16 Commonly Asked PPC Questions (And Answers)

By Carrie Albright | @Albright_C | Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing

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 some of the most common questions we hear from new account managers, people attending digital marketing conferences and from right here on PPC Hero.

 

What happens when “x” doesn’t work?

Sometimes things don’t work. Prior to any major change, be sure to keep a full record or download of existing content. And if the change doesn’t deliver the intended results, you can conduct a mass “undo,” is needed. But one major process to conduct prior to that is taking stock of what you can use from this and what you can’t. More than anything, I’ve found that clients are okay with taking risks as long as we gain something from it. Even if a project, such as a restructure, doesn’t end in clear success, something you have gained is insight. In these instances, be sure to leverage that as strongly as you would the improvement metrics.

 

How many ads should I have in every ad group?

Over the years, my response to this question has changed. In recent times, I’ve come to embrace the more-can-be-better approach, allowing the platform to assist in sorting out what’s performing best. When using a “Rotate Evenly” setting, I try to stick to a manageable 2-3 ads at a time. However, if I’m utilizing any kind of setting with an automated “optimize” element, I typically double the number of ads in rotation and allow them to fall into their own ranking.

 

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. These are simply thresholds for knowing when to wrap, and sometimes you don’t have a clear winner. At that time, I look for statistical significance, using one of many online options, or my favorite: the Teasley calculator.

 

What’s the best way to decide what ad wins in a test? (What’s the best metric to use?)

In the article linked above, Brad Geddes outlines one of my favorite metrics for ad testing: Impression until conversion. This essentially blends CTR and conversion rate, indicating that the lower the number, the fewer number of times an ad needs to be shown to generate a lead. This metric incorporates cost efficiency, quality score (CTR attribute), and messaging.

 

How many keywords should I have per ad group?

This is a universal question for any search campaign. SKAGs can be very popular for ensured QS, while others swear by the method of “farming” out top performers from semi-large ad groups. Typically, most account managers strive to keep fewer than 20 keywords per ad group. Although it’s entirely up to you and the structure of your account, the primary concern is relevance. If you have 45 keywords in an ad group, how well is the ad copy speaking to each and every term? Although keyword level URLs assist in landing page relevance, it’s imperative to consider how relevant your creative is, for both quality score and user experience. This should provide a clear guiding hand to your keyword distribution.

 

Should I have different match types in different ad groups, campaigns?

This is ultimately a personal preference while balancing your management needs and capabilities. I prefer to segment match type by campaign, as it allows for greater spend-to-query control. Others prefer to keep all the same content in a single campaign with ad groups split into BMM, Exact, etc. Both of these approaches take advantage of embedded negatives for additional control. And some managers still use the original method of putting all match type variations in a single ad group, often utilizing tiered bidding to push for exact matching.

 

How do I know if conversion tracking is working correctly?

My favorite approach to for this is utilizing extensions. The Google Tag Assistant for Chrome is easy to use and understand. It’s not perfect but it does quickly alert you to issues that are worth digging in to further. There’s also a Google Analytics Debugger extensions with provides a similar service focusing on GA tracking specifically. Similarly Facebook has rolled out the Pixel Helper extension, which can aid in diagnosing tracking for FB.

 

Does Google display network work?

In recent years, even months, I have become a believer in the impact of the GDN. Because Google’s focus has become so Intent-based, much of the audience targeting we use is at our fingertips in Display. The most success campaigns I’ve used (and the ones I recommend starting with) are the Display Select Keyword campaigns – which target sites that most frequently result in clicks that convert for your user audience – and Smart Display, which uses a Target CPA, automatic responsive ad, and general search indicators to find you your best traffic.

 

How often do you add negative keywords to an account?

A weekly review of a search term report can reveal specific inefficient queries, as well as general search themes with low-performing or irrelevant content. I’m also a strong proponent of keyword lists that can be applied across all campaigns, such as Current Events, Post-Conversion Language, or Brand Term variations (to be applied to all Non-branded campaigns).

 

What tools do you use for keyword research?

For quick ideas, I’d recommend the Google keyword tool, WordStream’s Niche Finder, WordTracker and search term reports.

 

Do Product Listing Ads work?

Shopping campaigns are an integral part an e-commerce businesses digital marketing strategy. Not only can you use them in Google and Bing platforms, but there are countless opportunities through social media as well as other ad exchanges. If you’re still not using PLAs, you are missing out on revenue every single day.

 

Should I bid on competitor’s brand names?

Many find success in doing this. CTR and Quality Score will likely be low on these terms but if your goal is to beat your competitors to the punch, this may be a good fit. A safe start to competitor bidding is focusing only on your remarketing lists, meaning they’ve looked at your site but they’re still shopping around. Use this opportunity to serve compelling ad copy with your best deals, pricing, or USPs before you lose the customer for good. Important: 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?

In a word, yes. If you’re in a highly competitive industry, you are potentially losing sales from others getting their ads above your organic listings. And if you are in a low-competition field, you may not see much activity, which means it didn’t do any harm.

 

Does Quality Score matter?

Usually. 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. Now that both Google and Bing are providing details on your QS’s attributes, it can be assumed that your attention to those details is that much more important.

 

How do I increase my Quality Score?

Bing and Google want you to have strong quality scores, particularly ad relevance, landing page congruence, and ad engagement. Increase your CTR by writing better ads, keep only the most similar keywords in an ad group as mentioned earlier in this post, ensure that the ad has the keywords you are bidding on in it, and be sure you’re sending users to a page with highly relevant content or products.

 

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. And don’t forget the back-end developments that may affect your bids, such as Enhanced CPC policy changes.

 

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2013 original post was brought to you by Jeff Allen, President at Hanapin Marketing!

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