Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising remains an effective way to grab the attention of your target audience and drive them back to your site so they can engage with your products and services.
Obviously, the higher your ads appear to the top, the more likely that someone will click on that ad.
That said, just getting the click isn’t the goal.
Getting a click that results in a sale, phone call, or lead is the goal.
In order to ensure the best opportunity for success, it is incredibly important to establish some sort of regular daily cadence or task list for your PPC campaigns.
While the rise in AdWords automation is helping with some, here are three PPC tasks that you should be doing every day to ensure nothing in the account is broken.
1. Check Your Key Performance Indicators
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are an important metric to help marketers determine the effectiveness of many different kinds of campaigns.
When you decide to invest in PPC, you need some way of measuring the performance of your ads, or you’re just throwing away money without knowing whether your campaign is working.
The types of KPIs that you choose to prioritize will depend on your marketing goals.
Some of the most common types of KPIs for PPC campaigns include:
- Number of clicks: This KPI tells you how many people actually clicked on your ad, which gives you a good idea if your ad is grabbing people’s attention. Clicks won’t always give you a full picture of how well your ads are doing, but they are an important piece of the puzzle.
- Click-through rate: This KPI is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the total number of impressions (views). There are different sweet spots for click-through-rates based on your industry.
- Cost per click: This measures the amount of money you’re spending on your ad campaign based on how many people click on that ad. It is calculated by dividing the total amount you paid for a campaign by the number of times someone clicked on the ad. It’s a good way for you to determine whether your budget for that campaign was too high, too low, or just about right. A good rule of thumb is to check in on your brand CPCs. If you see a spike there, it can negatively affect performance.
- Conversion rate: This measures the number of conversions that were directly generated by your ads. It is calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the total number of clicks.
These are just a few KPIs that are important in a PPC campaign.
Checking through these numbers on a daily basis can help you see if there are any outliers like a sudden surge of clicks or higher conversion rates on a particular day.
2. Review Your Negative Keyword List
One of the best ways to attract more clicks is to make sure that the language of your ads optimizes the most appropriate keywords for a search.
But when you’re running a PPC campaign, it’s equally important that you create and monitor your negative keyword list.
If you fail to include a negative keyword list on their campaigns, it can seriously dent the ROI for your ads.
Let’s say you’re selling shoes online.
You will want to include keyword variations that include gender, intent-based queries (e.g., “buy” and “on sale”) and qualifiers (e.g., “running”).
But what if you wanted to exclude higher-volume, lower converting terms (e.g., “womens shoes”).
In the below example, you can see how excluding terms based on match type will impact your ability to target specific types of keywords:
By creating a list of negative keywords, you’re telling search engines that these are not relevant words for your business and that your ads shouldn’t show up when people conduct searches using those words.
You should review your negative keyword list daily because search behavior changes regularly.
Make sure your list is updated to avoid spending money on ads that show up in front of people who aren’t part of your target audience.
There are two quick ways to find potential negative keywords:.
Popular Search Terms
The new ‘Searches’ card in Google AdWords will highlight the most popular words and phrases driving traffic to your site.
Click the Words tab for an even more granular look.
In this example, we discovered two potential negatives to include in the campaign:
Knowing which keywords a majority of searchers are using to find your website can help you both add valuable new keywords, and create lists of negative keywords you discover to be irrelevant.
Search Query Reports
Google’s Search Query Reports will give you the most comprehensive way to check for negative keywords that you may need to add to your list.
While getting this granular may not be a daily task, if you see some warning signs (like those in the previous example) a dive into your search query report from the previous day may be warranted.
3. Review Your Daily Budget
Your AdWords average daily budget is not fixed, which means that as you review your campaigns daily, you can change that budget based on analyzing some key KPIs.
Combine that with Google’s daily budget change that increased daily budgets by 2x and you have a good reason to monitor this daily.
The most common application of budget management involves shifting across days of the week.
For example, if you notice that your ads are generating more traffic on a Wednesday, but are dead on a Monday, you may want to shift some of your budget to take advantage of what’s happening on Monday to maximize your ROI.
Ad Delivery Method
Reviewing your budget can also help you determine whether you need to change your ad delivery method.
AdWords has two types of delivery method:
- Accelerated delivery: This shows your ads earlier in the day and typically chew up your daily budget before noon. You can only choose accelerated delivery if you’re using AdWords’ automated bidding.
- Standard delivery: This displays your ads more evenly during the day. If you choose manual bidding, your campaigns automatically default to standard delivery.
Another quick check-in on your daily budget spending is how your budget is being spent across devices.
With the explosion of mobile, if not kept in check, the percentage of mobile spend compared to conversion can become skewed – essentially stealing your opportunities for desktop conversions.
Similar to the Popular Search Terms card, Google also has a “Device Type” card that will show differences across devices for clicks, impressions, and conversions.
Visually, this is a no-brainer to add to your daily budget checks.
Adaptation Is the Key to PPC Campaigns
When you launch a PPC campaign, one of the keys to success is making sure that you stay on top of KPIs, keywords and budget so that you can quickly determine if something is awry, and change how you’re approaching things.
The whole idea of PPC is to generate more quality visitors so they can turn into customers, but if you’re not performing daily reviews of your campaigns, a small problem can quickly snowball into a crisis.
Quality score is a complex metric because it is a basic but fundamental component of ad rank.
Optimizing for quality score is a best practice, except when it isn’t. A high quality score is a sign of account health, except when it isn’t. Like any other paid search “best practice,” it is only a best practice when it works in your favor.
Because quality score is a fundamental element of an account and has been widely written about, it is a focal point for many advertisers. While some of that is fair, some of the attention it receives is unnecessary.
More than a few people have reached out and asked how quality score can be improved in their account. My first inclination is to suggest they first ensure that a quality score improvement is going to help drive them closer to the business goals they hope to achieve.
The reality is that spending a lot of time and capital on increasing quality score doesn’t always pay off, as you will soon see.
Tie your account goals to business goals
To determine if something is “working,” you have to know whether or not it is contributing toward your goals. This is where things can get a little sticky.
Sometimes when I speak with people, increasing their quality score is their goal. If that’s the case, there may be a good reason — but I’d ask the account owner to dig into:
- What they ultimately hope to achieve with their AdWords account.
- Why it is that they want to increase quality score. Typically, the resulting answer to this question is something along the lines of “Because it’s a best practice.” Do you see where I’m going with this? I think this is the human version of Excel’s circular reference.
So let’s back up. Let’s step outside of the pay-per-click (PPC) account for a second and talk about business goals. Once those are written down, then we will write down PPC goals that support each of those.
Business goals are almost always something like: generate X number of leads at an acceptable cost, generate sales at X percent return on investment (ROI) or calculating return on ad spend (ROAS), and contribute to $X in revenue.
Quality score could possibly support one of the PPC goals, but there’s almost never a situation where it is a goal on its own because there is almost never a situation where it is a direct link to a corporate goal. I know. I said it. And I mean it! (Honestly, I can’t think of a single one.)
What you can learn from quality score
There are a lot of great insights that can be learned from quality score, most obviously:
- Landing page experience.
- Expected click-through rate.
Each item listed is important, even at the surface level, but, there’s more than meets the eye with these metrics. If your quality score is suffering due to relevance and your click-through rate still seems to suffer, there could be a deeper issue at play.
For example, it could be that the keywords you’ve chosen are too broad or don’t show enough intent and are being matched with queries that aren’t really the best fit.
This is pretty easy to dig into: Just look into the search terms report and make sure the terms are a good fit for your products and services. If there are just a few misses, it could be solved with negatives, but if the problem is widespread, you may want to rethink your keyword strategy.
When quality score matters
Quality score is an important metric, and it should still be evaluated as a potential optimization opportunity. For example, if one of your highest conversion-generating keywords has a low quality score, it would be reasonable to assume improving the quality score could improve the average cost per acquisition (CPA) on a high volume of conversions. That would be well worth your while!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you might find quality score so low it is impossible for a keyword to get any traction. It can be worthwhile to focus efforts on those terms, which could result in expanded reach.
In addition, if you find there seems to be a quality score issue at scale (click-through rate, for instance), that might indicate an area of opportunity that could have a wide-reaching positive impact without a high level of effort.
There are times quality score optimizations can have a real, substantial impact, it just isn’t safe to assume that is always the case.
When quality score can be detrimental
Quality score is pretty well refined, too. The search engines have spent a lot of time improving quality score, the supporting factors and providing insight into areas in which advertisers can improve.
However, that said, it isn’t perfect. Although the cues quality score looks for are good indicators, there are times they can be counterintuitive. While you may be marching toward an increase in quality score, you could be marching away from more important performance metrics.
There are a few ways this can happen, even with the best of intentions. Here’s one: Ads with dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) often show increases in click-through rate over those ads that don’t have DKI, but that doesn’t always mean the ad is better quality.
Although the click-through rate (CTR) may increase, conversions may not. At that point, if you were basing your performance purely on CTR and quality score, it would be considered a win. However, if you were basing your results on performance against business goals, an increased cost per lead with no increase in conversions wouldn’t be considered a win.
This is just one example of many where making an increase in quality score your primary goal can come to the detriment of more important performance indicators.
Should that scare you away from making quality score optimizations when needed? No! It should only serve to illustrate why quality score shouldn’t be the primary account goal.
When optimizing for quality score isn’t the best use of time
There are times quality score optimizations just aren’t likely to have a worthwhile impact on your keyword’s performance. For example, if your keyword meets any of the following criteria, quality score optimizations aren’t likely to have a big impact:
- If the keyword is low-volume for any reason aside from quality score.
- If the keyword is already getting a decent amount of traffic that doesn’t convert well. There may be other optimizations that could help solve this, but quality score isn’t likely the best starting point.
- The keyword already has a relatively high quality score, even if not a full 10.
To optimize or not to optimize
The goal of this post wasn’t to suggest no one should ever optimize for quality score — in fact, you should! But, at some point, you will likely have to prioritize some account optimization efforts over others, and your quality score optimizations should be prioritized based on their likelihood to impact your account and business goals.
As we’ve seen from my examples above, there are times optimizing for quality score can come at the expense of other key performance indicators, which becomes an unjustifiable risk.
The most important thing is to always benchmark your performance against relevance, landing page experience and expected click-through rate as they apply to your business. Any optimization made to improve quality score should do just that, but without taking away from your primary goal.