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How to Spot Problems in Your AdWords Campaign in a Minute

White Shark Media

12 years ago

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Most advertisers will find themselves spending hours going through their Google AdWords campaigns trying to figure out what is wrong with their performance.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you know exactly what areas to look at when auditing your campaigns, it shouldn’t take more than a minute to see what can be improved.

In the online marketing world, time is precious, this is why I will show you a set of metrics in Google AdWords that will tell you almost immediately what is wrong with your account and how to fix it.

Important Metrics to Consider

These are the key areas I usually review to get a quick feel for an AdWords account:

  1. Budget

  2. Clicks and Impressions

  3. Click-Through-Rate (CTR)

  4. The Search Terms Report

  5. Conversion Tracking

  6. Conversion Rate

  7. Cost Per Conversion

  8. Network Settings

  9. Segments

  10. Quality Score

1) Budget: Is Your Budget Limiting Your Performance?

Budget is the fuel of your campaign, the lower the amount you are willing to spend the fewer the miles you will be able to run. Besides the amount, utilizing your budget properly is extremely important. Check your daily budget periodically and see if you’re meeting your budget, or maybe even exceeding it.

Besides your campaign status, the other way to check how much of your budget you are spending is using the toggle graph. You will be able to hover your mouse over the graph and see if you have gone over the budget which most likely will result in your ads not being shown throughout the day.

Ads not being shown throughout the day due to budget constraints is one of the biggest mistakes made by small business AdWords accounts. Unless you’re deliberately bidding so that you’re not being shown throughout the day, then the best approach would be to find the optimal cost-per-click and ad position that allows you to show all day long.

2) Clicks and Impressions: No Traffic is a Terrible Thing

Do you remember that movie “28 Days Later…”? I remember that scene where actor Cillian Murphy goes outside and walks down the street, and he finds himself in an empty city of London. Can you imagine how creepy and sad that was? Well, that is exactly how I feel when my campaigns do not get enough clicks.

How I feel when my campaigns don't get enough clicks.

Every advertiser is interested in growing their business and being as profitable as possible, but the only way this will happen is if you are reaching your audience.

The healthy amount of clicks and impressions expected will vary depending on your budget and industry cost per click. However, the goal with traffic is to get as many visitors as you can, meaning the audience we are reaching is enough, displaying more than 100 impressions a day and CTR is higher than 1%. This means people are interested in our Ads and are clicking on it. And how many clicks do we need? If we do simple math this is 10 clicks a day although the more the merrier.

Review your bids to appear in top positions and modify your campaign settings to make sure that you are reaching your targeted audience.

3) CTR: The Goal Is to Keep It above 1%

CTR is a big indicator of a campaign’s success when the campaign is not tracking any conversion metric.

Click-through-rate is the number of times an ad is clicked upon divided by the times that it’s been viewed or the number of impressions it has received. If the account’s CTR is less than 1.0% it could be due to:

  • Irrelevant ads for your keywords

  • Too many keywords per ad group

  • Being opted in to the Display Network

  • Keywords are too broad

4) Search Terms Report: What is Going On Behind the Scenes?

The wrong selection of keywords and match types can be like ripping a hole in your pocket and letting the money drain out of it. Check your Global Search Terms Report to see what search terms are triggering your keywords.

One worded broad match keyword will particularly bring in a lot of irrelevant traffic if you are not adding the right amount of negative keywords. Even long-tailed keywords can be triggered by similar terms with a completely different meaning.

In this case, you can create a list of negative keywords to combat the irrelevant traffic.

List of negative keywords - White Shark Media

5) Conversions: What Are You Measuring?

Conversions will track whenever the desired action on your website has been performed. This will help you make effective decisions about where your money should be invested and what settings should be used to optimize the campaign.

AdWords conversion tracking - White Shark Media

Make sure that the tracking codes are installed correctly, that they work, and that the action measured is the one that will guarantee your campaign’s success.

Make sure that at least a test has been completed immediately after the conversion tracking code has been installed on your website to verify that this code works. If Conversion tracking is not possible, setting up goals in Google Analytics is also an option.

6) Conversion Rate: Why Are You Not Converting?

The amount of conversions you receive is an important factor to measure during your optimizations and to decide where to invest the most. You should always go for the highest conversion rate.

A low conversion rate also means a high cost per acquisition so your efforts should help to reduce this cost as well.

  • Increase your bids on top-performing keywords to invest your budget on what is really worth it.

  • Include more keyword variations from the most common relevant search terms on your report, such as “beachfront property for sale”, instead of just “beachfront properties.”

  • Create a new AdGroup dedicated to top-performing search terms to create relevant Ads and increase CTR.

  • If your CTR is high, this means that the landing page is not converting so you can test a different page while the changes are being made, or if a dedicated landing page is created.

7) Cost Per Conversion: A Key Factor to Increase ROI

As I mentioned above, a low conversion rate also means a high cost per acquisition so it does not matter how many clicks you are getting and how many of those are converting, if the cost invested to get those leads or sales is higher than the return over the investment then you have to make an effort to reduce this cost.

Focus your adjustments on lowering this cost by using a lower bid and reduce the amount of irrelevant traffic with negative keywords, different keyword match type, or campaign settings.

8) Review and Update Your Network Settings

Always check what your network settings are. There are a lot of settings to look at, from the Search Partners option to the geographic and language targeting. Create a strategy that fits your needs and set your campaign for success.  Most inexperienced advertisers I’ve encountered create a campaign and erroneously opt for the wrong settings.

The type of campaign you want to run is tightly related to your goals as a business and also could affect the way you interact with your other settings. Campaign types are focused on the types of network you wish to target, as of now they are:

  • Search Network Only: Ads will only run in search results in text ad format

  • Display Network Only: Ads will run on the display network only in various formats like text, image, rich media, etc.

  • Search Network with Display Select: Your ads may appear in both the search network and relevant placements within the display network in a combination of ad formats.

However, I will tell you that I don’t recommend using the Search Network with Display Select. My reasoning behind it is this campaign type doesn’t give you enough options to optimize, and you can’t tell what factor is the one performing well or poorly for you.

9) Segments: Divide and Conquer

Segment Adwords Campaigns - White Shark Media

So many metrics to look at in Google AdWords can be overwhelming so what I do to track and analyze my campaign results more efficiently is segment my campaigns.

By segmenting your data, you can view all of your metrics at a more detailed level depending on your needs. From the hour of the day to the search partners’ performance, this tool will simplify your optimizations greatly.

Also, segment by month your entire year and you will be able to compare all of the different metrics to get really good insights on how things have worked in the past and how things are working now.

10) It is All About the Quality!

Google Quality Score - White Shark Media

If you have struggled with a high cost per click before it is probably due to a low-quality score. The quality score is calculated based on the landing page experience, click-through-rate, and ad relevance mainly. However, there are many other factors involved in a quality score calculation.

The way to fix a low-Quality Score is by using keywords match type variations that will attract search terms that are more relevant to the theme of the ad group. Create Ad Copy that is also highly relevant to the theme and the keywords are chosen. Finally, make sure that your landing page includes the keywords and content associated with the ad group where it is included.

Keep Your Mind Open

Simply looking at these metrics will not tell you exactly what to do since the analytical process will not stop there. However, advertisers tend to give up at a point where their AdWords campaign has no vital signs.

Instead, you need to keep track of your metrics, use the dimensions tab, and make the proper changes to drive your sales up.

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