It’s that time of year again!   Time to develop our resolutions and plans to stick to them, in an effort to make each year better than the last.  There are several common resolutions but I think it would be safe to say most of us would probably like to tighten our belts, figuratively and literally.  Why not?  Weight loss generally signifies a healthier lifestyle and money is often a point of stress, so these two resolutions can bring a higher level of wellness.  Now ask yourself: wouldn’t you want the same for your pay per click account?  Follow this step-by-step guide to start the new year off right!

Analyze & Set Goals

The first step in achieving any resolution is to analyze your current situation.  What unhealthy habits do you have? Oh admit it, we all have a few.  What are you doing (or not doing) that is holding your pay per click account from being in tip top shape?  Perhaps you rarely change bids, or, on the contrary, you are an obsessive bid changer.  Perhaps, you have just gotten too comfortable.

Now, where do you want to be?  By looking at historical data and performance, set a reasonable goal that should be achieved by next year. (Then you can do this all again! See sentence number two!)  It generally helps to break down your large goal into smaller goals, over time.  So for instance you might want to have quarterly goals that build up to the overall annual goal.  Keep in mind that some things take more time than others.  Also, if you create goals based on click-through rate, you should separate out your content and search click-through rate, as the pausing or activating of a content campaign can have a huge effect on overall click through rate.

Track Your Progress

First things first, write those goals down!  Write them in ink, because there’s no turning back now.  Moving forward, you should document your progress, at least on a monthly basis, to ensure that you are headed in the right direction.  This will be especially beneficial if you have broken down your goals as discussed above.  Seeing the data on paper will also give you time to (and the knowledge to know that you need to) turn things around if you have a bad month.

Prepare to plateau

It is probably going to happen, it happens to the best of us.  There will most likely come a time when the things that you have been doing, are not working anymore.   Maybe, it has already happened.  I am probably going to make a few creatures of habit cringe when I say, “If it is not working, stop!”  Write that down alongside your goal.  If it is not a part of the solution, then it is a part of the problem.

Tighten Up Broad Match Keywords

Let’s be honest (we’re all friends here), your account could use some toning.  Tighten up those broad match keywords by adding modified broad match keywords to the account.  Broad match keywords will trigger an ad if the search query contains even just a part of the keyword.  Modified broad match keywords trigger ads only if all marked keywords are contained in the ad.  To mark a keyword, simply put a + in front of it.  For instance, if your modified keyword is cat shampoo, and you want to be sure both terms are in the query, you would make it +cat +shampoo.  The keyword will still function as a broad match, meaning that the keywords can be in any order along with other terms in the query, but at least you will not be getting impressions for people looking for human shampoo or cat litter.

Cut Out The Junk

This is essential to every weight loss strategy, including your pay per click account.  Detox your account by weeding out any keywords or ads that are not helping.  I repeat: if it is not part of the solution, then it is part of the problem.   As an account grows, it tends to pile up junk.  Imagine how your home would look if you never got rid of anything!  The issue many people run into with pay per click accounts, is how to determine what is trash and what is not.  Utilize Analytics and use data to back your decision.  If the keyword has not brought you any leads in a significant amount of time, then get rid of it.  If your account is not lead based, look at things like time on site, bounce rate, click through rate and quality score to make your decision.  I’d recommend pausing not deleting because if you pause it, you can turn it on at any time without losing your historical data.  Deleted items still show in Adwords anyway, so there’s no real advantage to deleting things over pausing them, unless you just don’t want them to accidentally be turned back on.

Clean Up Your PPC Accounts

Exercise (Judgement) Regularly

Ongoing account maintenance is crucial to the wellness of a pay per click account.  Run ad performance reports to determine which ads are not performing up to par; we typically run two to three ads at once in order to be able to pause underperformers without losing all historical data.  Do bid changes in order to maximize spend and leads.  Download the search terms that triggered your keywords in order to determine any negatives that you might need to add and find additional keywords that might be beneficial to the account.

It’s a Journey

Remember that your resolution is a journey not a destination.  (This post is just full of clichés, isn’t it?)  It stands true, however cliché it may be, that a healthy pay per click account takes ongoing attention and maintenance.  With each resolution, you will (you should) be pushing the limits of your account and, ideally, each year you will better your account.  Of course, over time you will also need to account for changes in competition (which may drive bids up) and in the value of leads, as well as other external factors.

I would love to hear any additional tips as well as resolutions, pay per click or otherwise, that you have set!

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