My Google Ads Aren’t Working!

You’ve taken the plunge with Google Ads and set up a campaign. But your ads aren’t getting clicks, or they’re getting clicks and they’re not leading to sales. What’s going on? Is it just that your Google ads aren’t working?

It could be your ads

The image at the top of this post is a real screenshot of an actual ad. I assume it was set up to use AI to create an ad for anything people were searching. In this case, I was looking for historical information on the turn of the 20th century, when the United States was flirting with European-style imperialism. Being offered “low priced us imperialism” didn’t get me to click through to Amazon. 

This is an extreme example, but you may have ads that just don’t work well even if they’re not that obvious. Think of some of the headlines that worked really well in the 20th century:

  • “Does she or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.”
  • “The pause that refreshes”
  • “Where’s the beef?”

As Google ads, these would be meaningless and ineffective. Google asks you to provide a set of headlines and a set of descriptions, which they combine into ads. If you are used to clever ad headlines in traditional media, you may end up with headlines that would be great for a magazine ad but which don’t communicate well when Google sticks them together into an ad. Imagine advertising a gym membership with “Through thick and thin It’s in our DNA| Call for best price!”

Make sure that your ad headlines and descriptions are clear and unambiguous. See that they’re meaningful to people looking for your chosen keywords. If your Google ads aren’t working, it’s quite possible that they need changes.

It could be your landing page

If you’re getting clicks but you don’t seem to be getting results, it could be the page your ads lead to. Often, organizations dump everyone on their home page. If your chosen keyword is “women only gym” and your ad touts “women’s gym program” but your link goes to a picture of a couple of men sweating over free weights, you will not get the results you want. 

Make sure that your landing page is relevant to the keywords you choose and the wording of your ad. This will keep your costs down and the conversions up.

There’s also a world out there

Once upon a time, say back in 1980, advertising was about grabbing people’s attention and convincing them that they wanted what you had to offer. You’d imagine someone driving home from work, seeing your awesome billboard advertising your snazzy gym, and suddenly desiring a gym membership. Did this actually happen? Maybe it did. There’s no way to tell. 

It’s generally agreed that any marketing effort needs five months before you can tell whether or not it worked. If your sales increased over that five months, you couldn’t really determine whether it was the billboard or work of mouth or something else entirely. 

With Google ads, though, you can see that people are clicking and yet you have no sales…or that people aren’t clicking. You know for a fact if your ads aren’t working the way you want. 

Google ads are shown only to people who are actually searching for what you have to offer. You don’t have to catch their attention or lure them to click. If they don’t click, they’re not in the market for your goods and services right now. If they do click, they are at least interested in your offering as you’ve presented it.

However, you don’t know what’s in the minds of those people. As I write this, it’s graduation time, summer vacations are about to begin, many people are traveling for the first time since the pandemic and many more are catching up on things they have been intending to do for a long time. If I’m advertising gym memberships right now, there could be a lot of people clicking through and deciding to call my gym as soon as they get their kids settled into summer activities or as soon as they get back from their vacations.

If I decide the ads aren’t working and quit now, they may search again when they’re ready…and find my competitor. 

What should you do?

Check your ads and your landing pages and make sure that your offer is crystal clear. Use the data from the clicks you receive (even if there aren’t very many) to tweak your campaigns and improve them. Use seasonal data if you have it, and be aware of influences that are not under your control.

But you should still plan on giving that effort five months before you give up. You can’t be sure your Google ads aren’t working until then. With any luck — and a reasonable amount of effort — they will be working.

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