The essential PPC checklist

Posted on 17/01/2019 by Team Hallam

When it comes to the management of PPC accounts, there are a million and one things that you could do in an effort to improve performances. It can certainly be overwhelming at first and you might not know where to start, but things get much more manageable when you establish a routine and follow a checklist. So here’s a handy blog which describes some weekly, bi-weekly, monthly and ‘ad-hoc’ tasks which I typically incorporate into my schedule.

Now, it’s important to note that each and every account is unique and therefore your tasks and priorities may change depending on the nature of the account. However, the checklist below is a really good starting point – put it this way, if I could travel back in time and give myself a checklist when I was a PPC newbie, it would be something like this.


GDN placements

If you’re running any display activity, it’s important to check through your “Where Ads Showed” report to make sure that you’re not wasting your budget. Unfortunately, the GDN is prone to malicious websites which are seemingly genuine but are actually hives for robots that click every ad possible. Pull the report every week or so, select the previous week’s time range and sort your placements by cost (highest to lowest). If anything seems unusual, such as high click-through-rates or conversion rates, then navigate yourself to the website in question and check whether it seems legitimate. If it’s not, then exclude it!

ppc checklist placement analysis

Negative keywords

You should always take a moment to think about potential negative keywords before setting up and launching any campaigns or ad groups, but what I mean in this instance is to regularly check through your “Search Terms” report. Every week, look back at the previous week’s worth of search terms and flick through them to spot any unwanted ad clicks or impressions. Once you’ve selected your outliers, it’s best to throw them into categorised negative keyword list and not to necessarily use the exact match type.

Ad status

This one’s pretty crucial. Make sure to spare a moment to check if all of your Ads are eligible to run. Within Google Ads, pull them all up by clicking on the “Ads & Extensions” tab at the account level and sort the “Status” column so you can immediately see if you have any Ads that need attention.

Keyword research

Take a look at your account’s “Search Terms” report to see if you can spot any relevant keywords that you’re not necessarily bidding specifically on. If you do, then throw them into your targeting mix. Equally, use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to try and find relevant keywords that you could start bidding on.

Keyword bids

Some of the most important things to check (if you’re not running an automated bidding strategy) are your keyword bids. If your account has a clearly defined goal such as a target Cost-Per-Conversion then you’ll want to ensure that your bids represent this target – some simple maths will sort this out for you. If your goals aren’t too clearly defined, then try and tweak your bids so that your keyword sustains a reasonable ad position, somewhere between position 2 and 4.



If you’re running several campaigns, then you’ll definitely want to make sure that you’re distributing your overall budget in the most sensible way possible. Say you had 2 campaigns that were reporting a “Limited by budget” status and your other 6 campaigns were not, then re-allocate budget from those that aren’t limited to those that are.

Impression share metrics

In light of tweaking bids and budgets, you may want to first take a look at the data represented in the following two columns “Search Lost IS (Budget)” and “Search Lost IS (Rank)”. These two metrics shed an awful lot of insight as to how your campaigns are performing within the competitive landscape. For example, if one of your campaigns is reporting a large percentage in the “Rank” column, then that indicates that the target market is relatively competitive, hence you may want to think about improving your Ad Rank.

ppc checklist is metrics

Match types

I’m sure you’re familiar with the different keyword match types that are available. Try experimenting with them – if you’re struggling to gain traffic through a particular keyword, switch it over to a full broad match. Equally, if you need to pull the reins in a little, then try phrase match or exact match.



I like to do this one halfway through each month. I take a look at the previous 30 days worth of data and figure out my acquisition metrics such conversion rates or ROI. I then assume that this will remain steady over the rest of the month and calculate where I may be at the end of the month. This will generally help you gauge the overall account’s performance which is always useful.


If you’re following Google’s best practices then you should have 3 or more ads per ad group – meaning that you’ll be cycling through creatives and will accrue data for each ad. On a monthly basis, compare the stats between your adverts and think about substituting the worst performing one. Make sure that your subs are well-founded and based on data.

Ad extensions

Ensure that your ad extensions are ticking along nicely and are in-date. It’s never a good idea to be promoting a “January Discounts” sitelink in the middle of March, advertising an inactive phone number via call extension or out-dated prices via price extensions.

Landing pages

One thing you’ll definitely want to check regularly are the response codes of your landing pages. You can quickly export all of your landing pages via the “Landing Pages” tab and pass them through a URL checker online. If you see any errors, make sure you pause all relevant activity until the issue is fixed. It’s also beneficial to run through your landing pages and ensure that they are the most suitable ones available to your Ads.

Ad-hoc (every other month or longer)

Auction insights

A personal favourite of mine is to produce a full auction insights report every other month. I take a complete look at the various competitors present and examine each metric to get a good idea of what I’m up against. As you gather this data, you can start producing a graph in excel for each metric which is extremely useful when it comes to discussing performance with clients or stakeholders.

Campaign settings

This task only needs to be done once every quarter or so. It’s important to audit your campaign settings to ensure that your campaign foundations are solid. Here’s a really handy tip: if you’re exclusively wanting to target users within a specific location, you’ll want to check your location options to ensure that your “Target” method is set to “People in your targeting locations” and not “People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations (recommended)”.

ppc checklist location targeting

Ad schedules

If your account has accrued a fair bit of data, I’d highly suggest that you pull a few reports which display the account performance against “Day of Week” and “Hour of Day”. You might find that there are some key segments where your ads really perform or really suck. Creating an Ad Schedule and adjusting bids based on the periods of time where performance rises or falls can be a really powerful technique.


Keeping tabs on which conversions you’re tracking will ensure that your conversion data is accurate. Flick through your conversion actions and make sure that they represent genuine goals which you’re ultimately trying to accomplish.

There you go, you’re now fully equipped and ready to manage your account efficiently.

If you need help with your Paid Media don't hesitate to contact us.

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