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Whether you’ve been managing your PPC account for a while, just taken over a new account or even want to audit how your PPC agency is doing, it can be overwhelming to work out how well an account is performing.

Here at Confused.com we manage several different PPC accounts, and have compiled a list of reports you could run every month (just using AdWords) to check how ‘healthy’ your accounts are.

(I must thank 2 agencies we work with: NetBooster and Essence Digital for inspiring some of these for us!).

Overall performance 

An obvious but easily overlooked place to start is checking how your key metrics e.g. Conversation rates, CTR (click-through rates), CPC’s (cost-per-clicks) were for the month, in comparison to the previous month.

Start at ‘account level’ for an overall view, then drill down to campaign/ad group/ keyword level to investigate any peaks or troughs.

Where are your ads appearing? Search Term Performance report 

An essential report for anyone working in PPC, this Google report identifies which searches your ‘broad match’ keywords are appearing against.

If these keywords are performing well, you should add them into your account an ‘exact match’ keyword which in theory can drive cheaper traffic (the PPC virtuous circle of improved Quality Score, cheaper CPC’s etc). 

If you’re broad matching against terms that aren’t performing and you don’t want your ads to appear for these searches, add them in as ‘negative match’ terms. (e.g. if you’re selling ‘travel insurance’ for terms relating to ‘montana’ you could find that your ad is appearing against searches for Disney star ‘Hannah Montana’!).

How efficient is your traffic? Match type report 

Using a keyword-level  report, identify the proportion of clicks and/or conversions deriving from each match type. You’d usually want to drive the majority of your PPC traffic through ‘exact match’ type keywords, as these are typically more efficient.  

If necessary, adjust bids and/or make structural changes to increase the amount of clicks coming through your best-performing match type. Some advertisers eventually just use exact match types, and pause their broad and phrase match keywords but that’s a whole different blog topic!

How are your adverts performing? Number of adverts per ad group 

Google’s best practice guidelines suggest that when testing PPC ad copy you should have two to four adverts live in every ad group, to increase the chance of success.

So every month, run an advert/ad group report to see how many ad groups only have 1, or 5+ ads live, and look to increase/reduce them as necessary. At the same time, it’s worth investigating whether any live ads are performing particularly poorly and/or that are out-of-date!

How healthy are your keywords? Quality Scores 

Another useful monthly health check is sorting your keywords by their Quality Score. Month on month, are you successfully increasing the amount of keywords that have a QS of 7+? (e.g. through tailored ad copy/ landing pages?).

How many of your keywords have a QS of 1 and why? Don’t forget that quality score is one of the few things you can’t look at historically via Adwords reports (it will always report on the current QS) so be sure to save this data every month!

How competitive are the auctions?

CPC’s vs position –Obviously you’ll already be keeping a close eye on the competition. An useful metric to keep track of month-on-month is average CPC’s vs average position on your main keyword(s).

This can indicate how competitive the auction is e.g. if you’re maintaining a high average position while your CPC’s are reducing this would suggest that competitors have reduced their bids. Depending on your business strategy, you could increase bids and volume without increasing your CPA. 

Heledd Jones

Published 21 May, 2012 by Heledd Jones

Heledd Jones is Digital Marketing Manager at Confused.com and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or Google+

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Comments (2)

Matthew Oxley

Matthew Oxley, Head Of Search at Truly Digital Media Limited

Hi Heledd,

I agree with looking at the proportion of traffic from each match type as a worthwhile piece of analysis.

It's obviously critical to bear in mind the age of the campaigns in question though - a newer campaingn will need a mix of broad,phrase and exact (as well my personal favourite, broad match modifier) match traffic while it builds up the history to decide what does and doesn't work.

over 4 years ago

Heledd Jones

Heledd Jones, Head of Search Marketing at Confused.com

Totally agree Matthew - like I said, you could write a blog just about your match type strategy! I agree with your thoughts about a newer campaign needing a mix of match types, and I'd argue that they need close management too i.e. don't just set them all live and see what happens without checking in on them :)

over 4 years ago

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