Top 5 Biggest Adwords Campaign Settings Mistakes (And How To Fix Them)

Top 5 Biggest Adwords Campaign Settings Mistakes (And How To Fix Them)

Top 5 Biggest Adwords Campaign Settings Mistakes (And How To Fix Them)
From Adwords beginners to Adwords gurus/masters/experts/ (_______fill in the blank) there are certain topics that everyone enjoys talking about. Buzzwords that get people excited about new opportunities for capturing targeted traffic like ‘mobile’ and ‘long-tail keywords’ or campaign optimizations designed for improving campaign efficiency like ‘negative keywords’ and ‘keyword bidding.’ We love these topics too, but all too often come across poor performing Adwords accounts whose previous manager clearly tried to get up and sprint before ever putting on his/her shoes.

Proper Adwords campaign management requires many things including optimization of all of the items mentioned above, but sometimes it’s the seemingly simple things that have the biggest impact. We prefer to put our shoes on before we run, which is why we start all optimization efforts with the unglamorous task of properly putting together campaign settings.

Campaign Settings Basics

Campaign settings are one of the most overlooked yet crucially important pieces of any Adwords campaign. This is where many of the most basic targeting criteria are located and small mistakes trickle down to have massive impacts on click-through-rate, conversion rate, and ultimately profit. Here are both the most common and biggest mistakes to avoid if you want your campaigns running on all cylinders.

#1. Targeting both the Search & Display Networks in the same campaign

From targeting to performance to basic optimization, the search and display networks are drastically different and simply should not be targeted by the same campaign. Combining the two networks leads to messy/poor data and bad decision making.

Adwords "Search Network Only"

How to Fix It

Luckily, even if you are targeting both networks all you have to do is switch the campaign to “Search Network only” or “Display Network only” and you’re back on track.

#2. Targeting locations that your business does not sell or offer services to

This seems pretty straight forward and every business can answer the question, “what location would you like to target?” but actually putting it into practice can be another issue. Typically, the default location targeting for businesses located in the US is “United States and Canada.” If you don’t ship to Canada or are a local pizza shop in Phoenix, AZ, make sure the location targeted reflects your actual business targeting. No matter how good your long-tail keywords are, targeting locations that your business doesn’t service is equal to throwing money out the window.

How to Fix It

If you’d like to target either just the United States, or the United States and Canada, just make that selection in your campaign settings. If you’d like to aim at a more specific location, use the ‘Advanced Search’ option which will allow you to target by country, city, region, or postal code. Be careful when targeting areas that are too small, however. This is because IP location targeting is imprecise and you may see some unintended consequences or no traffic at all.

Adwords Location Targeting

#3. Targeting languages that your business or website does not target

Again, this seems simple but if you operate a business and website that cannot handle certain languages, it’s best not to target those users with ads. Most often, ads are targeted to searchers based on their default language settings. Showing English ads to a user who has identified themselves as a Spanish speaker is a surefire way to reduce click-through and conversion rates.

How to Fix It

Within your campaign settings, navigate to the language section and select the correct languages that you would like to target. We recommend only targeting one language per campaign so that ad copy can be written in the appropriate language.

Adwords Language Targeting

#4. Setting and forgetting your mobile bid adjustment

With Google’s July update to “enhanced campaigns,” which forces campaigns to target all devices, breaking computer, mobile, and tablet traffic into separate campaigns is no longer a solution. What we are left with is mobile bid adjustments. Because mobile traffic and computer traffic almost certainly performs differently, leaving the Google default setting of no offset is likely a poor decision.

How to Fix It

This setting is a bit tricky because Google doesn’t let you update it in the regular campaign settings tab. Once you click on ‘Settings’ you’ll have to navigate from the ‘All Settings’ tab to the ‘Devices’ tab.

Settings Tab Adwords
Once here, you can either increase or decrease your mobile bid adjustment by a percentage of your computer/tablet bids.

Most businesses find that mobile traffic converts at a lower rate than computer traffic so a negative offset to reduce mobile bids may be a good place to start, but don’t set it and forget it. Reevaluating performance on a regular basis and changing your mobile bid adjustment will keep your campaigns running efficiently. If mobile traffic isn’t converting at all and you’d like to stop advertising on mobile altogether, then you can input a decrease of 100% making every mobile bid $0.00.

Adwords Mobile Bid Adjustments

#5. Choosing the Keyword Bidding Option “Include plurals, misspellings, and other close variants”

On the surface it may seem that this is a useful option from Google, aimed at saving you time by not having to create millions of keywords including every possible misspelling. In reality, this will lead to poor data interpretation and big campaign inefficiencies. Here’s why:

Typically it’s assumed that an exact match keyword only captures traffic from users actually searching for that exact term. Given that assumption, ad copy is written to maximize results for those exact match keywords and keyword bids are made at the most granular of levels. Including plurals and misspellings can drastically alter that reality and cause you to miss out on large amounts of sales.
Below is real data from an Exact match keyword. The keywords have been concealed but the exact match keyword is in the first row. To make matters worse, the search query in line two was a keyword that was in the account and was 19 characters long while our actual keyword was 9. Let’s just say, it was hardly a “close variant.”

Adwords Exact Match Keyword

Exact search query matches were only responsible for 48.1% of total traffic for our exact match keyword. This means that our optimization was based more on “close variants” than it was on our Exact Match keyword. As a result, our click-through-rate for the exact match search query was actually 30.4% lower than we thought it was because ad copy was being optimized based primarily on data from unexpected search queries.

How to Fix It

Navigate to the bottom of the campaign settings and select “Do not include close variants.”

Keywords Matching Options
There is tremendous value in capturing plurals, misspellings, and close variants of keywords but grouping that data in with exact and phrase match keywords is a bad practice that will lead to poor assumptions and analysis. A best bet is to build your campaigns out properly and use the broad match for capturing these close variants.

Most of all read carefully and make sure you have a full understanding of what each setting means before you select it. A simple setting can make or break your entire campaign.


Zach Etten

Zach is a seasoned leader with nearly 10 years of digital marketing experience. His analytical and goal focused approach has helped businesses achieve lofty growth initiatives through search, social, and content marketing. Outside of work, you can usually find Zach cheering on any of the Boston sports teams.