Stop burning your Google Ad budget with these essential tips

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As the old saying goes, you need to spend money to make money, which certainly applies to Google Ads. With pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, you only get as much as you put in. 

That said, spending more money doesn’t always translate into better performance. According to the quarterly Next&Co Digital Media Wastage Report released last month, brands waste an average of 37% of their digital ad spend. And while this is certainly damaging for larger companies, it can be catastrophic for smaller businesses. 

Want to stop wasting all that ad spend and see some better ROI? We’ve compiled a beginner’s guide to Google Ads featuring some of the most common mistakes we see from clients to help you get started. 

Make sure you use the right keyword types

When it comes to Google Ads, there are three keyword types:

  • Broad match – Your ad appears on searches related to your keywords.
  • Phrase match – Your ad shows up on searches that include a specific phrase. This is more specific than broach match but less refined than exact, as it can incorporate words before and after the phrase. 
  • Exact match – Your ad only shows up when the user searches for your keywords or the exact search intent.

There are benefits to each: broad keywords will reach the widest audience, including those who may not necessarily be interested in your offerings, while the exact match is much more narrow but produces more qualified leads. The type you choose will depend on the type of business, how competitive your niche is, what your business goals are, and your audience. 

In other words, there is no single right keyword type—if you select the same default setting for all of your campaigns, you’re burning some money somewhere. 

Filter for keywords with zero conversion.

Targeting the wrong keywords is one of the most common mistakes businesses make; 12.5% of paid search budgets are spent on irrelevant search terms or ones that fail to convert. 

Doesn’t it sound that big? Put it this way: if your Google Ad budget is $1000, you’ve just wasted $125 on nothing of value to your business. If your budget is $5000, that’s $625 gone. And so forth. Over time, this can add up. 

This is why it is so important to regularly review your keywords and see whether there are any you may want to prune. 

Negative keywords

If you aren’t using negative keywords by now, you are wasting some good money on clicks that will do nothing for your business. As important as getting the right clicks are, it is just as vital to avoid the wrong ones. 

There are three different types of negative keywords you can use:

  • Broad match negative – Exclude any search terms that contain irrelevant words. 
  • Phrase match negative – Exclude specific phrases. Words must be in the same order but can have words before and after. 
  • Exact match negative – Only exclude the exact irrelevant term.

Use bid modifiers

There are a few ways you can tailor your bids to improve relevancy to users and increase your ROI. Below are three of the most useful.

Device modifiers

You may find that most of your customers are looking up your business while out and about via their mobile phones, meaning it may be more beneficial to focus more of your ad spend on mobile. For example, a business that offers emergency mechanic or tow truck services may want to prioritize mobile devices.

Consider your audience and when, where, and how they are searching for your offerings. This will allow you to allocate your budget better. 


Google allows you to specify both the location of the user and any locations of interest (e.g., someone searching for ‘best electrician Carlton’). 

If you’re a small local business with a physical store or a narrow service area, there’s no use in targeting ads statewide, nationally, or even internationally. On the other hand, if you ship Australia-wide, targeting across Australia makes sense. 


Say you’re only open on weekdays. You don’t want to waste valuable ad dollars targeting people on weekends. Google allows you to plan your ads to display during dates and times (say, 9 am to 5 pm) so that you can optimize your spending. 

Don’t aim for a 100% Google Ad Optimisation Score.

This may seem counterintuitive—after all, shouldn’t Google know best? But surprisingly, all the suggestions the search engine makes to improve your campaigns may not be suitable for your business. 

As with many things in digital marketing, a human touch can make a difference, critically assessing the strategies Google proposes and testing them to see their effect. 

Experts have found that while your ad optimization score can guide you in the right direction and provide some avenues you may not have considered, aiming for a 100% can cost you more in the long run. A score of around 80% is usually sufficient to see your business thriving. 

Integrate PPC with SEO

While Google Ads can deliver powerful short-term results and drastically boost your growth, they should never be the sole foundation of your digital marketing strategy. 

SEO Adelaide is about bringing in organic traffic (far more sustainable than paid) and creating the best website experience for users. When used in tandem with PPC, it can reduce your ad spend by:

  • Helping you identify converting keywords
  • Improving the quality score of your campaign
  • Optimizing landing pages to convert
  • Providing valuable data and insights into what drives your customers to buy

Monitor your campaign

It seems simple, right? Unfortunately, the biggest mistake beginners—and even more experienced PPC users—make is taking their hands off the wheel of their campaign. As we’ve said before, this can lead to wasted spending, but it can also lead to missed opportunities.

Regular audits and fine-tuning of your Google Ad campaigns allow you to see what works well for your business and lean into it. The more data you get, the more you know what your customers respond to and how to incorporate it into your ads. 

PPC shouldn’t be a one-and-done type of deal—it should be a continuous and evolving project that complements your business needs and goals. 

Want a Google Premier Partner to take care of your ads for you? Our team can help you make the most of your budget and ensure you get the best results. Get in touch now for a free consultation!

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