Whether you’re a PPC master or a relative newbie, the benefits of a checklist cannot be overstated. Entire books have been devoted to the power of the checklist, and while checklist adoption may have more impact for professions like surgeons and pilots where there are actual lives on the line, digital marketers can also benefit greatly from their adoption.
This remains true even as more and more elements of PPC management become automated. While things like bid adjustments and evaluating ad copy may no longer be managed as closely as they were in the past, it will always be a good idea to periodically evaluate the automated settings your accounts have in place to make sure they’re achieving the desired effect. While each account and each individual will benefit from different checklist items, the list below includes those that I’ve found to be especially impactful along with the suggested frequency for checking them.
Weekly PPC Tasks
Project the performance of your account to see if you are over or under goals and adjust accordingly. The two metrics I focus on with my accounts are spend and conversions. If an account is projected to overspend, I know I have to decrease keyword bids or decrease my budgets. If I am trailing on conversions I could raise bids on keywords or shift budget away from poor performing campaigns to top-performing campaigns.
Display Network Review
Exclude placements (websites/apps/etc…) that have spent a lot of money without converting. If you have placements where you are performing well or converting for a high CPL, consider adding them to management placements to bid separately. Also check to make sure your campaigns are utilizing site category exclusions to help keep your ads from running on unwanted sites like sexually suggestive content, sensitive social issues, or in-game placements you might find on mobile apps. Need to exclude placements on mobile apps altogether? See this post for instructions.
If you are using manual bidding, adjust bids on keywords that are generating the most of your daily spend, converting but in lower positions, spending without converting, converting above CPL. If you are using automated bidding then pause any keywords that have high spend but no conversions.
Run a report for the past seven days to see if spend is hitting your daily budget. Re-allocate budgets accordingly, giving a larger portion to higher converting campaigns.
Pause Underperforming Keywords
Pause keywords that have spent without converting or have a low CTR and could harm account performance and lower Quality Score.
Bi-Weekly PPC Tasks
Negative Keyword Additions
Run a SQR (search query report) to find irrelevant search terms you can add as negative keywords into your account. Eliminating these keywords will increase CTR by preventing unqualified traffic from seeing or clicking your ad. You may want to do this weekly for newer accounts until you build up a solid negative keyword list.
Use SQRs, the Google Ads Keyword Planner, and monitor the competition for potential keyword additions. If a certain search term is converting, or you start seeing keywords appearing again and again, build out new ad groups and test.
Pause underperforming ads and write new ads to test. You should be testing at least three extended text ads per ad group at all times. Make sure you have gathered enough impressions data to truly evaluate performance. If you have low traffic in your campaigns you might push this to a monthly task to ensure you have a large enough data set to make an informed decision. Keep in mind that if the ad group in question is set to optimize for better performing ads the system will already be showing the better-performing ads more often. Still, you should be periodically retiring low-performing ads and adding new variations to compete against the high-performing ads.
Impression Share Report
If your Impression Share is low and your client’s budget allows for increased spend, consider either increasing your daily budgets, tightening up your match types, pausing less targeted keywords or a combination of the above.
Check Campaign Settings
Look at the settings of each of your account’s campaigns once a month to make sure they are correct. Check that you’re targeting the correct locations, languages, networks, and devices. You make a lot of changes to your account in a month, and it’s much easier than you’d think to accidentally select the wrong setting.
Landing Page Review
Run a Final URL report to see if you have any weak performing landing pages that can be removed in order to devote more traffic to top-performing pages. Create new landing page variations based on the top-performing pages to continue testing. Test different form lengths, copy, images, headlines, etc. See this post for a primer on best practices.
Run a Geographic report to determine locations where performance is above or below average. Consider excluding poor performing locations or breaking out campaigns to better target different areas. Another option is to add negative bid modifiers on poor performing locations and positive bid modifiers on high performing locations.
Time of Day/Day Parting
Look at the performance by day of week and hour of the day. Lower bids or pause campaigns during hours of low or no conversions and boost bids during peak performance times.
Historical Performance Review
Analyze account performance over the past two years to evaluate any seasonal or other long-term trends in the data.
While digital marketers won’t be using checklists to perform heart surgery or ensure a plane is flight-ready, their use can both improve performance and prevent impactful mistakes. The list above should get you started, but you’ll find the most success by creating unique lists for each of the accounts you manage. Happy PPCing!
Post updated by Dan Rocklin (prior post date: 3/26/18)
How Can PPC Help Inform a Powerful Link-Building Strategy
Though link building is certainly a powerful discipline, like any marketing technique, it shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. In today’s post, we’ll look at the relationship between PPC and link-building, and how the insights you glean from PPC campaigns can inform your link-building strategy for greater success.
How to Succeed in PPC Marketing
Effective Keyword Research: Just like when creating content, choosing the right keywords will determine whether or not your PPC ads will be seen by a particular audience segment. Researching, testing, and tweaking your keyword selection as you incept and manage a campaign will magnetize your audience, and ensure that you’re getting a good return on investment from your PPC budget.
Know your Audience: Although PPC is heavily data-driven, and a far cry from more creative, traditional advertising techniques, you’ll still need to craft your ads based on a firm understanding of your audience. By going into PPC campaigns with a clear picture of your customer personas, the audience segments they feed into, and how this should inform your copy, you’ll be able to enjoy stronger results right off the bat.
Leverage Automation: All major PPC platforms now offer automation tools you can use to bring in more leads, improve your conversion rate, and enjoy a stronger ROI, all while saving your team time and energy. PPC automation algorithms are also capable of analyzing countless data sets to inform decisions, based on your past performance, budget, and goals.
Strategies to Follow When Building Quality Links
Now that we’ve looked at the key components for success in PPC marketing, it’s time to run through some of the most effective link-building strategies you can employ for a successful campaign. Here are our top 3 for the current SEO climate…
3 Main Link-Building Techniques to Use in 2022
1. Digital PR
Digital PR refers to applying proven PR tactics to earn organic backlinks. This means creating linkable assets, such as long-form blog posts, infographics, and interactive content, then promoting these assets to journalists or publications in a way that encourages them to write about your company or assets and link to them.
This tactic is fairly challenging because you’ll need to come up with some truly great content to earn a link. However, if it’s successful, you can gain some hugely valuable link equity.
2. Contributed Content / Guest Posts
Contributed content and guest posting have been popular methods for link building for some time, and for a good reason: it’s a great way to generate the kind of trust and quality signals that Google favors when ranking websites.
“Providing valuable, optimized content to real businesses’ websites via guest posting allows [business] to build natural references from related websites in the industry,” says link-building agency Hive19. “Like all marketing activities, there are good versions of this – and bad. [S]pecialise in working closely with editors to provide editorials that seamlessly fit with their brand voice and editorial calendar.”
3. Reclaiming Unlinked Brand Mentions, Broken and Lost Links
Sometimes, all the necessary legwork is done in the way of gaining a link, and all you have to do is reach out to the right contact. There may be instances where a blogger has mentioned your brand, but not linked to it.
In other cases, there may be links pointing to dead pages that had previously hosted content in your topic or niche, which can be reclaimed by creating a similar piece of content and reaching out to the referring domain’s webmaster. Sometimes backlinks are lost through routine maintenance of a referring domain, and a simple email to the webmaster can be enough to replace it.
Combining these kinds of low-hanging fruit can be a great way to supercharge your backlink profile, and require very little effort!
How PPC Analytics Can Help Inform Your Strategy
For many marketers, PPC data is used to inform current and future PPC campaigns, and their usefulness stops there. Though you may not be aware of it, there are a number of ways PPC data analytics can be used to inform and optimize your link-building strategy.
Use PPC Data to Identify your Strongest Landing Pages
If you’re managing a large website with large PPC campaigns, then it may be hard to know which pages will be the most prudent to target in a link-building campaign. PPC analytics suites offer a quick and easy way to see a complete breakdown of your landing pages, keywords, and how they’re being received by your target market.
Simply drill down to the destination URLs in your campaign, and analyze metrics like conversion rate, clickthrough rate by keyword, etc. By carving off a proportion of the highest-performing landing pages, you’ll easily be able to prioritize target pages for your link-building campaign.
Use PPC Data as a Starting Point to Recycle Content
To flip the previous technique on its head, PPC data can also be used to identify pages that aren’t performing well but show masses of untapped potential. Let’s say, for example, that you’re running a campaign advertising a free ebook for your marketing agency. You may have a great clickthrough rate for a keyword like “content marketing guide”, but see that a poor proportion of people are actually downloading the ebook. This shows that although people are finding your copy compelling, they’re not convinced by the content on your pages.
These kinds of scenarios can be a fantastic starting point for you to recycle content, and attract new links through quality, authoritative pages.
Look for Spikes in Demand to Inform Topical Content
Finally, analyzing both your own ads and the average CPC for certain keywords can be a great source of inspiration when you’re looking for topical content. If a certain ad suddenly gains a much higher-than-average click-through, and trends in your other ads discount a universal jump in your brand equity, it may be time to ride the buzz around a certain topic by meeting it with relevant content.
Suggested CPC can also be a good indicator of when a certain type of content is gaining traction, giving you a useful advance warning to get ahead of the game and publish popular content before everyone’s talking about the same trends.
This article has given you the fundamentals of leveraging PPC insights for a more targeted and data-focused link-building strategy.
We’ve discussed the relationship between PPC and link building and how these valuable insights can help guide and inform your link-building strategy for greater success.
Adopting link-building strategies such as digital PR and guest posting to reclaiming unlinked brand mentions, using your PPC data will help inform and optimize your marketing strategy going forward. By identifying your highest and lowest-performing landing pages through PPC insights, you’ll be able to prioritize the most valuable pages for link building and see higher ROI for your marketing efforts.
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