How to Conduct the Ultimate PPC Audit for Your HVAC Campaigns
You already know that your company’s paid search campaigns need reviewed but, when you look at the dashboard, you quickly become frustrated by all the options you see. That’s normal. Seriously, especially if you don’t regularly do deep PPC dives for your HVAC company.
To simplify the process, think of the audit as containing three Rs—Reach, Relevance and Response—and use them to navigate through the paid search jungle. The result will be a structured PPC audit resulting in better use of your budget and a more effective PPC campaign.
Maintenance is the foundation.
Yes, maintenance is a must when you’re optimizing campaigns for Google Ads and Bing Ads. It usually makes sense to review your campaigns at least twice a year, perhaps even quarterly. This is true if you’re managing your campaigns in-house or you use an outside agency to manage them. We guarantee you’ll always find room for improvement.
As a step one:
- Think about why you set up your campaigns how you did, as well as any changes in strategies and goals.
- Do this to put your current campaigns into context, preventing misinterpretations of settings and metrics.
- Set your date range to at least three months. To get enough meaningful data, it may need to be expanded further.
Now, here’s more about Reach/Relevance/Response.
REACH: How ads get to their destination.
To get just the right HVAC ads to the right prospects, you must control your ad delivery. Options that help to do that include:
- Ad Scheduling
- Ad Budget
- Ad position and bid prices
- Audiences & Lists
- Campaign types
RELEVANCE: How ads connect to the right audience.
Intent is at the heart of PPC. So, for your paid ad campaigns to produce leads, you’ll need to provide information that lies at the heart of your prospects’ searches, perhaps about a more energy-efficient air conditioning option. You’ll need to match intent from the moment you choose a keyword to when you craft ad messaging and landing page text.
The more relevant you make your campaign, the more likely it will rank well. Benefits can also include lower click costs, higher quality scores, and overall better results.
When managing campaign relevancy, you have the following options to use, among others:
- Campaign structure
- Keyword choices & match types
- Negative keywords & lists
- Ad group segmentation
- Ad copy development
- Ad Type
- Landing pages
RESPONSE: How ads deliver ROI.
Ultimately, you want conversions, which can be as simple as someone signing up to receive your email marketing messages to someone wanting a new HVAC installation. To make that happen, you need to provide useful, compelling information, show value, and include a strong call-to-action. To navigate this part of your prospects’ journey, options to use include:
- Landing pages
- Conversion types
- Conversion tracking
- Call tracking from ads
- Call tracking from pages
- Tracking messages & chats
- Conversions & Conversion rates
- Cost-per-conversion, return-on-ad-spend (ROAS)
Where your PPC audit should begin: date range and change history
To determine how well campaigns are performing, you’ll want to compare data points. You could, for example, compare activity in the current 30-period to activity from last month, or from a year ago. Watch for trends and, once you note one of significance, reverse engineer why it’s occurring. Did you, at a key point, change daily spend? Can you spot targeting errors?
Google allows you to review changes made to an account, so it can help to review change history. Who is making changes? What type? When?
To observe account activity, set the date range to the last 30 option and choose 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.
Determine the right network settings:
Separate your display campaigns from search campaigns; that’s a best practices move.
- Search Network
- Choose search engines and your text ads will appear on its search results pages.
- Display Network
- You could, theoretically, reach more than 90% of internet users, worldwide, because this huge platform facilitates ad appearances on websites, apps, and social media with dedicated advertising spaces connected to platforms of choice.
By laser-targeting your HVAC company’s PPC campaigns, you can direct your ad spend to where clicks are more likely to lead to conversions, so don’t overlook this. This control plays a big part in preventing clicks from outside of your target areas, too; for local campaigns, you’ll want to geo-target some areas and exclude other ones—and, when you target ad spend well, you can have the potential to double your conversion production.
What days of the week show the most conversions? What times of the day? When you review your predefined reports (formerly dimensions) screen, you’ll typically see patterns. When you modify your bid adjustment to take advantage of these patterns, this can maximize campaign performance.
Underfunding a campaign can lead to low impression share, clicks, and conversions, so it makes sense to analyze where your sweet spot exists. You can harness the information in your keyword planner to gain insights about how often ads will show and how many clicks you’ll likely receive at a certain budget point.
If you find that you need to extend the impact of your dollars, you can:
- Reduce the target area
- Exclude specific areas that consume but never convert
- Pause keywords and match types that never convert
- Build strong negative keyword lists
- Lower bid prices
- Make additional scheduling adjustments and delivery options to further fine-tune and stretch your budget and show your ads more often
If you’ve got a bigger budget, you can further optimize your PPC campaigns through segmentation or day-parting. Times when this strategy can work especially well include when campaigns are:
- Heavily segmented
- Shared budget
Ad position and bid strategy:
This is a place for experimentation, so review your click-through and conversion rate data, and then consider different approaches to find what works best. Sometimes, for example, you can improve metrics and save your HVAC company money by lowering your bid price. No two situations are exactly the same so, find out what works best for you, then optimize rules or scripting usage to hold sweet-spot bids and positions.
We combine manual processes with automation to control variables. This helps us to avoid excessive and untimely keyword bid increases that full-on automation can bring about.
Device bid adjustments:
How well do you perform on mobile? Tablet? Desktop? Consider shifting your spend to device(s) with the best conversion rates. Experiment with excluding a device, and with creating a device-specific campaign. As needed, adjust your landing page to optimize conversion opportunities.
Underfunded-campaigns can be counterproductive in multiple ways, including:
- Reduced visibility, with ads that show less often
- Slower data collection
- Slower ad optimization process
If, though, you adequately fund your campaign, you can:
- collect critical data more quickly
- make corrections
- improve metrics, including quality score, click-through-rate (CTR), and conversion rate
Your keyword planner tool can help you to see how much impression share you can control. Then, you can decide how to adjust target areas and more.
Audiences, Lists and RLSA (Remarketing List for Search Ads):
Early in the process, use the power of audience lists (ones based upon traffic to your website pages and paid search landing pages) by segmenting each one into organic and paid visitors. This information can guide you in your remarketing efforts. For example, when you have a new product or special offer, you can remarket appropriately to a list. RLSAs can help you to improve relevance, and click-through/conversion rates.
Use automation to lower click costs, improve production, and more. For example:
- automation scripts can help you to manage bid costs hourly
- rule automation allows you to write your own scripts to maximize ad exposure, and/or to better manage campaigns
Look at potential audiences for your HVAC services. Do they all speak English? If so, this is the language you should select. But, if you live in a bilingual metro area, it’s important to test how well campaigns work when you add additional languages.
To make your campaigns relevant for your audiences, it’s crucial to have a well-defined ad group and keyword segmentation that reflects the services you provide. Then, identify the ad groups that dovetail with your targeted cost-per-lead goals and focus on those.
Strategic keyword selection is at the heart of creating relevant ad groups, and you’ll need to appropriately use these terms in ad copy and corresponding landing pages. When you succeed in this activity, you’ll likely benefit with improved quality scores and ad rank. Plus, this will improve your prospect journey and create an overall better user experience—with the ultimate goal to boost conversions and sales.
Keyword counts and grouping:
How many keywords do you have in each ad group? There should only be a handful, no more than 20. If you have a situation where you have more, check to see how well keywords relate to one another. If they do relate well, this may be an exception to the rule. Otherwise, create a new ad group.
Segment keywords in a way that aligns your ad groups/messages to search queries being made. You’ll likely benefit from a better quality score, lower click costs, and improved click-through-rate (CTR) and conversion rates.
Branded keywords and campaigns:
Branded campaigns must be carefully crafted in conjunction with organic SEO campaigns. Rewards for doing so can be significant, including high visibility and increased traffic. You will likely need to have a strong negative keyword list for branded campaigns, and it’s often worthwhile to experiment with device-specific branded ones.
Campaign segmentation and focus:
If you’re doing the first PPC audit in a while (or ever), you may discover that different campaigns have different structures, focus, and geo-specific targeting. In and of itself, that’s absolutely fine, as long as each campaign structure dovetails with its goals. Some may be hyper-relevant ones with niche conversion goals, as just one example.
Ads per ad group:
If you ask Google, the answer is four. That may or may not be right for you. What’s important is that you rotate ads that work well. Perhaps that’s three. Or five. Monitor conversions because, when you don’t test success rates, you can increase costs of conversion and lower your conversion rate.
When you take advantage of additional features and extensions, Google may reward you. Plus, you’ll boost your ad footprint on search engine results pages. Be deliberate in choices so you don’t create messages that repeat, or with the potential for confusion.
Site links can provide additional click opportunities, but it’s important to ensure their relevancy—meaning to the ads themselves, plus the ad group, and overall campaign. You’ll need at least two site links to appear on desktop (there can be up to six), with one link on mobile.
Connect your Google Ads account to the matching Google My Business listing and show location information to people within the area. This may cause these ads to show in Google Maps, generating additional clicks and conversions. These rules also apply to Bing Ads.
Call out extensions:
These extensions can add valuable additional information within the ad. You could, for example, include “Family owned and operated HVAC services” or “More than 25 years of experience in [city].”
Structured snippet extensions:
Perhaps you have unique features and offers to share. In this case, you can highlight them under structured snippet extensions. In the past, these were automated, but now you have more control over this type of extension that can add more info in your ad space.
For a direct way to benefit from a one-click conversion to boost engagement, provide a phone number. If you decide to do this, make sure it shows only during regular business hours so the call can be promptly answered.
TACTICS AND INSIGHTS
Take a second look at non-converting clicks and think about how you can reach these prospects through special offers. You can use the audience lists you set up when you began your campaign in your remarketing efforts to convert prospects into customers via your search and display networks.
Targeting inclusion and exclusion:
As you review conversions, how are each of your targeted areas contributing to your CPA and ROI? You’ll likely find areas that consume budget but don’t convert. If you exclude those areas, you could double your conversion rate while slicing CPA in half.
Take a look at geo-targeting here, too. Have you created ad groups and campaigns based on city or regions? You might be surprised how, if you geo-target underperforming campaigns, they might be salvaged.
As part of your PPC audit, be sure to review your search terms report because it’s likely that you’ll find terms that were overlooked in your keyword research. Some of these will probably fit in well with existing ad groups. If not, then they well may be good negative keywords to use to block unwanted clicks.
You’ll want your keywords to align with your goals and budget, and exact and phrase match types may be the most cost effective for your HVAC campaigns, and they are also easier to control. Having said that, you might be missing traffic and conversion opportunities if you overlook broad and modified broad terms, along with strong negative keywords to control waste of ad spend.
Negative keyword lists:
There are two broad ways to apply negative keywords:
- Individually at the level of an ad group; you should select the campaign you want to audit, and then keywords and negative keywords from the navigation.
- Applied as lists that are shared across multiple campaigns; to view these, pick the tools icon and then select the negative keywords list link.
If you aren’t using negative keywords, then it’s crucial to address this as part of your PPC audit.
KEY METRICS TO REVIEW
The CTR will give you a clear message about how successfully you’re aligning keywords with ad messages, and your overall relevancy. If you aren’t happy with what you’re experiencing, check out that alignment.
Is your quality score a 5 or even lower? If so, take a look at your keyword set. How can you collect similar keywords to create a new ad group?
Low search volume:
Review the status of keywords by looking through your status column. How many have low search volume? These keywords could be getting at least some impressions and clicks, but they may also be reducing your ad performance and rank. Test to see what happens if you pause them. What if you remove them?
Alignment of goals:
Make sure you’re crystal clear about your campaign goals. Without this clarity, you can’t successfully assess how well you’re doing or make the right targeted improvements.
All conversions must be tracked, and this data is crucial to accurately determine cost-per-lead or acquisition. If your PPC team and SEO team share goals, then work together when attributing them in Google Analytics or Google Ads. Make sure that every landing page has the appropriate conversion devices; this could include, for example, your 24/7 emergency HVAC service number, an online contact form, and so forth.
As part of your PPC audit, check conversion goals in Google Ads and Analytics. Which ones were imported into ads? Double-check them to make sure you aren’t doubling up on any conversion numbers.
These are mostly used for organizational and reporting purposes. You can see whether a conversion pixel is current, inactive, or unverified.
One person can complete a conversion numerous times. Include all of them, but also determine your number of unique visitors.
This window can be set for days, or even for months. It’s defined as the timeframe in which a conversion can be attributed to a first click via PPC. Set the window in a way that matches your sales cycle length.
This is the crucial metric! You can see if you’re getting a solid return on investment/return on ad spend. If not, you can experiment more to boost your ROI, or spend marketing dollars elsewhere, on channels that bring about a good return for your HVAC company.
Check how many your conversions you’re typically getting, and identify the more successful channels. If your numbers aren’t going up, consider A/B testing, landing page testing, or using special offers.
Your campaign should be designed in a way that offers up a quality cost-per-conversion performance. What is the value of a single lead?
Creating your game plan
Your PPC audit, if you follow this process, should yield plenty of items to consider and fix. Focus first on those that are causing the most wasteful spending, and contributing to high costs per lead. Then, work from the top down on other items that, in total, will streamline your campaign. Is this enough to make your PPC channel profitable enough for you?
If not, it may be that you need to address more complex issues, from keyword regrouping to refreshed messages and reworked landing pages. If your campaign needs more significant fixes, then you’ll need to executive a methodical plan, and then measure results. Through this planning, you may discover that it makes sense to do a complete overhaul.
We’re here to help you with your HVAC Campaign PPC Audits!
If you’ve read this far, you understand the potential that paid search has to efficiently deliver new, qualified leads that can change your business.
Auditing your PPC campaigns is a time-consuming prospect, but it can be a time-wasting task if you’re not well-versed in the new interface. The good news is that we can do all of the heavy lifting for you and it won’t cost you a dime for us to get in there and have a look around. Just send us a quick message or give us a call at 904-270-9778