Add3 – Digital Marketing Agency with offices in Seattle & Portland

Basic PPC Optimization

Managing paid search campaigns can be overwhelming with all the different metrics and reports available. Over the years I’ve developed the following basic checklist of tasks that make up the  foundation of paid search campaign optimization. The frequency of these tasks can be adjusted based on the volume of impressions, clicks, and conversions in your account.


Monitor and Review All Account KPI’s

The concept here is to review the previous day’s performance and ensure there are no emergency adjustments. In most cases a day’s worth of data is not enough data to hit the panic button and make any extreme adjustments.


Campaign Budget Management

Analyze campaign performance based on data from the last 7 days or different date ranges to determine trends. Once projections and performance have been reviewed, determine if you need to shift campaign budgets between campaigns. Budget is adjusted based on performance – including conversion production, conversion rate, impression share, and CPA. Here are some examples of trends to look for:

  • Are there any campaigns that you have low impression share on but a better than average CPA? Increase the daily budget to increase conversions.
  • Are there any campaigns that have a high CPA or high costs and no conversions? Decrease budget or pause the campaign.

Keyword Bid Management

Use filters in AdWords and Bing to find your best and worst performing keywords. Make sure you look at short and long term date ranges to look at the micro and macro level of data. These involve decreasing bids on keywords with a low CTR and no conversions, low quality score and no conversions, etc; The inverse is also in place: high CTR, high converting keywords receive bid increases, keywords with a with strong conversion rate receive bid increases, etc;. It’s important you have a target CPA as making these decisions and setting up these filters will be much easier.

Keyword Analysis and Opportunities

Keyword research is ongoing and one of the best places to mine new keywords is through search query reports from the search engines. Review all queries that your keywords are being matched to and add both positive and negative keywords to improve campaign performance.


Review Ad Copy Performance

Use online statistical significance tools to review ads and pause any statistical low performers in terms of click through rate or conversion rate in your campaigns. I always prefer to have a minimum of two ads in rotation per ad group. This allows for A/B testing to identify ad elements that affect performance positively or negatively.

Campaign and Ad Group Optimization

Review ad groups and campaigns to ensure tight themes and that keywords are targeted appropriately. Expand or combine ad groups as dictated by impression, click, and conversion volume to improve performance. We also look for opportunities to create new campaigns for keyword groups that could benefit from a separate campaign budget. You want to have a strong relationship between your keyword ad group and ad for your best keywords.

Keyword Match Expansion and Research

Review keywords and identify keywords to test new match types. Keywords with high CTR or high conversion volume are added as new match types and longer tailed keywords if they aren’t already within the account. This is another task that involves looking for new keyword trends or opportunities to test. One of my favorite ways to find new keywords is Google Suggest. Ideally you utilize broad match modified keywords to always be discovering new keywords and exact match keywords for conversions.

Quality Score Analysis

Generate a quality score report on a monthly basis. AdWords does not track historical quality score. It’s important to monitor quality score as it can have a large impact on the performance of your campaigns. These findings are analyzed and utilized to determine areas where quality score is in need of attention. Always look for opportunities to improve your quality score. I like this quality score worksheet you can download from Wordstream.

Write New Ads to Test

Each month look for opportunities to write new ads. Ongoing testing of ad elements is one of the easiest way to improve click through rate and campaign performance. Start with your high volume ad groups with high clicks and impressions. Here’s a presentation one of my colleagues did on ad tips.

Parting Thoughts

This list is not meant to be all inclusive but to set a foundation for management. Each month I put a similar task list in Basecamp for our PPC clients. What tasks do you do regularly that are core to optimization?

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