How to fix Google Ads Search campaign not running or low traffic

If you are using Dynamic Search Ads, make sure to check out how to fix low traffic issues with Google Dynamic Search Ads.


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Occasionally, you may find that your Search campaigns are not serving as many impressions as you would expect, or are not spending much of your set daily budget. In this article, we’ll outline common reasons why your ads may not be serving, and how you can troubleshoot using the tools in Google Ads.

Before you begin

What to expect when a campaign is enabled

If you recently enabled your Search campaign, it can take some time for your campaign to start serving impressions. There are a few reasons for this:

  • It takes 24-48 hours for newly created or edited ads to be reviewed to ensure they meet all policy requirements.
  • For campaigns using automated bidding strategies, there may be performance fluctuations or changes in spend as Google Ads learns to optimize towards your set goal.
  • It may take Google Ads some time to adjust serving if you make changes to your campaign settings.

Go to the Campaigns page in your Google Ads account

Using the Ad preview tool

The Ad Preview Tool and Diagnosis tool helps you identify why a specific search term may not be serving. Note that the search results returned by this tool may change over time.

Go to the Ad preview tool in your Google Ads account


Recommendations help highlight opportunities to improve performance when your Search campaign is not running or is getting low traffic. For example, you can look out for the following example recommendation types when troubleshooting these issues.

Common recommendation types to fix campaigns not running:

  • Campaign hasn’t started or has ended
  • Create or unpause an ad group
  • Account budget exhausted
  • All ads disapproved
  • Add or unpause keywords

Common recommendation types to fix low traffic:

  • Adjust your CPA targets
  • Adjust your budgets

Go to the Recommendations page in your Google Ads account


11 common reasons why your Search ads are not running or are getting low traffic

1. Account issues

If your account is suspended, or if you have a billing issue on your account, you won’t be able to run your ads until the problem is resolved. Keep in mind that if other campaigns in your account are running, you don’t have to check on the status of your Google Ads account.

Next steps

  • For account suspensions, use our suspended account tool to automatically check your account status
  • For billing issues
  • If you pay by monthly invoicing, check your account budgets. If your total campaign costs reach the designated amount in the account budget before your set end date, all ads in the account will stop running. Learn how to create or edit an account budget.
  • Check your Billing Summary or Transactions pages for declined payments. Your account may stop running until you pay off the outstanding balance.

Go to the Billing & payments page in your Google Ads account


2. Date ranges and campaign start and end dates

Google Ads shows you performance data for the date range that you select. Your campaign will show no impressions outside of the date range your campaign has been active.

Next step

  • Check that the date range includes your campaign’s start and end dates
Note: The pre-configured date range settings (for example, “Last 7 days”) won’t include today’s date. Learn more about date ranges in Google Ads.

3. Ad groups, assets, or ads are not active or have policy issues

Even if your campaign is enabled, check to make sure you have active ad groups, assets, and/or ads within your campaign. The review status of your ads, assets, asset groups, or keywords can also impact your campaign’s ability to serve. Hover over your campaign’s status to see what percentage of ads are eligible to show.

Next steps

  • Check that your ads, ad groups, and assets are enabled so that they are active and can run
  • If your ad is under review, use our ad under review tool to automatically check your review status
  • Use Policy Manager to see policy restrictions of ads, keywords, and extensions across your entire account
Go to Policy manager in your Google Ads account

4. Low bid targets and optimization goals

While it may be possible to serve ads with a very low bid, your campaign is not likely to enter or win as many auctions and your ads may not have any impressions. If you are using Smart Bidding and setting CPA or ROAS targets without considering historical performance, this may limit the strategy and the campaign may not serve at all.

Next steps

  1. Confirm your campaign’s optimization strategy is aligned to your business goals
    Example: If your goal is to drive as many conversions as possible within a set budget, use the Maximize conversions strategy.
  2. With your set optimization goal, consider whether your set manual bid or automated bidding target is achievable based on historical performance. If you are using Smart bidding, you can incentivize the system to bid higher and potentially get more impressions by increasing CPA targets or lowering ROAS targets.
  3. With your set optimization goal, consider whether your set manual bid or automated bidding target is achievable based on historical performance. If you are using Smart bidding, you can incentivize the system to bid higher and potentially get more impressions by increasing CPA targets or lowering ROAS targets.
  4. Example: If you’re using target CPA bidding and your target CPA is significantly below your historical average CPA, your target CPA may not be attainable while maintaining reasonable levels of traffic, and you should consider raising your target.
  5. If available, use the bid simulatorBid Simulator icon from the performance report in your ad groups page

5. Low budget

When you have a low budget, your ads may not serve as often while Google Ads ensures your campaign doesn't spend more than your spending limit. Your campaign status may also display “Eligible (Limited)” to indicate that it’s either not serving or undeserving due to low budget.

Next steps

  • If campaign status indicates that your campaign is limited by budget, check the budget report to better understand your campaign’s spending relative to its average daily budget and how this has impacted your performance and spend limits
  • Consider increasing your budget to make sure your campaign has enough budget to be able to serve throughout the day

6. Targeting is too narrow

While targeting settings help you find the right set of users most interested in your business, each time you add targeting or if you have issues with your remarketing lists, you narrow the potential reach of your ads.

Next steps


7. Targeting overlaps with other campaigns or ad groups

You may have multiple campaigns or ad groups in your account that are eligible to enter overlapping auctions due to similar keywords or other targeting. If there is overlapping targeting, traffic may primarily go to one of your campaigns.

Next step

  • Review your campaign’s targeting and consider updating the targeting so it doesn’t overlap with other campaigns in your account

8. Lost impression share

Impression share data, specifically Lost Search IS (ad rank), can help you identify the percentage of time that your ads weren't shown on the Search Network due to ad rank in the auction.

Next step

  • To minimize Lost Search IS (ad rank), improve your ad quality and your bids. Impression share data may not populate if your campaign did not generate enough traffic.

9. Conversion tracking

If your campaign is using Automated bidding to optimize towards conversions, but is not getting sufficient conversion data or your conversion tracking is not set up correctly, your ad may have limited serving. 

Next steps

  • Check your conversion tracking setup using the Conversion tracking status troubleshooter.
  • Check the historical performance of your targeted conversion action to ensure it occurs frequently enough to be used for Automated bidding.

Go to the Conversions page in your Google Ads account


10. Ad Quality

Ad quality is an estimate of the experience that users have when they view your Search ads. Higher ad quality generally leads to better performance, including better ad positions and lower cost. Depending on the ad type, there may be different indicators for quality. For example, for Responsive Search Ads, you can assess your Ad Strength. Google requires that ads meet a certain level of quality in order to serve. Learn more about ad rank thresholds.

Next steps

  • Review your quality score at the keyword level
  • A higher Quality Score means that your ad and landing page are more relevant and useful to someone searching for your keyword, compared to other advertisers.

Go to the Keywords page in your Google Ads account


11. Auction Dynamics

Other advertisers who are participating in the same auctions as you can affect your campaign’s ability to serve. For example, If a new advertiser begins entering the same auctions as your campaign, this can affect how many impressions your ads receive.

Next step

  • Use the Auction insights report to compare your performance with other advertisers who are participating in the same auctions that you are. This info can help you make decisions about your bidding and budget.

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