Common Mistakes on Google AdWords – Why the Recommended is not Recommended?


There are a lot of common mistakes on Google AdWords which might be hidden under outdated recommendations, automatic messages and old-school tips. I hear a lot of complains of small business owners who followed some of the recommendations of Google AdWords and got in trouble. It is time for an honest marketer’s review of Google AdWords and its strange recommendations to marketers.

When you begin working with the Google AdWords you get to see a lot of hints and recommendations. Since few weeks ago the Opportunities tab in the platform got renamed to Recommendations to encourage more advertisers to use it.

Indeed, as I mentioned in my review of this feature few weeks ago, it has improved tremendously. A lot of the tips generated are directly copying the “20-minute Work Week” of Wordstream, a third-party campaign optimising tool. I will not comment on this, as Google owns their data and they can do whatever they want. In a way Wordstream was taking advantage from the previous confusing version of the Opportunities/ Recommendations tab to sell their product as an easier way to take decisions based on the data.

Some of the common mistakes on Google AdWords however can occur on an earlier stage. Here is my list:

1. Common mistakes on Google AdWords 1. Search with Display Select.

This is how search with display select looks in the old AdWords interface.

You create a campaign and you first see this option – Search Network with Display Select with a description: Best opportunity to reach the most customers. Yes, you will reach them but it will cost you a fortune and your ads might look terrible. What happens once you select this option, is that you create text ads which might also appear as banners. The problem is that you have no control on the appearance of your ads and how often each type is shown.

2. Common mistakes on Google AdWords 2. Delivery method – Standard vs Accelerated

Accelerated vs Standard delivery is now available only in the old interface.


In some versions of the interface you might see the Accelerated version marked as not recommended, but not always. And it should be. This is a setting which makes your ad appear as much as possible and results in spending your budget quickly. Very rarely would you have advantage of using this setting. Make sure it is not activated anywhere in the account.

3. Common mistakes on

Google AdWords 3. Country Targeting – People in, or who show interest in my location.

Location targeting depending on interest or physical presence in a country.

This setting is always marked as recommended, but it does not apply to many businesses. In many cases, it might cause more problems, than generate business. If you are a hotel and you want to show to people searching from abroad for your location, then it works. In other cases, you might end up with hundreds of orders or leads from a country you do not operate in.

4. Common mistakes on Google AdWords 4. Ad Rotation – Optimise or Rotate Evenly?

Two of the options of ad rotations which used to cause trouble are now not available.

Here used to be several different options of which most were not good. Now it is no longer possible to rotate evenly 90 days or optimise for conversions. Now you can choose between Optimise: Prefer best performing ad and Rotate indefinitely. I did not trust the optimising for conversions setting for a while. Every time I would put a new ad, I would see Google never showed it. It was always giving preference to the ones which had been running longer. In the recent months, Google’s ad rotator started working much better. I can honestly recommend you trust the Optimise setting. They will test your new ads and if they perform, they will gradually start showing more often. If you choose to rotate indefinitely, it might take a while until you find out which ad performs best. Taking advantage of the advanced ad rotation algorithm will save you this time.


5. Common mistakes on Google AdWords 5. Frequency capping – yes or no?

If you are running a display campaign there is a setting which allows you to control how many times an ad is shown to a user. This is a useful tool and I recommend you always have some sort of a cap. You can choose whether the cap is per campaign, ad group or ad; per month, week or a day. Google recently extended their ad blocking feature across more websites and apps. This is to protect customers form annoying pop-up ads. To stay relevant and not being blocked, keep a cap on your ad views.

6. Common mistakes on Google AdWords 5. Responsive ads.

You can choose free images for a responsive ad directly form Shuttlerock.

Responsive ads are a new type of banners which adjust and fit in the different placements provided on the Google Display Network. They might look good and they might look terrible, What I realised is that they are very clickable – you will spend your budget very quickly. Strangely enough when I tested a new entirely Responsive ad campaign most clicks came on mobile. My suggestion – carefully select placements (websites you want to appear on). Make sure they are reputable and high-quality ones, because they are most likely to display responsive ads well. Also, make device bid adjustments – bid higher or lower for mobile, depending on what works for you. Make sure your landing page is mobile friendly and fast.

7. Common mistakes on Google AdWords 5. Automatically generated banners.


This might sound tempting, especially if you don’t have a designer at hand. There Is an option to put a URL of your website by which google creates a new banner. Do not fall for this one. The banner is not going to look professional. People will block it or just not click on it. It might harm your brand for a long time. There are plenty of free tools you can use or hire a designer to create some good banner ads for you. It is worth investing into some quality.

8. Common mistakes on Google AdWords 5. Automatic bidding without enough data.

Recommendations on Target CPA often pop up, but not always have enough data to cover them.

You might get this Recommendation often. Officially, according to Google the algorithm they use for automatic bidding is so good, that there is no limit of data history it needs to learn. However, if you have less than 30 conversions in the last 30 days and use Target CPA, it is very likely that you end up with very poor results. Also, in the new AdWords Editor version you will keep getting a recommendation to enable Enhanced CPC on all manual CPC campaigns. Enhanced CPC is semi-automatic bidding. It used to bid up to 30% higher than your original bid if there is an opportunity for a conversion. Now there is no limit. Automatic bidding can be extremely effective and it will help you get more conversions. However, you need some time to assess your results of the last 30 days before implementing an automated strategy. Artificial intelligence works with data. If there is no enough data, your results will suffer.

About me: I am an experienced digital marketing professional who started her career at Google as a digital marketing consultant for over 100 SMEs. Get a FREE e-book . I am a blogger and Udemy teacher with more than 2,700 students enrolled in my online course. Follow on Instagram and Twitter @odolena