Tips to Stop Wasting Money in Google Ads

Did you know that you're probably wasting money on Google Ads and might not even realize it? Don’t worry—you're not alone.

I recently had a conversation with Chris Schaeffer one of the top Google Ads experts in the world. Chris is the host of the Paid Search Podcast, runs his own coaching and consulting business, and has managed over $100 million in Google Ad spend.

In this post (based on my conversation with Chris), I'm going to share common mistakes and issues people encounter when setting up and managing their Google Ads accounts, which cause them to waste money. 

Episode Highlights:

  • Common mistakes in Google Ads

  • Tips to avoid wasting money

  • Importance of campaign structure, keyword targeting, ad copy, location targeting, and conversion tracking

Common Mistakes in Google Ads Campaigns

Setting up a Google Ads account can be daunting, especially if you're new to it. Many businesses waste money because they don’t follow best practices. Here’s what Chris had to say on the subject:

1. Campaign Structure

Campaign structure is crucial in Google Ads. According to Chris, one of the biggest mistakes is starting with a complex idea.

Key Points:

  • Complexity: Avoid over-complicating your campaigns, especially if you're just starting out.

  • SKAG (Single Keyword Ad Group): This outdated method is often ineffective today.

  • Simplification: Begin with a simple structure and build complexity based on data and success.

"Complexity starts not at the beginning, but near the end. Start simple and avoid duplicating things."

2. Keyword Targeting

Proper keyword targeting is a fundamental aspect of a successful Google Ads campaign. Chris points out several pitfalls:

Key Points:

  • Broad Match Keywords: Using broad match keywords without understanding the implications can lead to wasted spend.

  • Context: The context of keywords matters significantly. Specificity and relevance are crucial.

  • Improvement: Use keywords with action terms like "services" or "near me" to narrow down the search intent.

"You can always make more money, but you can't create more time. Broad match keywords without context can waste both."

3. Location Targeting

Location targeting helps you reach potential customers in specific areas. Incorrect location targeting can lead to huge dips in efficiency..

Key Points:

  • Target Areas Wisely: Don’t target too broadly. Focus on areas where you can realistically serve.

  • Settings: Be cautious with options like "Presence or Interest" and search partners.

  • Example: Chris shared how targeting too wide spreads the budget thin, making the ads less effective.

"Allowing ‘Presence or Interest’ and search partners can lead to wasted money. Fine-tuning your location settings is critical."

4. Ad Copy and Extensions

Ad copy and extensions can significantly impact your ad performance. I have a different opinion on this but here’s what Chris had to say about them:

Key Points:

  • Company Name in Headlines: Only include your company name if it's well-known. Otherwise, focus on what adds value to potential customers.

  • Sitelinks: While many believe sitelinks improve quality score, they can divert traffic away from your primary landing page, reducing conversions.

  • Location Extensions: These can sometimes waste budget as visitors may not follow through with intended actions.

"Putting your company name in ad headlines is a waste unless you are a household name."

My thoughts: I disagree on Chris's thoughts on including your company name in the headlines of your ads, and not including sitelinks. To me, it depends. The Marketing Rule of 7 says that a customer needs to encounter your brand 7 times before they are comfortable making a purchase. I think that including your brand name in your ads counts towards one of those 7. Plus, you don't pay for impressions, only clicks! So if you don't get a click to your ad, you aren't charged. Regarding sitelinks, I think Chris has a fair point here for lead-gen businesses. But for e-commerce, I think having sitelinks that are subcategories to the main category you are advertising can be helpful to the user.

5. Conversion Tracking

Good conversion tracking is key to understanding how well your ads are performing and where your money is going.

Key Points:

  • Automated Bids: Be wary of automated bidding strategies like max conversions or target impression share. They can sometimes lead to high CPCs without guaranteed results.

  • Multiple Conversion Streams: Make sure you’re not double-counting conversions, especially with transitions like moving from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.

"Max conversions can be risky. Control your click costs to manage your budget better."

6. Budget Management

Managing your budget is necessary for maximizing your investment in Google Ads. Here’s Chris's phased approach to budget management:

Phases of Google Ads:

  • Phase 1: Control traffic quality before focusing on conversions.

  • Phase 2: Ensure the quality of traffic is aligned with your goals.

  • Phase 3: Focus on meeting your key performance indicators (KPIs).

  • Phase 4: Gradually increase your budget once your KPIs are consistently met.

"Increasing your budget in Phase 1 speeds up your failure. Success comes from structured, phased improvements." 


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