4 Default Settings That Will Destroy Your AdWords Account

For many new businesses entering the digital marketing world, AdWords may seem like a marketing channel sent directly from the heavens.

Forget all that expensive and time-consuming SEO, which after years of work and investment might get you to the first page of Google only to be knocked off the next day by someone else; AdWords can get you to the top in just a few minutes. Once you get to the first page of Google, the money will just pour into your wallet, right? Google would like to have you think so.

Google has made AdWords as user-friendly as they can, and they want to make it seem like all you need to do is put in a few keywords, write a few ads, and sit back and watch your cash pile up. They even released AdWords Express, which is supposed to speed up the process even more. Google would have us put all our trust (and money) in them and their recommendations, assuring us that they know best.


Now to be fair, Google is pretty trustworthy and AdWords is an extremely powerful tool for small and large businesses alike. It is not, however, a magic switch that you can turn on and never bother with again. A successful AdWords campaign requires as much attention and love as a new child would (trust me, I just became a father; the similarities are endless).


However, if you set up your AdWords account correctly in the beginning it can save you a lot of time and money throughout your campaign’s life cycle. The following are some of the default settings in AdWords that you need to pay attention to and probably change.


Disclaimer: Each industry and campaign is different and will demand different settings and tactics. These settings are not meant to be applied universally.


Broad Match Key Words

Before you activate your first AdWords campaign, get to know the different match types you can select from. WordStream has an excellent article about the different match types and their functions. Keyword usage can be summed up in one incredibly useful graphic provided by WebRanking:

keyword match types

As you can see from the image, broad match keywords are not very specific. If you are targeting men’s shoes you probably do not want your ads showing up for women’s shoes and definitely not for horseshoes—which they will, if you don’t utilize negative keywords and leave your broad match keyword unchecked.


Location Settings

Now, some of you may think this one is a little bit obvious, and perhaps it is. Google has set the default setting for location as basically the whole world. Now you’re probably saying, “No, the default setting is the United States and Canada, right?” If you dig a little bit deeper, you will see that is not the case. Hidden under that collapsed “Location options (advanced)” menu is a setting you will want to change. Google even added on the “advanced” to scare you off and make you think you have no business looking at these settings.
adwords location settings


“People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location”: This tricky little wording means that anyone in the world, regardless of your location targeting, can see your ads. They just have to “show interest” in your targeted location. So for example, if you are targeting Utah and only Utah, and somebody in the Sahara desert searches for shoes in Utah, they will see your ad.


Now, depending on your industry, business, or shipping capabilities, this might be okay with you. If it is not, however, then you will want to click on the “Edit” button and select this option:



That will make sure that people in your location settings, and only in those settings, see your ads.

Campaign Type and Features

The next setting you want to make sure you change when setting up a new campaign is on this screen right here:

adwords settings

Google will have these settings set by default to “Search network with display select.” While in very rare instances this setting might be okay, most of the time it is best to keep your “Search” campaigns and “Display” campaigns separate. This will help you keep more accurate CPC data and more controlled targeting. If you are creating a search campaign, make sure you select “Search network only” and then choose “All features.” “Standard” might seem similar, but it will prevent you from being able to access some targeting and other settings that are essential for accurate and well-performing campaigns.

Ad Delivery: Ad Rotation

 adwords settings


The last setting we will discuss today is the “Ad delivery” setting. “Optimize for clicks” claims to be ideal for most advertisers, and it certainly is ideal for Google. One thing you want to remember when working in AdWords is this:


Clicks cost money; conversions make money

So first off, make sure your conversion tracking is set up and working properly, and unless you are testing ad copy, this is what you want your setting to look like:


It can be easy to get your priorities mixed up when working in AdWords. Clicks are exciting, but they should not be your end goal. Remember, the purpose of advertising in the first place is to grow your business, and the way to do that is through conversions. So keep your end goal in mind when creating your AdWords account, and don’t forget why you started your business in the first place!


AdWords is an incredibly powerful tool for business to quickly get quality traffic to their website, drive sales, and grow their brand. However magical it may seem, it is not effortless. AdWords is not easy; pay attention to the details, think through every change you make, and don’t always trust the default. If you do all these things, and give AdWords the attention it deserves, you will see the magical results you are hoping for.