As an online advertiser, you may run into a variety of issues with your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Determining where the problem lies will give you a good indication of where to start and how to address problems. Below we’ve listed common pay-per-click campaign failure scenarios you may have dealt with, and how to fix them:

My impressions and/or clicks have been falling.
The first thing we recommend is to make sure your campaign isn’t reaching its daily budget (not reaching your daily budget is a good thing). If it is, simply increase your daily budget allotment to be able to gain more impressions. If your budget doesn’t allow room for flexibility, try reducing your average CPC’s (cost-per-clicks) for certain keywords and see how they perform at lower positions.


Your competitors may also be bidding on the same keywords you are. If they’re outbidding you, it could force your campaign into a lower position, resulting in less impressions and clicks. If your average CPC and position remain steady, check to see if you’ve added negative keywords that may be blocking your ads from showing for particular search queries. (Google has recently added a number of alerts to let you know if negative keywords are affecting your campaigns.)


My Quality Score is low or declining.
If your Quality Score has been dropping, or you simply want to improve a low score, here are a few areas you may want to check:

  • Ads – Your ads may not be attracting enough clicks, therefore Google is giving you a low quality score. Try refreshing or testing new ads to see if Quality Score or CTRs (click-through-rates) improve. It’s also a good idea to add negative keywords into your campaigns/ad groups to limit unrelated or irrelevant searches. By testing new ad copy to see what works and focusing on relevancy, you’ll improve your CTR, which over time will improve your Quality Score.
  • Landing Pages – Check your landing page to make sure your page is working properly and is relevant to your audience. If you’re currently sending all your visitors to your homepage, we recommend creating targeted landing pages for different campaigns and/or ad groups.
  • Keywords – If you’ve recently added keywords to ad groups, check that they are relevant to the rest of the keywords in that ad group. If the keyword doesn’t match up with your ad messaging, it could drag down your Quality Score. Make sure you’re aware of any multiple meanings for your keywords, as searchers may be using them to find other products or topics. By utilizing negative keywords and match types, you will be able to minimize irrelevant search queries.

My Average Position has been dropping.
Your Average Position could drop for a few reasons, but most likely it comes down to your keyword bids and Quality Score. If your bids are too low you’ll be in a low position, and if your Quality Score is low, it could cost you more money to maintain your current position. Plain and simple, it’ll cost you more to maintain a higher position if Google believes your ad is not relevant to the searcher.

My Daily Spend has spiked and/or has been increasing.
This can happen every so often, especially with content and placement campaigns. PPC networks are always adding new partners into their content network, which may or may not bring you quality or relevant traffic. Check your placements (in Bing it’s known as a Publishers Report) to see if new domains have been added to your campaigns and are driving up your spend. If they aren’t converting, you can exclude your ads from showing up on their sites.

I’m receiving clicks but no conversions.
Similar to the example above, different placements can drive up your clicks without converting. First, check to see if there are any placements that can be excluded. If it’s an internationally targeted campaign, it’s always a good idea to exclude certain countries to eliminate fraudulent clicks. If you’ve recently set up conversion tracking, you should also check to see if your tracking codes were placed correctly. Improper codes could be giving you incorrect data. Additionally, similar to Quality Score, you may be focusing on keywords that simply generate clicks, but not conversions. This may happen if the keyword you’re bidding on is not relevant to your offering or if they are “top-of-funnel” keywords i.e., the keyword or query is more generic and the searcher may still be in the early stages of research, versus being ready to purchase.

My Click-Through-Rate is low or dropping.
If your CTR is dropping, it may mean your ads need to be refreshed. Over time ads may not be hitting the right points to draw interest from your audience. As always, we strongly suggest testing new ads periodically. Also, check for misspellings or typos that may be steering searchers away. If you’ve also noticed your average position has fallen, it could be that the ad is not seeing enough exposure to be effective.

These are some common problems that lots of advertisers run into with their pay-per-click campaigns. By first identifying the problem, it’ll be easier to determine where to look, and ultimately how to fix the issue. If you aren’t sure whether your campaigns are performing better or worse, PPC Hero has a great tutorial on how to analyze your account to see if you actually have a drop in performance.

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