Google Ads can be one of the most powerful advertising platforms for your business. The leads you can generate are high intent and high quality. For any local home improvement business, Google Ads can be a major source of profit.

That said, Google can also become a huge headache pretty quickly. If you’ve ever looked at the back end of your Google Ads account, there’s no denying that it can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not a Google Ads pro. There’s a ton of different options, tabs, numbers and data, and it can all be a bit much if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.

Because of this, there are some features and options that people overlook when setting up their Google Ads account. If some of these features are checked, or aren’t excluded from your account, they can end up wasting your budget.

Wasted budget means a higher cost per lead, and fewer results from your account. It’s like having holes in a bucket. One hole in a bucket isn’t too bad. Just patch it up and you’re good to go. If you keep adding more and more holes to the bucket, there will be more and more waste.

It’s the same thing with Google Ads and your campaign budget. Making sure your campaign has no holes and no waste when it comes to the way you’re spending your budget, is one of the ways we can find success in the long term.

So, today I’m going to go over a handful of ways that Google could be spending your budget without you even noticing.

Now, when I say “hidden” options, none of them are truly hidden. They’re all there, but sometimes they’re a bit tougher to find. In order to find these settings, you’ll have to dig through some of the settings on your account to find them.

Today I’m not going to be going over anything related to account structure or anything like that. If you’re interested in how your account structure could be causing waste on your Google Ads account, check out one of my other posts about how home improvement businesses lose money on their Google Ads. In that post I talk more about things related to account structure, keywords, ads, landing pages, etc.

For now, let’s jump into it.

The Dreaded Display Network Option

This is one of those examples where if you leave just one option unclicked, it can completely waste your budget in many cases.

9 out of 10 times, if you’re a local home improvement business doing lead gen, you’re going to be running a search campaign. This means that you only want your ads showing up in Google search, and nowhere else.

When you leave the option (seen below) for Display Network clicked, Google will show your ads on the Google Display Network as well. This means that, not only are your ads showing up in search, but they’re also showing up on random websites around the web.

google ads for home improvement businesses network options screenshot

This option can be found by clicking on your campaign, clicking on the “Settings” tab on the left hand side, and then navigating to the “Networks” option.

You may be thinking though – “That option sounds great, that means I can get my ads seen by more people!”

When it comes to Google Ads though, having your ads seen by more people is not always a good thing.

Google Display Network ads are very tricky to get working right. In order to get a campaign working properly with them, you really need to know what you’re doing. Traffic that comes from the Google Display Network is notorious for being much lower quality. This means that a vast majority of the clicks that you’re going to get from this option aren’t going to convert into leads.

The proof is in the pudding with this one. Check out this screenshot from a campaign that I audited the other day…

google ads wasting money display network performance

To find this information, just click on the campaign, go down to “Placements”, and then click on “Where Ads Showed”.

Over this time span, their campaign spent $1,151.01 on the Display Network. This resulted in 0 conversions. This means that $1,151.01 was spent, and no leads came from it.

Their total spend on their account over this time period was $2,823.55. That means that the only portion of their budget that was being spent on Google Search was $1,672.54.

So, essentially, right off the bat about 40% of their budget was being wasted with no results to show for it.

If you have this option enabled on your account, I would highly suggest logging in right now and unchecking it.

The same thing can be said for the Google Search Partners option, but it doesn’t always need to be unchecked.

As a good rule of thumb, I usually start by unchecking both options because it allows me to have full control over where my ads are being placed. I want to make sure that my ads are showing up in Google Search, and this is one way to make sure that’s happening.

Using The Wrong Location Targeting Settings

This option can be found under the location options of the campaign you’re working on. Just navigate to “Settings”, “Locations”, and then scroll down and select “Location Options”.

There are going to be a few options that you can choose from here. I’ve put a screenshot below, so you can see what I’m talking about.

home improvement google ads wasting money location options

Now, with this option, there is no right or wrong for everyone. The options you select are going to depend upon what type of business you’re running.

Be wary any time an advertising platform gives you a “Recommended” option. I’ll touch more on why this is at the end of this blog post.

Just because Google says that something is recommended, doesn’t mean that is always the right option to go with for your business.

When it comes to the “Target” section, this is where it really depends on the type of business you’re running.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’ve got a location that people actually show up to then you would usually want to go with “People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations”. This would include retail stores, restaurants, or other types of businesses like dental and medical offices.

The reason for this is because, people looking for these types of businesses are usually going to be traveling from somewhere else. So, you want to also include people who may not be physically inside the locations you’re targeting.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for people who actually live within the areas you’re targeting, then you would want to go with “People in or regularly in your targeted locations”. This is an ideal option for home improvement type businesses. Your ads will show up in front of more people who actually live in your targeted locations with this option.

There isn’t an exact science to either of those options though. So, as with many things in marketing, I recommend testing it out to see which works better for your business. It could very well be that what I just mentioned above, could work exactly the opposite for your business. Make sure you test to find out what works for  you.

Really, the most important part you need to focus on is the “Exclude” section.

For the most part, you usually just want to have this set to “People in, or who show interest in, your excluded locations”. This is especially true if you’re a home improvement or contracting type business. The last thing you want is for your ads to be showing in front of people who are searching for locations outside of the areas you service.

The reason all of these options are important, is because these are going to help your ads show up in front of the right type of people for your business.

If a home improvement business is trying to nail down their targeting, and they’ve got people from outside their targeted markets seeing their ads, it might not be ideal. Also, if they’ve got people within their target markets seeing their ads, even though those people are searching for locations outside of their market, that again is not ideal.

We want to make sure that we’re really focusing things up as much as we can to hone in on the people we want to see our ads. The more we can take control and make sure that happens, then the better off we’ll be.

Using The Wrong Bidding Strategy

This one is definitely not hidden, since selecting a bidding strategy is part of setting up your account. That said, choosing the wrong one can create some issues.

I’m not going to have time to go over every single one, but the principles I’m going to talk about apply to pretty much every bidding strategy. You’ll need to think about what your goals are, how old your ads account is, and which one would be right for you for where you’re at.

For this example, we’ll use an account I audited recently. See the screenshot below…

google ads wasting money bidding options

On this account, they had the option set to optimize for conversions. To many, this might sound like the best option. A conversion is a lead, and you want more leads, so logically that sounds like the right choice. I mean, there’s even a good chance that Google recommended that option.

Here’s the issue though. This account was pretty new. There weren’t any conversions on the account yet. But, they were telling Google to optimize for conversions.

“K…” you’re probably wondering.

Here’s why that’s also an issue. Telling an ad platform (whether it’s Google or Facebook), to optimize for conversions when you have no data on what a conversion is or what a conversion looks like, is like telling an alien, who knows nothing about human beings, to go to a store and buy you a spatula.

That alien will be so confused, and there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll come back with a fishing rod or something like that.

It’s essentially the same thing when you’re telling an ad platform to optimize for conversions, and they have no data about what a conversion looks like. They’re not going to know what to look for.

Having that option selected right off the bat isn’t going to return the best results, because the account doesn’t have any data.

That bidding option can work, but only further down the line after your ad account has gathered enough data on what a conversion looks like for your business.

Here’s the reason why this can waste your money – All that time that Google spends looking around for people who can convert, they’re spending money. That money can be spent much more efficiently by selecting a better bidding strategy.

This is usually the way that I approach any new account. Keep in mind that there are a ton of different ways to do this, and there is not one way that is the end all be all way to run an account.

Generally, I’ll start an account with an option like “Maximize Clicks”. This is a solid option if you have absolutely no data from your marketplace. With this option you’ll be getting traffic to your ads and landing pages, but also be getting valuable data on how much you should be looking at paying per click on your keywords.

In some cases, this bidding strategy alone can work well for an ad account.

From there, you can switch your bidding strategy from Maximize Clicks to a more manual bidding strategy. This will give you more granular control over how much you’re bidding for an individual click.

Further down the line, once you have enough conversions on your account – at least 50 (I would probably even go more) – Then you can experiment with some of the other more automated bidding strategies.

The moral of the story around selecting the right bidding strategy can be summed up in a few points

  • Every bidding strategy can work, but you need to select one based on where your account is at – Choosing the “wrong” bidding strategy can lead to added budget waste on your account
  • Don’t go with the more automated bidding strategies for conversions if your Google Ads accounts doesn’t have any conversions – Ad platforms need data to make that work
  • When in doubt, test – Nothing in marketing is ever certain. You have to test something out to see if it works, and if it doesn’t then try something else.

Not Excluding Or Adjusting Bids On Certain Demographics, Devices, Locations, etc…

Like the previous section, I’m not going to cover every single option in this next category.

There are a list of options that you can go through that are at the bottom of a campaign’s option list on the left hand side of the screen.

If you select your campaign, look towards the bottom of the tabs on the left hand side of the screen, and select “+ More”, there will be some additional options you can look at and adjust.

ways google ads is wasting money extra settings options

Just above that, you’ll probably see “Demographics” as well, and that’s another important one that we’ll cover today.

In these options, you can see what locations your ads are showing up in, what days and times of the week they’re performing better, how your ads are performing in different ages and demographics, how your ads are performing on different devices, etc.

The reason why this is important, is these options allow you to “trim the fat” off of your account.

You’ll be able to see how your campaign is performing in all of those different areas, and adjust your bidding based on that performance.

In some cases, I just go ahead and completely exclude some of the options in these menus so that my ads don’t show up at all for them.

For the sake of simplicity, and time (because I know this post has been pretty long already), I’m going to focus on giving you just a couple examples.

Usually, if I’m working in an account, there is a pretty good chance that I can exclude some things that would cause some waste in the “Demographics” section as well as the “Devices” section.

Let’s go over the “Demographics” section first.

ways google ads could be wasting your money age demographics

In this section you can see options for the different age ranges that are seeing your ads, genders, incomes, etc.

A couple of the most important things you could adjust right off the bat are the age ranges and gender.

For example, if I’m working on an account that needs to target higher end buyers, or people who are most likely to be at a different phase in their lives. I’ll go ahead and just completely exclude the younger age brackets like the 18-24 age bracket.

If there’s a very small chance that people in those brackets aren’t going to be your ideal customers, then you’re better off just completely excluding them. This means that your ads will no longer show to that age range.

When you don’t exclude people who are outside of your targeted age range, you run the chance that they’re still going to click on your ads. This, along with other things, can add up to additional waste on your account that you can avoid.

Another example that could be useful within the demographics targeting is the gender option. If you’re a business that clearly targets men or women, then you can exclude the option that wouldn’t be relevant to your business.

I don’t think I need to go deep into why that would be the case for different businesses, but if you’re targeting women and you don’t exclude men, then you’re going to be wasting some of your budget.

Another section that could be useful for a lot of businesses, is the “Devices” option.

In here, you’re going to see information on which devices your ads are showing on, and which are performing the best for you.

home improvement google ads device bid adjustments

You’re going to need to see a good amount of data to make any changes here, but you’ll at least be able to see what’s working and what isn’t.

If it’s clear that people looking at your ads on tablets is leading to absolutely no results, then you can just cut that out of your campaign and eliminate that waste.

Same thing can be said for either desktop users or mobile users. It’s going to be different for every campaign, but once you’ve got some data you’ll be able to go through this option and remove anything that isn’t working.

Like a lot of things with Google Ads, in order to make changes with some of these options, you need to have a good amount of data.

Things like excluding certain locations, lowering your bids on different days of the week, and other more granular things under the “Demographics” option (like the household income section, for example) require more data to make changes.

If you’re feeling adventurous, go ahead and click through some of those options to see some of the data on your account. There’s a chance you could find something you could change to help your account perform better.


After being in the Google Ads game for a while, I believe that the most important rule with Google Ads is this…

Take as much control out of Google’s hands as possible.

The more you let Google control where your ads are placed, what your bids should be, who they show the ads to, the less control you have.

When you don’t have control over your Google Ads account, that means that you could be wasting money and not even know it.

You need to make sure that you’re taking full control and telling Google exactly what you want. It can be a bit more tedious and time consuming to set up, but it makes all the difference.

At the end of the day, any ad platform is not really interested in getting you the cheapest cost per lead. If you get better results, then that usually means that you don’t have to spend as much on their platform.

That doesn’t mean that these big companies are purposely trying to get you to waste money. It’s just that their performance metrics are different than yours. A lot of the time, the recommendations that Google gives revolve around getting your ad seen more. Getting more clicks. Not getting you an abundance of leads at a reasonable price.

If you feel like you’re not getting an abundance of leads at a reasonable price from your Google Ads account, let me know!

Currently I’m offering 100% free audits on Google Ads accounts. I’ll personally go over your account, show you what’s working, what’s not, and give you suggestions for improvement. It’s a high quality product, and I won’t be doing it forever. Expect a full screen capture video, presentation, and plenty of information and value.

If you’re interested in that, click the button below and fill out the form on the next page to apply for an audit.

Thanks for reading!

Chris Down

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Chris Down
Chris Down

My name is Chris Down, or as some call me – “Downey”. I’m a digital marketing pro with multiple years of experience, and help contracting businesses generate more qualified leads and jobs with predictable lead generation systems.