Most common Google Ads mistakes (and how to fix them)

Google Ads mistakes

Why do some Google Ads campaigns skyrocket with success while others stumble and crumble despite similar investments and seemingly strategic setups? Is there a hidden algorithm or a concealed playbook that decodes the labyrinthine world of Google, distinguishing the triumphs from the flops?


Nope. Just the same old mistakes year after year.


Today, I’ll disclose some of the most common – yet often overlooked – Google Ads mistakes that advertisers, both novice and experienced, frequently find themselves making. These aren’t just theoretical fluffs – they’re drawn from real-world campaigns, some of which were steered back into calm waters, while others… well, let’s just say they serve as buoyant warnings to others.






The budget in Google Ads is based on a daily spend and set up on the campaign level. Each campaign has it’s own budget. So if you have 5 campaigns with a daily budget of $50, you might spend $250 per day. Or about $7500 per month.


There is an option, however, to set an account budget, but it is only available for accounts who using monthly invoicing as a payment method.

It is very easy to overspend if you campaign structure is poor. And if you’re not limiting your daily spend.


How to fix it:

  • always specify how much per month you want to spend. Then divide by day and campaign.
  • don’t leave your campaigns unattended, check if they are reaching their limit or overspending. Adjust daily budget.
  • don’t have too many campaigns if your budget is small.




Mostly issues with payment methods. It’s common to forget that you need to top up your credit card or maybe update one. Although it’s an easy one to fix, your campaigns stopping is not a good thing. If they are not running for a longer period, you’re loosing on performance metrics. For example, your CTR goes down, your Quality score does down and when you start running your campaigns you might see increases CPC.


How to fix it:

  • always have a backup payment method
  • if you’re spending a lot ($5000+/month) you might think about setting up monthly invoicing.


Bidding Strategy Blunders

This is an important one. Choosing an incorrect bidding strategy can cost you a lot and you might not get any conversions. I have a post explaining bidding strategies in detail. You might want to give that a go.


With all this automated bidding strategies hype, people are starting their campaigns and forgetting that automated bidding needs data, meaning conversions. If you don’t have at least 100-200 conversions per month, per campaign. You are risking at overspending, by a lot. And don’t listen to Google saying you only need 30. Not always.


It might work for a new campaign, if that campaign gathers conversions quickly. Say 5 per day. Then during 3-4 weeks the algorithm can catch up and optimise your campaign.


How to fix it:

  • start with manual CPC or enhanced CPC
  • if campaign has enough conversions, test automated bidding strategy through built-in experiments




Targeting Mistakes


Broad Targeting

This is valid for keywords in Search campaigns and for display campaigns as well. Starting too broad will cause your budget to be spent quickly, without any impact.

With broad keywords and automated bidding strategies it might work but if you’re just starting out it is best to start with phrase match keywords or exact match keywords.


With display campaigns including YouTube it is also recommended to start with specific targeting. You always have to think about what audience you want to reach. And since the display campaign and Google has a huge reach you can spend your budget pretty quickly without achieving any results. Narrow down your audience to make sure you’re targeting the people that might be interested in your product or service.

Just remember one thing. The more targeting options you add the higher the cost will be due to the fact that Google sees additional targeting as an extra cost for using their data. Don’t narrow your audience too much meaning don’t add too many targeting options because it might just increase the cost. You want to aim for that middle ground. For example, don’t include demographic targeting, like age or gender, at the beginning, just stick with interest or topics or custom audiences.


How to fix it:

  • don’t use gender, age, income targeting
  • stick to one or to interests, like bargain hunters or luxury shoppers


Ignoring Negative Keywords

If you’re starting out with search campaign and adding phrase and exact match keywords for most part you should be fine because you’re already narrowing down the targeting. But with Google even ] exact match keywords can have many variations and you can have traffic from searches that don’t have anything to do with the product or service. In this case you have to utilize negative keywords.


Ideally you would think about negative keywords before setting up your campaign. Just list the keywords that you already know have nothing to do with your business but but your ad can still show up. For example, if you’re selling new iPhones and you don’t have any used iPhones you should add the word “used” as a negative keyword.


Once you start running your campaign you will receive traffic from the keywords you added. Always make sure to check the search terms report and add any keywords as negative you find in there that you don’t find useful for your business. Depending on your spend you might check the search term reports daily, weekly or monthly.


During the first days of your campaign I would recommend visiting this report daily just to catch negative keywords at the start and save additional dollars.


How to fix it:

  • think about the negative keywords before launch
  • check search term report daily


Geo-targeting Oversights

Google allows you to target countries, cities, even zip codes and radius targeting. You have to use the geo-targeting options because you don’t want to target too broad.


How you target depends on your campaign goals and even your budget. For example, if you target the whole United States with a small budget I would recommend targeting just one state or even one city because the results will probably be better.


On the other hand, if your business is local then you need to target only the area you actually work in maybe even narrowing down to a specific zip codes. This way you will make the most out of your budget.


How to fix it:

  • think carefully if you need to target the whole country
  • for bigger impact select smaller are and move on from there




Content-Related Mistakes

Poor Ad Copy

Another big mistake is made when writing ads. Search ads is the only part that is seen by the user, so you have to make sure that it matches the keywords that you have and your offer.


Not only that, you have to make sure that the ad users see actually answers their search query and this is where people tend to get too creative. Meaning they write an ad that is not as relatable to what people actually wanted to see. And even though you don’t pay if the user doesn’t click the add but you get a lower CTR.


Because the ad gets displayed when people search for the keywords but they don’t click this signals Google that your ads are not as relevant which in terms decreases your Quality Score and increases your cost and you’re losing your money.


How to fix it:

  • look at your keywords when writing ads. Don’t stray too far from them
  • make sure your ads are simple to understand, easy to read.



Weak Call-to-Actions (CTAs)

Your ads main job is to get a click and to make that happen you need to include a call to action in your ads. Sometimes the call to action has to be very clear and direct. For example, for keywords such as “buy a new iPhone” your CTA can be very direct, like “Get your new iPhone right here”. If the ad is broader your call to action might be softer, like “Learn more” or “Find out more”. But ideally your ad has to contain some sort of call to action to nudge the user to click the ad.


How to fix it:

  • always invite a user to click the ad.
  • you can’t use the words “click here” in the ad


Lack of Relevance

I always say that getting a click on the ad is just the beginning. Once the ad is clicked the user lands on your page and ideally it should be a landing page dedicated to specific campaign or at least dedicated to Google ads in general.


In any case the landing page has to relate to the keywords and to the ads as well. You have to meet users expectation after he clicks on your ad and lands on your page.


If the users land on a page and then they don’t see what they were looking for they will just leave and you just wasted another click.


How to fix it:

  • don’t use home page as your landing page
  • use specific category or product pages to make users life easier
  • ideally, create a dedicated landing page for you Google Ads campaigns



Technical and Design Flaws


Landing Page Errors

When you have one landing page that you advertise on Google ads, this might not be an issue for you. But when you have a lot of pages in different campaigns, different ad groups and different ads it’s easy to overlook pages that don’t work.


Always make sure that any page that you advertise within the account is actually working. there are no errors on the page, it loads perfectly and there are no notifications or anything else that might scare the user away.


Because again if someone comes to your landing page should an ad and landing page is not working you just wasted a dollar.


How to fix it:

  • visit the page that you advertise yourself, ideally on different browsers and devices


Mobile Unfriendliness

It’s no surprise that a lot of traffic is coming from mobile devices. Most websites see 60%, 70% or 80% of traffic coming from mobile devices. Obviously you have to make sure that your website is mobile friendly. Which you should have done four or five years ago.


But I still see a lot of landing pages or pages are that are used to direct people from campaigns are not as mobile friendly as they should be. The images are too big, the text is too small, the CTA is somewhere at the bottom of the page. Because don’t forget there’s a lot more scrolling on the mobile page than on a desktop. Make sure your call to action is somewhere above so the user doesn’t have to scroll to the bottom to find it


How to fix it:

  • I shouldn’t even put this here – make sure your page looks great on a mobile device.
  • check with several devices
  • check the funnel yourself. Order the product or service on your mobile device to make sure that everything works and is easily visible.



Slow Page Load Times

Page speed not only affects user experience but Google also punishes you for having the a page. No one wants to wait for the page to load forever so people will click away if your pages are slow.


Google also monitors the page speed and if the page is very slow your page experience or landing page experience would be lower and that will impact the Quality Score, and that will increase the cost.


You can use this Google tool to measure your page speeds and it even gives you recommendations on what to fix. If you have a developer just send them this and asked him if they can optimize it.

If not check what you can do. Usually the page is slower due to big images uploaded to a page so maybe you can optimize the images, remove some if they’re not necessary.


How to fix it:

  • check the page speed tool above. Make sure you’re in the green zone
  • fix issues that are recommended by the tool
  • reduce unnecessary images or videos on the page to make it load faster.





Tracking and Analytical Mistakes


Ignoring Conversion Tracking

I assume one of the main reasons you advertise is to get conversions. This could be sales, leads, registrations or whatever. You’re not here to get just clicks, you want people to take a specific action on your website which is known as a conversion.


But most people skip this. Google doesn’t know what actions are important thus it cannot optimize campaigns.


If you have a product or service that could be purchased online then setting up a conversion is not that hard. You can either import one from Google Analytics or just use conversions within Google ads account. You can also create one using Google tag manager.


There are websites that that don’t sell anything online. But even then I would advise to create some kind of conversion. You can create conversion on phone clicks or  conversion as page visits. Although it’s not that optimal but it’s still an indication of an action that is somewhat important for your business and now algorithm also knows that.


How to fix it:

  • create a conversion in the account for the action you find the most important
  • don’t have one, create any conversion as long as it’s not a click



Misinterpreting Data


Google ads tracks conversions differently from any other platform and this is actually true for any platform out there. To put it simply each platform tries to credit its own effort.


Google Ads will be biased towards Google ads clicks. In Google Ads a conversion is attributed to Google ads click and within a default window of 30 days. Unless you changed it. Which means that if the user clicks your ad on Monday and then comes after two weeks through a different channel (email) that conversion will be attributed to Google Ads. If you look at Google Analytics account you will see a different attribution. Email would get the credit.


Which means you can’t compare the two platforms and try to make the numbers look the same. They will always differ. My advice is just pick one and use that.


Also, quite common mistake is to compare statistics from Google Analytics report and Google Ads. What people forget is that Google ads reports clicks and most reports in Google Analytics are based on sessions or users.


How to fix it:

  • don’t try to compare reports. Different platforms measure things differently
  • pick one, stick to it. Optimise, then check your bottom line.


Neglecting Google Analytics

I’ve mentioned Google Analytics before and it’s a great tool to analyse data. You can do some analysis in the Google Ads but it’s limited so my advise is to connect the two accounts so that the data from Google ads can flow into Google Analytics.


You can spot a lot of insights while looking at combined data from both accounts. This can be used to optimize campaigns. Just remember that data in both accounts are not 100% accurate so take it with a grain of salt.


How to fix it:

  • connect accounts, either through Google Ads account or through Google Analytics. Both ways are supper easy.
  • create reports in Google Analytics and try to slice the data in different ways. See if you spot any patterns or insights



Campaign Management Mistakes


Infrequent Monitoring

One of the most common mistakes people make, especially at the beginning is thinking that once you set up a campaign you can leave it for a while. This is not a true. You have to revisit your campaign a lot more often.


Especially at the beginning when you just starting out I would advise you to visit daily. Log into your account, check the performance, check the statistics and understand what is happening. If your budget is small, you don’t have to come in daily because most likely you will not see a big difference. But with bigger budgets you have to know what’s going on so leaving campaign untouched for a long period of time might bring you suboptimal results.


This is especially true for a Display campaigns for YouTube campaigns where you have to monitor the placements and remove the ones that are not performing but draining your budget.


How to fix it:

  • with new accounts, visit daily.
  • even if you’re not the one managing, you need to understand what’s happening
  • if agency is managing your account, ask for performance updates. And not clicks, conversions, revenue etc. The stuff that matters.


Failing to Adjust

And of course, just visiting an account is not enough. You have to make adjustments. Not too often if you’re an automated bidding strategy. But you have to understand that there’s no way that campaign can be set and performing without making any changes to it.


You might have to change the ads, add additional ads, increase/decrease the bids for the keywords, increase/decrease the budget, check device performance, check auction insights, check search term reports etc. There’s a lot of things going on and you need to be on top of them.


How to fix it:

  • don’t have time, hire someone. But don’t leave them, make sure they report back.
  • want to learn? Set aside some time to go through your keywords, bids, budgets, ads, search terms, devices, locations and so on.


Ignoring Ad Extensions

Even though Google promotes extensions quite heavily there are still people missing them. The ad extensions or ad assets can be found under the ads. You have your site links, promo extensions, phone numbers, structured snippets, price extensions and so on and so forth. These extensions can appear with your ad and with them your ads appears more clickable which can help you get additional conversions.


How to fix it:

  • go to campaign > Ads & assets > Assets.
  • add as many as are applicable to your business
  • not all assets are available in all countries





Compliance and Legal Missteps



Violating Google’s Ad Policies

You can’t promote everything on Google ads. Like any other platform it has its own rules so my recommendation is always to check them before you start advertising. Especially for sensitive subjects like politics and finance services, medicine and similar. Some things are not allowed but there are products or services that can be advertised with some exceptions or with some additional documents provided to Google (certificates and whatnot).


You can get banned for violating some of the policies. Thread carefully. But usually Google will just not approve your ads stating that it violates one of it’s policies.


If the ads are just not approved it’s fine but if your account gets banned the ban itself is on your domain name, not on your account. So creating a new account will not help and this is very bad because you will not be able to advertise your website on Google ads anymore.


How to fix it:

  • read the policy
  • if not approved don’t blindly submit again. This can get you banned.
  • contact support if unsure, they will help you out. Might take a while, though.



Ignoring Local Laws


If you’re advertising in one country this might be not an issue for you. But for international advertisers always check what the local laws are. Google will allow some of the services to be advertised in one countries but not the others. Gambling or adult content might be allowed in some countries, but be banned in others. Always double check if the product or service you advertise is allowed in a specific country, because, again your ads might not be approved and your account might be banned.


How to fix it:

  • Google looks at local laws as well, make sure you know them
  • Google about particular services in that country. Or hire legal help.

Copyright Issues

This should be a no brainer, copyrighted material is not allowed to be used in any platform. Google Ads included. Double check if whatever you advertise has a copyrighted material in it.


You should be fine as there are a lot of e-commerce sites and product resellers that advertise products that are obviously copyrighted. Google still allows them to be advertised. Sometimes what you will find is that some text in the ads will not be allowed as it is copyrighted. They have to be replaced but for keywords you can use a lot of copyrighted words or phrases as keywords and it should be fine.


How to fix it:

  • if the something is copyrighted in the ad, Google will let you know. So changed it and don’t try any tricks.
  • you can bid on any keywords you like.




Mistakes in Ad Testing and Optimization


Lack of A/B Testing: Importance and execution.

Google has a built in testing tool called experiments. It’s pretty simple but it gets the job done. You can test different ads, bidding strategies and even different landing pages. If you have a lot of traffic I encourage you to use that and test everything that you can to find out what works best for your audience.


How to fix it:

  • just try the tool under All campaigns > Experiments
  • use conversion calculator, to check if the results are significant enough. I like this one.



Ignoring Performance Metrics

Each business has its own goal so only you know why you chose to advertise on Google ads, and what you want from it. But for most part people are on Google ads because they want to increase sales or to put it simply get conversions. Conversions can be anything that you deem important for your business but you have to focus only on conversions.


You can measure value and revenue, that is also fine as long as you’re measuring something that directly impacts your business.


Don’t focus on metrics like clicks or click through rate or impression share or whatever, because these are only additional metrics. For example, you can use CTR to improve your ads because it shows how many people click on your ad and that is fine. But at the end of the day if more people click on the ads you should get more value, more conversions, more revenue, more sales. Always have your main metric, your KPI at the back of your head.


How to fix it:

  • each dollar you spend should at least get that dollar back. Ideally more. You’re doing a business, not a charity.
  • don’t focus on metrics like clicks, CTR, etc. Conversions, revenue, sales > value for your business.



Ignoring Advanced Features

Google Ads evolves quite quicklym adding new features and tools. My recommendation is to try to keep up. If your budget is small, most likely ot will not have a significant impact. Usually those tools (various betas) are developed for big businesses. But there are some that actually help you get a lot more from Google ads. Make sure you’re understand and use the tool that Google provides you.


How to fix it:

  • read my blog:)) I will try to cover things you need to try.
  • read any blog, plenty of them online.
  • join Facebook group (hint: mine). There are plenty of people that will help you.
  • read Google Ads blog.


Neglecting Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis is something you do before launching a campaign. Usually you do know who your competitors are, what are their strengths and weaknesses. When you launch a campaign you’ll get additional insights on who’s bidding on your keywords as well how are they doing against you what ads do they have etc. Looking at your competitors is always good because it keeps you on your toes as well ,and it also might help you understand what is working on what is not.


How to fix it:

  • use Auction insights in the account to see who is bidding on your keywords as well
  • Google those keywords to see what ads are used by your competitors
  • spot the difference, copy to your ads and test using testing tool



There are so many more mistakes, but did not want this to be an even longer post. If you avoid making these than you are already doing very good. I will probably update this post in the future.

I also decided to make some sort of checklist that can be easily applied to any account. I think that would make you life a lot easier. There is so much stuff on the internet that it’s hard to follow. Having a list by your side will make things easier.


Let me know if there is anything I should add or share your experience. Did you make any of the mentioned mistakes? Honestly?


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