PPC Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

No one ever said that succeeding in PPC was easy. In a fast-paced and hugely competitive marketplace, businesses are always fighting for every advantage and battling for any margin that can help their campaigns, and sometimes that means moving quickly and making the most of any shortcuts that present themselves.

While a range of different tools and services exist to help search marketers manage their campaigns effectively, allowing increased scale and greater experimentation, there’s no excuse for losing touch with the basics of your PPC strategies. Even with huge budgets and massive campaigns, simple mistakes can derail all that you set out to achieve, damaging your reputation and impacting your ROI.

If you focus on getting the essentials right, you can devote more of your energies to the high-level decisions – but if the basics are wrong, the foundations of the whole campaign will be faulty. Here are some examples of how even the big players can get it wrong with entry-level mistakes, and some tips on how to avoid them.

Get the Basics Right

Spelling, punctuation and grammar are drilled into all of us from our earliest school days, yet in our modern world of spellcheckers and predictive texting, many of us are happy to let the computer do the work. While your own spelling skills might make your teachers wince, you at least know enough to make sure that anything being published for a wide audience – such as ad copy, for example – should be the place to guarantee that accuracy rules.

Even if your own spelling is perfect, be careful when other factors come into play. Dynamic Keyword Insertion, which lets you customise an ad to a searcher’s specific search query, can be a fantastic resource for businesses with a wide array of products and services to promote. It means your generic ads can appear on a variety of queries, without you having to manually input them – but, it comes with a risk. Without careful planning, the structure of your ads can mean that your carefully crafted copy can end up being gibberish – if it’s even appearing on relevant terms at all.

Spelling mistakes

A brand with glaring spelling errors in its ads isn’t one that is going to project an image of quality and reliability. But at least you can guess at what the “Cake Decoarting” ad is trying to sell – this ad is even less useful:

A brand with glaring spelling errors

It may feel like appearing on as broad a set of terms as possible is useful for getting your brand and offers in front of the biggest audience, but when the ads become nonsensical, like advertising on the search term “Love”, there’s no benefit to be had – it only tarnishes your reputation, while garnering minimal, low-quality clicks. If you do use Dynamic Keyword Insertion, make sure you thoroughly check how it’s working in the wild – and be sure to brush up on the ABCs while you’re there.

DON’T Reuse, Reduce, or Recycle

Managing PPC campaigns takes time, energy, and attention to detail, so everyone can be forgiven for occasionally cutting corners or getting sloppy now and then. However, reusing the same ad copy for different keywords is a big no-no, and is almost certain to damage your overall efforts.

The success of your individual ads relies on their quality, something which dedicated, relevant ad copy will contribute to, rather than standard-issue boilerplate. Make sure your copy works with the headline, and best represents the product or offer that you’re trying to promote. Always keep in mind the target audience that you’re trying to reach, and ask yourself, what would make them click your ad over those of your competitors.

The Value of Negative Thinking

It’s easy to underestimate the importance of negative keywords, but sometimes, what you leave out matters more than what you put in.

Making use of negative keywords means you can exclude all those terms which you don’t want to be associated with your brand, whether they be offensive, irrelevant, or somehow damaging to the message you’re trying to send.

For example, double glazing companies may reasonably want their ads to appear alongside the “windows installation” term. But if you’re searching for how to set up your computer with a leading operating system, with the search term “windows installation PC”, you still find ads like this:

window installation PC

These companies don’t want their ads in front of people looking for IT help, or any of the costly, accidental clicks that come their way. Likewise, people searching for computer advice don’t want to see ads from these firms, which they will consider irrelevant and annoying. If these brands designated “PC” as a negative keyword, they could avoid this situation.

Or take this company as an example – a design and printing firm which offers things like personalised gift cards and cheques – or checks, as it’s spelled in the US.

Negative keyword

Safe to say, this business would probably prefer that its ads were not headlined with such a serious and emotional topic, while people looking for information on the issue would prefer not to see adverts for personalised paper products. Using negative keywords could dodge this particular issue.

If there are many ways to succeed in the world of PPC, there are also many ways in which you can go wrong. Staying on top of things requires patience and diligence, but it pays off. Look after the basics, double check everything, consider using competitive intelligence, and always monitor your campaigns after launch to ensure they are optimised. Everyone makes mistakes – just don’t make these ones.

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Ian O'Rouke

Ian O'Rouke

Founder and CEO, Adthena

Ian O’Rourke is founder and CEO of Adthena. Ian specialises in the strategic growth of the business whilst providing the team with his leadership and expertise to overcome digital marketing challenges that many brands face. Ian has his finger firmly on the pulse of the rapidly-growing digital marketing landscape and has been involved within the tech industry for the past 20 years in Silicon Valley, Taiwan, England and Australia.

Prior to Adthena he has founded several successful businesses including Oovie which he started in 2004. Within less than five years he grew the company to become Australia’s largest DVD kiosk operator which was eventually acquired in 2009. As well as this, Ian was Asia Sales Director for eCommerce start-up, Intershop. During his time with the company he was instrumental in its growth as he established its Asian operations sales from zero to $8m in less than three years, establishing offices in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.


December 8, 2015

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