There are a lot of ways to waste money on Google Ads. These are most common and easy to fix.

1. Use a negative keyword list

A positive keyword list contains the keywords you would like your ads to show when people search for them.

A negative keyword list is the opposite. It contains the keywords that you would like your ads to not show when people search for them.

There are generic negative keywords that are applicable to most businesses. Especially when you’re first starting out. Some examples include “jobs”, “salary”, “gif”, “free”.

The idea is that the money spent on ads should generate revenue for your business. People searching for such keywords are likely not going to be your paying customers. It would also be useful to add adult-content related negative keywords.

Additionally, you should also add those that are specific to your business.

To do this, think about what products or services that you do not offer in the same business category. For example, if you own a weight lifting gym, you want to add negative keywords such as “mma gym”, “jiu jitsu gym”.

This will help save your money and not show your ads to people who are looking for something you do not provide.

2. Use location exclusions

You could also exclude certain locations to prevent your ads from showing. This is useful if you’re a local business.

You don’t want your ads to show and waste your money in areas you could not serve the customers. Do this by excluding neighbouring countries to your business location. While this may seem obvious, a lot of advertisers miss out on this.

3. Stop using Broad Match terms

In Google Ads, there are 4 match types available for your keywords - (1) Broad Match, (2) Broad Match Modifier, (3) Phrase Match, (4) Exact Match. They are add-ons to your keywords.

Think of them as having added control over the keywords that will trigger your ads. As the match type moves down the list (from 1 - 4), you have more control as an advertiser.

  • With a Broad Match, Google will show your ads if what people are searching for is similar to your keyword.
  • With an Exact match, Google will show your ads if what people are searching for is exactly the same to your keyword.

For example, you may own an E-commerce store selling hooded jackets online. To get more sales, you’ve decided to use Google Ads and bid on the keyword Jackets.

1 month later, you see the keywords people searched for and landed on your website. Some of which are top, apparel, coat, cardigan - all of which you do not sell. Unless you intend to use these search terms as ideas for product line expansion, they are a waste of your money.

Match types are no longer as well defined as in the past. Google had changed the definitions of Exact Match to include its close variants. Google had also recently discontinued Broad Match Modifier and merged it into Phrase Match as of July 2021.

For most cases, you should start with at least a Phrase Match. If your budget is extremely limited, you should go with Exact Match.


Do these and you'll be in a better position to stop wasting your money on ads that do not generate revenue for your business.