Paid Search (PPC)

It's easy to get so engrossed with the complicated side of paid advertising that something really simple can pass you by. Why not take a step back and do a quick common sense check now and then? You'd be surprised how simple mistakes can slip unnoticed and hinder your account over time!

Checking Matched Search Queries

In search advertising, you can see exactly what query people searched for to trigger your advert online.

Google AdWords displays all matched search queries within the keywords tab [Campaigns > Keywords > Search Terms] or alternatively you can find this information within Google Analytics [Acquisition > AdWords > Search Queries]:

search-queries-adwords

Search Terms in Google AdWords

search-queries-ga

Search Queries in Google Analytics

The next step is to simply Google all of these search queries and see what appears, starting with the ones which have cost the most in advertising spend so far. Here you can often spot keywords which are unrelated such as:

  • Names of other unrelated products or services (this happens with product codes a lot)
  • Names of other businesses (many smaller businesses have services or product names within their titles)
  • Names of celebrities, historic figures, people in power, etc.
  • Common misspellings or words which are difficult to spell (search engines also act as a dictionary)
  • Problem searches such as how-to guides, instruction manuals, spare parts, local helpers, etc.
  • Searches related to used items, when you only sell new items (or vice-versa)
  • Searches related to cheap services or products, when you offer premium products(or vice versa)

Make sure you check the search results but more importantly the image results for these search queries as these quickly show you if the search term is related or not:

Some keywords have mixed intent such as "toy dog" shows real dogs and stuffed toy dogs together!

Some keywords bring up mixed results, such as “toy dog” which shows real dogs and stuffed toy dogs together! Advertising based on this keyword could have a much lower than expected conversion rate.

If any search queries do bring up irrelevant results, add them to the negative keyword list and advertising spend will no longer be wasted. You can typically save over 10% of wasted costs with this technique and it only takes a couple of hours to do.

Checking All Ad Destinations

With large AdWords accounts, there might be hundreds of ad destinations (final URLs) pointing to hundreds of different landing pages. As most websites are constantly changing, it’s easy for a landing page to suddenly become obsolete or provide a poor experience for users.

To see all ad destinations in Google AdWords, you should first pick a recent date range (such as the past 30 days) and visit [Campaigns > Ads]. Then ensure that you only have enabled ads showing and filter them out by approval status and impressions as shown below:

ad-checking-urls

Now you can export them into a spreadsheet using the download option shown below:

download-ads

Pro Tip – If you’re good with spreadsheets, you can remove all the duplicate URLs in the Final URL column to provide a handy list of all the unique URLs:

duplicate-urls

Want to be even more efficient? You can open all ad URLs in different tabs using a plugin or a website such as URLOpener.com, which works easiest using the Firefox browser. Simply press [CTRL/CMD + W] to kill each tab once checked, this way you can get through hundreds of URLs in a few minutes.

You’ll want to change the ad if the landing page has any of the following qualities that will harm conversion rates:

  • Poor selection of products or services
  • Incorrect products or services shown
  • Broken web page templates or error messages
  • Mobile version of the website shown to desktop users (or vice versa)
  • URLs with slow or numerous redirects to other URLs
  • Slowly loading web pages due to lack of caching, large file sizes, etc.
Don't pay for traffic which leads to an empty web page

Don’t pay for ads which lead to an empty or poorly converting web pages

Checking the Campaign Settings

The campaign settings can be often be overlooked after an account is run over a long period of time, which can lead to issues or missed opportunities.

When new campaigns are created, it’s easy to miss out a setting, or forget to copy campaign settings from an existing campaign, so it’s well worth checking them now and then.

Begin by checking the main campaign settings at a glance for all active campaigns by visiting [Campaigns > All Campaigns > Settings > All Settings]:

campaign-settings

With the list of common campaign settings you can easily spot the odd one out and correct it.

Some other settings are best viewed within individual campaign settings, such as location targeting and ad scheduling, as they can be quite messy otherwise.

When looking at an individual campaign’s settings with AdWords ensure that “All Features” are turned on within the campaign type and take these settings into account:

  • NetworksGoogle Search Partners can either be beneficial or a burden for a campaign, check the statistics and decide whether to keep it or not
  • Device bids – Users often convert at different levels on desktop, mobile and tablet devices, so lower bids accordingly on these devices
  • Target locations – Ensure that the right areas of the world are covered and also break up locations so they can have more accurate bid adjustments
  • Location target options – Do you want people outside the target location to see your ad if they mention your location within the search query or not? Are there any areas you really don’t want to target (for example areas you cannot deliver to)?
  • Languages – Do you want to target all languages or just English speakers for example? Don’t forget that more than one language is often spoken in countries throughout the world
  • Bid strategy – Are you in control of all bids, or is there any automation? This may affect budgets being used up too quickly and bids being too high or too low for CPA or ROI targets
  • Budget – Is the budget per day too small to show the ads 100% of the time? Perhaps a shared budget would be more effective or most of the budget could be used on the top performing campaign
  • Delivery method – If there’s a limited daily budget, are ads shown as quickly as possible or evenly over the day?
  • Ad scheduling – Are ads set to show 100% of the time throughout each week? Is there a time when bid adjustments could be made to increase or reduce bids (such as when customer phone lines are active/inactive)?

We often see paid search accounts that have been running for years with an issue or two within the different campaign settings. A simple check of all these settings, backed up by web tracking statistics, can make a huge difference in identifying problems and opening up new opportunities to get more from the paid ads.

Use different bid adjustments for different demographic areas of your country

Use different bid adjustments for different demographic areas of your country

Conclusion

Some quick common sense checks can make all the difference when it comes to paid search advertising accounts. Every now and then go back to basics on the account, or even better, ask someone else to check it over since they’ll have a fresh pair of eyes to spot anything amiss.

One response to “Common Sense Checking for Paid Search Advertising”

  1. Thank you for your work on the blog! You’re doing a good job!

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