One of the most common comments heard from a Google AdWords PPC advertiser is, “My ad isn’t showing! Why not?”

The first question we usually ask in reply is, “Did you search using Google’s Ad Preview Tool?”

Probably 99% of the time the answer is “No.” Most of the time, the average person does a search using a typical Google search, reasoning that since this is how their customers complete a search it must generate the most accurate results.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Why?

Keep in mind Google’s goal: They want to display ads that the user considers relevant for two reasons:

  1. The altruistic reason Google will tell you is that they want to provide the best possible user experience.
  2. Of course, the other reason Google wants ads displaying with a high click-through rate (CTR) is because the more often someone clicks on an ad, the more money Google makes.

So if Google sees you are doing multiple searches for keywords and not clicking on your ad, Google may track the IP address of your local computer and just stop showing the ad to you. After all, if you don’t click on the ad, then Google assumes the ad is not relevant to you and will show you other ads instead.

So it’s entirely possible that your ad has stopped displaying on your local computer but still displays just fine for everyone else. Thus, the results on your local computer may not accurately reflect the results everywhere else.

But there is another even more important reason to not search for your ads using Google Search, namely, you may be sabotaging your AdWords campaigns.

Every time a search is completed, the Google Quality Score for that keyword in your account is recalculated. If you don’t click on your ad (which you shouldn’t do because then you will get charged), your ad click-through rate goes down.

As the ad CTR drops, the keyword’s Quality Score will drop as well. Your Quality Score has a direct impact on cost per click (CPC).

The higher the Quality Score, the less you have to spend to achieve a higher ad position. The lower the Quality Score, the higher your bid has to be to rank higher in the search results — or rank at all.

By lowering your ad click-through rate and Quality Score, you are most likely lowering the average position where your ad will show for anyone who does a search in the future.

Obviously, you want to prevent that from happening. To help prevent that problem, Google has provided the Ad Preview Tool.

With the Ad Preview Tool, you can enter a keyword and select variables such as:

  • Google domain (i.e.,,,, etc.)
  • Language
  • Location
  • Device (desktop/laptop, mobile device, tablet)

Plus, if you are logged in to your AdWords account, the Ad Preview Tool will highlight your ad in the search results. If your ad is not showing, the tool will offer possible reasons why the ad is not showing, making it easier to troubleshoot.

Bottom line: When searching for your ad, use Google’s Ad Preview Tool. It will provide the most accurate results, and it will ensure that you are not accidentally hurting your PPC account by inadvertently lowering ad click-through rates and Quality Scores.