AdWords Pitfalls: Watch Out Or They Will Burn Your Budget

You are being robbed blind right this very second.

Sort of, allow me to elaborate.

AdWords is a great tool and it can make you lots of money. But never forget, AdWords was built to make Google MONEY.


When you set up your AdWords account did you leave several default settings set to “on” (mind you, they recommend that you do)?

You see, these settings give AdWords more control over your account. On the surface, they seem logical enough. But in reality, it burned through your budget and lowered your ROI, significantly.

Here is how AdWords is playing you.


Default Setting #5: Search Network with Display Select

Search Network with Display Select campaigns (SNDS) is managed the same way a “Search Network only” campaign is managed – set a budget, choose relevant keywords, create ads, and set bids. Your ads can appear simultaneously on Google search and Google Display Networks with just a single campaign when people’s search terms match your keywords.

This setting may seem like an efficient option to boost your ads, but its strength (the capability to serve ads across networks) is also its main weakness – it costs a lot of money.


Its main selling point is its capability to set up one campaign for multiple channels. Why bother setting up a number of campaigns for a number of platforms when you can make one that well suits all?


While the premise of SNDS is actually practical, it usually causes advertisers to spend more on their ads but with little results (based on our observations and experience). Due to its speed in distribution, it easily depletes your budget due to the reach of Google Display Networks (GDN). It doesn’t even come with specific targeting yet, making your campaign target a broader audience (not the specific ones).

Basically, when you shift to the SNDS model, you give up significant control over GDN performance and blindly rely on Google. The key to becoming a successful advertiser is having more control over your campaign targeting.

Pro tip!

Get more bang for your buck!

1.) Opt into Search Network Only campaign when you advertise on the Search Network

2.) Create a separate Display Network only campaign when you advertise on the Display network.

While it entails more effort managing 2 campaigns, having control over your budget and target will save you money and make your investment worth it.


Default Setting #4: Search Partners

Search Partners are websites where your Ads will also appear when you create a search campaign in Adwords. It’s a sought-after feature for most advertisers because the Ad campaign will also be distributed to some of the biggest and most popular websites such as AOL, New York Times, Washington Post, Amazon, and etc. – according to Google.

However, what Adwords doesn’t give emphasis to is also the fact that they have over a hundred partner sites that aren’t as popular and highly trafficked. Google does not publicly publish their list of partner networks.

Search Partners extend the reach of your search ads across hundreds of non-Google websites, including those websites you’ll probably never hear of with little to no traffic.



While Google’s Search Partner sites are supposed to bring more value to your campaign by “diversifying” your ad presence, Google Search is becoming more and more competitive. As the competition for these well-known partner sites becomes tight, bidding for them has also become more expensive.  


When Google Search Partners are enabled more often, it will lower your click-through rate (CTR), in turn lowering your quality score. This will decrease your performance and puts you in a position to increase your bids and spending! This, in turn, will make Google spread their wealth to their less known partner sites by sending them the cheaper clicks. It’s also common for ads on Search Partner sites to drive a huge number of clicks that never convert, which only eats up your campaign’s budget for nothing.   

Pro tip!

It’s fairly simple. If you’re setting up the campaign for the first time, just uncheck the box that specifies Search Partners. If your campaign is already running and you want to remove Search Partners, go to Settings > Networks> Edit> and then uncheck the box for Search Partners.


Default Setting #3: Broad Match Keywords

By default, Google categorizes your keyword list initially as Broad Match keywords. As its name suggests, Broad Match will match your keyword list with less broad searches. Ads are more likely triggered by less relevant searches simply because its keywords matched with those in your list.  While it may appear in a lot of searches, the quality of clicks that this gives in return is quite poor.


The mechanic of this setup is very simple:  the broader the match, the easier it is for ads to find their way to more search results. It gets seen more often, making it more likely to get clicks.  


With a broader match set up to trigger the list of keywords, the more money will be spent on irrelevant traffic. The clicks will not come from a targeted audience that brings in a sale or a revenue. There will be a lot of clicks all right, but shit clicks.

Additionally, Broad Match will also be inclusive of misspellings, synonyms, and different variations of a keyword. For example, a campaign that women’s hats specifically will be triggered even by search keywords like “men’s hat.” So, your budget is wasted on a search as it showed up in an irrelevant but technically similar search.


To avoid getting hit by Broad Match keywords, you can do these things:

  1. Use Broad Match Modifier and Phrase Match keywords to change the match types of keywords in the keywords list.  Not only will this give advertisers fantastic reach, it will also grant a certain degree of control over the quality of query that will cause an ad to trigger.
  2. If Broad Match keywords are the way to go, leverage the Search Terms Report to drill down the math behind what’s causing the ads to trigger. Essentially, this information can be used to build a list of negative keywords. While this can be time-consuming, handpicking the negative words will make the matches more specific and targeted.


Default Setting #2: Auto Mobile Opt-In

In 2017, the number of smartphone users in the United States alone is estimated to have reached 224.3 million. Meanwhile, the number of smartphone users worldwide forecasted to exceed 2 billion users by 2022. The rise of smartphones has paved the way for more people to have access to the internet. That’s why more and more companies are seeing it as an opportunity to advertise and reach more customers.

Advertisers often overlook the fact that they’re automatically opted into serving ads for mobile phones when building out a campaign on AdWords.


Obviously, mobile is huge. Phones have become a new platform for advertisers to advertise and be seen more by their target customers.


Technology has not yet fully caught up to the mobile phone advertising trend. Many websites that aren’t optimized for mobile, which causes advertisers lose more than they are getting from the mobile Ad.  


For advertisers that do not have mobile-optimized websites or for those websites that simply perform poorly in generating mobile traffic, it would be more efficient to remove the ads from mobile phone searches.  To do this, set the mobile bid adjustment at negative 100%. This will let Google know that the advertiser not interested in mobile traffic.


Default Setting #1: Display campaigns showing on Mobile Apps

This SOB holds the number 1 spot because it appears so harmless that it is easily be overlooked by many advertisers.


As the display campaign goes live, it will reach the exact audience from the websites of your choosing.


Your ad is running amuck showing up in some of the most irrelevant places imaginable. Do you really think a 14-year-old playing candy crush is going to click an ad for a senior living community? Yeah, that crap really happens…


Simply exclude mobile apps for your display campaigns by doing this!

1.) Head to the AdWords dashboard

2.) Click “Display Campaign.”

3.) Select the “Display Network  tab”

4.) click on “Placements”

5.) Scroll down to the bottom and select “EXCLUSIONS.”

6.) Exclude [] to prevent your display ads from showing inside mobile apps

Adwords is without a doubt an amazing tool. But you must be its master and command it at every single setting possible.  I’m sure the folks there keep a clean conscious as they know you can make on the platform using the default settings. Okay sure… It’s like how a Casino knows you’ll have fun blowing your money when you win a little here and there. The house is always gonna win.

But you don’t have to act like a tourist. Stop being a pawn and start acting like a pro. Sure, you are going to spend your money with google, but you are going to get more money back each time you do and improve your ROI.


Ready to take your game to the next level?


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