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The actionable PPC checklist that will help you boost performance

Posted on 6th March, 2020 by Martin Topping

Google Ads

Are you just starting out with Google Ads? Or, have you been managing an account for a while but don’t seem to be able to move the needle and improve performance without upping your budget? Well, this actionable checklist is for you. As well as helping you to boost the performance of your campaigns, this checklist will also help you establish good management practices that will help you get the best return from your investment.

Conversion tracking setup

The first thing to check when you are looking for ways to improve the performance of your Google Ads or other PPC campaigns is that conversion tracking has been set up correctly. Warning signs that your tracking may not have been implemented correctly include:

  • Click count and conversion count almost identical
  • High conversion rates and conversion numbers despite low enquiries or sales
  • Very low conversion rates and numbers despite high site sales or enquiries

Any of the above scenarios are often caused by tracking code being incorrectly installed on your website. Conversion tracking code should be placed on pages that appear following a conversion action that you want to track. E.g. On an ecommerce website conversion tracking should be in place on the order confirmation page and not on the shopping cart. For service-based businesses, conversion tracking can be added to a thank you page which is reached following an enquiry.

Once you are confident that your conversion tracking is in place and is working correctly you can use the following checklist to help you improve performance and boost the profitability of your campaigns.

Weekly PPC Tasks

These tasks are focused on core checks that you should be carrying out at least once a week to help keep your campaign performance on track.

Bid changes

For those still using manual bidding take the time to review your keyword and ad group bids. Pay attention to keywords that have a high spend but no conversions and look to either pause these or investigate why their performance is poor.

Check budgets

Are your campaigns hitting their daily budget each day? How is your budget spread across different campaigns? Is one campaign constantly running out of budget while another never uses its daily budget? Run a report at the start or end of each week and analyse how your budget is being used. Re-allocate budget based on campaigns that are converting at a higher rate or have a higher conversion value.

Pause poor performers

Look back over the data for the past month or longer and see if there are any ad groups, keywords or adverts that aren’t working for your business. Pause poor performing keywords and ad groups but only do this once you have enough data to show they are not adding value for your business.

Analyse key metrics

Spend and conversions are two of the most important metrics when it comes to optimising for performance so make sure you run a weekly report to see if these are on track to meet your forecasted predictions.

Fortnightly Tasks

Next up are the tasks that you should be carrying out each fortnight and these take a deeper dive into your campaign.

Advert review

Machine learning and automation are all well and good, but we’d always advise having at least three expanded text adverts for each of your ad groups. This will allow you to pause the underperforming variants and create new versions to continue your split testing and optimisation process.

Negative keywords

Start by running a search query report for your campaigns to help you find irrelevant search terms that have generated campaign clicks. Not only will adding these as negative keywords help improve your click through rates, but they will also stop unwanted traffic from wasting your ad budget.

Expanded keywords

Using the data from your search query report don’t forget to look for keyword opportunities to add new exact and phrase match keywords that you may want to target. You should also look at your current keywords and ad groups to see if these could be split out further to further improve performance.

Check impression share

Your impression share gives an idea of how frequently your adverts are appearing in auctions. For campaigns that are limited by budget, then a low impression share will highlight just how many searches you are missing out on. If increasing the budget isn’t an option, then you need to look at making your keyword match types more focused as well as pausing high-cost and low performing keywords.

Monthly Tasks

Your weekly and fortnightly checks will take the bulk of your time and are an important part of getting the best out of your PPC campaigns. On a monthly basis, there are a couple of checks which will help you towards your goals.

Landing pages

Where traffic lands on your website can have a big impact on how your campaign performs. Identify poor performing pages by running a Final URL report to see the bigger picture of how your different landing pages are performing. Where possible create new variations of poor performers and use A/B or multivariate testing to help you create better versions of your landing pages. Its not just poor performers that you should split test, improvements can be made on all your landing pages to help you convert more customers at a lower cost.

Check campaign settings

From location targeting and languages to devices and networks, there are a lot of campaign settings that can drastically affect how your campaigns run. If you are making lots of changes to your campaigns on a monthly basis then it always pays to double-check that your overall campaign settings are as they should be.

Geographic performance

Geographic targeting should be used on all campaigns and running a geographic performance report will help you identify strong locations as well as weak areas for your campaigns. You then have the option of excluding areas and locations that aren’t profitable or adding bid modifiers to reduce your bids for these areas with the goal of making them more cost-effective.

Date and time analysis

Do your campaigns perform better on certain days and specific times? Get an idea of when your most profitable times are using the ad schedule report to see when your campaigns generate the most impressions, clicks and conversions. Optimise your ad schedule to reflect this and don’t forget to use the hour and day section to fully customise your schedule.

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