Trick or Treat? 5 Fabulous and Frightening AdWords PPC Features

pumpkinMany Google AdWords features come with fabulous treats that help improve account performance or ease campaign management. Some of these same features, however, have a few nasty tricks up their sleeve that can throw PPC managers off course.

Scared? Don’t be. Learn how you can avoid these tricks, get ahead, and make sure you have the biggest pile of goodies at the end of the night.

1. Search Terms Report


The search terms report in AdWords offers advertisers the ability to see the actual search query the consumer entered that triggered the ad and led to a click. This search term was matched up to a keyword in the account, but not necessarily the same as the keyword.

The report is rich with information in searcher intent and interest. Here, advertisers can find high-level trends as well as tactical actions for adding/removing keywords that surface in the reports.


However, the big trick on advertisers is that we still aren’t really getting the whole picture. You’ll notice the report isn’t totally complete.

For example, search terms that didn’t have a significant volume or where no clicks occurred in 30 days are missing. The missing keywords are clumped together in an “Other search terms” row that shows high level query count data for terms that triggered ads, but are not listed individually.

The report below shows that there are more than 10,000 impressions on “other search terms” we don’t have access to view. This will make it impossible to identify keywords that may be opportunities or negatives, or to spot search trends over time.

Review the report on a weekly basis, devising a plan on how to review, and action to take – for example, add, negative, or ignore. Review the search terms by ad group to get the best data, as time and resources permits. This frequency can help to see the clicks that occurred within the 30-day timeframe and reduce irrelevant terms by adding negatives.


2. Campaign Negative Keyword List


Negative keywords prevent ads from showing on search queries that aren’t relevant to your product, thereby reducing unwanted impressions and clicks. They can be added to ad groups or campaigns.

Recently Google rolled out the ability to use lists of negative keywords that can be shared across AdWords campaigns. When a keyword is added or deleted from the list, the change applies to all campaigns the list is associated with. A time-saving treat!


While AdWords negative keyword lists can help to better manage these keywords, it can still be tricky.

Often advertisers add negatives on an ongoing basis. With changes over time, across multiple ad groups, campaigns, and lists, this can get complicated and possibly even negatively impact performance. Often advertisers who see a dip in performance overlook the possibility of a bad negative keyword.

To avoid this pitfall, do a simple negative keyword audit. Export keywords or view in AdWords Editor (or other PPC management platform). Look for any duplicates, negatives that may interfere with correct keywords being triggered, and match type on multiple word keywords. For example, a broad matched negative keyword may contain words that can incorrectly prevent the ad from being shown.

3. Dynamic Search Ads


Just last week Google launched Dynamic Search Ads, ads generated automatically right from the website. Advertisers can select the entire website or sections of the website to target. Less work, more relevant ads.

This feature uses Google’s organic search index of the website to determine which searches are relevant to the products on your website. Instead of keywords, Google use content from the website to match ads with searches. The ad headline is dynamically generated, but the body copy using a nice, safe template created by the advertiser.



Up to this point, advertisers used dynamic keyword insertion to get that customized/automated effect. Dynamically generated ads have the same risk as ads using dynamic keyword insertion. One or two at some point might go horribly wrong, in either not being relevant or sounding like gibberish in response to a search query.

The second potential danger is found in the use of the content from the website. Not all websites are optimized with the best keywords. Less savvy advertisers might not understand the full effect of SEO on this feature.

4. Mobile Click-To-Call


Click to call ad extensions in AdWords work by adding a clickable business phone number in ads that appear on mobile devices with full Internet browsers. Ads will serve based on the advertiser targeting and budgeting options.

This feature is great for any business with a local presence or using local extensions and local business ads feature. Google’s internal data shows including location or phone information in a search ad increases CTR 6-8 percent.

See the two ads in the screenshot below. One contains a link, one has an easy number to click to call immediately. Who you gonna call?



So how are your mobile campaigns going? The trick here is that many advertisers are missing out on the opportunity to leverage mobile and lack a solid plan of attack.

According to Google, 94 percent of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 90 percent take action a result. This is certainly a feature that can be leveraged in creative ways for a wide range of business in addition to local.

Advertisers already using mobile ads should consider creative ways to utilize click to call. Advertisers who aren’t should view traffic from current AdWords campaigns by segmenting by device type.

Here you will see volume and performance of mobile ads. Review website analytics and determine the organic volume. Use the intelligence from this data to create basic, mobile-only targeted campaigns, ads, and mobile landing pages to get to started and gather data on this channel.

5. Shared Budgets


A recent feature that allows AdWords campaigns to share budgets can help some advertisers simplify management by setting and forgetting one budget across several campaigns.


Based on the principle that keywords should be grouped in like-themes in ad groups and campaigns, each group will have unique characteristics in how they perform. The challenge with shared budgets is that the budget will be spent on a first-come-first-served basis for clicks. Therefore, there is less control over keywords that dominate click budget beyond what they could with an individual budget.

For campaigns with shared budget, make sure the campaigns are very close in theme. Ensure there aren’t any high volume keywords that may dominate and take away from lower volume but converting keywords, for example. Regularly check the actual spend by day too see where the budget is actually going and optimize accordingly.

Your AdWords Tricks & Treats?

What are some of your favorite AdWords treats and least favorite tricks from Google? Tell us in the comments.

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