Depending on how long you’ve been running pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns, things can get hairy when trying to work with a new Search Engine Marketing (SEM) provider. For people just starting, PPC management is relatively straightforward: build the campaign, test it, and optimise.
The story is entirely different if you already have a significant history of PPC advertising and want to figure out why expected click-through rates or conversions are dipping. To make the process easier, some providers will advise you to scrap everything and begin with a clean slate.
To be fair, this is one perfectly valid option. However, you can still use your existing history to educate yourself on what exactly is causing your PPC campaign performance to fall. To guide you toward a better strategy, here are three areas to look into when doing a PPC audit:
The first place to review is the overall structure of the account. Inspect the campaigns, ad groups, and keywords and ensure a logical reason for their use in the campaigns.
Test-based campaigns and image or video-based campaigns should be split out. This is because expected click-through rates and conversion rates will vary between two types, making auditing difficult if they blend into a single campaign.
It’s also a good idea to check why some campaigns were separated between different products, geographies, and other variables. Good reasons for splitting campaigns include using topics to focus on different audiences or prioritising one over the other due to limited allocation. What you don’t want to see are your PPC campaigns being split for no reason!
The success of the whole campaign rests on one thing: conversions. Low conversion rates mean that something critical is preventing your customers from following through on your desired action.
Conversion tracking allows you to make adjustments on the fly. These adjustments are based on how your PPC campaign works in real-time.
In most cases, Google Adwords is more than enough as a tracking tool for websites. Regardless of the particulars, you should ensure that a conversion tracking software has been installed since day one of your PPC campaign. Without it, you’d have to rely on guesswork and website visitors, both of which are wildly inaccurate methods of measuring success.
Once you have checked the viability of the account structure and ascertained that a useful conversion tracker is in place, it’s time to check keywords. Inspect which keywords are driving the most leads and which particular ones are not performing well. Ensure that the best-performing leads are being used more in PPC campaigns to optimise results.
Next, look into the Quality Score (QS). Your QS measures your ad’s performance against a predetermined set of standards of what a PPC ad should look like. Low QS keywords can lead to inflated bid prices and can reduce their impression share.
It’s also a good idea to look at expensive keywords and whether the conversion rates that they result with make sense, particularly in relation to the cost. Sometimes, it’s necessary to stop targeting a high-performing keyword just because it’s too expensive to continue targeting.
Doing a PPC audit to unravel why you’re not hitting your PPC goals can be challenging. It can even feel like finding a needle in a haystack! That being said, the operative word here is challenging, not impossible. If you do it systematically, you should pinpoint which elements you can tweak to improve your PPC performance.
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