Google’s Adwords and other pay per click advertising options provide a lot of bells and whistles to help you best target your advertising dollars. Though if you know what you are doing and are experienced in working in these environments, these can be great options to help you target your dollars as specifically as possible, there are still a number of areas that can still be budget drains if not monitored very closely.

Keyword matching is a huge potential source of budget leaking and as been talked about in hundreds of articles around the internet. I would recommend going to Search Engine Land and just doing a search on “match types” to learn and refresh yourself on the importance of getting these right. Anything that is left “fuzzy” or undefined by Google is a possible budget leak so with keyword matches, if they say they will show your ad for the terms you put in your campaign as well as what they deem relevant, this can open up all types of holes in your campaign. The more specific your keywords the better, but we can talk about that in the future.

Geographic Targeting Budget Leaks: Default May Not Be The Answer

Another leak from this “fuzzy” targeting that I have seen in recent months is the way Google targets geographically. When a local or regional business sets up their campaign they choose specific geographic areas to target. They are then asked to decide what type of targeting they want and have the below choices (found in campaign settings):

  • People in, searching for, or viewing pages about my targeted location (recommended)
  • People in my targeted location
  • People searching for or viewing pages about my targeted location

Though the recommended choice seems to make sense, it is definitely something to keep an eye on. I have noticed that Google, which is often the case, is expanding what they view as “searching for, or viewing pages about my targeted location”. In 2014, the percentage of one particular clients clicks coming from outside their target geographic location went up significantly, and more importantly to the budget, these were leading to poor visitors.

In some cases these visits may be good potential clients or customers and you should look deeper at your data to make sure they are helpful, but it is important to note that the floodgates have opened a little bit wider and if these are bad visitors coming in, you may want to switch your campaign target to “People in my targeted location” only to avoid having to deal with what Google thinks is relevant traffic from outside your market.  As I said, this isn’t always bad traffic, so take a deeper look, but I would recommend taking a look at any account that is doing regional or local targeting. Look at the geographies in your analytics for your paid search traffic and see what percent is coming from outside your target area. Even if these are less than 5% of your paid traffic, if that has gone up from half that number the year before, and it is bad traffic, it is costing you money and potential customers.