ABC’s of PPC – A Guide for the Basics!

By Kayla Kurtz | @one800kayla | Senior Digital Advisor at Hanapin Marketing

ABC's of PPC

We’ve been posting some pretty advanced optimization techniques recently at PPC Hero to make sure our audience is getting the next level of PPC advice. That doesn’t mean new advertisers aren’t getting in the paid search game daily or that you all-star vets couldn’t use a little reminder of the basics. The following alphabetical list is going to seem a little simple, but you might be surprised what it reminds you to revisit in your accounts!

A is for Ad Groups

  • Your ad groups should always start out tightly themed, with keywords included that are similar to one another. If you haven’t taken a look at your ad groups lately, make sure you haven’t broadened the relevancy too much through keyword addition.

B is for Broad Match

  • It seems like the most common practice in new PPC accounts lately is to start off with exact or phrase match keywords only. If you’ve gotten performance to a good place, consider slowly opening up to broad match keywords to increase your reach.

C is for Cost per Conversion

  • Most accounts have some form of goal in place for CPL/CPA, but it may be worth revisiting this metric and determining if you can breakdown more granular cost per conversion goals by segment, product, service offering, etc.

D is for Dayparting

  • Your accounts are not getting the same quality of traffic every day of the week or hour of the day. They just aren’t. Be sure to take a look at your hour of day and day of week data dimension reports to verify that you’re targeting hot hours/days and pulling back on those that aren’t as successful.

E is for Experiments

  • Google’s addition of the Experiments feature to AdWords has always been a personal favorite. Giving you the ability to test out ad copy or bids against one another and then snap back to your originals without losing stability, is epic.

F is for First Page Bid

  • This estimated CPC bid reported via the AdWords interface gets a lot of flack, as it isn’t always accurate. However, I’d encourage you to test using these suggested bids for a handful of keywords or so at a time to see if you can truly make a difference by getting on the first page.

G is for Geotargeting

  • Only ship a particular product within the US? Finding a lot of organic searches coming in from a particular international location? Set up a campaign to specifically target a region and optimize that date in a segmented way.


H is for Holiday

  • Be aware of upcoming holidays that could affect your account performance. Obvious example: if you’re an ecommerce account and the Black Friday season is approaching.

I is for Impression Share

  • So you’re hitting goal metrics and are happy with the number of leads or amount of revenue coming in from your PPC account work. Have you checked to see if you’re fully saturating the market? Take a look at your piece of the impression pie and see if you can expand!

J is for Junk

  • I was raised in the PPC school of “never…EVER…delete anything.” Times are changing and the tide has turned. True story: poorly performing account elements that are left in the account, even paused, could be affecting overall account health. If you have enough data to show that the element lost in a test or isn’t getting traffic…download a spreadsheet with the data and delete it!

K is for Keyword Research

  • Most accounts certainly have a lot of work that goes in to their initial set up and structure, but now is not the time to stop doing research on new terms that could bring you either new or more valuable traffic. Also check out your competitors and what they’re bidding on.

L is for Landing Page Optimization

  • PPC optimization doesn’t stop at the account level. You need to consistently make changes or alterations to test better variations of your landing pages to increase conversions or sales.

M is for Mobile

  • Spoiler alert: you should be doing mobile. Build out a mobile-ready landing page and segment out a campaign specifically for mobile users. The segment is growing by the day and you don’t want to be the one advertiser in your vertical not taking advantage.

N is for Negatives

  • Adding negative keywords to limit irrelevant clicks from slipping through to your account is a no-brainer. However, remembering to check for new negatives periodically, no matter how mature the account, seems to be a practice that is ignored by far too many account managers.

O is for Opportunities Tab

  • If you’re struggling for new ideas on where to go or what to do next, check out the opportunities tab in the AdWords interface. You’ll more than likely find a suggestion that you can use directly, but you’ll definitely find some nugget to get your brain moving in a new direction.

P is for Pause

  • If a keyword, ad group, ad copy or campaign isn’t working…pause it. No matter what you thought you knew or what you expected, if it’s not working…you need to pause it. Pride is no excuse for poor account performance.

Q is for Quality Score

  • Everyone knows quality score is important, but most get bogged down with too many other PPC tasks to actively work on improving the metric. Take a look at your account structure, ad copy and landing pages to start making a steady increase in your quality score.

R is for Remarketing

  • Not every person who clicks on your ads and goes to your site converts (I hope I didn’t spoil anything there). Go after them! Set up multiple audience types and remarket to them using specific messages.

S is for Search Query Report

  • Seriously think about this…when was the last time you pulled one for your account? I know, you’ve had this account open for years and all that…but I guarantee the work is worth it every once and a while, both for negative and new keywords to target.

T is for Test

  • If you aren’t testing something in your account at all times, you’re just doing it wrong. I say that with love, of course. Pick a new ad copy call to action, change up your landing pages, launch a display campaign. You should be testing to improve performance and the time is now!

U is for Utilize

  • Utilize what? EVERYTHING. There are hundreds of tools, blogs and resources available to assist you with your PPC work and optimizing accounts…use them! Again, pride is no excuse for poor account performance.

V is for View-Through Conversions

  • Click-through conversions are not the only ones that matter.  Some people may be hesitant about counting view-through conversions at the same value as their click-through counterparts, but they’re contributing to your overall goals in some way.

W is for Watch

  • Obviously account performance data fluctuates for a variety of reasons, but it’s your responsibility to watch that data and know why those fluctuations are happening.

X is for X-port

  • Yup, I just Xtina Aguilera’d that one. Really though, exporting account reports to dive-in to headfirst is key. You can certainly see a great deal within the interfaces themselves, but sometimes you need to be able to see all the data at once and an exported report may be the answer (even if you have to do some Excel clean up to make the data most readable).

Y is for You

  • Bid management software may have your back to a certain degree, but you are in control of the future of your PPC account. Be sure to own that responsibility and be proactive in your care of all your account elements.

Z is for Zero Impressions

  • How long has that account element been active while seeing no action? Do some due diligence and try your hardest to make it work, but if you have a portion of your account with no impressions…cut bait and move on.

There you have it! A quick list of terms you can either use to start learning about new areas of PPC or to remind yourself to revisit sometime soon. Would you have picked a different term for any particular letter? Share your own ABC’s with us in the comments section below!