To Avoid Poor PPC Performance
Setting up a new AdWords account or making sure an account is performing can be daunting. Sometimes figuring out where to start is confusing. Or, if you’ve inherited an account, you’ll want to perform an AdWords audit to ensure the campaigns are targeting the right audience and not wasting money. Regardless if you’re a newbie or proficient user of Google’s AdWords platform, we’ve created an easy-to-follow checklist.
Check the Campaign Level
In our AdWords audit, we first check the settings at the campaign level. Typically you organize campaigns by categories (e.g., product or service). When setting up and organizing your account, you customize the settings so it makes sense for your business. There are settings that apply to the entire account and others where it’s specific to deeper levels within the account. AdWords Help provides great information on how to get started. In the AdWords software, take note of the help screens; they provide guidance in case you get stuck or wonder what each field or setting mean.
Location – Make sure the account is targeting the right locations, and check that the ads are showing in the right places. You can also check this another way, by looking at the search terms report and seeing if other locations come up where they shouldn’t.
Search or Display – Make sure no campaigns are both search and display. It makes it difficult to monitor them. If one campaign is a search-display combo, pause it. Then, copy it. Then, modify it to delete either the search or display component. In the end, you want two campaigns that are running either search or display ads only.
Mobile Enabled – With mobile increasing in importance all the time, make sure that the right devices are selected for your campaigns and you know where they’re running. Check how mobile is performing against other platforms and adjust accordingly (e.g., increase bids if needed).
Conversion Tracking – If a client doesn’t have conversion tracking set up, this is one of the first things we do. We create the necessary code (tag) and have it added to the website. Then, be sure to test it. Accurate tracking is a must. We also recommend a call tracking system to get more detailed data on what keywords or ad groups are performing.
Assessing the Ad Groups
Size – Try and keep the number of keywords in an ad group below 15, and tightly built around the same theme. Note: this is number lower than what Google recommends. Experience has taught us that a dozen or so keywords per ad group, the better relevance an ad and its landing page has with each keyword.
Themes – Make sure your ad groups have a theme or topic that pulls the keywords together; it allows you to build ads and landing pages around that theme. If you think there’s more than one, then create another ad group and move over the related keywords.
Number of ads – Normally we like to have at least two ads per ad group so you can run A/B testing. In addition, we also like to run one mobile ad and one desktop ad. So, our ad groups typically contain at least four ads. If you like to use dynamic keywords, then that number grows to six. We advise against more as maintenance becomes more difficult. If you feel that isn’t enough then maybe it’s a sign you need to split your ad group down further.
Ad Extensions – If they’re not at least using callouts and site links, you need to create some immediately. Ad extensions are free and it can dramatically improve your AdWord account performance without adding extra cost. There are numerous types of extensions: call, location, review, sitelinks, callouts, structured snippets. We consider extensions a low hanging fruit in our AdWords audit.
An AdWords Audit Finds Key Keywords
Overlap – Check that none of the ad groups have conflicting keywords. Internal competition of keywords can confuse your statistics and lower quality scores by taking people to the wrong ads. Use negatives to keep keywords to their own ad groups. Conflicting keywords and improper use of negatives is a common symptom of poor performance.
Bids – Make sure that the highest bids are for exact keywords, the middle bids for phrase match, and the lowest for broad match. There may be some exceptions, but following this general rule ensures you don’t overpay for any matches you do get.
Those are some of the first things we look at when we conduct an AdWords audit. What do you look at? Is there one thing you always check that missing from our list?
How can we help?
Do you know where to start with an AdWords account? Looking to focus on SEM? Do you need a AdWords audit?
We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.