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If you are running search Ads there are three areas you need to be keeping a close eye on. These areas can help unmask the true performance of your campaign. Running a particularly large campaign? it’s so easy to lose sight of the full picture. Let’s dive straight in.

1. Let’s strip away branded searches

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been told PPC is ‘so profitable to us’, ‘we get £3-4 for every £1 spent’. When I’ve delved into the data and stripped away people searching for their brand, some campaigns don’t turn any profit. This data view is rife within agency management to inflate ROI, here is how you unravel it:

  • You need to spend some time familiarising yourself with how the account is setup. A common structure is to have brand as a campaign or ad group. Sounds like your account setup? You’ll also need to check your brand is a negative keyword on all other campaigns. Head over to Google Analytics and you can either create a filter view or the below (crude) guide:
    • Acquisition > Google Ads > Campaigns
    • See the search box and the word ‘advanced’ click it.
    • In the green Dimensions box, Campaign / Campaign ID (if not ad group).
    • Ensure word before is changed from Include to Exclude
    • Ensure word after says Containing
    • Start to type the Campaign name and click it
    • Apply
    • Your data is now without branded search terms, like the look of that ROI?

  • Some accounts don’t have a brand ad group or campaign, which can cause real problems. Some accounts use phrase and broad match which can often set several campaigns fighting to show for your brand term. If your account structure is setup this way, the instructions are slightly different (below). You can also use this to validate the steps above too, head to Google Analytics:
    • Acquisition > Google Ads > Keywords
    • Click on the word advanced near search box
    • Change include to exclude
    • Keyword should be in Green
    • Containing should be after green box
    • type in brand term to remove from data

A caveat to brand searches

I’d like to caveat the brand search exclusion with something called attribution. This is very important because there needs to be some context. If you can imagine you have a business called Paul’s Bodybuilding and you sell protein powder. Attribution could suggest someone hits your site via searching for protein powder, shops around but remembers your name and then searches Paul’s Bodybuilding. Protein Powder keyword would not spin a good ROI but drove a sale. You can switch up and create attribution models to validate this with last click vs. first click attribution. Perhaps a future blog post, attribution models (exciting!).

2. The fiddly bits

The auction environment around PPC has changed drastically over the years. I can remember putting a CPC against a keyword and that was it, you’re up against a competitor and their Quality Score. Now we’re bidding on keywords, on a certain day, device, time to a specific gender, age group, affinity list or behaviour trait. This is a key consideration because significant gains are made by optimising the fiddly bits. It’s also a symptom of lazy management or not having the time to really probe the account. Where do you find the fiddly bits? (Not a technical term nor a question you should repeat to anyone).

  1. Devices, are you adjusting bids for each device? Or better still, creating campaigns based on the device?
  2. Time of day, day of the week and combination bidding. As a rule of thumb with this, spend the budget at the best chance of conversion. If a phone call is a conversion then ensure your budget is spending at a time someone is available to answer. Data can drive this.
  3. Locations, don’t forget about granularity. This is such an important efficiency tool, trends do emerge and also you need to think about this logistically. Is the Scottish highlands really your ideal shipping destination?

What else to look for?

Another symptom of bad management is major swings in bid adjustments. Let me explain how I spot these, I see 50-95% increases or decreases I’m worried. What is so prolific that has caused this? Perhaps they are looking at too short of a window to make a ‘point of significance’ decision. They can see a bad week for mobile and can only log in once per week, let’s act now and save budget but could be seasonality. Problematic areas of the campaign can be excluded but can often be brought out into a new campaign with a new conversion journey. It can also help shape UX if you are having a hard time attracting a certain demographic.

3. Using an agency? Here is a button you need to click.

Every single time I log into a Google Ads account I always see something that needs tweaking, it’s inevitable. Be that 5p more here, 10% decrease there, new ad headlines and so on. You need to be on top of the account, from a daily 5 minute check in to a weekly performance breakdown. You can track this very easily, it’s probably an underrated part of Google Ads.

When you log into your account you should see something along the left hand side called Change History. Occasionally you may need to increase the view with the plus button to see it. Viewing the Change History without going into an Ad Group or Campaign you can see all changes which can be filtered too. You need to see frequency here, are regular changes being made? The account may work in June, it’s July now, consumer behaviour may have changed. It’s very easy to leave a performing campaign to run but it quickly becomes obsolete.

There are some clever agencies who adopt scripts to make regular changes, be conscious of this too. An easy way to catch scripters out is to see what has been changed by the script, call them and ask them about it. If they don’t know then it’s probably a script!

Want a second opinion on your PPC campaigns?

You can read more on my PPC Freelance services, or if you want me to take a look at your campaign, get in touch here.

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