Google Ads can be a powerful tool for businesses to get found when potential customers or clients are searching for what they have to offer, but there is a lot of danger in setting up your ad campaigns if you don’t know how to avoid the traps Google has set up for you. The problem is that the core tactic that Google recommends as your approach to advertising with them is dangerous and misleading.

Broad To Narrow Will Waste Your Money

If you followed the link above you learned that Google suggests you start campaigns with a “Broad to Narrow” approach. I have saved multiple businesses who have had Google help setting up a campaign or set up a campaign themselves using this approach.  I have seen businesses waste thousands of dollars and a majority of their budget on broad to narrow approaches because it is basically the default setup and most don’t know that there is even an option.  I once helped a video production company that had wasted over 90% of their budget over a year on pointless keywords due to broad to narrow. I just recently helped a health conference company who had wasted 67% of their 1st quarter budget on wasted keywords due to broad to narrow.

Small Businesses Should Avoid Broad Match Keywords

Google Ads Match TypesThe default keyword match when setting up a campaign is the Broad match. If you aren’t familiar with keyword matches in Google Ads, definitely look them up before you start spending money.  Here is the Google explanation. I would recommend never starting with a broad match. Always start with a broad modifier and force at least two words to be in a search to trigger your ad.  Broad matches allow Google to show your ad for any search that they deem relevant, which as I have outlined above, can be mostly garbage. Google’s primary objective is to get you just enough success to keep you advertising, but not to efficiently spend your money. Broad search is the least efficient way to spend your money.

Also, keep in mind that what they call “Exact Search” isn’t actually exact anymore. They changed the definition here last year to include what they call “close variants”, but just open up the door to show your ads to more and more off topic possibilities. It is important to consistently add to your “negative keywords“, which are words you put in your campaign that will stop your ad from showing. Some common negatives you may want to always put in are “jobs”, “free”, “cheap” (unless you are competing on lowest price), “career”, etc.  If these terms are part of the search, they immediately remove them from your potential prospects list.

For example, a chiropractor treating sciatica may want to enter +sciatica +treatment or +sciatica +help as broad modifiers, forcing those words to be in a search, but if someone searches “free sciatica treatment”, they immediately remove themselves as a potential patient, and your negative will keep your ad from showing. New negatives will regularly present themselves over time as you review the terms you have shown up for.  Keep an eye on this and keep shaping your campaign to keep it efficient.  Small businesses don’t have the thousands of dollars to waste on broad to narrow that corporations do. They can waste money just finding good keywords by showing up for everything and seeing what converts.  Small businesses need to start with a level of specificity to keep their budget running efficiently.

If you need help running your campaigns to avoid some of these pitfalls, give us a call. Though this is probably the biggest one, there are other ways Google can trip you up and waste your money.