10 Adwords Mistakes

Instead of always look at what to do, it’s sometimes just as useful (or even more useful) to look at what not to do. You may be doing a bunch of things right with your campaigns, but not realize that you may be doing this one thing wrong. So let’s take a look at some common mistakes in our Adwords campaigns :

Mistake #1 : Combining Search and Content Networks

One reason this happens is people simply forget to turn the content network off when they start a new campaign. But people also just naturally run search and content under the same campaign. Separate search and content campaigns, they’re two different ways of playing the game and you have to play them both differently. Different bids, keywords, everything. It’s just easier to spread them apart. I personally split them between different accounts. My accounts are either search only or content only.

Mistake #2 : Dropping Bids too Fast

Another mistake people make is getting too anxious about dropping their bids and making the transition from the “losing money” phase to the profitable phase. Example : you start a new campaign and you’re bidding for the front page. You have an awesome CTR and your conversions are pretty good, but you’re losing money. You start your bids at $1.00 and you’re in position 3. After the first day, your average CPC naturally falls from $0.98 to $0.95. You’re sick of losing money and want to turn things around, so you drop your max CPC down to $0.95 to match the average. Wrong move. Your position is now going to drop, along with CTR. You didn’t give Adwords enough time to “love” your campaign. In this current situation, I’d wait until average CPC drops to about $0.85 before I start pulling down my max CPC to $0.95. Slow and steady wins the race. Maintain that position while ultimately paying less and less for each click.

Mistake #3 : Starting Bids too Low

Cool, so you start your campaign and all of your keywords have an OK quality score with a minimum bid of $0.10. Let’s start our bids off at $0.10 then, right? Wrong again. Starting your bids off at the minimum will start you in a crappy position (unless theres 0 competing ads), which will then translate into low CTR and everything that follows. Quality score gets slapped, you’re paying more with no improvement in position, etc. Ignore minimum bids and focus on what you need to bid in order to get you into a position that you’ll see good CTR.

Mistake #4 : Broad Matching From the Start

Don’t start your campaigns with broad matching keywords (unless you have a completely insane list of negatives). Broad matching will get you a lot of impressions, also a lot of which aren’t targeted enough to get a good CTR. Start off using just phrase and exact match, and you’ll start off with a better CTR. Play that for a little until your bid prices start falling and QS starts increasing, and then introduce some broad matched keywords.

Mistake #5 : Not Enough Testing

Many people simply aren’t testing enough ads in their campaigns for optimal CTR. They’ll split test 3 or so ads and once they find the best ad, just leave that one up and let her ride. Never be content with your ad CTR – always fight to increase it. Find the best ad out of that three, and then match it up against a new one. Test everything. Turn on “rotate ads evenly” and give each ad their fair share.

Mistake #6 : Too Many Keywords in Adgroups

I’m not going to spend too much time on this one because it’s boring and you’ve heard it 100 times before. Less keywords = more targeted = higher CTR and conversions. Don’t pull 2,000 keywords from Wordtracker and put them all into 1 group. Keyword Companion is an awesome tool to break up keyword lists. So don’t be lazy, the more time you spend optimizing, the more money you’ll make.

Mistake #7 : Not Tracking Everything

You have to track things other than just your ads – track keywords too! You may think your campaign is going well with a 3% CTR – which isn’t bad by any means. You look into one of your adgroups and see that there’s a keyword getting 1/2 of the impressions and has a 0.53% CTR. Taking out this keyword will skyrocket your CTR. Track the CTR of keywords and how they convert – it’s important.

Mistake #8 : Not Testing by Time of Day

When I say “track everything”, I mean track everything. Track down to the hour of the day. When you look at hourly stats, you can see times of the day when CTR is awesome and so are conversions. You can also see the “gaps” in your day that CTR and conversions are down – you may be losing money during these times. By optimizing this, you’ll increase your profit and CTR. Both good things for your Adwords account.

Mistake #9 : Realizing That Landing Pages Effect Adwords

Many people believe that Adwords is all about what’s in your account, and once they click the ad it’s now all just about the CTR on your landing page and how it converts. Adwords also looks at your bounce rate, or how many people leave your page after just 1 initial impression. Bad bounce rate = bad page in Google’s eyes. It’s tricky, but work on getting users to stick around your page for a little before moving on to the offer and converting there. You can actually increase conversions while decreasing bounce rate, it just takes some effort and testing on your part.

Mistake #10 : Getting Discouraged too Easily

One big thing to realize is that Adwords is certainly not an easy beast to tackle. I’ve talked to affiliate marketers that are making $5,000/day off of Yahoo and MSN, and still are having a rough time with profiting in Adwords. Too many people make a couple attempts at Adwords, fall flat on their face, and then walk away with their tail between their legs. Adwords takes a lot of time and more importantly patience to master. I’m not even close to mastering Adwords yet, but I’ve had the patience to lose a lot of money with it for the sake of learning a few things that I’m now sharing with you. Six months ago, I didn’t have the patience. I put up a few campaigns, had them run for about two days before they got slapped, and then called it quits with Adwords. Don’t be that me six months ago, because I know that’s how a lot of you are now. It’s like a David and Goliath sort of thing. Adwords is the Goliath, but a few small tricks here and there can have a big impact.

I know this was more of a “classic” article that’s been done many times before, but I hope you maybe pulled something new from this one. Cutting out the number of wrong things will increase the number of right things, which means more money in your pocket.

Happy Googl’ing.


  1. October 20, 2007

    Fantastic article! Keep up the great posts, Paul. :)

  2. October 20, 2007

    Great article, Paul. It’s always good to have the “DON’TS” spelled out in black & white – this is stuff a lot of marketers know but keep forgetting.

    For me – and I know for a lot of folk as well – the biggest mistake has been not testing enough and then, when the results suck, getting discouraged and calling it quits.

    Hey! Here’s an idea – how about writing a post on the variables that must be tested while marketing on the net. And maybe ask readers to write about the tests they have run. I think it could be a great topic to dig into. There’s such a lot of talk about testing but difficult to get one’s hands on a checklist for uber testers!

    Stay cool!

  3. NickH
    October 22, 2007

    Good post Paul.

    What ad network do you think someone new to all of this should start out with? Dive in at the deep end with Google or start small on MSN or Yahoo?

  4. October 22, 2007

    Nick – it really depends on the challenge you’re up for. Some people like testing the waters with an easier engine like Yahoo or MSN, but some people just want to start with the toughest first. I personally started with just Yahoo before I got into Google hardcore.

  5. dave
    October 22, 2007

    Damn. That was a sadly informative post for me:

    “One reason this happens is people simply forget to turn the content network off when they start a new campaign.”

    Yep, that was me.

    “Adwords takes a lot of time and more importantly patience to master.”

    Money, you forgot money. I jumped in with both feet making a lot of these mistakes you just identified – I had the patience, and the time, but my budget bore the brunt of the smackdown that I took from my first couple weeks. #6 was especially painful. Back to the drawing board.

  6. October 28, 2007

    how to do you view your hourly stats?

  7. October 30, 2007

    Amazing article. I cannot count how often I was screaming and yelling (what I believed to be) the insanity of AdWords and its policies. However, over time you adapt and now I can say, quite frankly, that there is something loveable about Google AdWords.

  8. October 31, 2007

    One of your best post to date. This is kind of info everyone should be reading. Nice job and well put together.

  9. November 5, 2007

    Now I can see what I was doing wrong with my campaigns. I’ll try to follow your rules, and I hope I’ll get some results. Indeed, I was lowering the bid immediately after I saw a lower average CPC.

  10. November 5, 2007

    With the use of systems like Google Adwords, given that we can avoid mistakes like this, are there many other systems to use the same principles with?

    Thanks, great post.

  11. November 5, 2007

    Great post.. seems I have did almost all the mistakes when I start using the adwords..

  12. November 18, 2007

    Great post there.

    I agree on the general sentiment on how hard it is to profit off Google. I am finding most of my traffic from Google are from the Content network – almost 80% of it. And search is giving me less than 100 clicks a day.

    Yet Content tend to convert equally well, if not better, than search. Its all about testing/tweaking to see what works on Google.

    I started site-targeting CPC/CPM recently, and it has proven to be a wise move – albeit one that I should have done much much earlier..

    And yeah: MSN/Yahoo are absolute GEMS. People often tend to overlook them and get too hooked up with the big G.

    Another possible tip for anyone reading this, is this:

    11) Seperate your ‘test’ campaigns and your ‘real’ campaign:

    Meaning, have 2 Adwords account. 1 for testing campaigns, and once you find a winning combination, export it to your ‘real’ campaign.

    Good points is that you maintain a good overall historical account CTR% on your main account.

    Bad thing is that, you lose all previous CTR% built up with this previous campaign on your ‘test’ account, and not to mention, if you have Content traffic, they have to review it all over again. And you might just end up with a reviewer in a bad mood that decides your ads aren’t relevant this time.

    Still something worth considering, as I see many successful PPC marketers swearing by this. (I personally can’t be bothered)

  13. November 22, 2007

    Really informative article. My outlook on Yahoo, MSN and Google advertising has changed!

  14. November 26, 2007

    First time reader here…

    Great post! i found it very helpful. I’m thinking about starting some Azoogle PPC campaigns and this is some good info to know before i start…

  15. December 3, 2007

    Thanks for the great tips Paul. I’m going to start implementing much of this into my campaigns now!

  16. February 1, 2008

    I think I’ve 6 out of the 10 mistakes in the last week. Not good.

  17. February 4, 2008


    So your saying the steps above is the steps you take and keep in mind to lead to a successful affiliate campaign?

    Also in the beginning stages should I spend out extra money to increase the QS score and build my laterals around the good QS score keyword?

    For example not really making profits in the new launce of a campaign in other words spending more money then I get on a return?

  18. February 9, 2008

    I remember the days when i used to make all of these mistakes! I’ll still make mistake 10 occasionally!


  19. February 25, 2008

    When I first started on adwords, boy did i lose my ass. Read read read and read some more and research the hell out of your kws!

  20. March 22, 2008

    Great article Paul, very sharp! You got it right, especially point number 10. I do have that experience. We’re easily give up on strategies by not giving them enough time to work especially when we’re in the position of losing money.

  21. June 3, 2008

    very well done my friend…your 10th tip has encouraged me from quitting adwords so easily.. thanks a lot for sharing this..

  22. June 7, 2008

    priceless info…

    not surprisingly i’ve been doing about 40% of these NOT to-do’s… i’m on my way to do some fixes and hopefully start turning things around.

  23. September 25, 2008

    Great Article Paul, Thanks for posting I have been doing a lot of mistakes lately with adwords

  24. November 3, 2008

    it should be Affect not effect

  25. John
    November 21, 2008

    Thanks very much for the tips, im currently reading a lot, researching and trying to understand as much as i can before beginning with adwords.

    Then i realise that once i start it, its even more so about learning while using it and getting used to working with adwords and how to tweak and make changes.

    Naturally a part of me wants to dive right in but i know thats the worst thing to do, so once i feel ive educated myself and got as prepared as possible then il begin my first campaigns.


  26. September 29, 2009

    [RE:Adwords also looks at your bounce rate, or how many people leave your page after just 1 initial impression. Bad bounce rate = bad page in Google’s eyes.]

    Definition: A bounce rate is recorded when no other page has been visited.

    Example: 1000 visitors land on a page about petrol generators.

    200 Click the back button straight away.
    100 Lost their connection.
    600 Went on to visit other pages about generators.
    100 Stayed and read the entire contents on the landing page and then left without visiting another page.

    Q: What’s the bounce rate?

    A) 60%
    B) 70%
    C) 80%

  27. March 4, 2010

    finally I found it, this is very useful article. thanks for sharing

  28. July 6, 2011

    thanks for your nice post, very helpful article. Adwords is the best ads site if we understand how to use it properly.

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