11 Most Common SEM Mistakes and Tips to Avoid Them

Search Engine Marketing is common practice to beat the organic competition and earn potential leads instantly. Mistakes in SEM are common, but professional marketers already know how to deal with them.

If you are a fresher in Search Engine Marketing, you definitely make some mistakes. Interestingly, these mistakes are easy to correct once you acknowledge them.

Most Common SEM Mistakes

So, let’s talk about the common SEM mistakes that you should avoid and get assured results without any further delay.

Failing to Control your Spend

Not any business would ever love to put their money on fire. Businesses are built to grow and hence require a smart way of investment. Search Engine Marketing marketers often fail to fix a specific budget and hence get low ROI. 

Marketers invest their time and efforts to build a solid and workable SEM strategy. But, money management is a crucial part of that strategy. 

One of the most prominent mistakes marketers make is running their paid campaigns on autopilot mode. Through autopilot mode, you allow Google to judge the right budget for your campaigns and utilize it accordingly. This isn’t the right way to get a good ROI. Instead, it will dilute your efforts to create an effective marketing strategy.

You should always run your paid campaigns on a fixed budget. Run your campaigns in such a way that they can be altered anytime you want. This lets you keep an eye on the amount exhausted and how much budget is left for further investment. Check your budget daily and find how the existing budget delivers you. If required, you can modify them whenever needed and keep your expenses and outcomes within control.

Running a strategy and not giving it enough time

Every SEM professional indeed devotes time to creating an effective paid marketing strategy and getting the most out of it. But how many of them devote dedicated time to implementing the same? Well, this is another big mistake that newbie professionals made when working for search engine marketing.

Google provides you different bid strategies that you can opt to get an effective outcome. Alongside manual bid strategies, you are also provided with smart bidding that lessens your guesswork and relies on machine learning to choose the right option.

So, before you execute any bid strategy, thoroughly analyze how the strategy can deliver you and to what extent? Execute the campaign only after you are sure enough about the results.

Improper Placement Targeting & Optimization in YouTube/GDN

Audience and placement are the two gems that can do wonders for your SEM. However, many businesses skip handling these two gems smartly and hence end up with failure. In general, the audience is the people who see your ads, and placements are places/ad slots/websites where your ads are displayed.

Improper Placement Targeting & Optimization in YouTube/GDN


Handling youtube placements is a complex yet common problem that marketers face during SEM. Incorrect management of audience and placement is a common mistake. E.g., A workout supplement business won’t love to spend on promoting its products to kids or toddlers.

Displaying your ads to the YouTube audience below your criteria is worthless to invest in. Hence, you should address your audience and placement smartly.

Relying on Broad Type Keywords

Yes, broad match keywords undoubtedly, omit most of your heck, but it simultaneously ends up wasting your investment to some extent. 

Relying on Broad Type Keywords


Using broad match keywords in SEM is a common mistake small businesses or newbie SEM professionals commit. With a broad match, you are getting tons of clicks on your paid ads, but you are also burning your money in worthless clicks.

Undoubtedly, not all broad match keywords are worth paying for. Hence, you must know this fact and create your SEM strategy accordingly.

Alongside broad match keywords, your ad groups must encompass phrase match and exact match based on your research and deep analysis. The more you narrow down your keyword list, the precise results you get. 

NOTE: Don’t rely 100% on any one match type. Instead, take all match types into usage.

Trying to Outrank the Competition with Competitor Bidding

Tracking your competitor is a good practice to keep an eye on their keywords and focus on beating them with a high bid rate. But does it make sense to place higher bidding on all your competitor’s keywords?

Well, this doesn’t make any sense! When you are competing with your competitors, it’s better to check out their keywords list and plan your strategy for them. However, this is always a bad practice to invest money entirely on your competitor’s keywords.

You never know how much budget your competitor has for SEM. If you are only bidding high to stay atop of competition, this isn’t the right practice at all.

Not using Negative Keywords

Adding negative keywords is the opportunity for SEM experts to limit their budget on valid clicks only. Yet, marketers skip the leverage of negative keywords and continue spending their money on invalid keyword impressions.

When creating a campaign, use your common sense to evaluate what keywords a user would consider the most to find your website. Once you acknowledge the keyword list, it’s better to add related keywords that are not directly beneficial to your business into the negative keyword list.

Not using Negative Keywords


Steps to add negative keywords to your campaigns:

  • Select Keywords and Targeting > Keywords, Negative.
  • Click Add a negative keyword and select Ad group negative keyword or Campaign negative keyword.
  • If prompted, select the destination for the new negative keyword and click OK.
  • Enter the negative keyword in the edit panel.

Geo-targeting all the wrong places

As an SEM expert, you would have analyzed numerous paid accounts and found one common mistake, i.e., geo-location targeting. An interesting point to note is the geo-location targeting isn’t required in all camping. Moreover, many businesses target the wrong location that results in negligible results from heavy investment.

E.g., Whenever you create an account in Microsoft Ads, US and Canada is the default location. You can, however, change it to other countries if required. In the case of Google Ads, it’s worldwide! However, if you don’t know this fact, all your ads will run in the US and Canada only, regardless of other locations.

Geo-targeting all the wrong places


So, before your ads start serving and consuming your budget, have a look at your default location.

Not Structuring the Ad Account

A good start is equivalent to half victory. The same concept works on Ad account creation. If you have worked well on your Ad account, you will save your time, investment, and revenue. 

Still, many newbie SEM professionals make mistakes in structuring the Ad account from the start and result in failures (in the future). Common mistakes in structuring your Ad account include.

  • Including Branded and non-Branded keywords within the same campaign.
  • Including all Keywords into one Ad group.
  • No bifurcation at Campaign, Ad-group, and Ads level.
  • Running paid ads without negative keywords.

And more.

So, it’s essential to invest your time in structuring your campaign at the beginner level.

Applying All Recommendations to Improve Optimization Score

How many of you have seen optimization recommendations by Google? Undoubtedly, many of you! More often, you apply those recommendations to improve your optimization score. However, top marketers believe that the recommendations offered by Google are not always good to adopt.

Applying All Recommendations to Improve Optimization Score


Recommendations are given as an option that you can consider. But it’s not mandatory to apply them all. Recommendations are entirely based on machine learning that analyzes your Ad Campaigns and provides you with the best possibilities for high returns. This includes some suggestions which aren’t in your favor. Hence you should skip such recommendations and only apply the ones that meet your criteria.

Using Irrelevant Landing Pages with Ads

Landing pages play a vital role in improving your CTR and generating high ROI. For each ad you create, a landing page is provided where the customer lands to make a request or inquiry. 

Moreover, the landing page is a significant factor in deciding the quality score of your ads. The relevance of landing pages with your ads is significantly important to ensure you are moving on the right track. Yet, many starters only use landing pages as a mode of completing their ads prerequisites. This way, you are draining your money in worthless user experience and a high bid rate. If the landing pages are completely irrelevant to the ads, your ads won’t run at all.

No SEO Parallel to SEM

Digital marketing professionals already know the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Still, many of them skip adding SEO in their marketing strategy and fully rely on SEM.

Remember, you are getting results from SEM only till you are ready to pay for every click. However, SEO helps you get results for years. SEO is a slow process but delivers you quality results that last for years with low-budget.

Working with SEO allows you to focus on Paid keywords that have high competition in organic searches. Ranking your website for high competition helps you put less effort into paid marketing and focus on other keywords with low competition.

In short, with SEO, you can save your paid expenses and get a higher ROI. SEO is an evergreen process that can benefit your business even after you pause investing.

So, these are the 11 SEM mistakes that can burn our money without notice. However, if you diagnose these issues at the initial level, it’s easy to rectify them and get a high ROI. Still, if you are one of the businesses that don’t have enough time to invest, search for a legit PPC management agency that can take charge of your SEM and turn it into a fruitful business asset.

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