I’ve found there are three types of advertiser on AdWords and Bing – those in the know, those who suspect they might not be fully in the picture and the blissfully ignorant.

The smart and savvy are always alert for new developments and opportunities, often willing to hear you out and quiz you whilst they evaluate the pros and cons. They invest in their education on AdWords. These are the easy guys to help – they don’t need to be sold on the idea, they buy to move themselves forward.

Our second group, I fitted into this category several years ago, suspect that all is not well with their account. The problem they and I faced was what is good performance? Should they focus on CTR? Is 2%, 5% or even 20% a good CTR? How much should they really be paying for a conversion? But who do you trust, I’d used so many agencies and found there services lacking that I given up on talking agencies. In my personal situation, I wanted to know how I was performing against my competitors and were they making money when I wasn’t. But my problem was who to trust help as I’d become a little cynical of agencies. Ironically, the very market leader, I was so eager emulate all those years ago is now my client for AdWords Mentoring.

Finally, the blissful ignorant or maybe just ignorant are two a penny on AdWords. These are the guys who never look at the account, trust Google to help them and just plain waste money on AdWords and in the process push up the costs on AdWords. Sometimes they think they can find the answer on YouTube or some other source. This is wrong on three levels, first they waste time that could be used to greater effect elsewhere. Secondly they will not find the answers and if they did implementation is the problem. Finally, how do you separate the good advice from the bad? Ignoring the, “I’ll find the answers myself” issues, occasionally they’ll take an AdWords review, see the truth and either do nothing or just stop advertising. We recently when back to this customer group who’d declined our help and found that 42% of them 12 months later were no longer in business!

Now that I’ve taken way too much of your valuable time here’s my ten signs that can indicate your account is underperforming, or, worse still, haemorrhaging money in ways you never knew possible! It may sound dramatic but every day advertisers are spending money on unprofitable clicks.

Take a look at our list of common ailments and decide for yourself if it may be time for a check up…

1.) Your click-through rate (CTR) is low – Google define sub-1.5% CTR as low. The reality is that anything below 2% is underperforming. But sub 1% is look for a new job before your manager finds out – only joking, we can charge you to fix it.

2.) Your Quality Scores are low – Quality Scores dictate a large portion of how much you pay per click, and if those numbers are below 6/10, then you’re paying a minimum of 50% more than you should per click. Each point below 10 increases your costs by 10%. To find your quality score view your keywords and click the columns button above the graph, select customise. Choose attributes on left column and then select Qual. Score from the middle column and final press apply.

3.) Low Impression Share – Impression Share is a measure of your market saturation, so if you don’t have at least 50%, you’re only appearing half of the time (or less) for searches performed on the Keywords in your account. You should aim for 98% and above.

4.) Combined Search & Display Network Campaigns – When they are refined and separated, Search and Display Campaigns can work in perfect harmony. When they are together, they cause discord and a tangled mess of low CTR and low Quality Scores.

5.) Showing too often on the side of the search results page. Choose the segment button above the graph and click Top vs. other. This show how often you show at the top of the page and the side / bottom. Too many searches in other are a real problem.

6.) A High Number of ‘Other Search Terms’ when viewing the Detail button for keywords below the graph – In the wash of daily Google traffic, your Keywords can be caught up with numerous high volume search terms, lowering your CTR and decreasing your relevance to users. Remember even if someone doesn’t click your ad; just see it can damage your quality score.

7.) Irrelevant Search Terms – Do you sell shoes but your Ads have appeared for the term ‘shoe repairs’? If you can find irrelevant terms in your search terms, then you need to address these with professional assistance.

8.) Duplicate Keywords – Scattering Keywords throughout Campaigns and Ad Groups can often end in tears when the wrong advert is shown for a specific search term. You are not only bidding against competitors, but you are bidding against yourself before your keywords even get out of the account. Keywords that trigger non-specific Ads often leave you overlooked because your Ad lacks relevancy for the user.

9.) Poor Structure – Like a house, AdWords needs good foundations. If products / services don’t have specific Campaigns and Ad Groups that are configured and optimised correctly, then you’ll ultimately find yourself failing to reach your online advertising potential.

10.) Vague Advert Text – You need to summarise what you offer and give people a reason to click on your Advert within 3 lines of text. It’s a tall order and many people fail to maximise this space.

11.) A Bonus – A product listing campaign with one ad group targeting all products is how most of you are set up, this can be a killer to your AdWords spend. Some of you think, yes but I’ve broken my product listings ads down to brands or other smaller groups to combat this. This is another warning sign – this approach went out with the Ark (well, January at least).

Does any of the above sound familiar? Have you said yes to any of these issues? Are you unsure of what any of these points refer to?

If so, call Click Convert to aid you in your AdWords anguish…
We can either show you how to improve your account or we’ll do it for you with our account management service.

John Langley

John Langley


I am the founder of Click Convert, an Award Winning agency, here to deliver great marketing for Small and Medium Businesses. We’ve created over $1.1 billion in sales for clients. We’re one of the top digital marketing companies in America and the UK for small and medium businesses digital marketing. We’re a Google Premier Partner, a Google Top 50 agency and our work was recommended by Google’s CEO in 2020. Outside of family and Click Convert, Cars, Adventure and Pizza are my passion. Our vision is to Inform, Empower and Deliver to help both clients and readers.

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