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Written by Sam Yadegar on May 11 , 2020

Don’t fall for these roadblocks on the path to PPC success.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The common PPC mistakes even seasoned marketers fall for
  • How to avoid these pitfalls in your own campaigns
  • What elements make up a successful PPC program
  • Why optimization, consistency, and proper targeting are key

Marketers have been trying to figure out the secret to effective pay-per-click (PPC) advertising since its inception. PPC ads are an essential part of any social media marketing strategy, but (as seasoned digital marketers know) creating great ads that get people to click can be tricky. 

It’s important to know some background of how PPC ads work and how you can use them effectively. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the top mistakes marketers make when creating their PPC ads — and what you can do to avoid them.

HawkSEM: PPC mistakes

Once you know your audience, you can choose better keywords and create stellar ad copy that gets your target audience to click. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Not having a concise goal and strategy

When you’re first starting out, don’t head into your PPC journey without a clear end goal in mind. This can leave you wandering in the dark, unsure about whether or not you’re making progress. Instead, start your campaign with a clear, specific goal in mind, and a timeframe in which to reach it. 

From there, create a map of how you plan to get to your goal. Define your audience as specifically as you can. After all, if you don’t know who your ads are for, how can you create effective ads in the first place? 

Once you know your audience, you can choose better keywords and create stellar ad copy that gets your target audience to click. 

2. Not geo-targeting

Even if you’re selling your product or service all over the country, geo-targeting can help your ads appeal to people on a more personal level. 

People are attracted to brands and ads that feel personalized and like they’re speaking to them. This goes for both local and national companies. Google will allow you to geo-target advertisements by state, so you can include the user’s home state in the header of your ad to grab their attention. 

Take it from the search engine itself: “Location targeting helps you focus your advertising on the areas where you’ll find the right customers, and restrict it in areas where you won’t,” explains Google. “This specific type of targeting could help increase your return on investment (ROI) as a result.”

3. Not using the right kinds of keywords

You already know how essential your keywords are in a campaign, but there are a few other things you need to be aware of to better make use of keywords. Keep in mind that the keywords that you’re using in your ad may not match exactly with a user’s search terms. 

Most searches are “longtail,” which means they are longer queries that may contain variations of your keywords. Focus more on these broader, long-tail keywords instead of on more specific keywords.

One of the PPC mistakes many companies fall for is failing to use negative keywords as a part of their strategy. Negative keywords are terms that you can use to tell Google which search terms you don’t want to show up in the results for. 

For example, if you were selling luxury bed sheets, and you’re using the keyword “bedsheets” in your campaign. You wouldn’t want to appear in a search query like “what to do with old bed sheets?” Using negative keywords can help improve the relevancy of your ads and make sure the right people are seeing them.

4. Not optimizing your landing pages

Where do people get sent when they click on your ad? If they’re not taken to a specific and optimized landing page, they may be unsure of what to do next. 

A landing page should have specific language about the next step a visitor to your site should take — aka the call to action (CTA). The CTA could ask them to sign up for your email list, schedule a consultation, fill out a form, or give you a call.

Make sure your landing page is written in clear, easy-to-understand language that matches the language in your ad, and that you have an explicit next step. Elements that make up a killer landing page include:

  • An eye-catching headline
  • An easy form
  • A mobile-friendly experience
  • A thoughtful design
HawkSEM: Common PPC mistakes

If people get different messages from your ads and landing pages, they may end up confused about who you are and what you offer. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Not having a consistent message

Throughout all the content you create (including ads and landing pages), your language, message, and branding should be consistent. If people get different messages from your ads and landing pages, they may end up confused about who you are and what you offer. 

Do your keywords match what you’re selling? Do they match the keywords on your landing page? If not, visitors may bounce from your page immediately, unsure of if your business is what they’re looking for. 

To remedy this, always repeat your ad copy on your landing page to keep visitors from getting lost or disoriented. You should also strive to have a similar design across all of your platforms and offerings, and keep the tone and voice consistent throughout as well.

6. Setting up a campaign and forgetting it

Another one of the most common PPC mistakes we see is thinking that you can simply set up a campaign and let run on its own. Rather, it requires consistent monitoring, analyzing, and updating to make sure your strategy is reaching its goal. 

Building a PPC campaign is a lot of work, so once it’s up and running, you may be tempted to leave it alone, sit back, and let it do its job for a while. But the truth is, you should be monitoring its performance daily. You’re paying for your ad daily, after all, so you should make sure your ad budget is being spent wisely.

Look at your KPIs and watch for a low click-through rate, a low number of conversions, keywords that aren’t converting, or other strange behavior or problematic issues. 

And as your campaign matures, you can start to think about scaling it. Once your campaign has collected enough data, you can work to expand your keyword lists, try new types of campaigns and bidding strategies, and set up additional campaigns.

7. Striving for #1

Everyone wants to come in first place with PPC advertising, but it may be difficult and unsustainable to strive for the top spot in the long term. 

While being in the number-one spot at the top of a search engine result page will pretty much guarantee you more clicks and an increase in web traffic, this isn’t always a great strategy for your budget. 

Ads further down the page can still have a great click-through and conversion rate and will end up costing you less in the long run. 

The takeaway

When it comes to creating PPC ads that work, you may need to use a little trial and error before you find a formula that gets you the results you want for your business. 

Avoiding the PPC mistakes above can help you on your journey towards creating a great PPC ad with a high click-through rate.  

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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