15 Ways to Stop Wasting Money on Google Adwords

By December 14, 2012 PPC No Comments

by Tracy Mu Sung

Runaway Adwords Budget

Run Away Budget: This is a hilarious image I always think of when I think of the term “run away train”. Genius image by The Oatmeal

One of the most persistent complaints I hear about Google Adwords is that it is a waste of money. I hear it mostly from small and medium sized businesses who have started up an Adwords campaign on their own, only to see their funds quickly run down the drain without knowing exactly what business impact it has has had. I have also heard it from businesses who have entrusted someone to manage their Adwords, and then the only thing they see or hear about it after that is their monthly invoice.

These kind of experiences more often than not turn people off Adwords completely. But it doesn’t have to be like this! I’m telling you, there are lots of ways you can save your money on Adwords and make sure it only goes towards targeting good customers/prospects. It’s all about putting limits on your account and making it measurable.

On the Settings Tab

1. To stop a run-away-train budget on your first day – limit your budget to a smaller amount than you might normally want, just so you can see what the market is like for the terms you are targeting.

2. Limit geographically – If you can’t service people in other states, target only your state. Make sure the geographic reach of your ads suits your business. You can even trial your ads in a small location and then slowly expand once you find what works and what is affordable.

3. If you are doing a campaign to the Google results page, make sure you have not opted in to the Google Content network

4. Think carefully about whether you want to spend money on mobile. Are these customers valuable? Is your site mobile-ready? If not, make your campaigns desktop only (or maybe tablet as well). This way you won’t waste money on clicks from people on mobile devices who can’t convert.

5. If you are very worried about your budget, you can choose to have your keywords not include plurals or misspellings
Google Adwords Misspellings

6. If there are times or days when you know that your advertising is less effective (e.g. are your prospects more primed during the week or weekend)- you can schedule your ads to not show at certain times

On the Keywords Tab

7. Keyword Matching – Don’t put everything on broad match. I see many accounts set up with only broad match keywords – mostly because there isn’t enough knowledge of the other types. I would recommend starting with tightly matched keywords (exact or phrase). If traffic isn’t enough, add broad match modified. I would only go with broad after a lot of experienceGoogle Adwords Keyword Match Types

8. Keywords – Start out by matching your keywords closely to your products or services. E.g. if you sell netball skirts – don’t target broad terms like sporting clothing or netball. Be very specific. Then, when you have successes, you can slowly expand.

9. Negative keywords – did you know about negative keywords? Read more about negative keywords and then get some for your own campaign. (e.g. free, second hand, advice, etc).

10. Check your Search Terms. This is a report different from your keywords, because it is what people actually typed in to Google. From this list you can add keywords, or make new negative keywords. It lets you see exactly where your spend is going.
Searched Term Report in Adwords

On the Ads Tab

11. Ad copy – if you can, try and make your ad copy very specific for the people you want to click. E.g. if you are selling products for builders which aren’t suitable for the public, you might write terms like “Trade Only” or “Commercial Only” in your ad copy. (Note this doesn’t dissuade everyone, but it can help reduce wastage).

12.Make sure your landing page is as accurate as possible. Don’t send all traffic to the home page, or even a category page. If you have adgroups that are product-specific, make them go to the product page. You can even have URLs at the keyword level. By sending traffic to the most relevant page for their search, you increase the chance of a conversion.


13. Make sure you have Google Analytics on your site (MUST have for any website really).

14. Link your Adwords Account with Analytics. (It’s kind of easy) Then you can see how long your Adwords traffic is spending on your site, what pages they are interested in, and where you can cut some spend!

15. Set up conversions in your Adwords. Either through putting conversion tags on your site OR importing analytics goals. This is really important so that you know what actions are resulting from your spend.

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