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AdWords set-up tips and common mistakes

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Setting up an AdWords campaign? We’ve pulled together a few tips and common mistakes to avoid.


Competitor analysis

Don’t start running ads without knowing at least a bit about your market and competitors in the Pay Per Click landscape.

Once you’ve done your keyword research, enter some of the keywords into Google to see what comes up. What do the competitor ads say? Are they price or brand focussed? What are their advertising landing pages like? What size of business are they? If you find you are going to be bidding against giants such as Amazon or ebay you will need to be realistic about your results. Which brings me on to…


Set goals

Growing plant in soil isolated on white background.

If you’ve run any AdWords campaigns before then you should be able to look back at the historic data and set some good benchmarks and goals. If not, then have a think about what you would like to realistically achieve from your ads. Don’t expect click through rates to be high. Google will be showing your ad to thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of people. Only a small percentage of these will read your ad and an even smaller percentage will actually choose to click (sorry about that!).

The trick is setting a milestone to work towards, whether this is in terms of clicks or resulting website revenue. Review your goals at week one and two as you start to see the results come in. Then review again at one and three months. Constantly tweak your ads to make sure you can achieve or exceed goals.

No idea what to expect? Ask fellow business managers or marketers who have run AdWords campaigns before. Alternatively ask an agency, they will be able to guide you on averages for your territory and industry.


Search Network only

Selecting search network in Google AdwordsFor first-timers, we recommend selecting ads to run on the ‘Search network only’ when setting up a new campaign.

The Google Display Network doesn’t work for every business and by taking a ‘Search network only’ approach at the start, you will have time to get your ads right and understand your return on investment before trialing the Google Display Network – which is likely to garner different results.



A very important ingredient in the AdWords pie. You’ve spent time researching them, make sure you use your keywords well!

Keyword grouping

Google will guide you to create ad groups. Follow this advice and make sure the keywords in each ad group are really relevant to the advert.

Use AdGroups to group keywords together. Do not put all your keywords into one ad.

Ads should relate directly to the keywords being searched. This increases the likelihood of the user finding the ad relevant to their query and clicking through. 

Keyword matching

When you add your keywords, you will be given a few options for the type of ‘keyword match’ you would like to use. This seems complicated at first but it’s really simple – honestly.

Your basic options are; Broad match, Phrase match and Exact match. Take a minute to familiarise yourselves with these terms and review your ads on a regular basis to see whether these match types need changing.

  • Broad match: By setting a keyword to Broad match, your related ads will show for keywords searched regardless of phrase order or other incremental words. For example if your keyword is ‘Dior glasses’ and you set the keyword to Broad match, your advert might show for someone searching ‘Best dior designer glasses’.
    Note: Keywords will automatically be added as Broad match by default.
  • Phrase match: Google will match your advert to the phrase being searched. So someone searching ‘Brown dior glasses’ or ‘dior glasses sale’ might see your advert as both these queries contain your keyword phrase.
    Tip: To add these quickly open and close the keyword with “. Eg “dior glasses”
  • Exact match: This leaves Google no room to make assumptions. Your ad will only show for people searching the exact keyword you have entered – It will not show for similar phrases containing incremental words or the same words in a different order.
    Tip: To add these quickly open and close the keyword with [ and ]. Eg [dior glasses]

Which keyword match type to use in Google AdWords

Negative keywords

These are easily forgotten but so important. Not adding negative keywords to your AdWords campaign can be one of the fastest way to lose money. If you are trying to sell high quality Dior glasses, you don’t want people searching ‘fake dior glasses’ or ‘crystal glasses’ to see your ads.

Add negative keywords at the set-up stage and then take a look each day at the search report. There are bound to be keywords in here that are driving the wrong kind of traffic to your ads (especially if you are using broad match keywords). Make sure you add any keywords you don’t want to be driving traffic to your ads as negative keywords. This can be done at campaign or Ad Group level.

Enough about keywords, here are a few other important things to remember:


Create bespoke landing pages

SensatioNail website landing page example

Your ad is very specific to your keywords so make sure you landing page is specific to your ad. Create a landing page on your website which which is targeted directly at the ad traffic. Relate the content of the landing page to the ad so when a user clicks on your ad, they are getting exactly what they expect. Include a strong call to action to encourage them to engage or convert.


Conversion tracking

The proof is in the pudding. Your ads might be generating a good number of click throughs but are people buying / engaging the way you want them to when they get to your site? Adding conversion tracking to your ads is something that a huge number of people don’t bother with. It’s worth the initial effort and you will be able to see all the results through Google Analytics at the click of a button. If this seems too technical or a bit of a faff, ask us to give you a hand and we’ll make sure it’s all working perfectly for you.


Give it time

You won’t know much about the performance of your ads within a week. We advise our clients that ads really need a minimum of two to three months to run. This allows time to review what works and what doesn’t, get a full view of the competitor landscape, time to A/B test different ads and identify new keywords and target audiences. Once you’ve done this, you can move on to other exciting things like more advanced testing, ad extensions and remarketing – the world is your PPC oyster!