5 Simple Ways You Could Be Wasting PPC Spend

Strong performance in Google Ads requires finding efficiencies within your account. The more clicks you bring in from relevant users seeking your product or service, the more efficient your campaigns will become. Often, reaching maximum efficiency means eliminating the traffic that inflates your costs – “Trimming the fat,” so to speak.

Let’s look at some simple ways to prune wasteful spending from your account so that performance can flourish.

1. Add Negative Keywords

Without monitoring the search query reports and adding negative keywords frequently, you could be paying for traffic from searches that simply aren’t relevant to your business.

This has become especially problematic because Google has loosened match type restrictions – exact match isn’t pure exact match, and phrase match … well, that really isn’t really phrase match anymore either.

Invest the time to comb through search queries and add negative keywords at the ad group or campaign level to reduce wasteful spend.

2. Eliminate Nonconverting Keywords

Conversions are the lifeblood of any ecommerce or lead generation account. Why spend on keywords that don’t drive any?

A great place to eliminate wasted spend is filtering for nonconverting clicks that do nothing but bloat your cost and inflate your cost per acquisition (CPA). You probably have keywords, or even entire ad groups, that haven’t driven a single conversion in a significant period of time.

Set up filters to isolate this traffic and consider pausing them or reducing their bids. Cumulatively, the spend saved can be dramatic.

If your campaigns use last click attribution, where all conversion credit goes to the last click in a conversion path, you should also look at your search attribution data to ensure you are not pausing any early-stage keywords that eventually lead to a conversion. You could also consider switching to position-based attribution, or another conversion model.

3. Focus Location Targeting

By default, Google Ads campaigns target searchers physically in, or interested in, your chosen location. The “interested in” portion can lead to spend from unwanted areas because Google will show your ads outside of your targeted location to anyone they deem as having an interest in your location.

From India to Russia, Korea to Afghanistan, your User Location report can look more diverse than a globetrotter’s passport and you might not even realize it.

Let’s say you want to target only people in the U.S., because that’s what makes the most sense for your business. You add the United States as your only location target and assume your ads will only serve in the U.S. But if you’re using the default location targeting setting, you could technically be showing ads all across the globe, as long as Google views that person as having an interest in the targeted location. Pretty scary, right?

The alternative and more restrictive campaign setting is to target only people physically located in – or regularly in – your target location. Check the User Location report in the Locations tab of your campaign to see what cities, states, and countries you’re getting unwanted traffic from. Often these locations are spending at high CPAs or not converting at all.

4. Cut Search Partners Spend

By default, Google opts your campaigns into its Search Partners network, a collection of thousands of search engine sites that partner with Google to deliver ads on their search results pages.

Typically, it’s okay to start out a new campaign opted into the Search Partner network, then evaluate performance after a given time period. Your average cost per click (CPC) will likely be lower on the Search Partner network, but if it’s not leading to conversions at an efficient rate it’s still a waste of spend.

You can opt out of the Search Partner network in your campaign’s “Network” settings. Google neither shows partner-specific data, nor allows you to opt out of specific search partners. You are either fully opted in or completely opted out.

5. Analyze Device-Level Performance

All advertisers should have a deep understanding of how their campaigns perform by device type: desktop, mobile and tablet. Some accounts see similar performance across all three devices, but performance can vary wildly.

Many factors can influence device-level performance differences, from basic industry principles to how your website performs on specific devices.

In the cases where you see distinct performance differences by device, implement bid modifiers to help control CPC and spend. You could be wasting a lot of your budget on a device that performs significantly worse than the others.

That wraps up some of the easy ways to cut your account’s potentially wasteful spend. There are so many additional ways to reduce inefficient spend that we could write several more blog posts on it (we just might). However, tackle the items above first to improve your account’s efficiency today, quickly and confidently.

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