13 Paid Search Pitfalls That Kill Your Conversion Rate

Sarah Goliger
March 8, 2019 ·
13 Paid Search Pitfalls That Kill Your Conversion Rate

Running a paid search campaign is not easy, and the best way to do it is certainly not intuitive. However, there are some important practices to help ensure that your PPC campaign drives the highest lead-to-customer conversion rates possible. Trada’s webinar , “13 Ways You’re Killing Your Conversion Rate” lists some of the pitfalls that could cause your paid search campaign to take a turn for the worse. Make sure you steer clear of these harmful tactics.

13 Paid Search Pitfalls to Avoid

  1. Driving Traffic to Your Home Page: The main goal of your paid search campaign is to direct visitors from your ads to pages where they will convert to leads. Your home page is not optimized for this conversion. This is where the importance of landing pages comes in. Make sure you send your visitors to landing pages that are designed specifically for conversion. In addition, these pages should be filled with keywords that match your ad groups. For example, if you have an ad group for “red tennis shoes,” you’ll want to include some of the keywords from that ad group in your landing page text.
  2. Trusting Your Gut: Like I said, paid search isn’t intuitive. You may think you know which keywords and ad groups are converting best, but you could very well be wrong. Sometimes the ads you don’t think will be effective end up having high click-through rates. Listen to your data when you make decisions for optimizing your campaign.
  3. Always Fighting for First Position: You don’t always have to be number one, and more importantly, it’s unlikely that you’ll be number one for everything. Focus on the most important keywords that you’re trying to rank first for with paid search (especially your branded keywords), but don’t waste too much time and money trying to be first for every keyword. First position clicks are often the most expensive anyway.
  4. Targeting a Wide Area: This is a big red flag with paid search, especially if you’re targeting a local or regional audience. If your window installation company only serves the New England region, you’ll be wasting money every time someone who doesn’t live in New England clicks on your ad. Use geo-targeting to specify exactly where you want your ads to be displayed so you can make sure your spending is getting put to practical use.
  5. Using Single Broad Match Keywords: These types of keywords are often actually irrelevant to your product or service, and as a result, they drive less targeted traffic and convert at lower rates. Not to mention they’re usually pretty expensive. You should instead be using long-tail keywords – ones that are longer (3 or more words) and set to either exact or phrase match. This will help define your reach more closely by keeping your keywords and ad placements geared toward viewers who are looking for what you’re offering more specifically.
  6. Failing to Use All the Space Available to You: The design of your paid search ads can make a huge difference to your conversion rates. Make use of the 70 characters you have, and do something that will capture the searcher’s attention. Create excitement, include something timely or controversial, or somehow make your ad stand out. You should also leverage the display URL, which is not the same URL you direct your visitors to when they click. So for example, if my ad is about shoes, I could make the display URL www.mycompany.com/shoes, so that the keyword “shoes” is bolded and more prominent to the viewer.
  7. Not Having a Call-to-Action: You need to tell your viewers what to expect when you direct them to your landing page. If they are aware of what they should do when they get there, they’ll be more likely to convert to a lead. Use words like “sign up,” “get a free trial,” “order,” “try it free,” etc.
  8. Allowing Dates to Expire: In line with the importance of your ad design and choice of copy, make sure you’re not running ads with expired dates. It looks bad if you’re still advertising a Valentine’s Day special in March. It can be a good tactic to use dates in ads to make the offer seem more urgent, but if you use them, make sure to set a calendar reminder to edit or remove that copy once the date has passed.
  9. Filling Your Ad Copy With Adjectives: Don’t let your ads come across in a way that makes your company sound superlative. Telling viewers that you have the “best tennis shoes” isn’t going to convince them to convert, because you’re not telling them about the value of buying your tennis shoes. You’re very limited with only 70 characters of text, so make the best use of that space by explaining the value of your offer tangibly and in a way that viewers can relate to.
  10. Setting the Wrong Expectations: You should start your campaign knowing exactly what you want to accomplish with it, and then set your expectations according to those goals. Make sure you understand your ROI and have determined the target ROI for your campaign. Having clear goals and expectations will allow you to keep focused on optimizing for the right things.
  11. Separating PPC and SEO: Search engine optimization is different from pay-per-click because it is unpaid, based on organic ranking, and has different strategies for optimizing. However, you should work on both PPC and SEO together, since the data you gather from each will inform the other’s strategy as well. For example, you can use your successful PPC keywords to build out your SEO keyword list.
  12. Taking a Vacation From Your Campaign: If you ignore your campaign for even a few days at a time, you can easily end up with runaway costs. You need to constantly optimize your campaign for better keywords, ad groups, ad copy and design, and more. You should always be doing what you can to drive your costs down.
  13. Not Testing: You should also always be testing so you can gather information to direct further campaign changes. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to have three text ads in each ad group – one version that you’re confident about, one that’s similar to the first one but somehow different, and one that’s very different from those two. Run them for a couple of weeks, then see what’s performing well and what’s not, and continue optimizing based on that information.

Keep these potential roadblocks in mind when setting up and managing your paid search campaign, and do your best to avoid them. Trust me – your conversion rates will thank you.

What are some strategies you use for optimizing paid search campaigns? Have you fallen into any of these pitfalls with your campaigns?

99 Conversion Tips
99 Conversion Tips
Originally published March 08, 2019 - Updated April 05, 2022
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Sarah Goliger
Sarah Goliger Sarah Goliger is a Digital Marketing Consultant & Life Coach and the former Head of Paid Marketing at HubSpot.

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