15 Reasons Your Google Ads Aren't Converting

So you’ve made the commitment to go digital! You’re steps away from becoming an AdWords Google Ads guru. The only problem? You’ve turned on your ads… and nothing. You’ve been meticulously watching your dashboard impression by impression, spamming F5 like your practicing morse code.

Don’t be discouraged, there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to getting started in paid search. Your consolation lies in the fact that you’ve gone digital and the plethora of data you that is now at your fingertips can help you solve this case right away.

Need some help sorting out those clues? Let us help you by setting you down the right the path and pointing out what clues can be more helpful than others. These 15 factors can be paramount to the conversion rate of your Google Ads and help you go from beginner to guru in no time.

1. Broad Keyword Scope

This isn’t too say not to use the match type broad keywords. By saying your keyword scope is too broad we are referring to the fact that the keywords you’re bidding on may be irrelevant to producing conversions.

A common mistake of Google Ads beginners is to bid on keywords for whatever they think their customer will be searching for. This can be counterproductive because it will produce a lot of top of the funnel searches. These types of keywords don’t necessarily demonstrate buying intent and can be more research-based in nature.

Think about a search for someone looking for a new car. The intent of someone searching the keywords “Ford Mustang” holds much less weight than the search “Mustang Deals Toronto” for example. This is the nature of Google search ads. They are immediate in nature and aim to serve someone looking for an imminent solution. Paying to answer a question and not drive action isn’t always the best strategy.

2. No Negative KWs

A good way to see if your keyword scope is too broad is to review your search terms as often as possible. This will allow you to see if the searches that are triggering your ads are on message with your efforts. Often you will start to see a pattern of searches that are triggering your ads that aren’t really relevant to what you’re trying to accomplish.

This is where adding negative keywords can help immensely. A negative keyword is a term that will prevent your ad from showing when it is searched. A great example of this? Let’s use our car example again. If we were trying to sell our new Ford Mustang, we might want to add negative keywords like:

  • model
  • toy
  • used

This will prevent our ad from triggering when these are appended to our Mustang search.

Fortunately, this isn’t entirely on you to think up. Your search terms will show you what is triggering your ads. If it’s off message or irrelevant, you have the ability to add negative keywords to a campaign, ad group, or even a master list for the whole account.

This will help keep your costs down as you won’t have tire kickers, looking for something you may not even offer clicking on your ad.

3. Poor Ad Copy

Conversely, what if the right people aren’t clicking on your ads? This can often be the case and is usually evident when you have a high number of impressions and a low number of clicks.

If you know you have tight, relevant keywords but you aren’t getting clicks this could be the fault of your ad copy. To determine this, take a look at your Click Thru Rate or CTR. While every vertical has different CTR standard generally anything under 1.5% - 2% with over 500 impressions should be examined. If your ad is serving thousands of impressions and has a poor CTR and no conversions. Pause it. Improve your ad copy.

While copy can be considered a right-side of the brain activity, there is certainly some fundamentals you should follow. Firstly, your copy should be relevant to the keywords in your ad groups. This is what people are searching for. Try to offer the keyword in the first line to be the bridge between their search and your landing page.

Secondly, try to follow the 4 U’s of Copy:

  • Urgency:

    Your call-to-action should tell a browser what you want them to do and create urgency to do it

  • Useful:

    Why does someone need your services, product? How does it make their life easier?

  • Unique:

    This is self-explanatory, create copy that stands out from the crowd, get creative!

  • Ultra-Specific:

    Numbers, percentages, promotions, prices - Lastly, avoid being generic and blending into the crowd with an ad that doesn’t create a unique selling proposition for searchers.

Some other tips include:

  • PROMOTIONS! Use your promotions in your copy for a competitive edge
  • Capitalize all words
  • Spell check!
  • Keep thoughts to one line
  • Don’t try to jam too much in
  • Use smaller words “Buy” vs “Purchase”

4. Ad Copy & Landing Page Congruency

Another thing to keep in mind is carrying the same message across your copy and your landing page. We mentioned previously the power of promotions in your copy. Offering a % off or something for free can increase your CTR drastically. The problem here is when these offers are carried in your copy, but nowhere to be found on the landing page itself.

This creates distrust among users and increases their bounce rate. They followed your ad to your page with the promise of a promotion. You can imagine the frustration and feeling of being duped by searchers in this situation.

If you’re going to run a promotion, make sure it is implemented in both your copy and your landing page. This will give you the competitive edge to increase your conversions.

5. Competitor Promotions

Speaking of promotions, they are only as good as their competition. It can never hurt to do keep up to date with your competitor offerings. For example, you are offering:

15% Off Your Next Visit!

But the rest of the pack’s offers are more enticing at 30% - 50%. You can imagine that this doesn’t help increase your CTR. This doesn’t mean you have to undercut those promotions, just get creative and figure out a way to stand out from the pack.

6. Poor Impression Share

Impression Share is a KPI that you need to pay attention to. It is essentially the number of impressions you have received divided by the impressions that your eligible for in the auction. In a simpler sense, it is the percentage of times your ad showed up when it should have. While overall Impression Share (IS) is representative of all contributing factors, you can also see search IS performance indicators under the following headings:

  • Search
    impression share:

    IS specifically on Google’s Search Network

  • Search Impression Share Lost Due To Rank:

    IS specifically on Google’s Search Network due to low ad rank

  • Search Impression Share Lost Due To Budget:

    IS on Google’s Search Network lost due to budget constrictions

  • Search Exact Match Impression share:

    IS specifically on Google’s Search Network that matches your keywords exactly

Display campaigns also measure IS as a KPI, but we will stick to search for today. A poor impression share could be the result of a number of things, most notably budget, quality score, bids, targeting and others. While the level of competition has an impact here as you’re fighting for more real estate, generally a low impression share means that something needs to be changed. If your IS is under 70% this is definitely something to look into.

7. Budget

Impression Share Lost Due To Budget, means just that. This is the amount of time you want to bid on something in the auction but you just don’t have the budget to do it. A common mistake for Google Ads campaign beginners is to target everything under the sun.

Too many keywords, too many locations, campaigns running all hours of the day, can be factors that impact your budget. If you’re trying to accomplish too much and have an IS lost due to budget of anything over 60%, that means you aren’t showing 6 out of 10 times in the auction.

Because your daily budget can run out when your scope is too wide, you are most likely missing out on opportunity. Try to get as laser-focused as possible to manage your budget. This means cutting down on broad terms, scale, hours etc...

8. Too Many KWs in Ad Groups

As previously mentioned too many keywords can become a hindrance for your campaigns. This can be because of a variety of reasons. Firstly, it can create irrelevant ad copy that doesn’t contain a lot of keyword relevancy. If you have 30 keywords in your ad groups, chances are the ad won’t speak to all 30 with relevancy. This can be an issue because it can affect expected CTR for your ads. With a poor CTR, we know we won’t be bringing in potential converters, but this additionally impacts a vital metric known as Quality Score (which we will talk about next).

Try to create contained ad groups with very tightly themed keywords. This isn’t to say make an ad group for every keyword, but with our car example [mustang deals], doesn’t belong in the same ad group as +sports +car.

9. Quality Score

Quality Score is metric that Google uses to measure the quality and relevance of your keywords and ad copy. It is actually responsible for helping determine how much you will pay for a click on a given keyword.

It is scored out of 10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. So if you have a low quality score on the majority of your keywords, you are paying extra to get that click.

How do they determine Quality Score? There are 3 factors that contribute:

  • Landing page experience
  • Ad relevance
  • Expected CTR on your ads

Sorting your KWs by Quality Score can help you see where improvements need to be made. Anything under 6 is below average and should be earmarked for improvement. Improve your quality score by:

  • Creating more contained ad groups
  • Inserting more keywords in your ad copy
  • Improving your CTR (stronger ad copy)
  • Increasing Landing Page speed
  • Improving Landing Page content to contain KWs in copy

Remember the higher your Quality Score, the less you will pay for your click. (See Google’s Ad Rank equation)

10. Broad Geo-Targeting

This is less applicable if you’re selling online, but thinking about your geo-targeting radius is critical for success. For example, if you were a dentist setting up campaigns in New York City, how successful would you be targeting the entire Big Apple?

Casting a wide net would mean more competition and that you would be showing potentially to any of the 8.5+ million population who were searching for a dentist. The shrewder move would be to keep the targeting around the clinic so you could reach those who would be closer to the location and willing to travel there. Using radius targeting can be advantageous for brick and mortar locations as you can target a smaller area via KM/Miles.

So if our dentist was in Park Slope, Brooklyn we use the zip code (postal code in Canada) and build out around 4 miles/6.4 kilometres around the business. This will cut down on your budget limitations and show your ads to those who are more apt to convert.

11. High Cost/Low Conversion KWs

Another factor to look at is high cost/low conversion keywords. If you are certain that your tracking is set up properly, and that there are no gaps in your conversion process; take a look at your keyword cost. Even if something feels relevant, and has a decent CTR, it’s conversion rate may be poor.

For example, let’s say 90% of my spend is coming in from 1 keyword but under 5% of conversions are coming in from this keyword. Maybe it’s worth doing one of two things.

Firstly, look at your landing page, does it refer specifically to the keyword? Does it fulfill the problem proposed by the original search it triggered and the promises of the ad copy? If the answer is no, it’s time to update your page to reflect this.

Secondly, if you feel as though the path to conversion is strong, there may just be an issue with the keyword. Try different match types, stronger ad group negative keywords, or consider pausing right away. If a keyword is eating 90% of your budget with low to no conversions pause it regardless and develop a strategy around it.

12. Average Position

Average position is something that many beginners don’t consider. There are 7 positions on an average Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The top 4 being the most desirable as they will show above all other organic results. The bottom 3 will show at the bottom of the SERP and have extremely low visibility.

It’s common sense that you’re going to want to show in the top 4. Where people make the mistake is thinking that your ads need to be #1.

While #1 is certain to get you a lot of clicks, it also produces a lot of unqualified clicks. This is because it produces a lot of click-happy users who are just looking for the first result. These people are usually not driven by intent but more immediacy for information. Additionally, because of ad rank, you will pay the most for any KW with an average 1.

There are exceptions, however. For brand campaigns for instance, (campaigns where you are bidding on your business name) you will want to maintain the top spot. Luckily, because your QS should be the highest for these KWs, you shouldn’t have to pay to much for it. That is why brand campaigns can be your least expensive way of producing conversions.

If you find all of your KWs at fairly high positions and your max CPCs considerably high, back these off. There is certainly no shame in being 2-4, it can convert better and cheaper.

13. Slow Landing Pages

The last 3 factors to consider aren’t within the Google Ads platform itself but have more to do with your web properties themselves. The first of these is landing page speed. Page speed and conversion rates are certainly tied at the hip. The logic is simple. The faster a site loads, the better the conversion rate. The slower the page, the higher the risk of bounce and missing out on potential conversions. It is estimated that an average site loses 7% of traffic per every 1 second of loading speed delay. This is even more crucial for e-commerce.

If you think your site could be suffering from slow site speed there are some tests that you can run quickly to help determine it. Google’s Site Speed Test Page Insights tool comes to mind. It not only shows you your performance on both desktop and mobile but will also give you a guide to work with for your developer to improve load times.

14. Tracking Issues

This can be a whole can of worms if you don’t know what you are looking for, but there are some tried and tested troubleshooting methods you can undertake. Make sure to firstly double check that all of your scripts are properly placed. If you are using Google Tag Manager (GTM) check that the container tag is in place on your website and log in to the platform to double check you have the proper conversion IDs and that your triggers are set up correctly.

If you have call tracking in place, make sure your javascript re-write is placed to trigger your tracking number for KW attribution. If you are using traditional conversion scripts, make sure that you have them placed properly on your tracking page.

If you are working with a web developer, they should be able to validate all of this with you before setting giving you the green light to launch.

15. Poor Path To Conversion

This is more of an exercise in empathy than science. Go through your customer/client/purchase experience on your website. Count the number of steps that it takes from the original landing page to the conversion. Every drop down field in your form and linked inner pages is another step.

The goal here is to cut out the number of steps. Auto Populating fields in chrome can help, guest checkouts, fewer fields, simple captchas etc… The more focus that you place on a simple path to conversion, the better the results you will have.

Just put yourself in the user’s shoes for a second. They want to book an appointment or get a call back with your business but they are on the 5th page of forms and your email isn’t working.

For e-commerce clients these tracking issues are paramount. Make sure you also have Enhanced E-commerce setup in Google Analytics so you can see directly where your customers are dropping off, or abandoning their cart. This will give you a better idea on how to improve your path to conversion.

Draw out this process step-by-step and make a plan to eliminate steps wherever possible. This can be a simple, but highly effective exercise. Companies such as Amazon are the best at this, as they can successfully have you buy something in under 4 clicks. Try and make your experience as seamless as possible.

Putting It All Together

While there is no right or wrong way to run a Google Ads search campaign there are some definite outliers that can help you succeed. By ensuring that you follow our guide and look for the right clues, you will be well on your way to becoming that digital guru that you so covet to be.

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