February 17, 2013
This month Andrew Lolk of White Shark Media joins PPC Hero as a guest blogger to discuss his personal tips for optimizing a PPC account within the first month. This is part 2 see here, for part 1 see here.
This is a three-part series that helps you identify the areas of optimization during the first month of your Google AdWords campaign.
In this 3rd part I’m focusing on optimizing your campaign after the initial 14 days and how to go forward.
If you missed the first post, I recommend reading them for the baseline thoughts and experiences:
Day 14 – The First Real Optimization Takes Place
The goal from this point on is to build your Quality Score while still building a profitable campaign.
Be Wary of Keywords and Ads with Not Enough Clicks/Impressions
If you’re seeing keywords with low CTR (0.5% to 1%), and they’re in the top 5 ad positions, then I would consider pausing them.
Again, our goal at this point in time isn’t to maximize our campaign potential completely, but instead to build our Quality Score, as well as profits.
As our profits most likely aren’t going to be compiled of low CTR keywords, then it shouldn’t cost you many conversions to pause those low CTR-based keywords.
However, and as with anything else, we’re pausing them at a very early stage but you should be labeling them for later use as well regardless.
Optimize Ads for Your Goal
After 14 days, it’s time to start paying more attention to your ads. This is the most important part of your campaign at this point in time.
Your negative keywords, regular keywords and overall structure are important factors for you, but the final considering factor of how successful your campaign will be, lies solely in the hands of your ads.
It’s time to optimize your ads so the ads that are performing best (according to your KPIs), are indeed your active ones. Pause any underperforming ads at this time.
Consider pausing all ads if none of the ads in question from within an ad group are performing at the required levels.
Create New Ads
In addition to pausing your least successful ads, an important aspect of the process is to continuously A/B test. The beginning stages of an AdWords campaign are very important and you can never be sure that you have created the truly best-performing ad from the get-go.
After 14 days, the time is perfect for composing new ads.
You can basically go two different ways at this point:
- Create brand new ads
- Make minor adjustments to your current ads – and try again
If you’re way behind on your KPI projections, then I suggest creating brand new ads for yourself. Most of the time, only a complete rewrite of your ads can create big returns.
If you, on the other hand, are only trailing by a little bit or if you’re even a little bit ahead of your projections, then minor adjustments to your ads are preferred.
Minor adjustments include changing minor words, but not the entire ad text:
- Change Buy to Order
- Change Pricing from $10 to Pricing from $20
- Change Low-Cost to Cheap
There are tons of these minor adjustments you can make. They can seem arbitrary in theory, but sometimes these minor adjustments can increase your results in huge increments.
Even if you only see slight improvement, keeping up with minor adjustments will allow your ads to gain small performance boosts every time. These will result in big gains for you in the long run.
Review Bidding for Exceeding Budgets
Even though we did this meticulously during the first 7 days, it’s still crucial to review if your budget is being exceeded.
If you have built your campaign according to best practices and it’s rendering a good Clickthrough-rate for you, then your Quality Score will most likely increase.
Accompanying a higher Quality Score are also higher ad positions. With higher ad positions come higher Clickthrough-rates, which obviously increase the amount of clicks you receive.
If by day 14, you were extremely close to reaching your budget, then your budget will start being exceeded on Mondays and on other high-traffic days for your industry.
Revising your bidding to make sure that you’re not exceeding your budget is key to long-term success.
Revise Bidding According to your Goals
On day 14, you will hopefully have generated two weeks’ worth of conversion data, which means that you’re finally ready to start bidding more in alignment with your campaign goals.
Revise the statistics for the last 14 days and set your bids accordingly. If a keyword is costing too much per conversion, lower the CPC bid.
If the keyword is costing you less than projected, and is in an ad position lower than 3.0, increase the CPC bid.
Pause All Keywords That Don’t Perform Adequately – Be Wary of Bad Ads in Ad Groups That Affect your Results
If you have keywords that don’t perform anywhere near your projections, then it’s time to pause them.
There is no need in the beginning to work heavily on keywords that aren’t performing well enough. Focusing on keywords that are already performing well will help you increase the overall quality of your campaign and set yourself up for even greater success in the long-term.
Some keywords will simply never perform adequately for you. You don’t know what keywords will and which ones won’t when you start your campaign. There is no need to work very hard on keywords that may never succeed.
Again, I will advise you to label these keywords for use at a later point in time so you can reuse them and optimize these keywords to see if you really can get them to perform according to your campaign goals.
Go for Big Negative Keyword Reviews from your See Search Terms Report
This might be one of the more time-consuming and boring tasks, but the groundwork that comes with adding negative keywords and new keywords from your See Search Terms Report is crucial for success.
You should now start seeing a lot of terms in the See Search Terms Report and the faster you can either exclude or include these terms, the better.
I’ve written a very thorough guide on how to best use the See Search Terms Report to Find Negative Keywords.
Review for Low Quality Score and See What Can Be Improved Upon
If some of your keywords have a low Quality Score, then it’s time to figure out how you can improve this for long-term benefit.
There are several ways to improve low Quality Score keywords and I won’t go into all of them here. The most efficient way to improve Quality Score is working on ad relevance.
Making sure that the relevance between search term, keyword, ad and landing page is high all the way through, is one of the secrets to ensuring high Quality Score.
Day 21 – Minor or Major Optimizations Based on Your Traffic Stats
When you reach day 21, you’re most likely close to a successful campaign in terms of stability.
Depending on your traffic levels, it’s time to either redo all of the optimizations from day 14, or only opt for those keywords with low search volume.
Redo Optimizations from Day 14, for Low Search Volume Keywords
Remember how we’ve previously labeled keywords, ads and ad groups with a low search volume that we decided we couldn’t optimize just yet?
On day 21, it’s time to review these again and see if they have enough impressions/clicks/conversions to start being optimized.
Perform the same optimizations from day 14 if you can now.
Minor Adjustments to Ads That Have Proved Successful
If your search volume allows, then I’d like to continue with my minor ad optimizations that consists of minor adjustments.
It’s amazing what large gains you can get from minor adjustments, so I always try to get as many of these in as I can.
Day 28 and Beyond…
Once you complete your fourth week, it’s time to commence a regular optimization schedule.
There are many different ways to optimize and the final manner in which you schedule your optimizations will depend on your own personal time schedule and the volume of traffic you receive.
Optimize Everything Simultaneously for Smaller AdWords Accounts
If you have an account that is less than 30 ad groups in total size, then I recommend just optimizing all aspects of your campaign at the same time.
This will make sure you’re in the right mindset and ready to deal with the task. It’ll at least take a couple of hours, but it’ll be time well spent.
Different Aspects on Different Days with Bigger AdWords Accounts
If you have a bigger AdWords account, then breaking up your optimizations is crucial for success. If you try to do everything at once, you will start skipping tasks that really count.
I’ve seen several campaign managers start cutting their tasks short because they’ve just grown tired of working in an account for so long.
Break up your tasks so that you tackle one aspect, per day of the week. This will keep your outlook fresh for each task.
Core Components of Most AdWords Optimization Schedules
- Bid optimization
- Keyword optimization
- Negative keyword research
- Keyword expansion
- Ad optimization
- Campaign structure optimization
- Campaign Settings: Ad scheduling, Ad Extensions
Optimizing your AdWords campaigns regularly is fundamental to success. Too many accounts just lay around inactive week after week. This is the case even when minor adjustments could easily help increase returns on your ad spend.
Even if you can’t do it all at least try to do some of the work so your campaign is not floating still over water.
Now It’s Your Turn
Do you have any 1st month rituals/tips to offer to get the very most out of your AdWords campaign that you’d care to share with us below?