Whether you’re new to Google AdWords or have dabbled with the dashboard from time to time, you probably know that getting a campaign launched is one thing but getting consistent results is something entirely different. Before you know it you’re neck-deep in technical lingo, wading through a sea of indecipherable features, and ready to pull out your hair or pull the plug altogether. If the signs below describe the state of your Adwords account, it may be time to look for help.

1. Infrequent Changes to Account

I can’t tell you how many accounts we’ve audited for potential clients that had not been touched in weeks, and sometimes months. Achieving a return on your AdWords investment requires consistent monitoring, management, and optimization. You get out what you put in, and this process can be very time consuming. If you don’t have the time to consistently manage your account, you’re going to have a hard time outperforming your competitors who do. Set it and forget it may have worked for Ron Popeil, but it surely doesn’t work for PPC advertising.
Be realistic about how much time you or your staff can dedicate to managing your account. In the long run hiring a dedicated manager or independent contractor could save you a lot of money in wasted advertising dollars.

2. Relying on Google’s Optimization Suggestions

Imagine taking medical advice from a doctor who has never examined you personally. One who assesses your health based solely on your age, weight and height alone. As well-intentioned as they may be, Google’s automated optimization suggestions are just that, automated. They don’t take into account your advertising goals, your budget, your tolerance for risk or any of the unique challenges that your business faces. Relying solely on Google’s Optimization Suggestions is like taking advice from a doctor who’s never even met you. Definitely not a winning strategy.

3. Low Click Through Rate (CTR)

They’re just not that into you…that’s what searchers are saying when they saddle you with a low CTR. Low CTR often happens in conjunction with several other issues mentioned on this list, such as not A/B testing ad copy or landing pages and not using negative keywords. Because Google interprets a low CTR as a sign that your ads are less relevant to searchers, your quality scores will suffer and as a result your ad position will fall while your cost-per-click rates rise. It’s a double whammy to your PPC campaign, which is why keeping your CTR high and healthy is critical to your success.

4. Low Quality Score

A low quality score on AdWords means that Google feels your ads are not providing a quality search experience for its users, and as a result you are nailed with a pricing penalty, paying more per click in order for your ad to reach the top of the page. Google’s cost-per-click takes into account your AdWords maximum cost-per-click bid as well as your quality score – which is why it’s essential to keep your quality score out of the trenches. Like CTR, low quality scores are a symptom of a larger problem, which is once again fed by a number of factors mentioned on this list.

5. Disorganized Account Structure

Account structure is the foundation of your Adwords account. Building on top of a disorganized structure is only going to lead to poor management and ultimately frustration. You should be able to easily navigate through all your AdWords campaigns, ad groups and keywords with minimal confusion. It is important to establish a long term plan and vision for your account prior to building it out. This way you can grow into your account as your business expands, not out of it.

6. Only 1 Ad per Ad Group

Even the pros don’t write the perfect ad copy on the first try. Chasing down that perfect ad happens through a constant cycle of A/B testing, which pits 2 or more ads against each other to determine which ones perform the best. As the lower performing ads surface, they are paused and replaced by new ad copy. Rinse and repeat a few hundred times, and voila, you’ve got the perfect ad.

7. Not A/B Testing Landing Pages

Once your ad has earned a click, the real work begins – and that involves a compelling landing page that leads directly to conversion. Use A/B test software, such as Unbounce or Leadpages, to test multiple landing pages by changing up the images, copy, design, layout and calls to action to determine the most effective combination for conversion – just like you do with the ad copy itself.

8. Not Using All 3 Keyword Match Types

Google keyword match types are specific settings that will control which searches act as triggers for your ad. The three keyword match types include:
• Broad match: ads may show on searches that include all relevant variations of this keyword (the default match type)
• Phrase match: ads may show on searches that are a phrase or close variation of that phrase
• Exact match: ads may show on exact terms or close variations of that exact term
Generally speaking, broader keywords generate traffic from a larger less-targeted audience, while phrase and exact match keywords generate less traffic but attracted a much more targeted audience. With broad match being the default match type in Adwords, it’s is naturally the most used despite being the least effective. If you’re primarily using broad match keywords you are likely throwing a lot of money away in ad spend.

9. Not Tracking Conversions

Using AdWords and not tracking conversions is like trying to lose weight without ever stepping on the scale – it’s impossible to know whether you’re moving towards you goal or farther away. Tracking conversions allows you to quantify the value of your AdWords traffic by identifying how many clicks are resulting in leads or sales. To determine whether your account is tracking conversions, visit Tools > Conversions, under the top navigation menu of your AdWords dashboard.

10. Not Using Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are keyword exclusions, ensuring that your ad does not appear to people searching for those specific keywords or visiting sites that contain those terms. Adding negative keywords to your campaign allows you to reduce costs by opting-out of specific terms that may be similar to your keywords, but don’t offer you a meaningful return. If you’re running broad match keywords, a robust negative keyword list is absolutely critical.