16 Commonly Asked PPC Questions (And Answers)
January 2, 2013
Ask a PPC account manager what’s the best way to do something and I bet 95% of the time the answer is, “it depends on your account/the situation”. The reason for that is that, well… it does.
With this in mind, below are the most common questions I am asked by new account managers, people I speak to at conferences and from here on PPC Hero. I’ve tried to give as concrete answers as I can based on my experience and what seems to consistently (although not always) work best.
What happens when “x” doesn’t work?
This question usually pops up in regards to a tip, trick or best practice that I am talking about at a conference or with a client on the phone. The best answer I can usually come up with is, “revert.” Not everything you do will work so make sure to download a backup of your account before making major changes in case it doesn’t work out.
How many ads should I have in every ad group?
I typically take the top 3-5 ad groups by impressions and put 3 ads in those and then do 2 ads in all other ad groups. Then I test the ads, pick winners and add 2 more ads to the top 3-5 ad groups again and 1 ad to the others. I have found that this balances testing enough with it not taking too long to get statistically significant data.
When do you conclude an ad test?
For a search campaign it is typically 1,000-2,000 impressions or 200 clicks within the ad group. Sometimes at that point the ads are still running neck and neck so I let it ride until statistical significance is reached using the Teasley calculator.
How many keywords should I have per ad group?
This may be the most debated question out of all of these. The keywords that drive 80% of my conversions get one keyword per ad group, the keywords that get conversions but not very many go in ad groups of 3-5 keywords and the keywords that get very little impressions, clicks or conversions go in ad groups of 10-15 keywords. Using this method I have seen QS increase drastically over a 60-day period (27% of impressions coming from QS of 10 to 72% of impressions coming from QS of 10) and have found it incredible easy to manage accounts set up like this.
Should I have different match types in different ad groups, campaigns?
I prefer to do different match types in different ad groups and name the ad groups as such, “productx (exact),” “productx (phrase),” “productx (broad).” I have found the greatest benefit from doing this is that the account is easier to manage.
How do I know if conversion tracking is working correctly?
My favorite tool for this is Tag Assistant for Chrome. It’s not perfect but it does quickly alert you to issues that are worth digging in to further.
Does Google display network work?
I have found that the display network can work but that about half of what you try will not (meaning CPA will be too high or volume too low.) The best types of display I have found are contextual mixed with topics. This means that you have a campaign that targets different topics but with keywords so you show on more specific pages.
How often do you add negative keywords to an account?
I typically monitor Search Query Reports on a weekly basis but typically add negative keywords less frequently. What I am looking for is trends/themes amongst keywords versus worrying about specific queries. Using those themes I then can add negatives at the campaign or even account level. This reduces the total number of negative keywords in an account making it easier to manage them thus insuring you don’t have negatives that are hurting performance.
What tools do you use for keyword research?
I use Google keyword tool, WordStream’s Niche Finder, WordTracker and Search Query Reports.
Do Product Listing Ads work?
Tremendously well. If you’re not utilizing these and you do ecommerce, you are missing out on a lot of revenue every single day.
Should I bid on competitor’s brand names?
CTR and Quality Score will be low on these terms but they do typically convert pretty well, so my answer is yes. Make sure you don’t use dynamic keyword insertion in your ads on these campaigns or else you could violate trademark policies.
Should I bid on my own brand terms?
The short answer is, always. Kayla Kurtz wrote a great post explaining why.
Does Quality Score matter?
Sometimes. The best way to know is to see if there is a correlation between Quality Score and CPA in your account. You can do this by simply pulling a keyword report including the Quality Score, doing a pivot table with QS at the right and then a column for calculated CPA. Then do a graph with a trend line. That will show you if generally you see better CPA on keywords with better QS.
How do I increase my Quality Score?
Increase your CTR by writing better ads, keep the number of keywords per ad group down to the ranges mentioned earlier in this post, ensure that the ad has the keywords you are bidding on in it (I am not recommending keyword stuffing, but it has to be in there somewhere to be seen as relevant),
The CPC on my best keywords continues to go up. Why?
This is typically caused by an increase in competition, reduction in search volume or decreasing Quality Scores. To determine if it is competition compare the Auction Insights results to a when CPC’s were lower and see if new competitors are on the list or if your metrics there have dropped. Use Google Trends to see if search volume has dropped and do a Quality Score analysis to see if that is the issue.
What’s the best way to decide what ad wins in a test? (What’s the best metric to use?)
I wrote on PPC Hero a few months ago about my favorite metric and it is still the one I use. It is impressions until conversions. To calculate you simply divide the number of impressions by the number of conversions. You’ll end up with some like 627. The lower the number the better the combined CTR and CR of that ad is.
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