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Why Pay Per Click Frustrates So Many?

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And What You Can Do to Get Better Results

By Hector Cisneros

Google AdWords is one of the most used and successful internet marketing tools available today. For many, it can be instant online gratification that can generate exposure, produce leads, and sales. For others, it can become a black hole that eats profits and produces little in the way of tangible results. Why does this immense dichotomy exist?  The answer is ignorance. Ignorance of the complexities of this platform can lead to many online marketing mistakes. The worst part is even once you get it right, you have to bear in mind this PPC platform is always evolving as Google strives to improve its product. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explore seven common issues that frustrate businesses and pay per click managers alike when using Google AdWords (now called Google Ads).  So, take out your notepad to write down some e-tips, so you can avoid the pitfalls and learn how to profit by using AdWords.

My Business Partner Carl Weis and I have written about AdWords many times. We have always believed it can be a successful shortcut to getting on page one of Google Search. However, we have always pointed out that there are several pitfalls you have to avoid. These include the understanding that a click is often not a sale, that competitors and bots can click on your ads to waste your ad budget. Another mistake is sending clicks to your homepage.  This usually produces few if any viable leads. What it does produce is the misconception that AdWords is a great way to throw away money.  We believe that in order to be profitable on any pay per click platform, you must understand the mechanics of the platform, be knowledgeable about your target market and be vigilant of the ongoing results the campaign produces. Testing and measuring are critical to success. Neglecting any of these principles will lead to a negative expectation.

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I have been working using AdWords for ten consecutive years. I have been through many AdWords training courses and actively manage many AdWords campaigns for my company and its clients. I have seen AdWords evolve over the years. Today this evolution is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. The Obstacles I will be discussing in this article are real issues that I have had to deal with myself. They are real obstacles to achieving profitability. Ignore them and pay the price. Now let’s look at these obstacles.

The 7 Unforeseen Obstacles to Profit

Obstacle #1 Understanding How Keywords Work – Most uninitiated AdWords users think all keywords are created equal. This is a big misconception, to say the least. Any keyword you select will have a varying amount of traffic. On top of this, a keyword can have many meanings. On Google, all keywords are matched by an artificial intelligence algorithm that engages in semantical matching. This means the keywords you enter are not necessarily the keywords that the search engine displays with your ad.  The algorithm Google uses to display results is given a certain amount of latitude to decide which keywords are appropriate to your campaign.  To make matters better or worse, these matches can be further filtered by selecting “Broad, Phrase or Exact match."

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On top of that, if you’re not careful, it’s possible to think you’ve made a change, but that change doesn’t take place because you made a mistake in the way you use AdWords. This can cause your change to mysteriously change back, even though you clicked the save button. Then there are negative keywords. These are words you don’t want to show up for in search. For example; You sell bathtubs, so you want to show up for the keyword bathtubs but not for bathtub history. A negative keyword needs to be added for bathtub history, as well as other inappropriate keywords you discover on an on-going basis. That is why it is critical to check the results of your campaign keywords often. My last word on this subject is that keywords have different values and their value is constantly changing. AdWords is a keyword auction, and the price of the keyword is based on the highest bidder. I have seen bids for keywords fluctuate from a low of three dollars to fifteen dollars over a six-month period. A low price for a keyword may be a dollar and a high price for a very competitive but profitable keyword may be as high as $40 a click!

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Obstacle #2 Making Sure, your Negative Keywords are Working - Adding negative keywords to any Pay Per Click campaign is a common practice. However, just because you have added a negative keyword does not mean you have plugged the hole in your campaign that is sucking the profits out of it.  For example; you can add the word “U-Haul as a negative keyword, yet you may still keep seeing your ads served up to variations of the keyword like Uhaul, UHale, Uhal, and MyHaul. You would think that the Google AI would semantically match these words to your negative keyword, but it often does not. Remember the three keyword filters mentioned earlier, (Broad, Phrase, and Exact). These have a huge effect on which keywords are displayed with your ads. Often you have to create three negative keywords (one for each filter) to stop showing for the particular negative keyword. I have had a campaign accumulate over one thousand negative keywords because of the ineffectiveness of Googles A.I. algorithm. Normally, most campaigns end up with no more than 30 negative keywords. Having said this, you must be vigilant of the keywords Google is serving up with your ads. Not doing so will waste a lot of hard-earned money.

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Obstacle #3 Making Sure You Have the Correct Information Listed – Another common mistake I have seen is listing incorrect information. This can include the wrong URL, phone number, territory, target market, bid amount, etc.… This also brings up the mysterious issue of “changes reverting back,” after you correct the mistakes. This seems to be a recurring theme with AdWords because I have seen this happen so many times. I attribute these mysterious changes to the awkwardness of Googles AdWords interface, mistakes made by the user or the system not processing the change order. It is also possible that Google’s frequent upgrades could affect this in some way. I have no proof of this because it’s almost impossible to look behind the curtain, but I do believe it is a possibility.  Not spotting incorrect information, either initially or, after a correction can be a huge problem. If you have the wrong phone number, URL, target market, territory or bid amount listed, you can lose a lot of money. So, make sure that after every change you make, you go back the following day to double check that the change took place.

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Obstacle #4 Understanding the Google EULA (the End User License Agreement) - Buried in the contract to use AdWords (similar to other pay per click platforms) is a clause that says, Google reserves the right to double your daily budget if your campaign is set for Maximize Conversions. It also says that a daily spend is an approximate number and that the stopping point will take place once you exceed the daily limit. This means extra profit for Google. If your ad is working, it will almost always exceed your daily budget by a few dollars. This is particularly true if your bid amounts are not a whole number. The overage slowly eats into your monthly budget, so your vigilance on the daily spend is critical if you don’t want to exceed your budget.

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Obstacle #5 Understanding that Google’s Algorithm is Designed to Always meet Your Daily Spend - If you set your daily spend limit to a specific number (say $100) and your campaign isn't performing well, Google takes it upon itself to overexpose your ad to reach the daily spend the following day. For example; I set my daily spend to be $100, but on day one it only reached a $60 spend. The following day, Google’s algorithm boosted my ads, so they showed more often until it reached $140 for the next day.  This brought my average daily spend to $100 a day. Many customers think this is great. They get their ad to show more often, even though it isn’t performing as well as they would like. The real problem with this system is when Google boosts a mediocre (or just plain bad) ad to meet a spending limit your campaign will suffer. Generating clicks isn’t the goal of a sound online marketing campaign. Generating leads and sales is. If you run ads that aren’t working well, your ratio of clicks to leads and clicks to sales are going to be negatively affected. If the message or offer in an ad isn’t producing calls or form fills, it needs to be fixed, not boosted! Because AdWords boosts Ad performance regardless of the value of the ad, you can’t maximize your return on investment. Boosting will only return inferior clicks because that’s what inferior ads produce! If you look at the dimensions section of your campaign and see this trend – fix the ad so it meets its daily limit naturally without Google Boosting it. It will make you a lot more money.

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Obstacle #6 You Don't Have an Easy Off Switch - When I first started using Google AdWords, it had a definitive off switch. In other words, I could set a drop-dead date and dollar amount that I had to spend. Today that is no longer true. Google removed the Campaign limit switch years ago. This means today you can't set a campaign to turn itself off when you hit a specific number of days or amount of money spent.

In contrast, Facebook’s pay per click campaign still has this feature. This means it's all-hands-on-deck when it comes to managing your daily, weekly and monthly expenditure on AdWords. I suggest adding an entry to your calendar to check the start and stop dates for any campaign. On top of this, all campaigns we manage require a weekly conference call with the client to make sure everything is on track and expectations are being met. Remember, there is no off switch. If you forget this, you will make Google happy and your client angry.

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Obstacle #7 Google Also Doesn’t Make It Easy to Part Company - One of the things that irk me most is “when a company makes it difficult to remove my credit card information from their system.”  Google’s AdWords makes it hard to remove your credit card information from its system. It's not hard to add a credit card or to update one, but when you try to remove your card, you have to search for information on how to accomplish what should be a relatively simple task. If you only have one card listed, removing it becomes a chore.  There should be a simple remove card info button, but there isn’t one. On top of this, the method has changed a few times in recent years. I have now resorted to calling Google support to make sure I have removed ours or a customer's credit card and user info when a campaign is finished. My advice to you is, never leave this information active if you don’t have an active campaign running. This minimizes security issues in case of a data breach (yours or Googles). It also ensures that a campaign can’t accidentally get restarted, causing unexpected expenditures to take place.

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For all its faults, we still believe that Google AdWords is a useful and viable marketing platform for many. It requires vigilance, research, testing, and scrutinizing Ad performance. It requires a strong understanding of the platform operations, quirks, and reporting functions. It also requires a willingness to keep up with the ever-evolving changes taking place in the AdWords platform and the vicissitudes occurring in consumer buying habits and the internet itself. If you’re willing to adhere to this advice, AdWords can be a great marketing platform that produces viable leads and sales. If you're not, you can still take advantage of AdWords unique capabilities to get on page one of Google Search by choosing an experienced and competent AdWords marketing manager. Expect to pay anywhere from 25 to 35% to the cost of all ad buys to a manager. Some may think that 25 to 35% is a lot of overhead, but the real number you need to focus on is the return on your investment. A good Pay Per Click manager is worth his or her weight in gold when it comes to producing a strong ROI. Attempting to engage in AdWords on your own without gleaning the necessary marketing knowledge and operational skills will be an exercise in futility and a loss of money. If you are ignorant of AdWords complexity, don’t go it alone. Not choosing a good PPC manager is a quick way to throw money down a black hole. Conversely, working with a competent PPC manager will give you the best chances of making money on your AdWords investment.

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.
This article discusses seven obstacles to profit when using Google AdWords as a pay per click platform. These are common issues that cause frustration and often lead to failed marketing campaigns. Each example provides details of what to watch out for, along with details of how to avoid the mistakes in the first place.  This article will help any would-be AdWords marketer improve their chances of success. It will help them to avoid common marketing mistakes often made when using AdWords. Additional links to other related articles are provided along with a link to the BlogTalkRadio show notes page.
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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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