4 Ways to See if Your Digital Agency is Mismanaging Your Google Ads

Google ads are tricky, and it’s easy for inexperienced agencies to make rookie mistakes.

Now that we have gotten the clickbait title away, let’s get to it.

Google ads and search engine marketing in general

Search engine marketing, pay per click management, online marketing, Google ads or call it whatever you want, is a tricky business (and I’m not just saying that).

Google ads

It’s not taught in schools, at least not thoroughly, and the online courses that cover this subject are usually as good as when I tried to learn accounting from YouTube. Spoiler: It didn’t end well.

You will know the basics, but it’s unlikely that you will be able to put your newfound knowledge to use on an advertising platform any time soon with good results.

How do you learn online marketing then?

Simple: experience, although it is difficult to get it.

The reason is that no one in their right mind would give you money to carry out some of their campaigns with little to no knowledge and absolutely no experience.

The best you can do is find someone who has been in the business for years to guide you and be your mentor.

But, since Iceland is not your typical haven of online marketing gurus (although Svartigaldur is), it can be challenging to get a professional that REALLY knows what they’re doing.

Online marketing in Iceland
Iceland is famous for a lot of things but perhaps not online marketing

All in all, it’s not easy to get into this business, although it may seem like the exact opposite with all the new online marketing agencies popping up like pimples on a greasy teenager.

Let’s talk about small digital agencies

I do not want to be mean or smear the competition. I just want to point out the simple fact that most of them don’t have a lot of experience. Understandably since it’s hard to get!

Online marketing in Iceland
Small isn’t always bad

The existence of small agencies is not a bad thing for us or the online marketing industry. They will learn, with time, and the industry will gain more credibility in Iceland.

I don’t see this as a problem at all.

The thing about competition…

Healthy competition can push businesses to thrive.

But, unfortunately some business owners and marketing managers sometimes don’t realize, that just because someone at a small agency knows how to post on Facebook, create a Google Ads account (yes it’s called that now, forget AdWords) or knows that SEO has to do something with organic traffic, it doesn’t make them an expert in this field.

In online marketing, you learn by doing

They may talk the talk, but make damn sure they can walk the walk. Without tripping and spending your online marketing budget on something that doesn’t give you any ROI, that is. I’ve seen it too many times.

I love this business and want it to stay credible and professional.

By saying this, I don’t mean that all of these agencies are crooks. But, sometimes I see a lot of rookie mistakes being made when I take over accounts from other agencies. Even “top” agencies.

What are the warning signs?

Let’s look at some things that indicate that the agency managing your Google Ads account might be your 13-year-old nephew:

1 – Tracking, Tracking, Tracking!

You know how realtors always say “Location! Location! Location!”?

You want to track as much as humanly possible.

Well, this is how we feel about tracking. Without tracking, you won’t know whether you are spending your money wisely or setting it on digital fire.

If you hesitate whether they are tracking, let me make it easy for you: either they are, but the results are terrible so you won’t know. Or, they are not, in which case my advice is to RUN.

2 – Targeting

Now, this is a biggie because we could fill hundreds of pages on different targeting methods.

Let’s just say that if one of your campaigns’ only targeting is location. Then, the sad news is that you have been shoveling money into the burning furnace of the internet.

Iceland search engine marketing
Think about your target audience and hit it precisely.

It is almost unreal that we even have to make this point. But, we ran into this not too long ago. During an audit on a Google Ads account previously managed by a small agency, we ran into a display campaign that was targeting the United States.

That’s it, nothing more, nothing less. Pretty broad.

That means that the ads were shown to people with no interest in the product. So, the few clicks they got were mostly from people who did it by accident. They left the website as quickly as they came.

By the way, we fixed the targeting, worked our magic, and increased sales for the particular product immensely.

3 – Structure

Having a clean keyword structure is a pretty easy way to tell if your agency knows their stuff.

You need hierarchy and great structure for your ads.

If unrelated keywords are all crammed into a couple of ad groups, you should pick up the phone and ask them why “men shirt” and “women shoes” keywords are in the same ad group.

If you’re not sure how to log into the account and find the information, ask your agency to show you the structure of your campaigns.

4 – Google = God

If your agency follows everything that Google tells them to do without a question asked, total obedience, you might want to change agencies.

Search engine marketing iceland
If Google were a god, which god would it be?

No, Google is not the bad guy, we love Google.

But, you have to realize that they make 97% of their total revenue on ads, so they will want you to spend as much as you can. Sometimes their suggestions aren’t that great.

You need constant vigilance and critical thinking!


These are just a few basic points that can help you figure out whether your agency is competent, but there are loads of other tiny things that might be damaging the performance of your campaigns.

If you are in doubt or just curious, all you have to do is pick up the phone and give Svartigaldur a call.

We offer a free audit where we rate the general health of your website and your accounts!