How to know if you’re wasting your Google Ads budget

Last updated: July 8, 2024

Aaron Rudman-Hawkins

Aaron Rudman-Hawkins is a dynamic digital marketing expert and a driving force behind The Evergreen Agency's success. With a passion for technology and a deep understanding of the ever-evolving digital landscape, Aaron has become a trusted name in the industry.

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Are you wasting your Google Ads budget? Here are some key signs to look out for.

Google Ads can be a powerful tool for businesses to reach their target audience and drive conversions. However, it’s all too easy to waste your ad budget if you’re not careful.

In this post, we’ll explore some key signs that you may be wasting your Google Ads budget and how to address them.

But if you are a home and garden sector brand that is struggling with a paid media strategy, we have created sector report packed full of insight, analysis and predictions.

Download our: Home & Garden Sector: Paid Media & Marketing Report

Lack of clear commercial plan

One of the most common mistakes is not having a clear commercial plan for your Google Ads campaigns. Before you start spending, ask yourself:

What role should Google Ads play in your overall marketing strategy?
What specific goals are you trying to achieve?
What return on investment are you expecting?

Without clear objectives, you’re essentially running ads on a “hit and hope” basis, which is a surefire way to waste money.

Incorrect conversion tracking

Make sure you’re telling Google what actually counts as a valuable conversion for your business. For e-commerce sites, this should typically be completed sales rather than add-to-cart actions or other intermediate steps. For service businesses, it might be qualified leads rather than just any form submission.
Review your conversion settings to ensure you’re optimizing for the actions that truly matter to your bottom line.

Neglecting search terms reports

Regularly review your Search Terms report to see exactly what queries are triggering your ads. You may find you’re spending money on irrelevant searches or even competitor terms. Use this data to refine your keyword targeting and add negative keywords to prevent wasted spend.

Improper geographic targeting

Be strategic about where you’re showing your ads. If you have a local business or primarily serve certain areas, use radius targeting or specific location targeting to focus your budget where it matters most.
Additionally, check your location targeting settings. Make sure you’re only showing ads to people actually in or regularly in your target locations, not just those who have shown interest in the area.

Underutilising audience segments

Google offers powerful audience targeting options to help you reach the right people. Take advantage of affinity audiences, in-market audiences, and custom audiences based on past interactions with your business. This can help ensure your ads are shown to those most likely to convert.

Ignoring age range data

Review the performance of your ads across different age ranges. You may find you’re wasting budget on age groups that rarely convert for your business. Adjust your targeting accordingly to focus on your most valuable demographics.

Not leveraging Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

While Google Ads provides data up to the click, GA4 gives you insight into what happens after users land on your site. Use GA4 to identify potential issues like high bounce rates or low engagement on your landing pages. This can help you spot disconnects between your ads and your website that may be wasting your budget.

By paying attention to these key areas, you can significantly reduce wasted spend and improve the efficiency of your Google Ads campaigns. Regular audits and optimizations are crucial to ensuring you’re getting the most out of your advertising budget.

Remember, Google Ads can be complex, and it’s okay to seek help if you’re unsure. Consider working with a professional or agency if you want to maximize your return on ad spend.


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