In the PPC world, things are constantly changing. With new products and features being introduced all the time, there’s a possibility that something can be missed or that something we intended to do has fallen through the cracks. For this reason, it’s important to periodically take the time to look through your accounts and ensure that you’re doing everything necessary for optimal account performance.

I periodically go through this process, as it’s a helpful way to find places where I might be able to make immediate improvements to my accounts. The items listed below are tasks that you can do today to find opportunities for optimizations.

Ad Extensions

Extend those ads! Though it might seem like one of the most basic PPC functions, I am continually surprised when I transition onto accounts that aren’t utilizing ad extensions or aren’t taking advantage to the fullest. Take a moment to go through your accounts and see if you’re using all relevant ad extensions in all of your campaigns. Many times, extensions are being used, but not across all campaigns. Or some extensions are being used, but not others.

Historically, performance improves when these extensions are in place, so it’s to our benefit to use them. It’s also important to remember that new extensions appear every now and again, such as structured snippets or the Cyber Monday holiday extension. Keep a close eye on what extensions your account is using – and if you’re not using them to the fullest, this is a great opportunity for performance improvement.

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Available AdWords extensions

Search Partners

Check out those partners. When creating campaigns in the search network, AdWords automatically opts you in to “Google search; Search partners.” Though we usually look at this setting as one thing, it’s a good idea to look at the partners separately, as they tend to perform differently than Google search.

Recently, I was managing an account where performance was consistently declining. Once I dug a bit deeper, I noticed that the search partners were suddenly generating a lot more traffic than usual. When I looked a level deeper, I noticed that the leads they were generating were poor quality. Once I opted out of search partners, account performance skyrocketed. That experience has led me to review search partner performance on all of the accounts I manage.

Location Settings

Location, location, location! Just like real estate, PPC advertising is all about the location. Depending on what we’re advertising, different location parameters can be set. Setting location targeting is basic, but you should check and make sure that it’s correct. But beyond that, have you recently taken a look at performance by location?

I recently worked with a client on a location bid modifier project and found that the locations that were generating leads at a good CPA weren’t always the same locations generating the actual sales. From taking that extra step and looking a bit deeper down the funnel, I was able to implement bid modifiers to the areas most likely to generate a sale, which was a higher priority for them than leads. Taking that step led to an increase in sales since we were able to bid up in areas most likely to convert. Also important to remember here is our ability to exclude locations. If the data is pointing you in that direction, it might just be a road you’ll want to take.

Opportunities Tabs

Opportunity Knocks! The Google and Bing interfaces both provide us with Opportunity tabs, but how often do you really look at them? If you’re anything like me, the answer is most likely not often enough. I’ll admit that part of the reason is because I usually find them to just be additional ways to encourage me to spend more money where I don’t actually need to. However, if you comb through the suggestions, you might just find a gem in there that can help improve account performance. Granted, you’ll also find a lot of suggestions in there that you probably won’t want to act on, but it’s a good move to pop in there periodically and review the suggestions.

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The Opportunities Tab in AdWords

Auction Insights

If you haven’t noticed, AdWords provides us with an option to view an Auction Insights report. I highly recommend that you take some time and look at this report, as it offers a wealth of information about the competition that might be impacting account performance. We can see metrics such as:

  • Impression share
  • Average position
  • Overlap rate
  • Position above rate
  • Top of page rate
  • Outranking share

I run these reports every few months as a way to assess whether competitors entered or exited the marketplace – and what impact that has on my account.

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Graph generated from Auction Insights report

Final Thoughts

Surely, these five steps are not the only tasks that you can do to improve account performance, but these are quick things that you can today to get the ball rolling and to get your mind focused on bigger optimization ideas. So take a few moments out of your day and try these tips out. You might just make a few small changes that make a big difference!