SEM is an important part of every business’s success and growth. I recently analyzed some of the best and worst-performing AdWords accounts and SEM campaigns. The results I found were shocking.

There were a lot of terrible mistakes that companies were making in their SEM strategies which led to the failure of their campaigns. After digging deeper into these topics, I discovered that many businesses repeat these mistakes without even realizing that they can negatively impact their campaigns.

That’s why I’m writing this article so you don’t repeat the same mistakes as them. I’ll share some of the most common SEM mistakes, and you can check if you are making these mistakes or not.

But even if you are making mistakes. What’s next? How do you solve them?

Worry not because I will provide actionable tips, tricks, and methods to overcome these mistakes. So your SEM campaign can skyrocket your business. So let’s get started!

What Is Search Engine Marketing?

SEM is an abbreviation of Search Engine Marketing. In simple words, it’s paid advertisement for different search engines. With these ads, you can run a hyper-targeted campaign and find people who will most likely buy from you. These are based on the latest search trends, keywords, type of device, geographical location, and much more.

These ads aim to increase the conversion rate and generate as many leads as possible. With search ads, you can find customers who will most likely reach the bottom of your sales funnel. So if you’re running a startup or 6-figure business, SEM strategy is a must for everyone.

But Aren’t SEO & SEM the Same Thing?

It is one of the most common misconceptions that people have. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. But what’s the difference between these terms?

In SEO, you are basically optimizing the entire content of the website. Ensuring that search engines can easily find your website and show it to customers. It includes common SEO strategies such as internal links, backlinks, high-quality content, resolving site technical issues, and keyword research to attract qualified traffic.

In this strategy, you aren’t paying search engines and increasing your search visibility by using popular keywords. You find the keywords with keyword research tools and create original relevant content which increases your search engine rankings. 

On the other hand, SEM is paid advertising. It works on a pay-per-click method. SEO is an unpaid method of improving your rankings on search engines. Many marketers consider SEO as a subcategory of SEM.

Top Most Common SEM Mistakes

Let’s look at some of the common SEM mistakes. Do you think you are making any of them? Let’s find out!

1. Your Account Is Not Structured Properly

The keywords you select are highly important in search ads. Basically, Google ads have specific campaigns and ad groups through which they can manage your keywords easily. So every keyword has a different group. If you have not structured your account accordingly, then it’s probable that your SEM campaign will not work effectively.

Let’s see how you can FIX IT!

Campaigns are the most important levels of the organization. Under every campaign, there are different ad groups. You can change many settings of the campaign. But it’s important to note that these settings should positively influence your SEM campaign. Here are some of the most effective changes that experts recommend.

  • Your campaign should be hyper-targeted according to geographical location
  • Assign a separate advertising budget for your campaigns
  • Do proper mobile optimization of your ads

Other than the things I mentioned, every campaign has different objectives. For example, your campaign might be for a specific section of your website, a special one-time product launch, or any offer.

So what should you do in that case?

Remember that your campaign should have multiple ad groups. Keywords are added to the groups, and you can combine the relevant keywords in the ad, which will eventually increase the reach of your ad.

But don’t add irrelevant search terms or keywords because it will not increase your conversion rate. By adding irrelevant keywords, you are damaging your SEM campaign. So if you are making mistakes of creating one ad group and adding all the keywords in it, then it’s time to change that.

2. You Have Completely Overlooked the Default Settings Of the Ad Campaign

You can easily change the settings of the campaign based on the ad. It also gives you more control over adjusting the ad and meeting your ad goals. If you don’t make these changes, then it’s likely your ad will show up in front of individuals who aren’t even interested in your product or offer. As a result, all your effort and money will go to waste.

But let’s focus on how you will FIX THIS MISTAKE!

Before running a campaign, always check these four settings.

  1. Networks
  2. Location
  3. Selecting location in Google ads
  4. IP exclusions

Firstly, you must check the networks that usually appear on your ad. For every search campaign, google search is always its part. Meanwhile, two things are optional which are;

  • Google Display Network
  • Google search partners

In Google search partners, different websites and apps are included, which are the biggest search engines, such as YouTube and Google Maps. Adding these to your campaigns is recommended, but if they cost you a lot of money and there is no ROI, you can skip it.

Secondly, you should ensure your ad targets your customers in a specific location. Suppose you are a hair salon that operates in the USA only, so it’s most likely your target audience is in the USA. But what will happen if you start getting leads from other countries, such as the UK, Australia, etc., where you can’t operate?

In that case, these leads are of no use to you. That’s why we use location to specify our audience. You can target it through several ways, some of which are adding;

  • City
  • DMA
  • Zip code
  • Specific mile radius of the location

Thirdly, selecting the location in Google ads is crucial to your SEM strategy. But one thing which is often overlooked in this case is the advanced location option.

In the default option, you can display your ad to people outside the target location. Google will see if a particular person has shown interest in the locations where you are running ads. And what happens next is that Google will show them your ads. Completely ignoring the fact that they aren’t present physically in the target location.

Have you ever made this mistake? Making this seemingly small mistake can be harmful to your SEM campaign. You can check the performance of your ad easily. Click on the locations menu and then on user locations. Now you will see a drop-down menu; all you need to do is click on the Matched Locations.

Lastly, IP exclusions are often overlooked by many marketers. It’s because many individuals believe that it’s of no use. Which is completely wrong. You can stop specific people, companies, and agencies from seeing your ad with this ad. It can be anyone;

  • Agencies
  • Business partners
  • Company’s internal users

Who will most likely not convert by clicking on ads? They are just costing you a lot of money. Another thing you can do which will save you money is get advanced tracking. It will filter your competitors, and they won’t be able to know your marketing strategies directly.

3. All The Ads Are Making People Yawn

Every day the number of competitors is increasing, and sometimes no matter how hard you try getting leads becomes so difficult. You spend a lot of money on ads, but no one clicks on them. Have you ever wondered why that is happening?

It’s because your potential customers don’t find your ads engaging. They see hundreds of ads daily. And your ad is one of them. You aren’t doing anything special, which makes your ad stand out from the crowd.

But worry not because I’ll provide you with a perfect solution. Here is how we are going to FIX THIS MISTAKE!

If you have already resolved the above two mistakes, then solving this problem will not be difficult. Follow all the tips to ensure that your click-through rate increases, and you will eventually see an increase in conversions and quality scores.

Make the ad copy according to your target audience. Understand and analyze what might be stopping them from making a purchase. All the keywords are almost the same, so your ad copy should also include some of those keywords. You should make different variations of them and keep experimenting.

Don’t write big claims or promises that you can’t keep. Be honest and show how you are better than your competitors. You can also check your competitors’ performance by searching for relevant keywords. Analyze their ad copy and see what mistakes they are making.

Eliminate those errors from your ad copy and make it better than your competitors. You can also add stats or facts because it will build trust between you and your audience. You can also use your competitors’ ad ideas and make something unique and scroll-stopping. Make powerful brand statements.

You have multiple ad groups. Now it’s time to make different ad copy for your SEM campaign. But make small changes. Initially, make small changes and see which ad is performing better.

Many marketers make the huge mistake of completely changing the ad copy. As a result, they face difficulty in analyzing which ad had a bigger impact on the audience. For starters, I recommend testing different;

  • Headlines
  • Descriptions
  • Value statements

4. There Is Zero Check & Balance On the Amount Spent

No one wants to burn money while doing business. Initially, you need investment, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep putting your money on fire when there are ways to manage it smartly. The same goes for SEM when marketers fail to have a fixed budget for SEM, and what happens next?

Conversion rates are low.

There are no leads at all.

They get low ROI.

Marketers usually spend their time and effort formulating a plan for SEM strategy and overlook the most crucial part, managing money. So they let their campaigns run on autopilot mode. With autopilot mode, you allow Google to set a budget for your ad campaign. So do you think this is a good way to run an SEM strategy?

Absolutely NOT!


Your SEM strategy should always have a fixed budget. Design your ad campaigns specifically so that, as a marketer, you can alter them whenever you want. It will ensure two things;

  • You will know how much money you have spent on the ad.
  • You will clearly know how much money is left for further investment.

Moreover, don’t forget to check your daily budget. If you aren’t getting good results because of a limited budget, you might need to increase the budget.

5. No One Is Attentively Running The Campaign

I’ve worked with many SEM professionals, and they dedicate a lot of time to creating an effective advertising strategy and ensuring that they get the best results from it. But many newbies don’t bother with this factor. They don’t devote the same amount of time to implementing a strategy.


Google has made things easier for marketers by providing them with different bidding strategies. There are two common types of bidding strategies;

  • Manual bidding
  • Smart bidding

With smart bidding, you don’t have to make any predictions, analysis, or guesswork because machine learning will save you time and help you find the most suitable option.

So before deciding on executing a particular bid strategy, you should weigh all the possible consequences. Such as how many results I’ll get from this, the possibilities of success, and if is it worth implementing, etc. You should only move further with the campaign after being sure this will bring you enough results.

6. You Aren’t Measuring The Effectiveness Of Your Ad Campaign

AdWords has successfully helped many businesses run their business smoothly. But what if I tell you that almost 57% of businesses don’t have tracking systems for their SEM campaigns?

But you might wonder if that’s important since you have done everything from making different ad groups to writing compelling ad copy. Is measuring or tracking the ad campaign worth it?

The simple answer to this question is Yes! It’s important. If you don’t track the results, you will not know which strategy performs well or badly. It will be like working hard without any goals. You will miss many opportunities and not even identify them. This way you can check your campaign performance accurately.

But not anymore because we are going to FIX THIS MISTAKE!

Learning these metrics terms is the most important thing you should know before tracking your ad campaign. These are the most crucial terms for your ad campaign that you should always measure. They are;

  • Cost-per-conversion
  • Click-through rate
  • Quality score
  • Cost per click
  • Conversion rates

The CPA, also known as cost-per-conversion, is extremely important. Most marketers call it “true north” for SEM campaigns. It will determine the ROI of your campaign, and you can calculate it by using these two formulas.

  1. Total costs / total conversions
  2. CPC / Conversion rate

Secondly, CTR, which is also called click-through rates. It has a huge impact on the success of SEM campaigns. If your campaign has a high CTR, it will cause a high-quality score. And what does that mean? It means your ad will have a high position for a low CPC.

Thirdly, Quality Score which is also abbreviated as QS. It shows how your fare is against the algorithm of Adwords. Not only this it will also tell you how you can do better. But how can you achieve a good quality score? It happens when these three elements are aligned with each other.

  • Your targeting
  • Ad copy
  • Landing pages

Next is CPC, which is a short form of cost per click. It is the average amount you spend on every ad. It has a high effect on the CPA of your ad, so never overlook this SEM metric. Check which keywords bring the most traffic and the amount they cost you.

Lastly, conversion rates are often referred to as CR. You might have noted that even in this blog post, I’ve mentioned conversion rates many times. It’s about the number of visitors who become;

  • Subscribers
  • Leads
  • Customers

7. Audience Can’t Connect With You

By now, you already know that every keyword is different. There is a different meaning behind it, and if you don’t pay attention to it, your campaign will not succeed. Look closely at the search terms and use them to their fullest potential.

With user intent, you can easily understand what the individual wants. Suppose the user is looking for ‘best books by authors’; they probably want to learn more about the best books. But the intent immediately changes when the user types the phrase ‘best books I should purchase.’

If you had this problem in the past. Then it’s time not to repeat it anymore. Let’s FIX IT!

You should know three types of user intents before going forward with your SEM campaign. They are;

  • Navigational
  • Informational
  • Transactional

In navigational, the user searches for specific websites, brands, or pages. They are just scrolling through the search engine in search of a specific company or business.

In the second one, the user wants to find a descriptive answer to their problem. They might want to read a blog post or step-by-step guide on how to do visual marketing. And you are there to provide them with a valuable answer.

Lastly, in transactional, the user is ready to make a purchase. They probably have all the information they need and just need a last push, and these keywords have commercial intent.

Let’s learn the solution with an example. You are running a weight loss brand. The keyword leading to more sales is ‘best weight loss product.’ Because the intent of this keyword is commercial and for making sales, these are the keywords you should look for.

8. Smartly Use Negative Keywords

When you are running an ad, many people will likely click on the ad. They may or may not fall under the category of your customers. But that doesn’t mean you won’t pay for those clicks. It can cause a huge imbalance in your budget and make your SEM strategy a big failure.

But what if I tell you that there is a solution I will share with you? Let’s look at how you can FIX THIS ISSUE!

As a marketer, you must leverage this powerful trick. With this, you won’t have to deal with invalid keyword impressions. This strategy involves using negative keywords.

When setting up a campaign, you add all the keywords you think your target audience will probably use. It can be based on either common sense or extensive research. After making a keyword list, you need to make another list. Add keywords that aren’t directly relevant to your business and this is the list of negative keywords.

Here is how you can add negative keywords to your SEM campaign.

  • Select Keywords & Targeting
  • Click on Add Negative Keywords
  • Choose the destination of the keyword
  • Click OK
  • Add a negative keyword in the edit panel

It’s just as simple. Now you don’t have to worry about invalid impressions and focus on getting high ROI from your SEM campaign.

9. You Aren’t Giving Clear Direction To Your Audience

You are running an SEM campaign. People are interested in your offer and want to connect with you and move toward the next step. But they are confused! You haven’t given them the right directions, so they will scroll away from your ad.

Remember, you need to give your audience a clear idea of what they must do next. And that is possible with a persuasive CTA, called a call-to-action. Your SEM campaign is incomplete without it.

Let’s see how we are effectively going to FIX THIS MISTAKE!

With a simple but compelling CTA, you can attract more leads. To create a CTA, you must understand the type of content. Just think of it as what you want your audience to do after reading your content. You may want them to follow you, save the content, sign up for your program, or purchase the product.

Every day we see many examples of CTA around us. For generic purposes, we usually use;

  • Click here to learn more
  • Continue here
  • Find out
  • See how
  • Check it out

Meanwhile, for commercial purposes where the primary aim is to sell something. CTAs are usually like this;

  • Buy now
  • Shop here
  • Add to cart
  • View more
  • Order now

But make sure that your CTA is not boring. It should make people curious, and it shouldn’t be too obvious. Otherwise, your audience may not act on the CTA.

10. You Are Either Focused On SEO or SEM

Every expert digital marketer knows how important SEO is. But many marketers skip the idea of search engine optimization and only rely on SEM. Or they focus only on SEO and completely ignore SEM.

In SEM, you are paying for every click. And as long as you have investment for an ad campaign, you can do it. But what will happen if your ad revenue isn’t enough to bring high results? You need to prepare yourself for these situations.

So let’s not make this mistake and FIX THIS PROBLEM before it gets out of hand.

SEO is an important digital marketing strategy that will bring long-term results. It is a time taking process, but even with a low budget, you get good results. With SEO, you can rank for keywords and appear on top of search engines and get more organic traffic. It allows you to outrank your competitors without spending loads of money.

Solve These SEM Mistakes Today!

If you execute your SEM strategy properly, then it can make your business grow at an exponential rate. Start by correcting the mistakes; you will be surprised to see excellent results from your SEM campaign.

If you have tried every effort to improve your business, online presence and want assistance, then you are in luck. At Echofish, we help businesses grow so they can unlock the potential of their business in record time. Just give us a call right now.

+ posts

I'm a very hard-working, motivated, and committed individual with a positive attitude towards life and a passion for doing new things that help people.I love challenges in my career because they make you more robust than before when you overcome them.

" "