They say a racecar only performs as well as its mechanic. And to a certain extent, it’s true: most people show up on race days and watch racers turn impossible speeds around tight corners, with little thought to the hundreds of hours those same cars sat in the garage for every tuneup, repair and optimization along the way.
Any well-tuned Google Ads account works much in the same way. For every successful report sent to a continually-satisfied client, there are likely hours put into optimizations that keep that same account performing above expectations.
Sometimes, those optimizations are planned – scheduled keyword and bid adjustments, new ad content creation, refined geographic targeting, etc. Other times, those optimizations are made out of necessity, when some aspect of Google Ads is not performing as it should.
When those unexpected issues occur, they manifest in several different ways. A Google Ads account could suddenly stop accruing clicks or impressions. You could check the account one day to find that ads have been disapproved due to a Google Ads policy violation. Or, you might simply notice that your click-through rate has decreased without a clear reason why.
If you find your ads aren’t showing, your budget isn’t being spent or any issue in between, it helps to know where to look and what to look for. That’s why we’ve built out this Google Ads troubleshooting resource: to identify the top destinations we always check whenever a client indicates they’re experiencing problems with their Google Ads accounts.
So get comfortable, take a deep breath and keep reading. We’ll help you get to the bottom of your Google Ads issue.
Common Google Ads Issues (and How to Fix Them)
First, we’re going to run through popular issues your account might be having. Once we address those, we’ll identify some of the top triggers or places to check if you think your Google Ads account is experiencing any sort of issue.
Issue #1: My ads have stopped running.
This issue is by far the most common one we see. For a wide variety of reasons, your Google Ads account isn’t showing ads, even after you’re sure you set everything up correctly. Or perhaps, your account has been showing ads successfully for weeks and only recently stopped.
If your ads have recently stopped running, it’s likely due to one of the following causes:
1. Something is paused.
Check your campaigns, your ad groups, your individual ads and your keywords, to make sure ALL of them are live. If even one of these items is paused, it can prevent ads from being shown.
2. Your payment information cannot be charged.
This issue is usually a fairly obvious one since Google Ads will provide a red banner across the top of your account that clearly identifies the issue. Simply click the “Fix” button in that red banner, which takes you right to the billing screen. Alternatively, if you believe this might be the issue even without the warning banner, simply select the “Billing” button in the top-right corner of your screen once you’re in the Google Ads platform.
If you’re not experiencing an accidental pause or a billing issue, your Google Ads are likely experiencing a performance issue. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your account, that should help relieve the issue:
3. If you set up ad scheduling, did you do it correctly?
Ad scheduling is a great tool, one that allows you to identify exactly what times per day you’d like your ads to show. However, they can be tricky to install correctly. For example, we’ve seen individuals who MEANT to restrict ads showing between 1:00AM and 5:00AM. But instead, they incorrectly optimized the account so that ads ONLY showed between 1:00AM and 5:00AM. As a result, their available traffic was minimized. Check to make sure that your ad scheduling has been installed correctly.
4. What percentage of your daily budget have your campaigns spent?
Your issue could simply be that the campaigns themselves have spent the entirety of their daily budgets. If your issue is only an hours-long problem, check to gauge today’s spend against your total daily budget.
5. Have your ads been approved?
This item sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s worth checking. If your ads have inadvertently violated a Google Ads policy, the platform itself could be restricting their showing. To check the status of your ads, all you need to do is navigate to the ads themselves in the Google Ads platform, after selecting “Ads and Extensions” from the home screen. Find the “Status” column, and scroll through all of your ads to ensure they all say “Eligible”. If you have too many ads to check them all manually, you can always filter by policy violations using the ads filtration tool on the same page.
6. Did you identify an audience correctly?
If you’re running a display or a retargeting campaign, targeting a defined audience segment fed through Google Analytics, you’ll need to ensure that your audience size is large enough to target across Google Ads. For example, you could target your ads exclusively to individuals who visited your website over the past 30 days. However, if that audience size is excessively small, there won’t be enough volume to generate a single impression or click. Try increasing your audience size in Google Ads, and you’ll likely begin to generate traffic from your ads.
Issue #2: My ads are being seen, but no one is clicking on them.
If you have no problem generating impressions (whenever someone sees your ad online), but you’re finding that few people, or no one at all, are clicking on your ads, we may have a performance issue on our hands. We’re going to outline a few questions worth asking, to verify the issue and help resolve it.
1. How specific is your ad content?
If you’re running ads for “red running shoes”, and your headlines only say “Buy Our Shoes”, you can’t expect your ads to perform well. As a general rule, you want to conform your headline and description content as closely as you can to your ad content. And when you make your ads specific to your keywords on a 1-to-1 ad-to-keyword ration, you end up asking yourself another question…
2. How well have I segmented my ad groups?
If you have an obscene number of ad groups per campaign, or a large number of keywords per ad group, you’ll never know where your problems are coming from. Rather, we suggest only adding 1-2 keywords per ad group, to ensure that you’ve written specific ads that address each ad. And speaking of ad content…
3. Does my ad content “move the needle” for my consumers?
Let’s go back to the “red running shoes” example. If you sell red running shoes, your headlines shouldn’t only address your products. They should help define how these shoes are going to change someone’s life. In other words, it’s your job to draft headlines and descriptions that will help “move the needle” in your customers’ minds, toward a buying decision. Think about how your products or services will change someone’s life for the better, and then make sure those benefits find their way into your ad content early and often.
4. What is your competition doing that you aren’t?
You’ve likely taken a brief look at the ads your competition is running. Go take a longer look now. What keywords are they using that you aren’t? Are they using extensions on their ads? How are they phrasing their ads in a way that makes you want to click? If there’s a reason why your competition’s ads are generating traffic, and your ads are not, it’s up to you to identify that difference and exploit it.
Issue #3: People are clicking on my ads, but they are not generating conversions.
A conversion – a preferred action that consumers take after interacting with your ads, like a phone call, download, purchase, etc. – is the ultimate goal for any well-run Google Ads campaign. If your account is generating healthy traffic numbers and spending the majority of your daily budget, but it’s simply not generating the conversions you’re looking for, we have a few suggestions.
1. Make sure that conversion actions have been installed, and are being tracked, correctly.
Believe it or not, this is actually one of the most common reasons why accounts aren’t generating conversions: conversions simply aren’t installed correctly! You can install conversions into your Google Ads account in a wide variety of ways. Whether you’re creating conversion actions through Google Tag Manager, imported as goals from Google Analytics or right in the Google Ads platform itself, we advocate that you test your conversion actions regularly to ensure that they’re still firing correctly.
2. Make sure that you’re targeting the right people.
Whether you’ve imported an audience from Google Analytics, created an audience using the Google Ads audience feature or you’re simply targeting specific age ranges, genders, locations and other demographic-specific features, you’ll want to make sure that you’re targeting an audience that’s as close to your ideal Google Ads customer as possible. You’ll also want to comb through your targeted keywords (and the terms that people are searching when they see your ads), using the “Search terms” report under the “Keywords” tab on the left-hand side of the Google Ads platform. In essence, make sure that through relevant keyword targeting, you’re generating relevant searches, and showing relevant ads at every opportunity. Feel free to add irrelevant searches, or keywords you’ve found to yield irrelevant searches, to negative keyword targeting.
3. Make sure you’re bidding the right amount, at the right frequency.
Even the best ad content in the world, backed by the best keywords in the world and the best account structure in the world, can fail if you’re bidding incorrectly. Make sure that you’ve selected a bidding strategy that helps your ads show most often, and in the highest position possible.
Need help selecting a bidding strategy that works for you? Our guide to bidding strategies has you covered.
Once you have selected the best bidding strategy for each of your campaigns, you’ll also need to make sure that you’re bidding the right amount for each of your keywords. If you’re using an automated bidding strategy, this issue is taken care of automatically by the Google Ads platform. If you’re using a manual bidding strategy, this is an issue that you’ll have to address yourself. We suggest setting regular weekly or biweekly reminders for yourself, to address and optimize bids that might require tweaking.
Filter ads by search impression volume (one of the metric options available under the “Columns” button when filtering metrics in the “Ads and extensions” view), to see how often they’re actually showing. We suggest increasing low bids with low search impression volume, to increase the likelihood that they will be seen. Also, check the “Status” column for any ads with bids below a first-page average, and increase these bids so that they are high enough to show your ads on the first page of search results.
Google Ads issues? Here are the first places to check.
Google Ads will experience issues over time, especially if you’re using the platform correctly. Ads can sometimes be flagged for policy violations, billing information can lapse, trademarked content can be used in the wrong places. Whenever an issue occurs, we suggest checking the following places FIRST before searching your issue online:
- Google Ads Policy Manager – a page inside of the Google Ads platform that aggregates all of your policy violations, for easy viewing, correction and appeal (if you believe your ads have been incorrectly flagged).
- Google Ads Editor – a bulk Google Ads revision tool that makes managing your accounts a thousand times easier. If you have this free tool downloaded, update your campaigns and check Google Ads Editor, where major issues are brightly flagged and easily fixed.
- “Status” column for individual ads, ad groups, etc. – a column visible once navigating to individual ads under “Ads and extensions”, that shows the current live status for all completed ads.
- Billing – a tool clearly visible in the top-right corner of your screen, one that highlights any billing issues immediately after clicking, and allows you to change your billing information, make payments, etc.
If none of these destinations can help you resolve your issue, it might be time to seek help right from the source. You can reference available Google Ads community support forums, where there’s likely at least one person who has experienced, reported and solved a similar issue in the past. If you need personalized help from a Google Ads expert, feel free to click the question mark icon at the top of your screen in the Google Ads platform; select “Contact Us” and choose your preferred method of communication, and you can chat or email with a platform expert regarding your individual issues.
Of course, there are always going to be times when a more complicated, pressing or annoying issue sticks around far longer than you’d like it to. Maybe you just can’t figure out how to get an ad approved. Maybe your ads still aren’t generating the total traffic you want to see, even after taking our above advice. Whenever you need personalized help on your Google Ads account, we’re here to help. Reach out today for help addressing an isolated account issue, or schedule a FREE growth audit, where we’ll connect you with one of our in-house paid search specialists for one-on-one assistance.
Sometimes, the difference between a broken and a well-running Google Ads account can mean the difference between revenue and debt. Don’t wait to get help troubleshooting your Google Ads account! Consult the above tips to fix simpler issues, or get in touch with us today for help satisfying more complicated problems in your account. You’ll be up and running in no time!