Sometimes everything is going well with your PPC campaign: your click-through-rate is increasing while your cost-per-click (CPC) is decreasing, your conversions are on the rise, and the ROI gods are smiling down upon you. Then things begin to tank. For some reason your performance takes a nose dive, or at least it slips noticeably, and you have not made any major changes to the campaign that would make this happen. You need to pull up quickly to get your campaign back in a holding pattern. There are numerous ways to fix a campaign that is in a tailspin but here are three gauges we check when we lose cabin pressure:

Check your Content Match stats: In Google, Yahoo, and MSN, content match can be volatile. We have had instances where Google has added a new distribution channel (or a new website will begin distributing content ads) and we’ll see a dramatic increase in impressions, clicks and cost. Or the opposite can happen: a distribution channel will drop Google content ads and your traffic will decrease sharply.

Check your current ad position: A new competitor may have entered the field and bumped your ad. We have had ads hold steady in their optimal position for months and then one day we may not even be on the first page of search results. Or the opposite can happen: a competitor can pause their campaign, or drop out of the race completely, and your ad may see a rise in ad position, which can have negative effects on your ROI.

Check your ad testing: When was the last time you rotated your split-test ad variations? Within your high-traffic ad groups, make sure that all your active ad texts are performing well, and pause those variations that are not.

If your campaign’s performance suddenly drops, remembering to check these three gauges first could save you time in recovery. However, if none of these are causing your campaign’s deflation, then you’ll have to dig further into your account. And that is a whole other post for another day.