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Written by Caroline Cox on Oct 31

Managing your pay-per-click program shouldn’t feel like you’re wandering in a haunted house. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • A few of the most common PPC problems
  • Actionable solutions that’ll help you overcome these problems
  • Pro tips to boost your PPC program

Ghouls, monsters, zombies, and an underperforming PPC campaign — scary stuff, right?

When it comes to paid search, it can be easy to spend your whole budget and still get underwhelming results. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We’ve highlighted 4 common PPC problems, complete with solutions that can help turn things around. Just beware: there’s spooky stuff ahead.

HawkSEM blog: 4 Common PPC Problems — And How to Fix Them

Create ads that match your keywords closely to create more detailed reporting and become that much more likely to attract qualified leads. (Image via Unsplash)

PPC Problem #1: You’re driving traffic, but not conversions

So you’ve decided on the copy, finalized the design, organized your campaigns, and launched your ads. Now, you’re seeing traffic numbers go up — that’s great! But conversions are another story.

Traffic is one thing, but if you’re not seeing conversions, something is amiss. So, what gives? It may be a matter of where you’re sending that traffic on your site.

Solution: Create optimized landing pages

If your ads send leads to your homepage, you’re not making the best use of your traffic. When people click your ads and land on your homepage, it’s not always clear where they should go or what they should do next.

By sending this traffic to optimized landing pages instead, you can deliver a minimalist visual experience with a clear message that makes it easy for your leads to know exactly what action they should take. You can even tailor these various landing pages to different audience segments and speak directly to them.

Properly optimized landing pages have elements like:

  • Consistent verbiage with their corresponding ads
  • A clear CTA
  • A mobile-friendly format
  • Easy shareability

PPC Problem #2: Your leads aren’t qualified

Sure, it’s great to have a large influx of leads coming your way. But if, upon closer inspection, the bulk of your leads aren’t qualified, you’re using up time and money that could be better spent elsewhere. 

By not taking advantage of all of the keyword and targeting strategies at your disposal (like using too many overly broad keywords and not leveraging retargeting and negative keywords) you risk having a high volume of leads that don’t actually translate into sales.

Solution: Revisit your targeting strategy

It may be time to look into the audiences you’re currently targeting. Where are they in your buyer’s journey? By targeting your prospects who are further down the funnel and closer to the decision-making stage, you can create hyper-focused campaigns that’ll increase your odds of converting them into closed business.

It’s also a good time to look into single keyword ad groups (SKAGs). Experts define SKAGs as ad groups designed with a one-to-one relationship between the root keyword and the ad. These groups can include multiple variations and long-tail keywords. 

By creating ads that match your keywords closely, you can pull more detailed reports and become that much more likely to attract qualified leads. 

Pro tip: While most brands know about targeting on social media platforms, don’t forget about Google and Bing audience targeting, too. When it comes to leads, it’s a game of quality over quantity. 

PPC Problem #3: Your PPC program relies too heavily on automation

Automation can be great for time-saving and repetitive manual tasks. But being too hands-off with your PPC program can have drawbacks.

This can result in underperformance along with a lack of understanding about what’s going right and what needs attention. When you opt for the “set it and forget it” model, you risk wasted spend and losing control of the whole operation.

Solution: Keep the human element intact

At its core, marketing is about connecting with people. Because of this, it’s essential that you keep the human element at the core of any marketing strategy or initiative.

Leveraging tools to make your job easier is a win, but they work best when paired with a hands-on approach. This means taking the time to understand your audience (in a way no algorithm can), revisiting your goals, and iterating when necessary. By continuing to test, track, and reconfigure your PPC program, you’ll land on the combination that works best for your company — with or without automation.

Pro tip: If this all sounds overwhelming or like something you simply don’t have time for, consider partnering with a digital marketing agency focused on ROI. They can identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses, put the right systems in place, and help you start to see those numbers heading in a more pleasing direction. 

HawkSEM blog: 4 Scary PPC Problems (And How to Fix Them)

It’s easy to spend your budget in a flash when you’re managing PPC campaigns. (Image via Unsplash)

PPC Problem #4: You’re not sticking to your budget

When you’re managing PPC campaigns, it can be easy to go through your allotted budget in a snap. But, as we said above, if your campaigns are bringing you a high volume of leads without resulting in substantial ROI, then there’s work to be done.

But, wait! Don’t throw more money into Google Ads to try to boost profits and fix your wasted ad spend issue just yet. Alternatively, you don’t need to necessarily modify your budget just because you’re consistently underspending and not hitting your budget. 

Solution: Identify your “money keywords”

We’re all about money keywords — the keywords that bring you the most PPC ROI. By zooming in on the right data, you can get a better idea of your money keywords and the ones that can be scrapped.

First, check out your PPC performance over the last 3-4 months (as long as your current strategy has been in place at least that long).

Go into your Google Ads account in the Keywords tab. Next, then identify all the keywords that haven’t produced any conversions during those months (you can organize this info in a spreadsheet or PivotTable) and dump them. It’s worth noting here that brand keywords are a different story, as these can help boost your quality score, even if they don’t result in conversions.

At the end of the day, it’s not all about clicks and traffic, both of which may decrease after you eliminate those keywords. Look at which ones are driving the best lifetime value (LTV), then put as much of your budget as you can towards your money keywords. 

Pro tip: If you’re not hitting budget, increasing your cost-per-click (CPC) bid limit and expanding your audience location can help. By creating a simple budget tracker that includes things like your overall budget, average spend rates, and actual monthly spend rates, you can get a firmer grasp on where you are and where you want your program to be. 

Your paid search strategy shouldn’t be a mystery, and it shouldn’t feel like you’re simply throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. By identifying your PPC problems and arming yourself with the solutions, you can turn a broken program into a high-performing strategy that yields big results.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her nearly 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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