Why Your AdWords Account Failed

first-aid-kitI’ve come across a few blog posts in the last few months discussing how AdWords was a complete failure. Working in the paid search industry for the past 6 years, I have my fair share of gripes when it comes to AdWords but it being a total and complete failure has never been one of them. Reading through these posts I can immediately call out a number of reasons why the campaign wasn’t a success, and most of the time it’s user error.

Google AdWords is a platform that’s not as simple as it looks on the surface. It’s incredibly easy to waste money quickly if  you don’t know what you’re doing.

Below are some of the most common reasons why your AdWords account failed

1.) You Haven’t Defined Goals

If you are going to pay for ad clicks, you have to know why. In my time as an AdWords trainer, I often asked attendees why they were running campaigns. “Because my boss told me to” was a fairly common response . If you don’t know the desired end result of your campaigns, you wont know if they’re working or not.

2.) You’re Incorrectly Tracking Goals, or Aren’t Tracking Them At All

Knowing your goal is the first step. The next is to make sure you are tracking those goals correctly so you can measure campaign performance. You can track conversions using AdWords conversion pixel, or even easier import goals directly from Google Analytics (which yes, you should have set up).

Once the tracking is set up, test! Search for a keyword on Google, click your ad, and go through the conversion process. Within 24 hours, or sooner, you should see a conversion in your account. Ensure your goals are tracking correctly before you start spending money.

3.) You’re Bidding on the Wrong Keywords

Poor keyword selection will undoubtedly lead to poor campaign performance. If  you are just starting out in AdWords, I recommend staying away from single word keywords. For example, if you own a shoe store you may want to bid on the term “shoes” but the more specific your keyword is, the better results you’ll see. Bid on terms like “womens high heels” or “mens brown loafers” to target people who know what they want.

4.) You Aren’t Using Correct Match Types

In fact, you may not even know what a match type is. Stop whatever you are doing right now and go look at the keywords in your account. If you don’t see +, ” “, or [] symbols around any keywords I guarantee you are wasting your money.

When you enter in a keyword to target, there are different formatting options you can choose that will determine the match type of that keyword. Utilizing different match types has a very dramatic effect on the volume of search traffic your ad will receive. Broad match will have the widest reach, attracting the highest quantity of traffic while exact match only triggers your ad when a searcher types exactly your keyword.


What happens when you add a keyword without additional formatting into AdWords? It defaults to broad. It’s one of the most common mistakes I see when evaluating accounts: all keywords are broad because marketers don’t realize that newly entered keywords will default to broad match.  This can have a devastating effect on ad spend as you’re likely to be wasting money on irrelevant clicks.

5.) You Aren’t Adding Negative Keywords

Ah yes, another point on keywords. Not only can you bid on keywords you want to target, but you can add negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing up for certain searches. For example, let’s return to the shoe store example. It’s likely you don’t carry every brand or type of shoe in the world. If you know you don’t carry Nike shoes, you should add ‘nike’ as a negative keyword to your campaigns to order to avoid spending money on people who are looking for something you don’t offer.

6.) Your Landing Pages are Terrible

AdWords can only go as far as bring people to your website. It’s the job of your landing pages to turn visitors into converting customers. Take a hard look at your site and see if you can make improvements to the conversion funnel so that you know you’re paying to send people to quality pages.

There are more issues that may cause poor performance within AdWords, but these are the most common mistakes I see when evaluating accounts. If you can avoid these mistakes, then you are well on your way to turning around your failing campaigns and making them a success.

What do you see as the most common mistakes made when using PPC? Share with us in the comments!