PPC Nightmares
Digital Marketing

Online Marketing Tales from the Crypt: PPC Horror Stories

By Nikki Powley| 4 Min Read | October 28, 2015

Online Marketing Tales from the Crypt- PPC

Halloween is the time of year to celebrate things that go bump in the night. So, I’m going to share some of the pay-per-click (PPC) things that make digital marketers sleep with the light on.

I See Dead Keywords

You’ve spent hours and hours setting up the perfect campaigns to drive traffic to your website. You’ve experienced the thrill of hitting Launch and then watching your hard work pay off. Yes!

Fast forward to the present. Have you checked your account today? Last week? Last month? If you are guilty of setting and forgetting, there are keywords in your account not generating traffic. Or worse, there are active keywords generating click costs, but not conversions.

Banish these budget-sucking keywords by keeping an eye on the terms that are converting at a price that gives you a positive return on your ad spend. Don’t be afraid to kill the keywords that aren’t converting or keywords with low-quality scores. Seriously, put a wooden stake in them and walk away.

Walking DeAD Copy

“Character limits are restrictive” is an ad writing excuse similar to “the dog ate my homework.” (Cue our best teacher eye-roll.)

I did a search for “Halloween decorations” and 7 of the 9 ads had “Halloween Decorations” as a headline. Nothing stood out. Nothing drew my attention.

This kind of unimaginative ad writing often results from relying too much on keyword insertion. It usually only takes a few extra minutes to craft a catchy headline, or at least include a call-to-action. Try, “Buy Halloween Decorations.”

Don’t be a scaredy cat. Make sure your ads are striking, include a call-to-action, and highlight any sales or specials that might entice a user to visit your site.

Landing Page Ding-Dong-Ditch


Where you send the traffic from your pay-per-click ads is extremely important. You click on an ad because it offers a product or service of interest to you. However, it then lands you in the Twilight Zone of a brand’s home page. No specific call-to-action. No direct link to the advertised product or service.


Don’t let your interested leads wander around your website like zombies in an endless search for brainssss. Create landing pages tailored to your keywords and offer a clear path to conversion.

If you have ads that send searchers to a completely unrelated page on your website, you will suddenly become the house that hands out toothbrushes for Halloween. People will go out of their way to avoid you next year.

Dawn of the Mobile Searcher

As we mentioned earlier: in 2014, mobile search grew by 47%.
Mobile is growing at an exponential rate and not optimizing your campaigns to reach these users is like taking the last pumpkin Reese cup from the candy bowl and never eating it.


There are several ways to make sure your ads are visible on mobile devices. We’ve gone into detail about them before, but here’s the quick checklist.

  1. Ads formatted for mobile users. When creating a new ad, check the box for mobile device preference to get a preview of your ad on mobile devices.
  2. Mobile bid adjustments. The top ad position on mobile gets 75% of the clicks, so go to your campaign settings and the devices tab to check your average position for mobile devices. Then use bid adjustments to increase or decrease your bids as needed.
  3. Call extensions allow you to include your phone number in ads and allow users to call with one click. Plus, Google released call-only ads this year to help make calling businesses even easier for mobile users.

Long story short—don’t ignore mobile traffic. You could be killing your campaign slowly.

Search Partners: Trick or Treat?

trick-or-treat-31263_640If you’re running search campaigns with all features enabled, you’re automatically running on the search partners network. This includes non-Google search sites like AOL, Google Maps, and YouTube. Friendly reminder, this is only for search text ads and not display banner ads.

While this provides extra exposure for your campaign, it could also be increasing your cost-per-click and conversion cost.

Jump to your campaign, ad group, or keyword tab and add the Network (with search partners) segmentation. Now you’ll be able to see a breakout of costs for Google Search Network vs. search partners.

So, there you have it. The top 5 campaign nightmares for PPC marketers.

Bats All Folks!


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