Common PPC Mistakes

Over the past 8 months our pay per click team have been offering a free, no-obligation PPC’health check’ and this week we decided to share our findings with you!

Our senior consultant’s uncovered unacceptable levels of wasted budget in campaigns with very poor structure, and very little evidence of best practice PPC management.  Whether this was due to  disproportionate levels of spend on the content network, aggressive bidding on days of the week that never convert, or  a poor negative match strategy, the health checks uncovered clear evidence of large-scale mismanagement.

Below is a sample of the areas we feel were responsible for the high levels of wasted budget and also the missed opportunities that were not exploited, which would have significantly improved the ROI of the campaigns reviewed.

1. Impression Share / Account Structure

It has been found that budgets have been spent poorly in some instances with ads not being displayed 100% of the time due to the campaign/ad group structure and budget settings. Top converting keywords should be isolated so that they can be dedicated their own budget thus helping us to maximise their potential through 100% display time.

2. Search Query Reports

These reports identify negative keywords through showing us all the users search queries that resulted in an AdWords visit. Most accounts reviewed to-date have had a consistent lack of negative keywords to reduce the flow of irrelevant traffic. 

3. Ad testing

It has been all too common for us to find only one ad running for many, if not all, ad groups in some cases. Best practice dictates that there should be 3-4 adverts running at any one time and that advert testing should be a constant, ongoing process. 

4. Ad settings

In Adwords there are two standard options for displaying ads. These include rotating all ads within an Ad Group evenly or optimising to show the best by click-through rate. Optimising is by far the preferred method for ad display however, many people often overlook the fact that the best converting advert is not always the ad with the best click-through rate meaning that ads should be displayed manually in order to maximise performance!

5. Ad text relevancy

Advert text has also been identified as a common problem within accounts with a lack of relevancy to the users search phrase. Adverts need to reflect user search phrases as the more relevant the advert, the higher the click-through rate and therefore potential conversion rate.

6. Ad price/offer relevancy

With many of the larger, more dynamic campaigns we have reviewed, we have found a common issue to be that offers and prices appearing in ad text are not correlating with the landing page. Many account managers were clearly not undertaking the most basic of checks to ensure the accuracy of the prices and offers within ads, as well as the availability of the particular product or service in question, in order to adjust the ad text as necessary.

7. Landing Pages

The selection of landing pages has often appeared to be poorly conceived with little attention to detail. The selection and ongoing testing of destination URL’s  can be crucial in determining the most successful landing page for a particular search query/keyword. Keywords and ad text should be deeplinked to the most appropriate pages for users to boost the relevancy of the page and thus improve the quality score and potential conversion rate.

8. Search Partner Performance

Evaluating the search partner network appears to be one of the most common things that are currently overlooked.  Whilst the differences in performance between Google search and the search partners are sometime negligible; there are sometimes dramatic differences between the conversion rates of these two channels.

9. Ad Scheduling

The ad scheduling function allows ads to be displayed at certain days and times that we select. Our account reviews have shown us that in most cases it is not being used to vary bid prices and campaign functionality by days and times of increased conversion, despite their being an opportunity to do so with higher quality traffic available on certain days and at certain times.

10. Content Network

The content network has significant potential for increasing the flow of good quality traffic. We have found that most accounts are not making use of the tools available such as ad planner, to target sites on the content network that are consistent with the demographic target of the business

11. Geographic Targeting

It is common for many accounts to be targeting the whole of the UK when in reality only select regions are relevant to the particular site. Many accounts overlook the potential of the Irish market to deliver good quality sales or conversions.

12. Tracking Issues

It is common for many people to wonder why AdWords statistics and conversions don’t match upto to the data provided by their analytics packages. This is often due to the differences in the ways that conversions are tracked between different packages, but can also be an indication of tracking code errors or duplication that should be investigated.  

13. Bidding on Your Brand

Although a sensitive issue for many, ensuring prominent exposure for brand related search queries can be extremely important, especially if other advertisers are appearing and benefiting on the back of your brand name. If nothing else, bidding on brand and brand related terms, helps to push your competitors down the page, and enables you to be in prime view of potential customers.  We advise on a case-by-case basis as to the level of attention required here, but more often than not we urge clients to test the impact of using brand activity to improve campaign performance.

14. Over reliance on single KPI

Many accounts seem to be managed by those with a very single-minded approach to PPC management. By this we mean managed by an overreliance on one key metric. It is extremely important that multiple KPI’s are analysed including CPA, ROI, revenue per visit, profit and margin data, amongst others! Often things can appear to be more or less profitable than they are through looking at a single metric.

As the Health Checks have become so popular we have decided to make this a permanent offer. If you would like one of our Senior PPC team to review your campaigns, please get in touch and we will be more than happy to help.

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