Top Money Wasters in Your Google Ads Account

Simply pulling levers and flipping switches in your account doesn’t mean it’s any closer to meeting your business objectives.

Published On: February 4, 20207 min readCategories: Blog, SEM

Maybe you’re making money with Google Ads.

Maybe you’re not.


If you’re running a Google Ads account, you’re probably trying to get as many leads or sales as possible within your budget. Luckily, Google gives you a lot of targeting options and settings to help you get there. A wide range of automated campaign options and ad units means your budget can go a long way with Google Ads. But simply pulling levers and flipping switches in your account doesn’t mean it’s any closer to meeting your business objectives. You can apply all of Google’s account recommendations and hit 100% optimization score, but that doesn’t mean your budget will go as far as it could. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest money wasters in your account, from quick fixes to larger considerations, and how you can start making your Google Ads account work for you.

No geotargeting.

One of the easiest – and costliest – mistakes you can make when creating a new campaign is to not pay attention to your location targeting. It’s easy to just accept the location settings and go, which leads to wasting spend on people that aren’t in your target locations. 

If I’m running a brick and mortar gourmet coffee lounge in Downtown Toronto, then it wouldn’t make sense to target all of Toronto – just the people within walking distance of my cafe. So, I would target a radius of 1 kilometre or more around my store and apply a bid adjustment of +20%. This is one of the most effective targeting strategies for businesses with a physical storefront – set multiple radiuses around your storefront and apply scaling bid adjustments, letting you serve your ads to users are closer to your store and most likely to convert.

Once you’ve chosen your target geos, you need to update your location settings:

Though Google recommends that you leave these target options as broadly as possible, someone that’s “interested in your targeted location” is not the same as someone that’s near your store looking to buy. If they’re not in your target location, you shouldn’t waste your spend on them.

No ad scheduling

Wondering how to stretch your Ads budget even further?

Bet you haven’t considered ad scheduling first – a simple yet underused feature in Google Ads.

If you run a restaurant then ad scheduling lets you only serve your ads during your operating hours, rather than running all day and wasting spend when you’re closed. 

But even if you’re running ads at all day, ad scheduling lets you see what days or hours perform best. From there, you can apply bid adjustments to high performing periods, and decrease bids to the ones that don’t. It’s a powerful tool that can go a long way towards maximizing your spend.

Running full broad match keywords

Broad match.

One of the dirtiest phrases in the SEM world. Setting a keyword to broad match tells Google that you’re okay with your ad showing up for somewhat relevant searches. This opens the door to a high volume of irrelevant searches which is even costlier when you consider that few of these are quality leads. 

Luckily, there’s an easy fix. 

Instead of running full broad match on your keywords you can run modified broad match (affixing a ‘+’ before a word) on your keywords, which tells Google that that exact term – or close variations of it – must appear in the user’s search. This gives you more control over your keyword targeting, letting you reach more users without fully sacrificing relevancy.

That’s not to say you should never run full broad match keywords in your account – you just need to be strategic with them. Your RLSA campaigns are a great fit for broad match keywords to help you re-engage prior visitors with more general targeting. But even then you should only ever use full broad match keywords when you have refined audience targeting and your negative keyword lists are flushed out. Speaking of negative keywords…

Not leveraging negative keywords

Like a full broad match keywords, this is a common and costly oversight that is easy enough to fix. 

Negative keywords let you exclude your ad from showing up for a search query that you don’t want to be part of. If you offer a paid subscription to your video hosting service, you probably don’t want to show up for “free trial” or “discount” searches. Negativing out those keywords ensures your ad only serves to users that are ready to take action now.

While some negative keywords are campaign-specific, other topics, like Customer Support, can be applied across your account, so having well-managed negative keyword lists can help you avoid wasting your spend on irrelevant searches.

Customer Support negative keyword list

Poorly optimized landing page experience

Users today expect a landing page that’s fully optimized and concise, especially on mobile where over 52% of all global web pages are served. When users arrive to a page and feel as if the content is not relevant to their search query or they’re not sure what action they need to take they’ll bounce off your page. Now you’re wasting your Ads budget because you’ve already paid to direct users to a landing page that isn’t converting. 

That’s where CRO comes in.

So what is CRO? Essentially, it’s about making the path to conversion on your site as easy and straightforward for your user as possible.

But optimizing a landing page isn’t as easy as tweaking copy and hoping for the best. Sure, you can look at Google’s quality score metrics, like landing page experience and expected CTR, to quickly assess any issues with your landing page, but you need a team that understands the importance of A/B testing if you want to really optimize for CRO.

Not having conversion tracking setup properly

The most important aspect of running a Google Ads account is making sure you’re properly tracking your conversions. After all, how can you evaluate the success of your paid media campaigns if you’re not measuring the actions that impact your business? 

Conversion tracking goes beyond capturing form fills – its value is that it lets you know what’s working and what isn’t. 

Are your keywords converting? How about your ad copy? Does your site need to be optimized? Where are users leaving the conversion funnel? 

You could have the world’s best strategy, but if you’re not tracking conversions then it’s tough to answer these questions effectively. You also run the risk of misallocating and wasting spend while you navigate the paid media landscape blind.

So, we know that conversion tracking is essential. But between tracking specific actions through Google Tag Manager, creating custom conversion goals in Google Analytics, and the sheer volume of third party marketing integrations available, setting up conversion tracking properly can be tricky. That’s why it’s worth having an experienced team implement conversion tracking and tighten up your Analytics to help you make more informed decisions about your paid media strategy.


Running a Google Ads account isn’t just setting a monthly budget, turning on automated campaigns, and crossing your fingers for leads or sales. It’s also all the time spent behind the scenes managing campaigns, optimizing for performance, running A/B tests and more that actually moves the needle. 

The right account management team can make all the difference in having your budget work for you and your business objectives rather than for Google. 

The NAV43 team brings experience, technical excellence, and a strong strategic approach to every project. Request an audit today and find out how we can help make Google Ads your strongest investment.