Our blog | equimedia

Why aren't my PPC ads showing?

Written by Chris | 24-Oct-2017 10:27:18

There are a lot of reasons why your ads might not be showing, let’s go through the options and get your ads in front of your potential customers.

There are a couple of different ways in which these checks will work, some will be targeted towards why your ads aren’t showing at all (i.e. not gathering impressions). Others will be focused on why you personally are not able to see your ads.

Are They Enabled?

Paused Ads – This one might sound simple but it is worth checking. Make sure that all the relevant: campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and ads are all live. It can be easy to forget to enable a parent group (campaigns or ad groups) when creating new keywords and ads

The Ad Preview Tool

The next thing to check is that you are using the ad preview tool. This is a very useful tool for getting an idea of how your ads will look on the SERP but without gaining unwanted impressions through your searches, which will hurt your CTR. As well as showing complete potential ads (including ad extensions) this tool can give you suggestions as to why your ad may not be showing for the search you have conducted. However, at times, these suggestions can be misleading or lacking in detail – so it is good to get an understanding of the possible factors hindering your ad’s eligibility.


Status – What is the status of the keywords and ads in question? Are they pending review, under review, or disapproved? If any of these are the statuses then your ads will not be eligible to show. The review process can take as long as 24 hours to complete but is usually much quicker than this. Where possible, it is worth creating keywords and ads in advance of needing to set them live because they can go through the review process while paused. This can alert you to any issues ahead of time and they can go live exactly when you want them to.

Hovering over the eligibility description in the status column of a keyword will display greater detail of its status

This section of the AdWords help site can provide you with more details on keyword statuses: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2453978?hl=en-GB

Low Search Volume – Keywords can enter a sort of standby mode if there are not enough searches per month. If a keyword is classified as such it will not match to any search until search volume has increased sufficiently for the keyword to become active. This is usually either the result of creating a campaign before something has been announced, and so people aren’t aware of the topic and won’t searching at present; this being the case, given time the keywords will become active as users start to search this topic. Or, you have a level of granularity in your account setup that AdWords is unable to cater for; in this instance, you will need to settle for a broader term or match type – or run the risk of missing out on volume.

Negative Keyword Conflicts – Negative keywords are very important for guaranteeing that you do not show for irrelevant searches, but also useful for ensuring that you match in the best way possible and show your most relevant ad. If this process is not carried out very carefully it is easy to block keywords from showing altogether.

Account under review – AdWords may periodically review an entire account for security and quality purposes as well as verifying billing information. During this period your ads will not show. This process can take as much as 3 working days.

Budgets & Bids

Billing – Ensure that your billing information is correct because if Google finds any issue with your details, your ads will not be served.

Budget & Delivery Method – Check that your total budget has not already been depleted, as AdWords will not allow an account to exceed its IO amount – so if it is reached your ads will cease to be served. Also pay attention to your ad delivery method, if you are using the standard option then AdWords will attempt to spread your daily budget across the entire day by not entering your ads into all of the auctions they are eligible for.

Bid & Rank – Consider the level of competition in the auction you are entering – are you being pushed down to the bottom of the page, onto the next page or out competed altogether? A consideration in less competitive auctions is to make sure that the minimum threshold for ad placement is being met.

When & Where you Search

Location – Make sure that you are within the area defined in your location targeting. This is another way in which the ad preview tool really comes into its own; due to the ability to set the location from which you are searching.

Ad scheduling – Make sure that you are searching within a time period that your ads are scheduled to appear. Through the use of ad scheduling it is possible to have times of the day that your bids are greatly reduced or even paused altogether; if you are searching for your ad during this time it may be more difficult to find or not possible at all.

Device – Similarly, it may be the case that your bids are low on a certain device or that you are even excluding a device entirely – so be sure to search on a suitable device.

Over searching – If you have made a lot of searches that have returned ads from your advertiser and not clicked on them, Google may decide that you are not interested in these ads and stop showing them to you. Be aware that IP addresses can also be blocked and that this may be the reason for your ad not appearing, this is why we always encourage use of the ad preview tool.

Getting Granular

Keyword selection – You may find that one of your ads is showing but it isn’t the one you had intended. This is usually due to the ad rank of one keyword over another; a common scenario is where one keyword has been matching to a search for some time and so has built up a strong historic CTR, has a stronger quality and ultimately better ad rank. Meaning that if a new, exact match, keyword is added it can be difficult for the new keyword to compete; even though you might expect the new keyword to be a better match. If you keep the keywords in different ad groups it is simple to prevent the original keyword from matching to the search term by introducing an exact match negative keyword to this ad group. One note of warning here is that if the new keyword is classified as ‘low search volume’ (more detail above). Adding a keyword which is low search volume and negating it elsewhere you can end up reducing the search volume you are eligible to show for – in this case you may have to settle for showing an ad rather than the more targeted one you had in mind.

If you are struggling to get your ads to show, please get in touch and we’d be happy to help.