August 11, 2017
Whether you’re the most novice paid advertiser or a seasoned vet, the question “what do I do now” has likely come up numerous times. Maybe you feel that you’ve done all you can do and are stuck. Maybe you’ve been so busy driving strategy that daily/weekly account maintenance has fallen by the wayside. Maybe you’re working through the learning curves of managing your first PPC account. Either way, it is good to have a checklist of initiatives that you should be at least thinking about on a regular basis.
In this post, I have provided a quick list of the things I try and always think about. Each account manager and account will be very different. So, my list is broken down into more of a general scale with a few specific examples. Again, whether you are brand new to PPC or a paid advertising pro at a crossroads, this list should hopefully help organize your thoughts and get those PPC optimization gears turning.
The first on my list is search query reports. SQRs are among the most basic PPC optimizations, but they are still important. You can run these account-wide (but beware of an excel crash if your account is somewhat large). However, I prefer to break them down to the campaign-type level. More specifically, I find SQRs for DSA and Shopping campaigns to be the most beneficial. Obviously, they can help you arrive at negative keywords. However, on the other side, they are great for account expansion. DSA and Shopping SQRs can help advertisers uncover themes in their account that they would have never thought of. Here’s a tip on how to excel your search query reports.
Next is Shopping. Since we’ve already discussed SQRs, I’ll move right to bids. Depending on the size of your product line and how campaigns are organized, this could be a very tedious process. So, if you don’t have any sort of automated bidding in place (see “Bidding” section), consider a couple of things. If a product group/product is high-spending and non-converting, lower the bid or exclude it. On the other side, if you aren’t getting satisfactory traffic, make sure you’re bidding high enough to get your desired impression share.
Also, if a Shopping campaign has a large number of conversions, dive in and see what’s driving them. Often times you’ll find that a single product, or even product group, is driving the majority of conversions for a campaign that has multiple product groups. In this case, I will give that high-converting product group its own campaign and budget with a higher priority. Then, I will exclude it from its old campaign. This will allow greater emphasis on the higher performing product group and free up some budget for other products in the older campaign. If you have any further questions on Shopping, here is the complete Google AdWords Shopping campaign settings breakdown.
A popular item for search ads is split-testing, but I’ll refrain from regurgitating the same old A/B split, repeat. Instead, here are some other tips for ad optimization. For one, you can try setting up automated rules. They can be anything from emailing you when an ad has received 50 clicks, but not converted to pausing an ad that has over 100 impressions with no clicks. I’m not the biggest fan of fully automating, but their customizable nature can tailor to just about any account’s needs (even beyond ads). The second ad optimization you could consider trying is testing a different ad rotation. I haven’t fully bought into the “optimize for conversions” option, but it’s definitely worth a shot if your campaign is struggling.
There is a little less you can do with Display campaigns from a quick optimization or maintenance perspective. This is of course excluding audiences and targeting options, as that could be a post on its own. However, two things come to mind when I want to find quick wins in my display efforts. One is to cycle in new ad creative. Obviously, if it’s performing well there’s no need to update; but if conversions have dropped, try some fresh creative. The second is excluding placements. While we would like to think our targeting is always spot on, it is unrealistic to think we have complete control over where our target users go and furthermore, where our ads follow them. So, be sure to regularly keep a pulse on the high-spending/non-converting sites.
Ad extensions are probably forgotten the most often when it comes to optimizations, especially when schedules get busy. So first and foremost, ensure that all of your search campaigns are hitting as many extension types as possible (obviously within the realm of keeping them relevant). From there, just be sure to periodically check them and cycle in new extensions for those that aren’t performing as well. Finally, don’t forget that extensions can be a part of your promotion strategy. Sitelinks can be great for highlighting promotions, however, you can utilize the promotion extensions specifically for it as well.
Similar to SQRs, what kind of PPC checklist would this be if I didn’t include something on bidding? Similar to search ads, I have automated rules in place that help throw a flag on situations concerning impression share, average position, conversions, spend, etc. That essentially streamlines how I arrive at bidding decisions and I optimize from there. However, if you prefer more of an all-encompassing automation, with a little bit of research you can find numerous third party platforms or bid templates that automate nearly everything based on your goals.
Browse The Site
My final item on the checklist is better served in situations where you find yourself blanking on ideas, or in the rarer case when you are ahead on account initiatives. The actual site for the account you manage can be a great place to mine for new ideas and help drive strategy. By browsing the site, you could arrive at items like discovering certain new products/categories, new verbiage for ads, ad extension opportunity, discontinued products that are still showing ads, new keyword ideas, new audience ideas, and many others. Again, this is more general and less straightforward, but still an important element of any PPC checklist.
In closing, I realize this list is a little sporadic and generalized. However, as I previously mentioned, every advertiser and account will vary. So, my primary goal was to provide more of a high-level checklist that could serve as a foundation or starting point. From there, it can be customized to the specific situation. Feel free to follow-up if you have specific questions on any of the aspects of this checklist!