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Google Ads | Are They Stealing Your Money?

google ads

We get this question a lot from people. They feel their budget disappears in Google Ads without results, so they wonder if there is something suspicious going on. The answer is no and in this post I will explore further and explain why it is not the case and what could possibly be the reasons.


First, let me say that our Digital marketing agency is a Google Ads Certified Partner and I’m certified in Google Ads and a fan. The reason why is that search advertising is still one of the most efficient ways to reach your target audience in different parts of the decision-making process. Also, the capability for Google Ads tracking and reach is untouchable. I’ll explain in more depth, so now lets get to it.


Google Ads has the capability to have an impact on brands both large and small. Brands can reach people during their decision making process. Google Ads has a massive reach of people on the internet through search, search partners and the display network which touches almost 90% of the internet. Not to mention with Search that you are reaching people right when and where they are searching for products or services like yours. No other platform allows you to pinpoint your audience so precisely. “1 in 3 people start their search in Google Ads online”.


Is Google Ads Stealing Your Money?

We wanted to verify, so we ran an experiment. We correlated the data from 3 different sources to verify the visitors from Google Ads and conversions from Google Ads versus the traffic data from our server. The data was comparable.

We’ve proven that no data is shown in Google Ads for clicks reported that are not real visitors to the website. We encourage you to do the same. So, now lets dive into why you feel Google Ads is stealing your money. There may be a few reasons.

  1. You do not understand the Google Ads system or its capabilities.
  2. You are listening to misleading information from other agencies that either don’t use Google Ads, don’t know anything about it, or don’t want you to use it.

So, let’s talk about each of these points.

No keyword strategy including match type. Targeting people in the decision-making cycle or negative keywords have to be able to setup a strong keyword strategy.

For example, you are selling pink dresses, you should use not broad, but broad modifier, phrase, and exact match keywords. And, say for example, you only carry dresses for women. You will want to be sure you are not showing for toddlers, dogs, etc, so you will need to include those keywords as negative keywords.

So the question now is, are you going to be able to come up will all these negative keywords from the time you start your campaign? The answer is, you’re probably not going to be able to find all of them from the beginning. As an agency we compile groups of negative keywords that we use across different client campaigns that we know can be added.


A few tips for finding negative keywords:

Google Ads Fraud

  1. When you are doing your keyword research using the Google Keyword Tool the Keyword Planner, keep a list of keywords you come across that are showing up in your research that are not relevant for your product or service. These keywords will most likely show up in search as Google sees them as closely related. Add these keywords to your negative keywords in your campaigns.
  2. After you build your campaigns and you start to gather clicks and impressions, you will want to periodically go back and check your search terms that people have searched to find your ads. You can find the search terms by clicking on the keyword tab in your account, then select the details drop down menu, and finally, click Search Terms All.
  3. If your Google Ads is linked to your Analytics account, which I highly recommend is done, you can also find search terms that people used under Acquisition, Search Term Query.
  4. Finally, you can create a report for search queries in Google Ads.

These few places is where you can gather negative keywords to include in your strategy. Keep in mind that you can use this same exercise to expand on your current keyword list with the relevant keywords you find.


One of the major problems with wasted spend we see many times, is when a company does not understand or doesn’t know how to setup their Google Ads account correctly and usually the location settings get overlooked. For any company using Google Ads, especially a local company, you need to understand where your target audience is. For example, if you are a local business (fitness/gym) in Boston, you need to determine how far clients will travel to sign up for a membership. You wouldn’t want to setup your company to target all of Massachusetts or the entire country, unless you have locations that can reach all those people.

Let’s say, for another example, you are an ecommerce website and you ship only to 20 states. It doesn’t make sense to target everybody and certainly not leaving the targeting wide open.

How to Setup Location Targeting

Setup Location Targeting

You can set up your location targeting by city, metro area, DMA, state, country, and radius; even now, you can target by income, airports or universities.

Another example is if your product has frequent travelers. Google now offers targeting options for airports, so you can target people at airports throughout the nation. You can find the full targeting options for Google Ads.

Let’s say you have a new campaign and don’t know your target area. You could leave your target area open for the full U.S., then use the data through Google Ads or analytics to narrow down your area.

You shouldn’t just look at clicks and impressions. To determine your target audience, you should look at conversions and goals and which of your target audience is converting.


Google Ads Fraud

One of the most misleading theories about Google Ads is AdWord Fraud. People tend to blow it out of proportion. Google Ads has developed a comprehensive system to prevent click fraud. Google has an entire quality team that works to protect advertisers against click fraud to isolate and filter out the costs before they even reach your account. To learn more about how Google Ads works to prevent click fraud, read the full article Google Prevention Against Invalid Clicks. After all this, if you still believe that there is further clicks that have slipped through the cracks, you can contact Google and they will investigate and Google will investigate further. If Google does find any suspicious activity, they will credit your account back. You can view click fraud metrics in your campaigns by adding columns to view the data. You can also view your billing metrics to see what Google has filtered before it was charged.

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People believe that you have no control. This is what I want to emphasize you have full control of Google Ads if you setup a campaign or account correctly, budget, time of day, keywords, bids, location where you send people after they click. Using CPC, you’re only charged when people have interest enough to click your ad. If you have everything setup right, you should see amazing results. 

I want to leave you with one final note. After reading this article, if you still believe Google is stealing your money or you don’t have control, prove it. Reach out and share with me your findings.

If you need help growing your business and averaging 400% or more ROI from your digital efforts, give us a call today or schedule a free strategy session with one of our experts in digital marketing. You will have an opportunity to discuss your business and your marketing goals, and we will provide recommendations on what you should be doing based on our BOOST Method. This is a sales-pitch-free no-obligation meeting, just real advice.

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