Updated July 2022
One of the key responsibilities of a search marketing agency is in staying up to date on enhancements, features, and new functionality associated with the search engine marketing space. Fortunately, Google has made this a bit easier for Google Ads professionals by setting up a dedicated page that highlights changes and enhancements by month, with references to help center articles and the announcements themselves.
Monitoring updates, testing new features, and regularly examining and optimizing tactics are all key components of a successful search engine marketing strategy – however, sometimes we need to go back to the basics and make sure we are utilizing the tried and true best practices.
This is especially true when transitioning program ownership or reassessing the success and opportunities of an existing program; perhaps at quarterly or semi-annual intervals.
A B2B PPC Optimization Checklist
There are several facets of a Google Ads program in particular that need to be reviewed and assessed. Here is a checklist of key action items, broken down into several different account segments. Ultimately, this checklist represents program elements we will scan through to measure how efficiently a campaign is set up.
Campaign Settings & Structure
There should be a logical structure to the account. While every campaign buildout is unique, there are a few specific things that should be considered.
- Search and Display based campaigns should be separated in order to accurately measure performance per audience type.
- Budgets should be clearly defined and designated to each campaign based on an estimated 30 days worth of advertising spend.
- Ad groups should be grouped tightly into themes with closely related keywords.
- From a naming convention perspective, I recommend ad groups be named after the most popular or impactful keyword within the group.
Some PPC managers recommend the utilization of multiple Ads campaigns. Just remember there should always be a specific reason(s) to do so because of the various targeting settings to consider.
- Campaigns should be broken out to specific regions, countries, or market areas depending on primary language.
- Advertising to users on mobile devices or tablets should usually be broken out from traditional desktop advertising campaigns. See Derek’s column from Search Engine Land detailing considerations for report benchmarking and lead tracking.
- Campaigns should utilize ad scheduling and time-based bid adjustments to make sure that ads are being served during the most appropriate time frames.
Conversion & Goal Tracking
While it’s certainly not the only tracking mechanism available, most campaigns will greatly benefit from including Ads conversion tracking as well as goal development through Google Analytics (which is currently switching over from UA to GA4).
- Google Ads conversion actions should be generated for each major event you’re tracking through campaign efforts.
- Ideally, conversion actions should be supplemented with Google Analytics for additional insight and performance metrics such as bounce rate, navigation paths, and to allow for more advanced user action tracking (IE, on click actions, e-commerce, etc).
- If possible, information should be passed through Ads via ValueTrack or parallel tracking to pass more data about the user to the CRM or Marketing Automation Platform.
Keywords & Messaging
In most circumstances, the majority of campaign efforts will go into the scrutinisation of keyword selection, bid management, and monitoring and adjusting both based on ongoing performance.
- You should have a comprehensive list of negative keywords on (at least) the campaign level. Ad group-specific negatives should often be considered as well.
- Several different match types can and should be utilized, but the majority of your high-impact keywords will be exact match.
- Bids should be set at the keyword level, and if multiple match types do exist, the highest bids should be set to the exact match keyword option.
- Target specific search phrases rather than broad terms.
- The most important keywords should be visible in advertising text.
Google Ads Extensions
Google Ads offers an extensive list of advertising extensions that help differentiate or highlight aspects of your campaign and advertising communications. Utilizing these extensions can be extremely helpful for lead generation.
- For campaigns that fall within the top advertising positions, Sitelinks should be utilized to gain additional real estate on the SERPs and to bring attention to related products and services.
- The Callout extension can be used to add time-sensitive messaging or information with ad copy.
- E-commerce advertisers should highly consider allowing Google to show customer ratings and reviews through the third-party reviews extension.
- Big picture: make sure to evaluate Ads extensions to determine viability for your specific campaign and business objectives. With the variety of options available to advertisers, there is at least one extension that will make sense for every organization.
Landing Page & Conversion Path
Even the most finely tuned campaigns can lose some of their effectiveness by not having the same type of optimization on-site. Consider the following:
- There should be a very obvious and logical connection from the keyword, to the ad text, to the copy and presentation on the landing page. Searchers have a certain expectation of the experience between search query and landing page.
- There should be a visible conversion path to whatever the desired action or activity is. In many cases, this includes having an embedded contact form or action button. Generally, the less pages that need to be navigated to get to this action the better.
- The call to action should be appropriate. If your creative talks about a download you would be hard pressed to get most searchers to fill out a contact form.
Reports & Analysis
There are nearly limitless amounts of data at your fingertips – you should consider utilizing these reports to make sure your campaigns are regularly and continually optimized.
- The Search Query Report should be regularly pulled and mined for examples of what types of queries are causing your ads to show. Look for opportunities to increase your keyword selection as well as look for things that are triggered queries that don’t make sense or align to your products. This will highly correlate with the amount of broad and phrase match types you utilize – more phrase and broad match keywords will cause a larger SQR.
- Impression Share Report should be generated monthly or bimonthly to get an idea of how much of the total search inventory your keywords are accessing. It will also break down the reasons you aren’t reaching more potential users – either by lack or spend or bids or by quality and content related reasons.
- You should utilize the dimensions tab to segment data based on specific user behavior.
Every PPC campaign will have very different but personalized sets of goals, key performance indicators, and conversion metrics. You will also be managing potentially thousands of keywords and hundreds of ad copy variations. While this checklist is not meant to cover every nuance, it should be a great starting point to check and see how effectively your campaigns are being managed and run on a day-to-day basis.
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