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How To Avoid Wasting Your Google Ads Budget

Advice 7 minutes read January 5, 2022

When running a Google Ads campaign, you want to ensure you’re getting the most from your budget. Wasted clicks on keywords and phrases that aren’t related to your products or services will result in a lower return on investment. By understanding the various match types within the platform, how to use negative keywords and the benefits of SKAGs, you’ll be able to reduce the amount spent on wasted clicks within your own campaigns.

Match Types & How to Use Them

Match types are a powerful tool when using Google Ads which allow you to change the variations of keywords your ads appear for. However, if they’re used incorrectly, they can end up draining your budget through unnecessary clicks. Each of the three types has its pros and cons and we’ll walk you through the best way to use each one, helping you to optimise your own campaigns and the returns you’re likely to get back.

Broad Match

Broad match types are the most commonly used match type. They allow you to target a larger number of keywords and phrases, some of which you may not have thought of. Not only do they cover the broad term you’re focusing on such a “plumber” but they’ll also cover longer phrases such as “highest rated plumber in and around my local area”.

This is good for phrases with a positive spin on them however it doesn’t exclude phrases with more negative connotations. Using broad match means that your ads will potentially show up for phrases such as “plumber to avoid” too. If you don’t have control over the phrases you don’t want to appear for, you can find that you’re overspending on keywords and phrases you don’t want to appear for and reducing your likelihood of getting a good return on investment.

In order to add a broad match keyword or phrase to your Google Ads campaign, you only need to add the text to your campaign. An example of this is given below;

Google Ads keyword - plumber

Phrase Match

Phrase match types are arguably the most effective keywords, allowing you to specify a phrase that your keywords appear for. For instance, if your keyphrase is “plumbers in Leicester”, your ad will show for the keyword plumbers in Leicester city centre and queries which include that phrase “plumbers in Leicester”. Using phrase match keywords allows you to keep tight control over the keywords you’re bidding on, while still being quite flexible for the keywords you appear for. We would recommend you assess which phrases are most commonly searched for and add these as phrase matches if they meet your criteria, as you may miss out on having your ad shown if you only have a few phrase match keywords.

To make a keyword appear as a phrase match type, you’ll need to surround the keyword in speech marks, “”. Like below:

Google Ads keyword - plumber leicester (phrase match type)

Exact Match

Exact match keywords are the most specific of the match types, generally used for targeting exact phrases which you know are in high demand. We find that exact match types can be extremely beneficial if your audience searches for specific long-tail keywords, but it’s also equally effective if you know your audience will search for a short-tail keyword, such as plumber. If your keyphrase is expert plumbers in the Leicester area, your ads will only show up if someone searches exactly that, or something very similar. If someone searches plumbers in the Leicester area, your ad won’t show, as it’s not an exact match.

Exact match keywords allow you to increase focus on certain keywords and phrases, however it will reduce the reach of your ads. Exact match keywords are great for filtering out the irrelevant keywords which drain your budget, however if you’re only targeting exact match keywords, you may find that you’re underspending and that your performance is far lower than normal. We would recommend a healthy balance of all three match types so that you’re covering all possible bases.

To make a keyword appear as an exact match type, you’ll need to surround the keyphrase/word in square brackets, [] like below.

Google Ads keyword - expert plumber leicester (exact match type)

Negative Keywords

Much like how you can add keywords to your campaign, you can also add negative keywords. These are keywords which you don’t want your ads to be shown for.

We would recommend creating a negative keyword list in the Google Ads platform, which features a variety of different keywords which will never be relevant to your ads. Here’s a list of keywords you should exclude as standard. Often these keywords are irrelevant to a lot of businesses, if you’re a plumbing firm, you wouldn’t want your ads to show up for plumbing training courses. However, if you’re a training provider of some kind, you’ll want to be found for training courses. We would recommend assessing which keywords aren’t relevant to your business, and adding them to your negative keywords list.

Negative keywords help filter out spam searches and can also help when targeting a very specific set of keywords. They are useful for removing words which indicate that the buyer intent is low, for example, if someone is searching ‘how to’ then they are less likely to convert into a purchasing customer.

If you’re finding that your broad match keywords are bringing in too many irrelevant clicks, you can use negative keywords to counter these searches. You can take a look at the search terms that are bringing people to see your ads. You can use this information to filter out any keywords that are irrelevant by adding them to your negative keywords list. This is extremely useful when using broad match types as they are bound to bring in clicks which aren’t relevant and it allows you to make your broad match keywords more targeted.

The Importance of Location Targeting

Location targeting is an important tool which enables you to target (and exclude) areas from your campaigns. By utilising location targeting, you will only target users in your selected areas which will help avoid your ad budget being spent on users who are outside of these locations.

map of Leicestershire

You can also choose to target users in specific locations or a radius. This is extremely useful if you want to target a specific area for a special campaign. You don’t just have to target towns or cities, you can target counties and even countries if you’re a nationwide or international provider.

location selection tool

SKAGs and Their Benefits

SKAGs (Single Keyword Ad Groups) are an often overlooked part of Google Ads. Many advertisers swear by them, some others don’t see the advantages. In a normal ad group, we’d recommend around 10 to 20 keywords. This type of keyword ad group breaks these traditions, but there is a valid reason why.

They rely on you targeting one keyword or keyphrase for an ad group, and this means you can optimise the ad to include that specific keyword/phrase. By optimising your ad to be unique to that single keyword, you’ll stand a far better chance of having a high quality score and better click through rates than you would if you used a multi-keyword ad group. We recommend using them in moderation though as normal ad groups are more versatile.

Do You Need Help With Google Ads?

Businesses of all size make mistakes on Google Ads, as there is no fixed way to do things correctly. Look at this blunder that Adidas made because they hadn’t optimised their Google Ads correctly. This could have been avoided if they focused on what was best for their brands rather than looking at reducing costs. However most mistakes can be easily rectified if spotted early enough, so we’d recommend regularly checking in on your Google Ads campaigns to make sure they’re performing as expected.

Each industry and business will experience Google Ads differently. If you’re looking for advice on Google Ads, or you want to see how Google Ads could work for you, use our Google Ads Calculator for your free report. Our Google Ads Calculator can help determine your expected ROI and overall performance.

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