7 Deadly Paid Search Sins & How to Avoid Them

For digital marketing professionals, such as myself, the author of this blog post, it can often be difficult to admit defeat and recognize the mistakes we make. However, taking a look at those mistakes from time to time is key in making sure we both learn from and move on from those mistakes ultimately avoiding them in the future.

Many times, paid search campaigns start as trial and error efforts. A bit of budget is left over for the year so why not try out that strategy. Unfortunately, that thinking tends to lead to some of deadliest paid search sins you can commit. Moreover, you most likely won’t see the returns needed to continue your paid search efforts with that mindset.

Keep reading to get a better understanding of the biggest mistakes you could be making with your search engine marketing (SEM) strategy, and how to avoid those mistakes in the future. 

1. Not determining a goal from the start

Everyone knows that starting any digital marketing effort must be done with a clear and concise goal in mind. What does your team hope to accomplish with the campaign? More sales? More traffic to the website? More lead forms?

Whatever your goal is, make sure you have it clearly posted and determined for full team visibility. Then, take it a step further and make sure your conversions are tracking properly across your reporting tools.

Setting this foundation will enable you to build out your campaign with a clearer focus. Not to mention, you’ll be in a better position to determine the success, or failure, of your campaign. 

2. Not conducting research before getting started

Have a deadline quickly approaching and want to get that campaign running as quickly as possible? This happens to digital marketers all the time and tends to lead to corners being cut.

One of the first corners often cut is conducting proper research before implementation.

From budgeting spend to understanding competition, conducting research upfront is the foundation of any successful campaign.

When you conduct research, you’ll find answers for the following:

  • What is the search volume for your target keywords?
  • What is the best way to structure and group your keywords and campaign?
  • What are the average costs per click you can expect?
  • What is your competition doing?

Using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner can help you glean some of these insights.

3. Not targeting your audience

Contrary to popular belief, your business does not service everyone under the sun. Most likely, you have a niche audience group and persona that utilizes your product or service. When you don’t target your audience, you are basically throwing money at people who do not match your audience whatsoever. These consumers will never convert, so why waste that money.

Instead, due to your well-conducted research, you have clear understanding of just what your audience looks like, where they live and work, what websites they visit, and their behavior on your website. Use that to your advantage and make sure you are targeting your campaign specifically to that audience.

Use locations, demographics, interests and topics, and activities to help limit who sees your ads. Moreover, use the data you already have. Remarketing is a powerful tool for paid search to develop different campaigns based on your user’s behavior patterns such as non-converters or past-converters for upsells.

4. Using the wrong match types

We’ve all done it: crafted the perfect campaign with the specific target keywords but left those keywords as broad match and are now sifting through pages of irrelevant search terms.

Keyword match types are the perfect safety net to slowly expand your target. Start narrow then expand as your build out your negative keyword lists. 

5. Not A/B testing your ads

You A/B test functionally, messaging, email subject lines, and more. So, why aren’t you A/B testing your ad copy? Making the smallest change to your ad copy can make a huge difference in your click-through rate.

What should you test?

Common A/B tests for search ads include testing your calls-to-action. Does “Shop Now!” work better than “Buy Now?” Test it!

Another great area to test that can be translated to your landing page is whether your audience responds better to the features of your product or service of the benefits they receive from your product or service. This is a great way to help develop your unique value proposition based on your specific users. 

6. Neglecting your landing page

Even if you have the best ad copy, a highly targeted audience, and specific target keywords built out, your campaign could still fall flat if you send your traffic to a generic landing page. In fact, one of the best strategies for paid search campaigns is to work backwards. Start at the landing page and optimize your paid search campaign to reflect the landing page, not the other way around.

What does an optimized landing page look like? Your unique value proposition should be front and center. Better yet, match that value proposition with one of your headlines in your ad copy to create a seamless experience for the user.

Additionally, ensure you have a strong conversion action on the page with your promotion clearly visible. Finally, consider eliminating distractions from the landing page. This could mean streamlining your main navigation to limit areas to click off the page. 

7. Setting it and forgetting it

Paid search campaigns are dynamic. Searching intent changes daily and your campaigns should reflect those changes to stay current. One of the worst mistakes to make while managing paid search campaigns is to just let it run.

You should be routinely looking at search terms, updating your negative keyword lists, and updating bids to maximize your budgets across your campaigns.

As with all digital marketing efforts, paid search requires careful planning and strategy to produce effective results. Even the most experienced marketers will make mistakes from time to time. However, by building a strong foundation with defined goals, research, and targeting, you’ll be able to limit these mistakes and prove your efforts moving forward.

If you’re digital marketing strategy isn’t bringing your business the results you need to succeed, let Americaneagle.com help you. Our experts have the knowledge and expertise it takes to accelerate your digital growth. Fill out our contact form to get started today. 


About Author

staff at americaneagle.com
Our marketing team is always on the prowl for useful facts and internet tidbits. Be sure to check our blog often for all of our updates and posts!


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