The turkey, stuffing and potatoes came and went and as the last of green bean casserole is finished, it is time to admit we are in full holiday mode. Halloween barely left us and the stores already had trees, lights and wrapping paper overflowing into the aisles, but there is something about the constant holly jolly music in all of the stores that really spells out ‘tis the season. So, what does all of that mean for your PPC accounts? Depending on your products, services, etc. it may mean this is your busiest time of the year or for others, it could be that things are slowing down for year-end. If you have an e-commerce site or have products/services where this is your busy season, you are already in full swing and optimizing your campaigns daily to boost performance. If this isn’t the high season for your account, I highly recommend using this month to focus on an end of the year clean-up to make sure your account is in top shape for the New Year.

Where to begin? I have put together a list of to-do’s you can focus on this month to help improve the performance of your account.

1.     Refine account structure to make sure you are well organized. The PPC Hero team has written other posts going into detail on how to best structure your account but year-end is a good time to step back and see how it is working for you. Could your ads be more targeted if you moved some keywords into tighter ad groups? Do you have hundreds of keywords in each ad group? Do you have campaigns that cover all major areas of your website, products and services? Throughout the month work to re-structure a little at a time so you don’t throw everything off by doing a massive overhaul all at once. You might be surprised how the account changes just by moving a few keywords around.

2.     Review negative keywords to be sure you aren’t excluding something you shouldn’t. Throughout the year you likely add in negatives to the account based on search query reports, etc. If you share an account, that means other people are also adding in negatives and it is easy to add something that maybe later becomes a keyword. If that is the case, you could be excluding traffic that you actually want. As a best practice every couple of months, scan your list of negatives (very easy to do in the editor tools) and delete any that might be interfering.

3.     Segment your stats by Device & Network, you might be surprised what you find.  In Google you have the option to segment any of your data so you can see how much of your budget, clicks or conversions are coming from computers vs. mobile devices. Doing this can allow you to determine if you a) need to exclude mobile devices completely or b) get enough traffic from mobile devices that it is worth breaking out separate mobile campaigns. If you have a high spend from mobile devices that is not resulting in conversions, simply change the device setting on the setting tab. This can help improve your conversion rates along with your CPL as you are removing irrelevant traffic. If on the other hand you are generating quite a few conversions from mobile devices, you may want to create a duplicate version of the campaign just for the mobile audience. Doing this will allow you to better control bids, ads and keywords just for mobile devices. The same logic applies when you look at data by network as you may find that it is worth breaking out some of your campaigns into specific content targeted campaigns.

4.     Export all URLs to be sure tracking is in place and correct. Do this for all search engines to give yourself a once over on the entire account. By scanning every single URL together at one time, you can see if you missed adding analytics tracking and make sure everything is consistent in how it is tagged. For instance, if you have your MSN URLs tagged for Google analytics make sure they all say Bing instead of some with MSN and some with Bing which means the data would show up as a two separate sources in analytics.

5.     Conduct an ad review, pause under-performers, check landing pages and write completely new ads. This can take a little longer than the other steps, but it is worth doing a review to make sure that all of your landing pages are correctly aligning with the appropriate ad groups. It is easy to accidentally put the landing page about blue shoes in the red shoe ad group and doing an audit can allow you to pause those that are incorrect. Since you are looking at the ads anyway, make sure the messaging is correct for every ad group and pause any that aren’t performing as well. Also scan to be sure you don’t have any ads running for sales that are no longer in effect or that say “July sale” or similar time-sensitive language. This is also a great opportunity to add in at least one brand new ad into every ad group to spice things up a bit. Here are some ad writing best practices to make sure your ads are working hard for you.

6.     Add in new Keywords to help expand your account. While this is something you should be doing every month, you may not be doing a big research project to identify whole new campaigns and ad groups. Scan a Search Query Report and see what people are searching for. Also review analytics and see what terms people are coming to the site on. Remember that no matter what your business is, consumers and their environment constantly change and evolve. That means there are always new keywords that can be explored.

By taking the time to do a little housekeeping in your PPC account during what may be a slower month, you can be sure you will be ready to hit the ground running come January 1st.