Your Keyword Matching and Landing-Page Combos Are Leaking Ad Dollars

Your Keyword Matching and Landing-Page Combos Are Leaking Ad Dollars

The Surprisingly Common Mistakes That Drain Money From Text Ad Campaigns

Setting up paid search text ads seems quite straightforward. You have an ecommerce page with products, and you’ve identified the keywords you want to target to drive qualified traffic. But in practice, mistakes are surprisingly common because running a robust campaign requires diligent oversight. Let’s take a look at examples where smart retailers are throwing ad dollars out the window and creating a bad user experience.

Improper Keyword Matching and Lack of Negative Keywords

These are the most common errors you come across in the SERPs, and they’re usually easy to avoid. Two of our best tools to qualify a visitor before they click are 1) keyword match types and 2) negative keywords. For match type, the more specific we get, the lower the chances for error, but the search volume may be too small to get excited about. So opening up the match type means we get visibility for many keyword variations. Obviously, some of those variations will lead to poor targeting, which is where we apply negative keywords. Here are some examples of live ads from large retailers you can find in the SERPs today:

1. Query – Women’s Polo Shirts

Ad· (800) 426‐8020

Men’s Polo Shirts | Eddie Bauer –

Shop Apparel & Gear Starting From $9.99. Find All Your Favorite Styles.

Destination URL

What went wrong? In this instance, it looks like the advertiser wanted high visibility for Polo Shirt queries and went with broad or phrase match. That would be fine, except for the fact they’re also missing a negative keyword for women, which would prevent their Men’s Polo Shirts ad from showing for this query.

2. Query – Men’s Swim Shirts


Swim Shirts & Sun Shirts | Title Nine

Provides Women’s Athletic Clothing in Multiple Fit, Sizes, Styles & Colors. Shop Now.

Destination URL

What went wrong? Here again, we have improper match-type usage, but because this retailer sells only women’s apparel, all campaigns should have a negative match for Men, Men’s, Boys, etc….

3. Query – Men’s Swim Shirts


Men’s Swimwear | Free Shipping on Orders $85+

High Quality Men’s & Boy’s Swimwear With Premium & Fun Fabrics by johnnie-O!

Destination URL

What went wrong? Again, we have an improper match type that actually lands us on a page with no swim shirts for sale. This landing page offers only swim trunks and shorts, but the match type used will trigger an ad for keywords including men’s swimshirts, flippers, goggles, and more.

Landing Page Issues

Many ads have issues where the landing page is not ideal or it just doesn’t match the query at all. There are lots of ways this can happen. Here are some live examples:

4. Query – Rocking Chair Cushions


Rocking Chair Cushions | Mindfully Made

Shop Quality Rocking Chairs Cushions Exclusively at Pottery Barn. Shop Today! Create a Healthy Home with Timeless Long-Lasting Home Finishing.

Destination URL

What went wrong? Yes, we have match-type issues again, but this problem is compounded by the use of dynamic ad copy that pulls in the keyword the user queried. So, this ad sells cushions in the title and in the first line of copy, but when a visitor clicks through, they’ll be disappointed to find they sell only chairs and ottomans on this landing page.

5. Query – Men’s Pajamas

Ad· (800) 323-8000

Mens PJs – Luxury Robes & Pajamas –

Cozy Cotton Pajamas For The Entire Family. Extra Soft & Lots Of Cool Styles.

Destination URL

What went wrong? This one is interesting because even though the keyword is qualified, the landing page choice is not ideal. Men’s pajamas are there, but the way the page is merchandised, you have to scroll through all the women’s pajamas to see them. Not a good user experience.

This is a common issue where a landing page may have been appropriate when the ad went live, but merchants and web-content teams will always have plans in the works that could affect the way a page converts. In this case, a men’s-only page of pajamas exists, and that would be the more appropriate choice.

6. Query – Huffy Bicycle for Sale


Huffy 26-inch Deluxe Men’s Cruiser Bicycle

Find Stylish and Classy Clothing For Men At Kohl’s. Shop and Save Big! Mobile Sale Alerts. Hassle-Free Returns. incredible Savings. Types: men’s Clothing, Sweaters, Joggers, T-Shirts.

Destination URL

What went wrong?We’re very sorry, this item huffy 26 inch deluxe mens cruiser bicycle is out of stock.It’s not there. This is another common issue we see in text-ad campaigns. With shopping ads, we have the luxury of a product feed telling Google when items are out of stock, and Google then prevents that product ad from showing. With text ads, we have to be so careful. While there is high conversion potential in landing users on exact-match product keywords, this type of ad needs frequent oversight (or to have scripts enabled to scan landing pages for out-of-stock messaging) so that we’re not wasting money and frustrating visitors.

Why Are These Mistakes Happening?

As noted in some of the examples above, a keyword match type and a landing page choice may have been appropriate when an ad went live. Many factors, including merchandising, seasonality, and inventory, will impact what your landing pages serve up.

It’s important to remember that once an ad is launched, many analysts will look only at data in tables and charts to identify issues, but this is a flawed system. If an ad targeting Polo Shirts is driving 50,000 sessions per month and 5,000 of those are not from qualified visitors, that 10% handicap can easily get lost in other noise for the ad group on a spreadsheet. Your analysts may be quite busy running robust campaigns with thousands of ad groups, but the larger the campaign, the more effort should go into reviewing keywords and landing pages.


  • Review the keywords that are driving traffic regularly, and identify waste that can be prevented through improved match type and negative keyword usage.
  • Review all keyword/landing-page combinations for your text ads to ensure that keyword intent is matched by what your destination URLs deliver.

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