Whether you are a seasoned PPC marketer or a business trusting your Google Ads to an agency, you should always be looking for ways to improve your PPC campaigns. Even when everything feels perfect, you have to wonder: are there any loose ends?
Throughout my career, I have audited 100s of PPC accounts, and I always start with a top-down approach – diving into the campaign and adgroup structure and settings all the way down into small details surrounding bid adjustments, exclusions, audience segmentation and messaging.
The curious thing I’ve found in all of my audits is that there are some very common issues that are very easy to fix. I’ve found many, if not all, of these issues in accounts managed by great PPC agencies – and in many cases, it’s only because the people managing the accounts were so focused on the very down and dirty details, that they missed some high-level, not-often-fiddled-with-things that they could fix in mere seconds. So, what are the top issues?
Spending on the Search Partners Network Without Results to Back It
I’m not saying the Search Partner Network is bad, but it doesn’t perform well for all accounts. Sometimes it’s only low-spend but is still sucking up budget that could go to the Google Search Network instead. To view your account’s performance on the Search Partner Network, log in to Google Ads, head to the Campaigns tab, click “Segment” and click “Network (with Search Partners)”.
If you find Search Partners isn’t performing well for select campaigns, go into the Campaign Settings to remove it so that your search campaigns are only eligible to show on the Google Search Network. This can be an easy fix to lower cost-pers and increase conversions.
Irrelevant Traffic is Pulling Down Your CTR & Driving Up Your Costs
Almost all PPC managers are reviewing the Search Terms reports (commonly called SQRs or Search Query Reports) on a regular basis to ensure keywords aren’t matching to irrelevant searches. The problem though, is that most are only doing this for a short window of time (weekly, monthly, etc.) To make sure you address ALL the poor-performing queries you are matching to, go to the Keywords tab (your choice if you want to drill down to Campaigns or Adgroups first, or none at all) and click on “Search Terms”.
Set the date range to view “All Time” or even a year’s worth of data. By using the filters, you can search for different queries that might be pulling down results. You can try:
Search terms with spend more than $X with 0 conversions
Search terms with a ROAS (conv value / cost) lower than X
Search terms with impressions or clicks more than X and 0 conversions
As you go through the data – negate, negate, negate! If you notice themes of poor performers, such as lots of low or non-converting search terms containing: jobs, careers, free, warranty, customer service, phone number, employee names, etc. – create a Shared Negative list and negate these queries from all campaigns on a more inclusive negative match type.
Bids are WAY TOO High on Brand Terms
In an effort to secure our brand terms, and make sure that our competitors’ ads never rank above ours, we often set fairly high brand bids at launch. We might even hike these up based on what we’re seeing in our Auction Insights report or during specific seasons. The tricky part is knowing when the threat is over and when to pull those bids back down.
To best understand how your brand terms are ranking, navigate to your brand campaigns and add in columns for average position and Impression Share, as well as Search Impression Share Lost to Budget (IS Lost to Budget) and Search Impression Share Lost to Rank (IS Lost to Rank). What you want to see is that you are in position 1 and getting nearly 100% impression share. Most accounts we’ve seen hit about 98-99%. If you are losing impression share more significant than that, reference the “IS Lost to” columns you added to determine the cause.
If you are getting high impression share and have an average position of 1, drill down to your keywords and see if your bid is significantly higher that your average CPC. Is it? If so, try pulling that bid down gradually over the next couple of days or weeks. Start small in increments of maybe 5%, to ensure you aren’t impacting what is likely an important keyword for your account. Over time, you should see average CPCs drop accordingly. You know what you did just there? You just lowered your CPC to get more bang (clicks) for your buck (budget)!
You Haven’t Set Your Device Bid Adjustments Properly
When is the last time you reviewed performance by device? By running a report on device performance, you can see if certain devices are overspending and/or under-performing. With a few simple bid adjustments, you can pull back from devices that are underperforming and reallocate to the devices that are your rockstars.
To view your Device report, login to Google Ads, and navigate to the Device tab. You can filter by Campaign or Adgroup and make bid adjustments right in the interface. Another way I like to do this is by going to the Campaigns tab, and segmenting by Device (similar to what we did in #1). Though you can’t bid adjust directly from here, when you sort by different columns, you aren’t sorting by device, but instead by the campaign, which allows you to look at your data different ways, including by spend, conversions, etc. For me, this is more actionable.
After reviewing your report, were you surprised? Was mobile doing terrible? Did you even know you could adjust by TV Screens???
Ad Copy Fails
This seems like a no-brainer, but it isn’t always. Lots of accounts have ads that are tried and true and have been around through many account transitions, constantly carried over from one build to the next. One easy thing I like to do is export all current ad copy and run a spellcheck. Also, try reading through the ads in detail, maybe with a morning cup of coffee to keep you on high alert.
You’d be amazed at the things I’ve found!
The most recent one (actually NOT caught with spellcheck, but by just taking a good hard look) was that many ads in an account I was reviewing said “Free Shopping” instead of Free Shipping. Having a teensy misspelling likely isn’t a cause for low CTRs or CVRs, but, it’s an easy mistake to fix – and the grammar gods will appreciate it. Another common mistake is when PPC Managers are doing a “find and replace” they often miss a space or add an extra period. All tiny things, but things worth fixing!
Optimizing and improving is a never-ending game for the PPC Marketer, and this list could have run into the 100s with different potential fixes. But, seriously, these are SO EASY. Comment below and give us your five easy fixes!
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