convert. Don’t be vague about what you do.


Start low, and SET A DAILY BUDGET to a tiny amount to start. We set our initial daily budget way too high, and burnt through much more advertising spend than I would have liked on a campaign that hadn’t been properly tested.

Your choice of keyword:

  • Broad match modifier only – this gets you 90% of the way with 10% of the effort
  • You only need a few keywords
  • Add negatives that don’t fit your business (“free” is usually a big one)

Landing page:

Do not under any circumstances point your ads at your home page. You need a landing page with a clear call to action. If you’re feeling particularly cute you could even create different landing pages for different ads. So for example, that Ad that you’ve pitched at the construction industry should send visitors to a landing page all about why your <widget> is so great for the construction industry. You will see a huge leap in conversions if you get this right.

On your landing page have just the one call to action.  Make it clear that they can only do one thing, whether that’s sign up, leave their email address, or call you for more info. If your landing page asks for people to call you, tell them to speak with “Chad” to obtain a quote so you can track who is calling from one of your PPC ads.

Testing and optimising performance of your ads:

Look through the keywords that are coming in on a regular basis, and perform the searches yourself to see what comes up (make sure you do this with personalisation turned off). If the query isn’t relevant, use a negative keyword to exclude that traffic. If none of them are relevant, you need to pick better keywords to start with.

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