Are your PPC campaigns performing as well as they should? Here are nine ways to check on them.
If you’ve noticed that your PPC campaign performance is dropping or it just hasn’t met your lead-generation needs, I’ll show you where to find improvement opportunities in your campaigns.
When auditing any PPC account, always start with what your goals were when you launched your program and the strategies that were used to implement them. Google Ads campaign structures can vary for a number of reasons and without a clear understanding of the tactics and strategies used to meet your goals, it can be easy to misinterpret how the campaigns have been built. In any case, there are best practice and relevance rules that always apply to basic Google Ads campaign construction.
To perform a quick audit of your PPC campaigns, I’ll show you where to look to see that your account has been monitored, tuned up and managed properly. To get started, open your Google Ads account, choose a campaign and set the date range to the last 30 days.
1. Change history
Google has a great feature that monitors account activity and any changes made to it over time. Properly managed accounts will have frequent periods of activity or optimization which are listed in chronological order. Here you can see when a change was made, what type of change it was, and who made it. Make this the first place you visit when reviewing your account.
To observe account activity, select the “last 30 days” option and select the change history link on the left side of the navigation bar. Here, you can see exactly what’s been going on in your account. Take care not to click or undo any recent changes to the campaigns as this could have negative effects.
How to view change history:
- Choose a campaign on the left and select the change history link
2. Conversion tracking
Without conversion data, it’s impossible to determine accurate cost-per-lead or cost-per-acquisition. Neglecting to set up conversion tracking or improperly configuring it is a big mistake when setting up any PPC campaign.
Work with your SEO team to discuss your options when setting up shared conversion goals in Google Analytics or Google Ads for proper attribution. It’s critical to the success of your campaigns that all of your conversions are tracked. All of your landing pages should have conversion devices such as contact forms and phone numbers. Make sure all of your website pages have the correct tracking scripts embedded in them.
How to view and manage conversions:
- Choose a campaign on the left and select tools icon in the upper right corner
- Select conversions in the list under the management section to view your conversion actions
3. Network settings
These are needed for accurate data collection and performance metrics and are vital to cost-per-lead. It’s a best practice to separate display campaigns from search campaigns to better manage those costs and behavior. The search partners option should be tested and measured at the cost-per-lead level to determine whether it’s performing as well as your managed campaigns.
Adding either of these options will allow your ads to run on Google partner sites, which may or may not work for you. Your ad dollars should be focused on searches that occur directly on the Google platform for accurate data. If you’re interested in having ads appear on the Display Network, the best practice is to set up a separate Display campaign.
How to view and manage network settings:
- Choose a campaign and select the settings link
- Click the Networks item to expand it
- Opt out of these networks and make sure that both boxes are unchecked
Often misunderstood or overlooked completely, this control can protect your budget from errant clicks outside of your target area and help concentrate your ad spend on those clicks that are more likely to convert. For local pest control campaigns, you want to lock down and manage your target area in granular detail and target geo-specific areas that convert, and exclude areas that don’t. Selecting these two options gives you greater control over which prospects will see your ads. Excluding specific areas that don’t convert will make your spend more effective and even have the potential to double your conversion production.
How to view and manage targeting:
- Choose a campaign and select the settings link
- Click the Locations item to expand it
- Review the Targeted Locations to ensure geographic accuracy
- Next, choose location options to expand it
- Under ‘Target’ ensure that ‘People in your targeted locations’ is selected (the middle option).
- Under ‘Exclude’ ensure that ‘People in, or who show interest in, your excluded locations (recommended) (the top option)
5. Campaign structure and relevance
Google Ads is all about relevance, from keyword selection to the text used on the landing pages. Relevance is the key to great campaign construction because it also enables all of the optimization features that are built into the platform.
All campaign builds should have well-defined ad group and keyword segmentation that reflect your core services and/or products. These ad groups should be optimized for only those services and items that align with your target cost-per-lead goals.
The keyword selection will define your ad group construction and should pass through the ad copy and on to the corresponding landing pages. Preparing your keyword sets and ad groups this way is a large factor in your quality score and ad rank. Doing this also defines the prospect journey and creates a better user experience, sets the level of expectation, and increases your chance for conversions and sales.
Poor keyword grouping is easy to spot. Ideally, there should be only a handful of keywords in any one ad group. There are exceptions to this rule, and if you do find an ad group that has a large number of keywords, take a closer look to make sure they all relate to one another. If they don’t, this is a good sign that they should be placed into new ad group of their own.
Each one of your ad groups should have a corresponding landing page and contain your root keywords in the subhead and in the body copy for relevance to the user and to Google.
How to view campaign structure and relevance:
- Choose a campaign and expand the ad groups
- Choose an ad group select the keywords link
- Review the list of keywords for similarity
- Choose Ads and extensions
- Review the ad copy for accuracy, spelling and keywords from the list
If your account doesn’t have any ad extensions set up, hop to it! In this day and age, extensions are not a nice-to-have—they’re a must for good ad rank. There are a lot of options in the extension category to choose from and your account should have a core set enabled.
How to view extensions:
- Choose a campaign
- Select the ads and extensions link
- Select the extensions tab
7. Average position
Optimizing for position can be costly if it’s mismanaged, so understanding where the sweet spot is for click-through-rates and conversions is critical to your cost per lead. Often overlooked, this metric carries significant impact for behavior with mobile devices. If your ad is not in the first or second spot, chances are good your ads are not being seen or interacted with on mobile devices. For desktop and laptop computers, you’ll need to review the data and find out which position performs the best.
How to view average position:
- Choose a campaign and expand the ad groups
- If the Average position column isn’t showing select columns, choose modify columns, click performance and tick the checkbox Avg. pos. and apply
- Segment by device to see what the position is across all devices
- Choose segment, by device
- Review your average position by device
Within the Google Ads control panel, it is possible to manage your ad position at the device level. Each ad position should be optimized as the cost per lead by device can differ greatly. In some cases, it may be necessary to segment your campaigns by device to better manage these costs.
8. Negative keyword lists
All well-managed Google Ads campaigns will carry a negative keyword list to help prevent unwanted clicks. There are two places you’ll want to check when looking for negative keywords lists. Account managers have options when adding and applying negative keywords. Negative keywords can be applied individually at the ad group level or applied as lists and shared across multiple campaigns in an account.
To view negative keywords as a list, select the tools icon at the top of the interface and select the negative keywords list link in the menu. Here you can review all of the available lists to apply to your campaigns.
To view negative keywords applied at the campaign and ad group level, select a campaign, keywords and negative keywords from the navigation. Here you will see the actual negative keywords attached to the lists and ad groups you are viewing.
If you see no negative keywords in either location, then you have a problem: There are virtually no controls in place other than your match types to manage search queries and errant clicks. This is a costly oversight for budgets of any size.
How to view the negative keyword lists:
- Choose a campaign
- Select the tools icon in the upper right corner
- Select the negative keywords in the shared library
How to view the negative keywords at the campaign and ad group level:
- Choose a campaign on the left
- Select an ad group on the left
- Select the keywords link in the light gray area
- Select the negative keywords tab
Google Ads is built for automation and using it helps lower click costs and improve production. For example, keeping up with bid prices according to the time of day can be tricky, because it changes day to day. With automation scripts, it’s possible to manage bid costs and ad position by the hour.
Take advantage of built-in rules to better manage your campaigns or write your own scripts to hold your ad position. If you aren’t using these approaches to campaign management, chances are you’re spending more at the cost-per-lead level.
How to view automation scripts:
- Choose a campaign and select tools icon in the upper right corner
- Select rules under the measurement heading to see the list
- Select scripts to see the list
Creating a new game plan
Now that you’ve walked through your account and created a list of things that need attention, it’s time to prioritize your list. Items that expose your budget to excessive waste and contribute to high costs per lead are first on the list. Then follow up with the general, less inflammatory items you’ve uncovered along the way to help curb waste in the short term. Sometimes this is all that’s needed to correct a campaign.
On the flip side, campaigns that require significant changes, especially those that involve keyword regrouping, creative messages and landing pages, will require careful planning and execution. If you decide you can save the current campaigns, make these changes in a methodical and measurable manner. If the campaigns are just too far gone, you may want to consider a complete overhaul and starting fresh.
We’re here to help! Performing an audit of your PPC campaigns can be time-consuming and particularly frustrating if you aren’t familiar with the new interface. Let us do the heavy lifting for you: It won’t cost you a thing for us to go in and have a look around.
Contact us today or give us a call. We’d be glad to help.
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