This is a subject that has come up a few times recently with my clients. You may have also landed on this page wondering the same thing: “Why don’t my ads show up?”. After excitedly typing in your keyword you are perplexed when you don’t see your ad appear on the search engine results page. If you read my last post, you’ll know that I highly recommend that you do not search for your own ad. There are other methods available to do so without hurting your campaign. Back to the answer to the original question: Just because you don’t see your ad, doesn’t mean it’s not showing up. In this blog post I will outline a few reasons your ads don’t show up.

Billing issues

If you are running a campaign and your credit card expires Google will pause your ads. Your campaigns will also be paused if your payment is declined. This should be something relatively easy to catch if you are an active account manager. Google is usually proactive about an upcoming credit card expiration, but this may be an issue that pops up if the account is left running without supervision for too long. You may catch it by noticing your ads aren’t receiving any clicks or impressions, or by being alerted via email. The giant red warning bar that also pops up on the AdWords interface is a good indication that a billing issue is present. Regularly check to make sure your billing information is up to date so you don’t run the risk of missing any traffic.

Delivery options

AdWords has two different delivery options you can select when setting up your campaign for the first time. Standard delivery is the most commonly used and may be one of the reasons your ads don’t show up. With standard delivery, Google attempts to spread your budget out evenly throughout the day. Meaning, your ad will not show up for every search that is happening.  If your ad does show up when you search for it, you may be taking an impression away from a searcher who would have gone on to convert. Searching for your ad may seem harmless, but it can negatively impact your campaign. The other delivery option available to advertisers is accelerated delivery. Accelerated delivery will try to spend your budget as quickly as possible during the day. For advertisers with a limited budget standard delivery is typically the best option.

Location settings

Paid search campaigns are highly targeted, and sometimes the answer is as simple as you being outside of the targeted location. If you are targeting only California and you are all the way in New York, your ads won’t appear. No need to panic though, they are still showing up for your customers over on the West Coast. If your ads are appearing outside of your targeted location you will need to adjust your location settings.

Advertisers commonly forget to adjust their targeting setting to, ‘People in my targeted location’, and leave on the default, ‘People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location’. The latter is recommended by Google, but will often result in wasted spend. Google casts a large net with “people who show interest in my location”. Their definition of the setting is “People can show interest through terms used in their searches, content that they view online, if they were recently in a location, or other methods.”.

Budget restrictions

A limited budget is one of the most common reasons your ads don’t show up. If you search for your ad after your budget has been exhausted, the ad won’t show up. Google can now spend up to 2x your daily budget, but if you run out, your ads won’t be showing up until tomorrow. Keep an eye on your impression share and search impression share lost due to budget. This metric will give you an idea of how much traffic you are missing due to budget restrictions. You can also review the hour of day dimensional report which will show you when your budget is running low.

Budget Restrictions

Low search volume

Not all keywords are searched equally, and this is another reason your ads don’t show up. If your keyword has a low search volume status it will not show up on the search results page. Tight niche or long tail keywords may not trigger an ad even if an advertiser is bidding on that term. Low search volume as defined by Google is “a status that’s given to a keyword with very little or no search history on Google”. They go on to mention that low search volume keywords are inactive. If the search volume for that keyword increases, it may be eligible to enter the auction. Although, they do not give a minimum threshold of searches needed for low search volume keywords to trigger.

Bids are too high

In some verticals, it is very expensive to advertise with Google. If a keyword bid exceeds your daily budget, your ads won’t show up. Make sure all of your bids are set correctly and that you have an appropriate daily budget set. If this is the case the solution is easy. Either decrease your keyword bids or increase your daily budget. Your keyword bids may also be impacted by enhanced CPC. Be sure to turn that off and save your money. Google recently removed the 30% bid increase cap on eCPC so you may be paying much more than you thought for each keyword. On the inverse, your bids may also be too low to show. If you aren’t bidding competitively for your keywords your competition may be outbidding you. You may have to actually increase your bids to get your ads to show up on the search results page. 

Negative bid adjustments

Negative bids adjustments can be made for a variety of audiences. Many advertisers adjust bids based on the device a searcher is using. This doesn’t happen often but bid adjustments may be a reason your ads don’t show up. If you find that mobile traffic never converts you may make a snap decision to place a -100% bid modifier on mobile devices. Forgetting an adjustment was made, a few weeks later you decide to search for you own ad while out and about on your mobile phone. Rarely do we see -100% bid modifiers as there are always better solutions like creating a mobile friendly landing page. However, it still warrants a spot on the list.

Paused keywords, ad groups or campaigns

It sounds silly, but it does happen, sometimes in the frenzy of getting a new campaign launched you forget to actually turn it on. Keywords are also often paused due to poor performance and much like the negative bid adjustments, forgotten about. If your ads don’t show up it may be as simple as a paused keyword. You can always filter all of your active/paused/removed keywords and check to see if it was removed at some point. The change history can be used to see how long the keyword was paused. Labels serve an important purpose and can serve as a quick reminder as to why you paused a keyword in the first place.

Disapproved keywords or ads

Google has quite a few rules and regulations about what you can and cannot advertise for. Your ad may not show up due to a keyword or ad that gets disapproved for violating one of their policies. You will see a pop up alert for anything that gets disapproved. By hovering over the speech bubble on the offending keyword or ad you will be able to identify the disapproval reason and fix it to make sure your keywords and ads will run. If your keywords or ads get falsely flagged you have the ability to submit them for review. The team at Google will generally get back to you within 24 hours with their decision. If you find your ads are frequently disapproved, be sure to review the official AdWords policies.

Negative keywords

Negative keywords are a powerful tool that can be used to sculpt your campaign into a conversion generation machine. However, if you are not careful, adding the wrong negative keyword into your account may block a useful keyword from showing up in the AdWords auction. If your keyword doesn’t show up check your negative keyword list to make sure one of your keywords didn’t accidentally get caught up in the filter. You will also receive a notification that there is a negative keyword conflict. AdWords will provide you with an option to revert your negative keyword entry. Reviewing your search terms report and adding negative keywords frequently will help you catch any keyword conflicts without too much keyword downtime.

Don’t panic if your ads don’t show up

There are quite a few reasons highlighted above about why your ads don’t show up. Budget limitations and delivery settings are two of the most common reasons your ad may be missing. The rest of the options listed are great to check and may be missed with a quick skim of an account. Remember, don’t search for your own ads! Hopefully this blog post helped cleared up any confusion about why your ads not be appearing on the search results page. As always, if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

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