5 Costly Google Ads Mistakes You’re Probably Making | Episode 10

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In Episode 10 of the Trades Secret Podcast hosts Devon Hayes and Amanda Joyce discuss 5 tips to help you avoid wasted spend in Google Ads. Don’t miss these actionable insights that can improve efficiencies and save your valuable marketing dollars.

  1. Setting everything on broad match 
  2. Not using landing pages
  3. Not checking your search query reports
  4. Not using proper location settings 
  5. Not maximizing extensions 
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Hi, I’m Amanda Joyce.

And I’m Devon Hayes. And today’s topic is Five Expensive Google Ads Mistakes to Avoid, and here’s why you should care. It’s costing you money and customers. It’s pretty simple.


Welcome to Trade Secrets, where we demystify digital marketing to help contractors get the most bang for their marketing bucks.

Amanda Joyce (00:22):

This is for you if you’re a contractor looking for actionable marketing insights.

Devon Hayes (00:27):

Learn from home services, industry experts to elevate your business through simplified marketing strategies.

Amanda Joyce (00:34):

Let’s dive into today’s Trade Secret.

Devon Hayes (00:45):

Okay. So I know this is your whole world, Amanda. This is so far out of my realm of, I don’t know, not understanding, but it’s not my lane. So before we jump into today’s five costly mistakes, which you very beautifully put together, what is going on for 2023 Google Ads? What’s the landscape? What’s changing? What are… I don’t know. I don’t stay as in the know on that, and so I’m just like, what’s happening? I don’t know.

Amanda Joyce (01:22):

Yeah, so there’s always a ton of stuff changing over there. An ongoing theme we’ve seen over the last couple of years that we’re continuing to see is new ways for them to automate things and encourage advertisers to just hand over the reins a little bit more and a little bit more, and allow their AI to manage campaigns on advertiser’s behalves. And as you can imagine, that is most in Google’s best interest. In some cases it can work well for an advertiser, but in some cases it definitely benefits the ad platform over the advertiser.

Devon Hayes (01:58):

So that’s where Google, they’re just like, “You missed out on this many leads or impressions, but if you let us automatically increase your bidding” or whatever, I don’t know if I’m using the right terminology there, but that’s what they’re-

Amanda Joyce (02:15):

Yeah. They’ll go in and have you… There’s all kinds of different automations you can pick. You can say that you want them to optimize for cost per conversion, and then you can set the cost you want to go for, and then they use their AI to try to get you there. They don’t always hit it, and when you turn all that stuff on, bidding is no longer available. They bid for you. So it turns off all of those little levers and you just say vaya con dios, and just let them do that.

Devon Hayes (02:46):

Vaya con dios and let them do it. So sorry, so in 2023, they’re just pushing for more of that automation and stripping the control out of the advertiser’s hands.

Amanda Joyce (02:57):

Yeah. And they have been doing it for a long time, and the recommendations in the interface, it’s always encouraging you to turn this AI on, turn this automation on, and it’s just continuing. So an example of that we’re seeing is that people that are running Google local campaigns that have always historically been really, you give them a few assets and they run with it anyway. Now they’re actually going to, later on this year, turn them into their Google Max performance campaigns, which is just Google keeps rebranding things. So they’re-

Devon Hayes (03:27):

Okay, so I’m a, sorry, total lay person over here. So what are Google local campaigns versus a Google ad?

Amanda Joyce (03:35):

So a Google local campaign is, it does allow you to show up in the maps pack, or if you click into the maps results, you can see that ad there. They’ll actually-

Devon Hayes (03:44):

Oh, okay. So that’s like when you see… I got you. So on the maps results, there’s like the little ad above or the local three pack. There is sometimes ads right in there. Those are local campaigns-

Amanda Joyce (03:58):

From local campaigns.

Devon Hayes (03:59):

Not to be mistaken with Google local service ads, which is the Google guaranteed.

Amanda Joyce (04:04):

Exactly. All these Google brands. So anyway, I don’t want to, for fear of making people’s heads swim, I don’t want to muddy the waters there, but at the end of the day, that’s one of the offerings that they’ve had for a long time that they’ve really encouraged small business owners. So probably plenty of our listeners have probably run them in the past. If you’re running one now, just know that they’re going to rebrand it. It’s going to be called a Google Max Performance Campaign, and it means there could be a few more bells and whistles in it, but later on this year, they’re going to automatically switch you over if you’re running a Google Local campaign.


So that’s one of the newer things, one of the newer pieces of information that’s come out. They also announced that they’re sun setting the ads that a lot of people have run forever, their text ads. They’re getting rid of those, and they’re forcing everyone to use dynamic, which just means you give them 10 titles and four descriptions, and they shuffle them and decide what works best. So again, it’s you giving them some reigns and letting them use their AI. So that’s the big news out there.

Devon Hayes (05:05):

So lot’s going on.

Amanda Joyce (05:05):

But yeah.

Devon Hayes (05:05):

Lot’s going on?

Amanda Joyce (05:09):

For today’s topic, I’m really excited to dive into this because this is the stuff I’m passionate about. This is a lot of times if we’re talking to a potential customer or even just a friend that’s running ads and wants me to take a quick peek, these are some of the immediate wins people can make in their campaign to just uncover some savings. If you’re not making these mistakes now, yay, good for you or good for your agency, but if you are, you can fix them and they can end up saving you a lot of money.

Devon Hayes (05:40):

Okay, yeah, let’s dive in. So number one, the number one. So again, going over the five costly mistakes you’re making in Google Ads, or hopefully that you’re not making, but, okay. So number one, we have setting everything to broad match. What does that do? What does that mean?

Amanda Joyce (05:57):

Okay, so broad match is the automatic setting. If you put keywords in your account and you don’t go change it, Google automatically makes it on broad match, which again gives them a lot of creative leeway to decide how they’re going to, if you say, let’s say an example would be like roofing contractor near me is the keyword you’ve put in your account on broad match. They could show it up, they could serve your ad for someone who types in roofing jobs near me or roofing jobs in your city name, if you don’t have the word jobs in your account as a negative.


So when you say you open it up and just put everything on broad match, you are definitely just letting Google go and get really creative with how they’re going to match the keywords in your account with what they’re going to serve you for, so you can end up having a lot of wasted spend. So if you have everything set on broad match, my tip tree to take away today, go in and change most if not all of those keywords to phrase match. Because if you change it from broad match to phrase match, then Google is going to have to stick much closer to the phrases in your campaign. They cannot use nearly as much creative leeway when they’re showing your ads in the search results. So most simplistic form, check that out, make sure you’re not just running everything on phrase match.

Devon Hayes (07:17):


Amanda Joyce (07:17):

Okay. So tip-

Devon Hayes (07:18):

Okay, that makes sense. Okay, so that’s tip number one. Tip number two. Ooh, this one’s ugly, if you’re not using landing pages.

Amanda Joyce (07:27):

Yes. So we have covered this in a previous podcast episode, so go check it out if you want to learn more about the reasons why you use a landing page, but if you’re currently not using landing pages in your Google Ads account, quick win, easy, change that right now. Work with, whether it’s your web developer, if you have somebody that you work directly with or your agency or whoever, make sure you’re driving to landing pages. A landing page in its most simplistic form is a single one-page page that doesn’t have any navigation, so people can’t click out and get lost. It has a very clear call to action, and so it should reflect whatever you’re offering in your ad, they land on the page. Ooh, it’s the exact same, very similar, same verbiage, trying to get them down to complete that lead form or complete that phone call.


But it’s crazy. It might seem like it doesn’t matter, but if you’re just driving people to your homepage, you are just throwing money away because people get to your homepage, they don’t know where to go, they don’t know what to do next. The mindset of somebody that’s clicking on a Google ad wants something very easy and simple. They want to fill out a lead form, they want to talk to somebody. If you send them just into the ethos of your website, you’re really risking spending a lot of money on that click. They click around, look at a blog, look at this, look at that. Click out, and then they’re going to go click on the next ad that has an easy landing page, and that’s who they’re going to contact. So use landing pages.

Devon Hayes (08:51):

Yeah, it’s crazy how many times, this one I understand folks, this one I get, but it’s crazy how many people seriously drive to their homepage of their websites and just have no idea.

Amanda Joyce (09:02):

It’s maddening, and it’s so sad. It makes me so sad that because it’s truly just wasting money. And we talk to people that have agencies that they’ve worked with that they’ve even had to tell their agency, “Hey, should we use landing pages?” And it’s just a must. It’s right up there with building your campaign structure. Landing page is right there and the essential components of an effective Google ad campaign.

Devon Hayes (09:27):

Bam. All right. That was a one’s nice succinct tip there. All right, number three, we have not checking your search query reports. Ooh, this sounds provocative. Go on.

Amanda Joyce (09:42):

Okay, so this plays on number one when I was talking about broad match. When you go into these search query reports, which you can just click on keywords, and then you go click on search terms, this is a treasure trove because this will tell you what keywords you’re actually being served on versus you give Google 10 keywords that you consider that you want to show up on. And whether you have them on broad or phrase match, they will show you for variations of said 10 keywords. So you click on this and this tells you the exact search phrases that you are actually being served for. So it’s a really quick way to identify if you are showing up for your relevant terms, like jobs, careers, free things like that, and you can go in and add them as a negative. So next time that search query pops up, you won’t be served for it.


So it’s a great way to identify terms, negative keywords you need to add to your account. And it’s also a great way to identify keywords that maybe are driving phone calls or leads that you don’t have in your list of 10 keywords that you want to show up for. And if they’re listed in your list of 10, you get them for a cheaper click. So you need to constantly be looking at that search query report and doing hygiene on it, adding negatives where they need to be added, and pulling good keywords from that and adding them to your actual campaign keywords. And I know, I might-

Devon Hayes (11:01):

Okay, so let me as the layperson here, when you say negative, you keep saying negative, negative. What’s like a negative? What does that mean? What’s a negative keyword? Is that what you… What is that?

Amanda Joyce (11:15):

So a negative keyword, when you build out a campaign, you put keywords in it, and then you also put negative keywords in it. Those are two very important components because I was talking about earlier how Google will take some creative leeway with what they show you for. So negative keywords allow you to take a little bit of control back. So you can say, I don’t want to show up for phrases that have career in them or job or things like that so that you’re not spending money on keywords that clearly don’t have any buyer intent. So it’s just really important to add negative keywords in there to counterbalance. When you look in the search query reports and see an irrelevant keyword of one you don’t want to pay for, you can go in there and add it as a negative and you’ll never show up for it again. So that’s why the search query reports are so important.

Devon Hayes (11:58):

Oh, okay. I gotcha. I gotcha. Okay, that’s a great tip. That’s a great tip. So tip number three was, or a mistake you’re making is not checking your search query reports. Okay, beautiful. All right. Tip number four, we have not using proper location settings. Do tell.

Amanda Joyce (12:19):

Okay, this is another default setting that Google has that can cost you so much money, and it really honestly sucks that they do this. So they will automatically just default set any new campaign you set to you when you set it. Let’s say you’re targeting Phoenix. You’ll put Phoenix in as your target location, and then this little sneaky check box down under advanced settings that you have to expand to even see it, lets you choose whether you want to show to people that are actually typically in or around Phoenix or people that show interest in Phoenix. So if I live in Seattle, and I’m looking at vacationing in Phoenix, so I’ve been doing a lot of searches recently for Phoenix, and then I go look up a roofing company, I could get served an ad from a Phoenix roofing company in Seattle, which-

Devon Hayes (13:07):


Amanda Joyce (13:08):

Dirty. And just waste people’s money. So you can go in and look in your little geographic report and look, and you could be getting impressions all over the country. And it’s one thing if your business isn’t all over the country business, but if you are a local contractor, you do not need to be paying for impressions and clicks in a city you do not serve. So make sure you have that setting clicked.

Devon Hayes (13:28):

Especially because… Yeah, okay. Yeah, so the setting, again, the name of the setting that they’re looking for, what is it called again?

Amanda Joyce (13:33):

It’s you’re going to go under advanced location settings and then there’s a checkbox that you can pick between typically in or around, because we have mobile phones. So that is a thing, or shows interest in the location and it’ll default you to shows interest in the location and you want to click the box that says typically in or near the location, and that will save you so much wasted spend.

Devon Hayes (13:59):

Yeah, especially for contractor terms where they’re paying, I don’t know, an average… We’ve seen crazy, we’ve seen like $250 for a click. So that’s a very, very good tip. Okay, tip number five. And this one is a meaty one, a juicy guy, okay. Not maximizing extensions. What does this mean?

Amanda Joyce (14:25):

Okay, Google rolled out add extensions and they just keep adding to them. An ad extension is, there’s all these new ways that you can continue to make your ads bigger to extend them. So you want to maximize these extensions because naturally, if you are paying for an ad and you could show up for two headlines and a description, but you have the opportunity to show up for all of these additional things, why would you not do that ’cause it makes your ad bigger and gives people more things to click on. So-

Devon Hayes (14:55):

Oh yeah, taking up more real estate on the search engine results page.

Amanda Joyce (15:00):

Exactly. It’s making yourself known. And I’m going to walk through some of the ones that really relate to contractors, but they’ve given you opportunities now with these extensions to not waste your ad text on some of this stuff that now you can use an extension to do, so-

Devon Hayes (15:18):

Oh, very cool. Okay.

Amanda Joyce (15:19):

Yeah. So first and foremost, the first one they ever rolled out were site link extensions, and those are things we see in organic too, but it’s when you’ll see, in this case we’re talking ad, so you’ll see an ad text and then there’ll be some links underneath it with a small descriptor underneath it, so you could have your main ad and then underneath it maybe you know that a lot of people like to see project profiles, so maybe you build a landing page that shows project profiles and has a clear call to action on it. That could be one of your site links. You can build a site link for several of your services, and there’s more opportunities for people to click. So maybe they looked up plumber near me, but what they really need is a plumber who can come help them with a bathroom remodel.


So there could be a site link for that, and they’re going to click through and you’re going to just basically make their user experience better. So site links, build those out, use them as much as you can. Next one’s a call extension, which just like it sounds, it’s adding your phone number in your ad. Again, that used to be something that back in the day, we would have to waste characters in our ad to show a phone number. Now it’s underneath your ad, and pro-tip, if you do do a call extension, make sure you go into conversions and set it so that you’re tracking calls and it’s just a silly little setting. But if you do that, then Google will actually, they’ll record the phone call for you and you can set it so it doesn’t count a call that’s like less than 60 seconds or less than two minutes. So when you’re looking at your results later, you’re not tapping yourself in the back and taking credit for all these things that you think are phone calls and they were maybe paying up so they-

Devon Hayes (16:58):

Or your agency’s not taking credit for that either.

Amanda Joyce (17:01):

Exactly, exactly. Yeah. So it’s a great way to actually really have more oversight on the calls that you’re getting from your ads.

Devon Hayes (17:09):

Okay, very cool. Yeah.

Amanda Joyce (17:11):

Another one is a structured snippet, which again, if you go into… You can google this, talk to your agency, whatever, I don’t want to give you an MBA in this, but you can go in there and find, there’s a whole extension section in your AdWords account, and they all live in there. So structured snippets are, it’s like you can add your service catalog. That’s what I would tell pretty much anyone listening to us. That’s what you would use it for you. There’s a couple of different settings you can do. If you were like an e-commerce, there’s a setting for it, but for our listeners, if you do service catalog, then you can list every service you have.


So again, it’s getting those core keywords of what you do in front of your client without wasting your ads on it. So it could say a roof replacement-

Devon Hayes (17:49):


Amanda Joyce (17:49):

Roof repair, all that stuff. Image extensions is another one that’s great. They’re making the ads results much more visual now, or excuse me, just the results in general. So you can now add an image into your ad, which obviously just draws the attention, draws the eye to it. So make sure you’re taking advantage of those image extensions. Let’s see here. Call out extensions. This is really bragging rights. Again, we used to waste to add space on this where we’d be like, BBB accredited, established 30 years ago, all the reasons why you were great.

Devon Hayes (18:22):

Google five stars.

Amanda Joyce (18:26):

Yeah. All the stuff were you just pat yourself on the back. Use those call out extensions for that. So again, you’re not wasting your ad space on that language. Another one that’s interesting is lead form extensions, which basically lets somebody fill out a lead right inside of your ad without ever clicking through, without calling you, just fill it out. You can play around with it. One thing that you have to keep in mind is they get stored inside your Google Ads account. So if you’re running those, you better recheck on that every day to make sure one didn’t come in and you didn’t see it because it’s not coming through to your website, but it’s one that you can test and then location extensions, that adds your address in there.


It’s a great way to really and point out that you have that local footprint, and that’s just a matter of, there’s a way in there underneath location to just connect it to your Google business profile, and then they’ll start showing your address underneath your ad. They don’t show… One thing to keep in mind with all of these is they won’t necessarily show every one of them, but if you’ve maximized them and Google’s in a good mood that day, they might show all of them, or they might only show your site links or they might be in a bad mood and show none of them, but you got to give them everything and then let their AI do what it wants.

Devon Hayes (19:42):

Well, that’s good to know too, that it won’t always show it. Because if I were a contractor, I have an agency and they’re running my PPC for me or Google Ads and I don’t see see that in an ad, I’d be like, “Hey, I listened to this podcast that told me that we have all these extensions and all these things we should be doing, and you’re doing the bare minimum”, but really it’s just that Google, they could be like, “No, I don’t want to show you.”

Amanda Joyce (20:10):

Yeah, “Not today. You know what, I don’t feel like it.”

Devon Hayes (20:12):

Or they-

Amanda Joyce (20:13):

Maybe they want to show more ads and then less extensions. It’s just so-

Devon Hayes (20:17):

Just depending. Okay. And it probably shifts by user too, because we all know Google tracks are behavior, so-

Amanda Joyce (20:24):


Devon Hayes (20:24):


Amanda Joyce (20:25):

Maybe if you’re prone to filling out those lead forms in the ads, maybe they’d show you more of them. But yeah, that’s a great point. If you are working with an agency, just reach out to them and ask them if they’re maximizing them. It’s okay if you Google yourself and they don’t all show up, but just make sure they’re doing it. And if you’re managing it yourself, get in there and spend the time in there. And it’s a great way to, if you’re like, “How am I supposed to use this?”, just start looking up your competitors and see how they’re using it and just make sure your ad is that much better than theirs. So if they’re bragging about themselves, just brag louder and better.

Devon Hayes (20:59):

Yeah, I was going to say, be a bigger narcissist somehow.

Amanda Joyce (21:03):

Beat your chest.

Devon Hayes (21:03):

Yeah, “I’m better than you.” No, but I think with, and this podcast, and I think any of our podcasts, because we really, we’re different, I think, in our market, in that we really dive into some of the actionable detailed steps. So as you’re listening to us, pause, take notes and just get some notes down. We don’t expect you to memorize this, but because this is really good media information, and if you’re already working with an agency, some of the terms we’re throwing out there, they’re going to recognize it. And you’re not going to have to explain it the way I’m asking in-depth questions, that’s for myself, but hopefully also helping our listeners understand Google Ads because it’s just as foreign to me as it is to you.


That’s the way our business operates is Amanda is Google Ad certified. She’s a genius. She’s been working in this for forever, has giant agency experience, manage millions of dollars at an ad spend for people, and I don’t have any of that experience. So my point is this, these are really, really good meaty, actionable items to make sure that if you are running Google Ads, that you’re running them as highly optimized as possible. So Amanda, let’s go over these five tips again, or five mistakes to avoid within Google AdWords. And we’re going to try and be as succinct with it, folks. We know we can be long-winded and detailed, but it’s for your benefit. Okay, Amanda, five costly mistakes to avoid in Google Ads. Ready? Go.

Amanda Joyce (22:42):

Stop overusing broad match, switch as many keywords as possible to phrase-

Devon Hayes (22:46):

Number one. That’s number one. Okay.

Amanda Joyce (22:47):

Number two, use landing pages.

Devon Hayes (22:51):


Amanda Joyce (22:52):

Number three, check those search query reports and update your keywords in your negatives accordingly. Four, make sure you’re using proper location settings and five, maximize those extensions.

Devon Hayes (23:06):

I mean, you just make it all sound so easy. And I like the oomph behind it, like the hand gestures, that-

Amanda Joyce (23:14):

Little stank behind it.

Devon Hayes (23:15):

A little stank, a little something. Thank you. That was amazing. Everyone, thank you so much for listening, and we look forward to sharing some more info on the next podcast.

Amanda Joyce (23:28):

That was today’s trade secret. Thanks for listening.

Devon Hayes (23:32):

Did you find this helpful? We’re just getting started.

Amanda Joyce (23:36):

Subscribe, and don’t miss our next reveal.

Devon Hayes (23:40):

Until next time.