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Adwords: What not to do if you want a Successful Adwords Campaign

So you’ve done the requisite research: you have your keywords in front of you as well as how much you’re willing to spend on the campaign. But if you think that’s all you require to plan a successful AdWords campaign, let us be the bearer of bad news and tell you: no, it isn’t.

It’s not only about what you do, it’s also about what you don’t.

So instead of telling you what you should be doing, we’re going to tell you what you shouldn’t be doing if you want to get more out of the money you put in – the negative space equivalent of planning a good AdWords campaign.

Keeping clear of these mistakes will make it easier for you to run longer campaigns with consistent returns. And how might we achieve this?


AVOID #1: Ignoring Negative Keywords

While we all have our theoretical bases (read: keywords) mapped out in front of us, we tend to forget what is perhaps one of the most crucial things when it comes to reaching new customers.

While we pay for keywords, our customers reach us using search terms.

Understanding the difference is the key to getting more conversions. How?

Negative keywords help you control the exact search terms for which you will pay. These are the words your customers are unlikely to use and will not get you any conversions even if they use them. AdWords understands not to show your ad when a user searches using that particular term.

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Google search already has this feature!

If you wanted men’s socks, for example, you would see this result:



But if didn’t want any results from bold socks, then all you have to do is use a minus sign to remove all results which have that terms in it, like so:



And voila! All search results with the term “bold socks” have disappeared!

On your campaign dashboard, you can find negative keywords by going to “Keywords,”, then to “Negative Keywords,” and then finding the Campaign Level box:



Not using negative keywords correctly might take you to an audience which isn’t interested in your services or has no use for them. Using them correctly will take you closer to the exact set of people who want what you can offer!

For example, if you operated a driving school specifically for teens, your search results might look like this:



This being the case, your website can show up for results for adult driving school even if someone specifically searched “teen driving school.” But if want no adults to sign up for your classes, then you can use the word “adult” as you negative keyword. In effect, this would be the same as someone searching “teen driving schools –adult.” And this is how the results would change:


It’s a remarkable difference, isn’t it?

Another helpful thing about negative keywords is that you use them on both the larger campaign as well as the smaller ad-group level, allowing you to really narrow down your audience!



If you have no previous experience of working with negative keywords, you can go to your Google Analytics dashboard, then click on “Acquisition”, then “Adwords”, and then “Matched Search Queries”, which you will find on the left.



Here, click “Query Match Type,” then “Broad Phrase” or “Exact Phrase”. You will now see exactly what people are searching for. From this list, find as many keywords as you can which aren’t converting for you, and set those up as your negative keywords.

Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t choose keywords which will affect any of your ongoing high-performing ads.

And that’s how not to ignore negative keywords!


AVOID #2: Redirecting to the wrong landing page

A lot of people believe that setting up a high-performing ad is enough to convert a potential user, but they couldn’t be more wrong.

If your ad doesn’t redirect to a page with an immediate selling point, it kills conversions like anything.

If your ads link to a generic home page, a potential user doesn’t have any motivation to actually subscribe to one or more of your services, but a page with a call-to-action will immediately get you conversions.

Let’s understand this through an example.

Let’s say there are two competing Google ads for “marketing services Seattle”:


The first ad will redirect to this page:



As appealing as the website may be, the cardinal sin here is that there is no conversion point.

The request to join button, aptly though it may be placed, does not tell the user what they are joining. Neither is it highlighted so it catches the user’s attention.

On the other hand, the second ad redirects here:



While it may not be the best designed website of all time, there is a definite selling point as soon as a user arrives.

It’s just as instantaneous as the ad that brought the user here!

The user doesn’t mistake the form for anything else – they put their details in, and behold, you have a new conversion!

So definitely make no mistakes about this. Always design an ad keeping in mind where it will take the user.

For this, you may even have to create a dedicated landing page for your ads, which focus on a singular call to action. Get it done today, if you haven’t already!


AVOID #3: Not trusting your brand enough

One of the ways in which you show faith in your own brand is by bidding big on it, believing that the investment will be worth it. This is not true just for startups with a cash crunch, it’s true for every company at every possible step in their journey towards growth.

When you make a bid for your own AdWords campaigns, do not forget to bid on your own brand.

It might seem like a waste of money at first, but if you don’t advertise your own brand, other companies will use this fact against you. They can use your brand’s name for one of their ad groups, and in the process, target your visitors.

Let’s see this in action. If you search, for example, for Crazy Egg, the first thing that pops up is an ad for Crazy Egg.

But the second thing that pops up is an ad by a competitor! Take a look for yourself:



So If Crazy Egg had not trusted their brand and bid on it, then their competition would be getting all their clicks!

And it isn’t just brands fighting for recognition which do this. Larger companies do it all the time as well – they have to. Here’s an example by Apple:



So then why shouldn’t you try the same tactic?

It doesn’t ostensibly change a lot, as you can see. But every little change cumulates to create something big and bold.

Take into consideration the fact that people who are searching for you by name are already really interested in your brand. They want to buy your product or service.

It’s tough enough to get them to reach this stage. And once they do, you wouldn’t want them to go to a competitor’s website, would you?



A lot of people seem to think that AdWords campaigns are simple to execute. As we have seen so far, this is far from being the case.

We have only discussed a few mistakes that people can make. They’re plenty more, considering the scope of AdWords, but these three are the most crucial. Not taking these into account will not only give returns on your AdWords campaigns, they might even go further and sink your brand.

Not bidding on your brand doesn’t seem like a huge mistake. Neither does not implementing negative keywords, or redirecting to a landing page which doesn’t have a prompt call-to-action.

But all this considered, online marketing is driven hugely by numbers. And whatever little can be added here and there can result in a tangible difference of hundreds, maybe even thousand more people reached every day.

So what are the common mistakes you’ve seen people making in their AdWords campaigns? And which mistakes do you think we should’ve written about here? Let us know in the comments or email to us at

Author avatar
Mayank Gulati