No matter what you’re trying to sell, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising offers a flexible way to put your message in front of highly-targeted eyes. Unfortunately for many businesses, DIY PPC can be difficult, since the complexities of landing page design, ad creation, and distribution aren’t common knowledge. This can lead some business owners to sour on the potential opportunity for conversions offered by paid advertising, but with the right adjustments, you can turn a dull and lifeless PPC campaign into a high-performing conversion machine!
We asked our community of experts to identify the most common issues they see in pay-per-click ad campaigns and provide their advice on how to remedy them. Read on to discover how you can improve your PPC campaigns, from ad quality to form optimization to page speed.
One of the most common mistakes I see with landing pages is people skimping out on cheap hosting, despite investing thousands per month on PPC campaigns. For an extra $25 a month, you can get top of the range hosting with lightning-fast loading times.
I had one client who was paying for cheap hosting and his site was taking around 5 seconds to load. By simply switching to a better hosting provider, his load time dropped to 1 second and his conversion rates doubled from 3% to 6%.
Ryan Scollon, Freelance PPC Consultant, ryanscollon.co.uk
The biggest mistake that businesses make with their PPC landing pages is having irrelevant content that’s totally unrelated to what their ad is about. I’ve seen many marketers using clickbait copy in their ads that isn’t true to the content that’s on the website. This pushes customers away as you lose their trust and interest. Also, there should be consistency in the messages on your website and your ads. If your ads are lively and catchy but the website is dull and boring, then it’ll also shoo your customers away.
Joe Wilson, Senior Career Advisor, MintResume
Consistency is key.
People click on ads expecting to see what they have been sold (theoretically). If the landing page doesn’t match the SERP result or the user has to look around to find it, your conversion rate is in big trouble. People are click-happy and there will be no hesitation in them clicking the back button and clicking on one of the other three ads (your competitors). Maintaining consistency in your keywords and topics will also help improve your quality score, which in turn will reduce the pay per click price. Win-win!
Jase Rodley, Founder and CEO, jaserodley.com
Page load speed is one of the main culprits of PPC landing pages that perform poorly. Any load speed longer than 3 seconds causes a significant increase in bounce rate. For example, a page load speed of 3 seconds has a bounce rate of 11%, while just going to 4 seconds makes the bounce rate 24%, according to Pingdom. Improving your page speed (and thus your bounce rate) can have an enormous effect on your conversion rate.
Jane Kovalkova, CMO, Chanty
I would say the most common mistake that many businesses make when running PPC ads to their website is not utilizing any 1-page landing pages.
Ideally, there should be a hyper-relevant landing page for each set of targeted keywords in your ad groups with a clear call-to-action. This helps improve conversion rates as it will align with the visitors’ search intent as well as increase your quality score.
Andrew Cao, Managing Partner, MOTOZA
I think the most often overlooked part of pay-per-click is the quality score of your ad. The default view in Google Ads doesn’t show this metric but it’s worth customizing to see this. The higher your quality score is, the less you will need to pay to appear higher in the SERPs. Google wants relevant ads and that’s what quality score measures.
To improve this metric, make sure you have the keywords you are targeting on your landing page and in the ad. This may mean that you want to create different ads for different keywords. It is worth the effort as it will get you more clicks at a cheaper cost-per-click, which will translate into more conversions in the long run.
Steve Keighery, Founder, Home Buyer Louisiana
The biggest PPC conversion mistake is failing to set one realistic conversion goal for visitors. For example, an eCommerce website like Threadless wants people to buy right away, the conversion is a sale. In contrast, the conversion goal on my website is to convert website visitors to email subscribers so I can nurture them over time.
After you have clarified your number one conversion goal, the next most common mistake is failing to test the conversion process. I made this mistake myself earlier this year when I started to run Google Ads. I found out that conversion tracking wasn’t working probably for over a week! As a result, I make it a rule to check conversion tracking and analytics several times over a few days to verify it is correct.
Bruce Harpham, SaaS Marketing Consultant, bruceharpham.com
One of the most common mistakes that businesses make with their PPC campaigns is not creating dedicated landing pages. This is going to affect your ad quality score, causing you to have a higher cost-per-click, fewer impressions, and fewer conversions. It’s important to make a landing page that’s tailored to your ad/ad group. The page should be relevant to the ad copy, and you should optimize the page with conversions in mind.
Our company used to have our landing page be our service page. Our quality score was a 5/10 because it wasn’t completely irrelevant, but it could be better. Our conversion rate was around 1.3%. We decided to make a dedicated landing page that focused more on getting people to convert. Once we did this, we were able to see our quality score increase to an 8/10 and our conversion rate is now 3.62%.
Brandon Wright, Marketing Manager, Agile Supply Chain Strategies
Optimizing your call-to-action can greatly improve the conversion rate of your pay-per-click campaigns. Have a strong, direct CTA that works in tandem with your extensions. For instance, if you have a “Visit Our Store Now” CTA, having a location extension enabled on ads would help conversions.
We have one client where their main CTA is “Call Now”, and at least half of their conversions come from their call extension. This is because users are directed down the conversion funnel more efficiently.
Becca Grunder, Jr. Digital Marketing Specialist, Web Talent Marketing
PPC ads that convert well begin with audience research, namely focusing on how people you’re targeting speak, what issues they face, and how your product or service can help remedy these problems. Yes, keywords still matter for PPC advertising; however, bypassing this first step leads to your efforts missing the mark.
If you have access to one, begin by using a tool like Ahrefs or Sparktoro to get a sense of what people within your niche are already searching for, the questions they’re asking, and what their interests are. With this information in-hand, you will be better suited to identify relevant targeting criteria for your campaign, such as demographics most likely to convert, what they may be already seeking online. Likewise, you can develop ad copy that aligns more closely with your audience’s way of speaking and affinities. Lastly, ensure that your landing page reflects these insights and makes your desired action easy to complete, too.
Andrew Clark, Marketing Strategist, Duckpin
According to this BBC study, users make up their minds about a website “in the blink of an eye” – or around 50 milliseconds to be precise. This means that if your message doesn’t immediately get to the point and persuade visitors you’ve got something valuable to offer, you’re in trouble.
Reduce your marketing message to the core value proposition. Tell people about the problem you’re solving, how your solution will improve their daily lives, or whatever benefits your offer.
For PPC landing pages especially, try to match the headline on your page with the headline of your ad. None of this should be too hard if you’re creating sufficient landing pages, each with their own message.
Deepak Shukla, Founder, Pearl Lemon Convert
A common mistake I see is sending users that click on a PPC ad to the website homepage or a page that only has you fill out a form submission. In paid search, we want to have the user land on a page that is extremely specific to their query and the ad they clicked on. Landing page experience and ad relevance are 2 of 3 factors that make up your ad’s quality score, which in part determines how well your ad is going to rank. A higher quality score can result in a lower cost per click and better ad positions. By having specific landing pages for your different products/services and writing ad copy that is specific for each ad group, you not only provide better user experience but also send the right signals to Google to put your ad in a better position against your competition.
Lauren North, Senior SEM Specialist, TopSpot Internet Marketing
Many businesses fail to take into consideration how important it is to align their keywords and ad copy with the landing page a user hits when an ad is clicked. When the full picture funnel is relevant to a user’s search, conversion rates increase.
To fix this, simply take a full-funnel view from your target user’s perspective. Instead of throwing up hundreds of keywords in a Google campaign, be sure to condense keywords together in relevant groups so that you can actually provide what the user is looking for with relevant ads and a relevant landing page on your website.
We have found that a simple, focused approach (as opposed to a broad, catch-all approach) can increase conversion rates by an average of 5%.
Sophie Mann, VP of Strategy, encite branding + marketing + creative
One of the biggest mistakes we see in PPC campaigns is not configuring contact forms properly.
Usually, the contact form of a website is based on a backend PHP script that uses the internal email server to save responses. This leads to failed delivery to the admin’s inbox or is often ignored due to spam. This could cause you to miss out on potential conversions. Using a captcha with the contact form will ensure minimal spam and using an external SMTP service or saving responses into a backend database will rectify delivery issues.
Akram Tariq Khan, Digital Marketing Specialist, YourLibaas
One of the most common mistakes in pay-per-click campaigns is selecting target keywords with inappropriate search intent. For example, a person searching for “best headphones” wants to see an overview of the headphones and compare options, rather than get to a page that sells specific headphones. Those users aren’t ready to purchase because they haven’t chosen yet and are looking for additional information to decide on the right option. So, by targeting the wrong keywords, you’ll waste money on advertising.
When choosing a keyword, make sure you understand user intent. Browse through at least the top five Google search results of the keyword you have in mind. You need to match your content type to what you see: if the search intent is educational (blog posts), your ad to an eCommerce page for this keyword is doomed.
Hardeep Johar, President, Stone & Tile Shoppe
It’s a common mistake to send everyone who clicks your PPC ad to the home page. Searchers are always looking for something specific, so it is essential that the landing page you are sending them to is fully consistent with the essence of their search. You should create specific landing pages for each keyword group. It’s crucial to ensure that just looking at the page title, a person understands that they will see exactly what they were searching for. Besides, you should make sure that your landing page looks good and utilizes all the conversion best practices.
Justin Hawes, CEO, K&N Sales
A common Google Ads mistake is stopping the campaign too quickly if you don’t see immediate results. PPC requires a lot of trial and error. Modern search algorithms (Google, Facebook) analyze the user behavior and type of users who clicked on your ad. The algorithms will optimize the targeting, and the results will improve over time, unless, of course, there are some big mistakes in the initial settings. Nevertheless, you need to give your PPC campaign time to gather the data. You will need to optimize and try different things to see what works, though don’t start making the changes too early.
Eckhard Ortwein, CEO, Lean Case
A common PPC advertising mistake is ignoring the principles of how people make a purchase decision. For example, people need a lot of time to decide to buy expensive enterprise-class software. They want to compare different options and always look for additional information, so it makes sense to remind them of your offering for several weeks or even a month. On the other hand, the decision to buy an anti-wrinkle cream is based on emotions and is made very quickly, so your ad may not be relevant even on the next day. These examples are exaggerated, but the lesson remains: know how your audience buys and tailor your ad to that experience.
Illia Termeno, Director, Extrabrains! Marketing Agency
As a digital marketer, there are many things you can do to increase your pay-per-click ad’s conversion rate. You can either tweak pre-click factors or make changes in the post-click factors.
For me, it’s always going to be the landing pages that can directly affect the changes in your conversion rate! Landing pages are considered as one of your post-click factors. After clicking on your ads, they will be directed to your landing pages. It’s at this point when you need to shrink your site and direct their attention towards the sale. Make simple tweaks like removing or hiding your nav menu; this will limit their option to turn back. Highlight your other sales options (like a different item, color, or price). Make it easier for them to find more information about your products by adding filtering tools or a search option. Create banners that show promos and discounts. This will help in keeping your audience’s interest.
While your competitors gear towards pre-click factors, you should address your post-click factors to gain an advantage. This is where the battle is and where you would convince your audience to push through with the sale!
Michael Miller, CEO, VPN Online Multimedia Inc.
When it comes to pay-per-click, make sure your call-to-action is concise and tells your customer exactly what to do. It has been proven that simple and compelling calls to action like “sign up”, “start my free trial”, or “download now” are very effective. A
Always remember that in setting your pay-per-click ad, it is best to end it with a simple and compelling call to action. It’ll add a sense of urgency and catch your user’s eye, engaging them to click right away.
Israel Gaudette, Founder, Link Tracker Pro
Three of the most common mistakes I see businesses make when it comes to their website and PPC campaigns are:
1. Using Their Homepage as the Primary Landing Page for a PPC Campaign: This is rookie error number one. When running a PPC campaign, the whole idea is to make the whole process from reading the ad to clicking the ad and converting on the landing page as seamless and relevant as possible. Your number 1 goal is to convert the visitor into a lead or a customer. By sending PPC traffic to your homepage, there is often no clear objective for them to complete. The user will often get confused about where to go or what action to take and will often bounce or get distracted. Conversion rates will suffer!
The fix is to always create highly targeted landing pages for all of your campaigns, with a clear call to action, clear journey to conversion, and completely relevant content/copy that flows from the original ad to the landing page.
2. Adding Navigation to Your Landing Pages: Navigation allows your users to navigate away from the landing page which is what you really want to avoid. Why? Because your landing page is where the user will convert into a lead. By adding navigation to your landing pages you’re giving the user a chance to go to other website pages where they are less likely to convert, and will often leave the website.
The fix is to remove the navigation bar from your landing pages; however, there will be some cases where you will need to leave it in, which is normally the case for B2C campaigns where you are selling products.
3. Not Running Any Sort of CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) or A/B Testing: This is often overlooked by a lot of businesses due to either lack of knowledge on CRO best practices or simply because they are lazy. A/B testing should always be running in the background of any PPC campaign you run. The likelihood of having a really high conversion rate from the launch of the campaign is pretty slim. A/B testing allows you to find the best combination of landing page assets and ads so you have the best chance of converting a website visitor.
Matthew Wood, Digital Strategist, ClientsFirst
My best tip for PPC is to target hyper-relevant audiences that search for exactly the product you’re selling.
This means you need to use negative keywords strategically. Exclude keywords that bring in the wrong type of traffic. These are phrases that look similar to yours but actually address a different market. For example, if you were selling red shoes for women, then your ideal negative keyword would be blue shoes for women. Both groups want shoes but won’t compromise on color. You should also exclude keywords with weak buyer intent. You don’t want people to browse your landing page and leave, you want them to buy, so target only keywords where you can infer a clear buyer search intent and avoid those that are too vague or general.
Nikola Roza, Owner, Nikola Roza – SEO for the Poor and Determined
One common mistake with PPC ads is related to the giant increase in mobile use vs desktop use. More people are doing things and seeing ads while on their mobile phones, but ads are not being created specifically for viewing on mobile. When ads are created for desktop but are clicked via mobile, they do not appear as attractive as they should and, in turn, do not convert. PPC ads on mobile should have shorter text, easy to understand graphics, and large CTAs. Companies shouldn’t just push their desktop ads to mobile, but create original ads designed to convert on mobile devices. If not, you’re making a huge mistake.
Amit Raj, Founder, Amit Digital Marketing
Perhaps the biggest and most common mistakes that I see from businesses is not having clear and direct copy as well as not providing enough value to the consumer upon arrival. The key to a successful pay-per-click ad campaign is to immediately address the issues that your potential consumer may be having at that given time.
With my business, I have created a myriad of avatars (e.g. consumer archetypes) that might come across my ad or are already existing customers, in which I put myself into their shoes in order to address their needs. If I can successfully address their problems or frustrations within the copy of the ad, the consumer will be more curious and inclined to receive more information (e.g. be led to our website).
Secondly, on the topic of value, the ad and the website need to provide some form of value to the consumer for them to buy-in. The copy and the visuals need to peak the threshold of the consumer’s intrigue as well as provide enough value, whether that be by addressing their needs, being visually stimulating, or being entertaining. Furthermore, your website needs to expound on this and provide even more value to the consumer, namely through providing solutions to their needs.
You can view your consumers as people who are dying of thirst. Your original ad needs to nearly quench their thirst and get them to follow you to a drinking pool (e.g. the website); however, when you arrive to this pool, they realize that it’s nearly an ocean of fresh water with more than enough water (e.g. value) that they could ever drink.
Rob Level, CEO, Smart Rapper
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