Funniest Pay Per Click Keyword Mistake Revealed

Managing a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign can be difficult at times, especially when there’s a lot of competition for keyword phrases that cost a lot. Prices for the most coveted keyword phrases are rising and the overall cost of a PPC campaign in a competitive industry can be downright outrageous, with major corporations spending tens thousands of dollars a month on Pay Per click Advertising. Couple the high cost of a PPC campaign with someone doesn’t know how to manage a PPC campaign properly and it’s downright dangerous.

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As someone who manages many Pay Per Click campaigns through the Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing (and has been doing so for several years now), I often come across some pretty outrageous and costly Pay Per click mistakes. I recently uncovered a simple mistake that is costing companies thousands of dollars. This is my all-time favorite (funny) Pay Per Click mistake:

If you aren’t in the Keyword business, then don’t bid on the word “keyword”.

To explain this extremely common Pay Per Click mistake, let’s take a look at the search results on Yahoo! for the word “keyword”. Granted, there are companies (like keyword research services) that literally are in the business of selling “keywords” and “keyword phrases”. These businesses help search engine marketing professionals (and others who manage PPC campaigns) come up with keywords related to your business. But is it appropriate for Dell computers, Frisco Honda, the Quilling SuperStore, and Staples to be bidding on the word “keyword”? Certainly NOT! Take a look at the screen capture below for a sample (click the picture for a larger version):

PPC Keyword Mistake

This common Pay Per Click campaign management mistake doesn’t only take place on Yahoo! Search Marketing. People who are managing Pay Per Click campaigns are also making this mistake at Google, using the Google AdWords program. Let’s take a look at the same mistake made by people managing a Pay Per Click campaign at Google. Today, when I checked the search results at Google for “keyword”, there weren’t many people making this mistake, But, why is a law firm bidding on the word “keyword”?

PPC Keyword Mistake at Google

Exactly how do these people who are managing Pay Per Click campaigns make such a horrible mistake? It all has to do with their lack of attention to detail. Let me explain.

When you’re managing a Pay Per Click campaign, you have to come up with lots and lots of keywords and keyword phrases that have to do with the product or service you’re selling. In many cases, the larger the PPC account the more money is being spent. And the larger the PPC account the more keywords and keyword phrases that are involved. So, many people will use a spreadsheet or other program to list all the keywords that they want to bid on. Here’s a sample list:

computer repair
computers repair
computer repairs
computers repairs
broken computers
broken computer
fix computer

As you can see from the short list that I’ve created, it would be fairly easy to copy the whole list, including the “heading” of that list, which is “keyword”. It would be easy to copy the list and paste it into your list of keywords that you’re bidding on at Google or at Yahoo!. So, if you were to copy that whole list and paste it you would be bidding on the word “keyword”. This is a simple mistake, but a lack of attention to detail causes companies thousands of dollars every month.

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  1. g1smd says

    Holy crapola. That’s a classic. Attention to detail in website design and in marketing is crucial.

    I wonder who’s going to get called to the boardroom to explain their marketing overspend soon?

  2. Mark Barrera says

    Wow! I wonder how much money actually gets wasted this way. It wouldn’t seem like a lot of people are searching for ‘keyword’ and then clicking these ads, but I guess you never really know. I guess if they are using broad targeting, then this really can be a big issue.

    Just goes to show that attention to detail is very essential.

  3. Steve Baldwin says

    Wonderful research, Bill – I just checked Google and Yahoo, and the SERPs are still rife with the consequences of this error.

    Michael Dell should read your column more often!

  4. Jane says

    I wonder if these people are bidding on “Wordtracker”, “Overture” and “KeywordDiscovery” as well :)

  5. Farhad says

    Maybe the error could in some cases be due to Google AdWords taking liberties with the Broad Match category. I can totally see that happening with the Dell Keyboards ad, especially if they bid on typos of the words ‘keyboard’ & ‘key board’

  6. Jacob F. says

    The elephant in the room is this: why aren’t the people intentionally bidding on the word “keyword” never inform their unintentional competitors of their mistakes and drive the CPC down? They’re supposed to be the ‘pros’ :-)
    – JF

  7. sdmaids says

    This is hilarious, but a lot harder mistake to make now with all of the quality checks and relevance… you would have to jack up the bid significantly, and even so it probably wont fly for long if at all.

  8. John V says

    I have almost made this mistake as well. It’s quite common if you are rushing through and getting as many PPC campaigns running as possible.

  9. Colorado Lasik Surgury Tips says

    Thanks for sharing, Bill. That’s a very good info for me to explore into PPC. Will avoid the mistake you mentioned. :)

  10. PPC Coach says

    Sorry, I know this is an old post but a friend in the industry just showed this to me because we both thought it was hilarious. Unfortunately though I can actually relate to it.

  11. krishna says

    This is a good find. Sometimes i often find lot of errors in this PPC Advertising – like incomplete ads, error in URL display, etc. These things certainly going to affect your PPC budget and income. Si i would say do a proper verification of all the things while making your campaign Active

  12. Robert Brady says

    Oops. That’s what happens when you let amateurs do your PPC. I recommend dropping a few bucks and getting a good in-house guy or an agency to manage it.

  13. Honda Dealer Dallas says

    Just checked it out and you’re right–its all over the place. A few people I worked with had trouble with those same things, too. Nice find.