Five Gotchas Hiding in Your Paid Search Account

In the world of paid search advertising, not all issues are easy to catch. PPC gotchas can fly under your radar while negatively impacting your campaign performance and budget spending. Here is a closer look at 5 common (but hard-to-find) issues that may be hiding in your paid search account.

PPC Gotcha 1: Conversion Configuration 

The first common oversight we see when we dig into paid search accounts involves conversion tracking configuration. In your Google Ads account, go to Measurement and Conversions within the Tools & Settings menu to scope out potential issues.



To start, evaluate the attribution model used for your conversions. Google may implement a last-touch attribution model or multi-touch attribution model, which can create non-whole conversion numbers or numbers that may not align with your CRM. To avoid these issues, make sure you are using the same attribution model across your business. For example, if your CRM is using last-touch, use last-touch in Google Ads. This synchronicity will make it much easier for you to line up your paid search data with your CRM data.


How many conversions per click are you allowing Google to count as a conversion? For example, if you are an e-commerce company, you might want Google to track mini per-click conversions. In this case, if a user clicks on your ad once but takes more than one valuable action on your website, you can count multiple conversions for that single click. Conversely, If your campaign is designed to drive leads, you will want to adjust this setting to single or one conversion per click. This adjustment will ensure you are not double-counting leads from your Google Ads account when a user completes two or more forms on your website.


Finally, while this might go without saying, consider double-checking which key actions you are tracking in your Google Ads account. You will want to ensure that these line up with the KPIs important to your business. For example, if you are tracking leads, make sure your tracking form fills. You may even want to look at chat initiations or phone calls. If you are tracking e-commerce behavior, make sure your purchases are showing up in that conversion report. This is an easy win where you can better align the KPIs coming out of your paid search account with the KPIs important to your business.

PPC Gotcha 2: Keyword Match Types

The second oversight in your paid search account involves keyword match types. If you are not familiar with match types, read our post here for the latest phrase match targeting update. Essentially, you can use three common keyword targets:

  • Exact match targets


    ensure your search queries exactly match the keyword you are targeting. 

  • Phrase match targets


    allow Google to target any search query that contains your keyword target, regardless of word order. 

  • Broad match targets


    are a bit more complicated. With broad match targets, Google will show your ads in search queries containing synonyms or words similar to your targeted keywords. 

For example, if you target “dog food” using broad match keyword targeting, Google could show your ads for “puppy nutrition” and other related queries. If this related topic is not relevant to your business, you will waste your PPC budget each time this ad is clicked. 

One of the common mistakes we see from marketers who are new to paid search is extensive broad match targeting. If you look at the left-hand column in Google Ads, you can view the search term reports to see the queries that your ads are showing up for. To avoid this gotcha, you can use conservative match types. Be careful with broad match targeting to ensure you are not showing your ads to a bunch of irrelevant search queries when Google takes liberty with your targeting.

PPC Gotcha 3: Targeted Networks

The third oversight in your paid search account involves the networks you are targeting. By default, when you create a campaign in Google Ads, they will opt you into the Display Network, the Search Network, and Google Search Partners (non-Google networks like YouTube). When advertising, you will want to segment out those networks individually in your campaigns. The practices you will take to optimize a paid search campaign will not always apply well to the display network—and vice versa. 

Additionally, when you are targeting the Search Network, you will want to test your campaign performance with and without Google Search Partners. If you only want to show up on Google, make sure you are only targeting their Search Network. To avoid unpleasant surprises within your Google Ads account, check out your campaigns today and make sure you understand where Google is showing your ad.

PPC Gotcha 4: Tracking URL Conflicts

The fourth oversight we see in paid search accounts is the improper use of tracking URLs. Your company may have a tagging standard that you are working within. For example, you may be using UTM parameters in your URLs that tell your analytics systems or your CRM where your traffic is coming from. While this may seem straightforward, the different tracking template levels can create conflicts in your Google Ads account. Tracking templates can be configured at different levels, including:

  • Account-level tracking templates

  • Campaign-level tracking templates

  • Ad group-level tracking templates

  • Ad-level tracking templates

Google will apply the most specific version of the tracking template to your applicable keyword and click. For example, if you have a tracking template set at both the account and the ad group level, Google will apply the ad group tracking template.

To avoid these conflicts, we recommend using an account-level tracking template and erasing all the other tracking templates in your campaigns. This will make it easier to manage your tagging standards over time and prevent you from getting into trouble. However, there are a few reasons why you might want to override that account-level tracking template with one in an ad group. You can make your life easier with tracking templates by sparingly using those more specifically targeted levels.

PPC Gotcha 5: Forgotten Bid Modifiers

The fifth oversight that we see in paid search accounts involves geographic or device-based bid modifiers. These bid modifiers are beneficial to use when you are optimizing a paid search account—as long as you do not forget about them. 

There are ways that you can change the bid level of your paid search keywords if you are targeting different geographies or devices. One common mistake we see is with forgotten bid modifiers. For example, marketers may set up something like device-level bid modifiers and forget about them a year later.  Then they start wondering, “Hey, why aren’t my ads showing up so much on mobile?” It is because a year ago, we decided to down bid all of our mobile device targets. Make sure you double-check which bid modifiers you have set up in geographies and devices to ensure that they still align with the strategy of your paid search campaign today.

Avoiding PPC Gotchas

These 5 common gotchas in your paid search account can negatively impact your campaign performance and waste your budget. Take a moment to see if any of these common oversights are a problem for you. If they are, you can use this as a quick win to improve your account. If you need help managing your paid search accounts, contact Saltbox to see if we can help—and remember to always be optimizing.

Jeff Cooper

Founder & President, Saltbox Solutions

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