PPC Pitfalls to Avoid as a Small Business Owner


Online advertising has given businesses of all sizes a chance to compete in the market. Before this tech time, only businesses with big budgets were able to advertise. Small businesses can now promote their products or services with just a small budget, and they are able to increase it as they grow and see results.

In addition, online advertising has provided a clearer attribution platform. We can know if our PPC or display ads are working based on conversion data. We can also know how many people see our ads with impressions and even know how many of those people clicked (click-through rate or CTR).

Unfortunately, all these advancements have also brought their pitfalls. Many businesses, especially small ones, have not been able to catch up with the change. They often lack the resources to do it in-house, they don’t have the budget to hire a PPC management company, or, most concerning, they are disappointed with the results. Frustrated owners may think PPC is not ideal for their business because they tried a couple of techniques and failed.

If you identify with this frustration and don’t know where to start, you’re in luck, today! Learn from the mistakes below to improve your PPC campaigns.

PPC Pitfalls to Avoid

Poor Keyword Selection

A keyword is a word or a phrase used by people searching online for information. Search engines like Google or Bing have smart algorithms that are constantly learning from these searches to improve their results and deliver the most relevant information to the user — this includes organic and paid results. So, if I use a key phrase like “black dress,” I get the following results:

PPC Pitfalls to Avoid as a Small Business Owner

The Shopping and Search ads are PPC ads that were retrieved by the keyword used. The organic listings are content Google found relevant for my search. In either case, it is important to note that Google considered my intent to retrieve relevant results.

Considering keyword intent and selecting the right keywords are vital to having successful campaigns; however, it is also one of the biggest pitfalls for small owners. You want to select keywords that are relevant to your business and adjust your bids according to levels of intent.

For example, if you sell black dresses, you may want to bid higher for “buy black dresses,” rather than simply “black dresses” since someone who uses the word “buy” would have a higher intent to make a purchase.

Besides intent, you also want to pre-qualify your keywords by evaluating search volume and competition. Select keywords that have high search volume and low competition by using tools such as the Google Keyword Planner. It will help you see what keywords people are using for related searches, volume of searches per month, suggested bids and competition.

PPC Pitfalls to Avoid as a Small Business Owner



In addition to the tactics above, you should also use long-tail keywords to get a higher probability of conversions and lower cost/lower risk. These types of keywords are more descriptive than short-tail keywords.

For example, I would use the following long-tail keyword “short black cocktail dresses” instead of “black dresses.” Take a look at your keyword planner and see what keywords have potential to include as long-tail keywords.

Flawed Ad Copy

Your ads have the ultimate power to drive conversions. If your keywords and targeting are set up correctly, but your ads are flawed, searchers won’t click on your ads. Take advantage of the now expanded text ads to increase your conversion rate.

One of the main mistakes a business makes while creating ad copy is being too generic or unattractive. Take what searchers are looking for and tie it to your unique value proposition. For example, if you’re creating an ad for “black dresses,” you may want to create an ad that highlights your low prices or your inventory diversity.

PPC Pitfalls to Avoid as a Small Business Owner

Look at what competitors are offering and try to offer something better. Also, use numbers as much as possible since ads that include them have higher click-through rates.

Another must: Add keyword extensions to your ads — they are pointed to above, with yellow arrows. They increase your ad’s real estate and allow you to add more benefits to your offering. There are different types of extensions, such as site extensions (links to specific parts of your site), callout extensions, or call extensions (usually used for mobile devices).

Finally, your ads should have as many variations as possible. Test different headlines and descriptions to discover which one yields the best results.

Lack of Organization

Having an organized campaign structure will allow you to have more control over your campaigns and yield better results. To start, your campaigns should be organized by geographical location. Having this segmentation will allow you to target different countries using different bids. You’ll also be able to see which countries yield the best results and be able to increase budgets as you see fit.

In addition, you should have different campaigns for different product types. For example, there can be a campaign for dresses, another campaign for shirts and another one for pants. Then, within each campaign, you create ad groups made up of similar keywords.

For example, within the “dresses” campaign, you may have a different ad group for different types of dresses in your inventory: cocktail dresses, evening dresses, etc. If your campaigns and ad groups are not organized, you will risk your ad showing for keywords that are not relevant and waste money for no reason.

Sending People to the Wrong Page

It’s all about expectations. If your ad is promoting dresses, searchers will expect to land on a page where they can buy dresses. Otherwise, they will be disappointed and probably go to another website. This leaves you with fewer conversions and a lower quality score.

Quality score is a variable used by Google and Bing to determine the relevance and quality of your advertisements. Bad quality scores can increase your cost per click and decrease your visibility. Ad copy and landing page relevance can dramatically affect your quality score, so make sure you spend time planning your landing pages wisely.

No Optimization

PPC campaigns are always a work in progress. Search engines constantly launch new updates that can affect visibility and cost. Make sure you stay on top of the latest marketing news and make optimizations as necessary.

One of the most useful ways to optimize campaigns is by building negative keyword lists. These types of keywords work like filters for your campaigns so your ads won’t be able to show for such keywords. This practice can save you a lot of money in irrelevant clicks that cause bad-quality traffic.

Another useful optimization practice is to create new ads with new copy. Make sure to create new ads and not edit old ones; otherwise, your performance history will be deleted from your campaigns. In addition, it is always a good idea to take a look at your keyword match types and look at the keyword planner to add more keywords to your campaigns.

Wrapping It Up

PPC advertising has allowed small business owners to compete against bigger ones; however, smart owners should be strategic with their accounts to avoid wasting money in bad clicks. There are several tactics that can be used to optimize campaigns, such as a structured organization, compelling ad copy and ad extensions. As with other marketing efforts, it is always important to measure, track and optimize the progress. With diligence, best practices and persistence, you’ll be able to use PPC ads as your salesforce online.

PPC Photo via Shutterstock

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Ronald Dod


Ronald Dod Ronald Dod is the Founder and Owner of Visiture, an internet marketing agency that focuses on Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click management for eCommerce businesses. Ronald holds a Masters in the Science of Marketing from Florida State University and is certified in Google Adwords & Analytics.

2 Reactions

  1. One thing to keep in mind is that the Adwords Keyword Planner Tool now silos similar search results. So “black spaghetti strap dress” “black romper” and “black dress” are likely silo’d into “black dress.” It makes it a bit tougher to estimate traffic flows and cost per click initially, but judicious use of exact match and phrase match keywords can help filter searches down to exactly what you want to appear on.

    Also none of that matters really for Google Shopping/PLA campaigns, as they determine which queries will trigger your products based on the data in your feed and similar sellers of those products.

  2. Hi Ronald,

    I think you should have focused more on an essential points called “Bid Adjustment”. I think this is something that all small business owners must take into the consideration because typically they run PPC campaign with very limited budget and if they could save even 5% or 10% with bid adjustment, that will help them getting few additional leads in the same budget.

    Adwords CPC and related offerings do continually change, even several times per second as the competition enters the market. These must be set at least several times a month if necessary to keep your keywords presented in the correct position. Based on my experience, I have noticed better response (in terms of CPC and Conversion ratio) when you are bidding for 3rd or 4th position on Google Adwords. You will get comparatively less traffic (than first 2) but the quality of traffic would be better because typically low quality traffic ends by clicking on first 2 results and one more thing, Google will charge you less for 3rd or 4th position than 1st or 2nd position (i’m keeping quality score aside because we will start discussing about quality score and other technical things, this will become difficult for small business owners to understand).

    I hope you would agree on this.

    Thanks,

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