Google has made some impressive advancements over the years in the usability and presentation of its AdWords platform. Although Google is focused on making AdWords an easy and intuitive platform, there are still levels of complexity that go beyond many marketer’s and business owner’s knowledge and understanding. Trusting a platform with valuable ad spend is a heavy task, especially if you’re entrusting that ad spend with an agency.
That’s why we’ve created this foolproof checklist of key points to look out for in your account as an account manager or vendor manager.
Starting with the basics, you want to make sure that your account is set up for success. At the core of it all, this means a) are your ads running, and b) is your performance being accurately tracked.
Are all your ads running?
If your ads don’t run, then what’s the point? This is an easy check with these few steps: Click the upper right-hand bell symbol, look for red caution notification saying “# ads disapproved”, click through to “Fix it”, and hover over the Status chat bubble to discover why your ads are running and what you can do to fix it.
Are your landing pages healthy?
Now that your ads are approved, you’ll want to make sure they’re sending traffic to healthy landing pages. I use a HTTP Status Checker, which lets you know if any URLs in use are error pages.
Is AdWords linked to Google Analytics?
Arguably the most important part of your AdWords account is…tracking your progress! Linking your AdWords account to GA is the best way to track your user’s behavior after clicking through your ad. To check this, click the upper right-hand gear cog and select “Linked Accounts”, then “Google Analytics”. As long as your AdWords login also has access to your GA account, you’ll see your GA profile listed in this view. If it is, make sure the Link Status is “1(or X) linked view(s)”.
Is Conversion Tracking set up?
You’ve got a couple options here. If you’re using Google Analytics (GA) and are linked as described above, then the one I advocate the most is importing conversion goals and/or e-commerce data directly from GA. First steps first though. Click the “Tools” header in the upper middle main navigation, then select “Conversions”. If conversions are set up, they will display here. If not, then you’ll want to follow these steps to create conversions around desired actions on your website:
- Option 1: Import from GA (Tools > Conversions > Google Analytics > check off all GA goals you’d like to import)
- Option 2: Create AdWords goals (Tools > Conversions > + Conversion > then follow the on-screen instructions, including implementing the AdWords tracking pixel on your website (the “Why did I do this to myself?” much more complicated option).
Is Auto-Tagging enabled?
If your AdWords account is linked to GA, and you have no need for tracking parameters outside of GA, then auto-tagging is the best option for you. This feature automatically appends a tracking code unique to each visitor through paid ads, and appropriately buckets data into GA. I almost always recommend auto-tagging be enabled since running it alongside other tracking codes will not double-count your data. Go to the upper right-hand gear cog, click “Account Settings”, click “edit” under Preferences > Tracking, check off “Destination URL Auto-tagging” and save changes.
So, you’ve got ads and they’re even being tracked correctly. Now let’s talk account structure. I’ve seen a hodgepodge of everything you can imagine for AdWords account structures. At Power Digital, we recommend a standard best practice structure I’ll walk you through below.
Are campaigns set up logically based on your website structure?
Campaigns are usually set up to replicate your website’s structure. For instance, an e-commerce store with multiple product lines may have a campaign for each type of product, or even for each product itself; or a lead-gen site with multiple service offerings having campaigns for each service offering. Campaigns may also be segmented by location for businesses with multiple brick-and-mortars. Think of these points when assessing the structure of your current campaigns:
- Is location targeting set up correctly?
- Do campaigns exist for all products and/or services?
- Are campaigns serving ads to the right networks (i.e. Search campaigns are set to “Search Network Only”, display campaigns to “Display Network Only”)
- Are campaigns split by Brand and Non-Brand keywords?
- Do campaigns exist for all applicable marketing channels? (Search, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, Display, Retargeting)
- Last but not least, are campaigns split up by Match Type?
Are ad groups clustering keyword correctly?
All keywords within a single ad group will all serve the same set of ads. Because of this, all those keywords should be closely-themed, and assume similar search intent to the recipient of the ad. If you’ve got a keyword serving an irrelevant ad, you’ve got a keyword cluster problem.
Is your ad copy relevant and engaging?
A good rule of thumb with ad copy creation is to use your trigger keywords in the ad text. Another few quick tips are: using Title Casing, including promotions, unique selling propositions and call-to-actions in all ads. You also want to be sure that the text of your ad matches the text of the landing page.
Are your ads directing to the best landing pages?
AdWords offers the incredible benefit of empowering you to choose which keywords you wish to show for on Google. Taking advantage of high-volume, highly-relevant keywords is only half the battle. In order to get the most benefit out of Paid Search and AdWords’ other channels, ensure that your keywords and targeting are driving traffic to the most relevant landing pages possible that will convert users at the highest percent possible.
Are you using negative keyword lists?
Driving qualified traffic is the name of the game with AdWords, but blocking unqualified traffic is just as important. With negative keyword lists, you can block trigger words irrelevant to your business and save on advertising costs. Check here to ensure negative keywords are being used: click “Shared Library” in the bottom left-hand corner > expand “Campaign Negative Keywords”. Your lists should exist here. If they don’t, there’s a less efficient way to map keywords, here: click the “Keywords” tab, click the “Negative Keywords” sub-tab.
Are you using ad extensions?
A quick and easy way to score points with the search engines is using Ad Extensions, which expand your ad with other useful information about your business. Access the Ad Extensions tab to see which if any are in use, and what they mean:
This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Now that your account is set up correctly, tracking performance is crucial. Analyzing an AdWords account can get nitty-gritty, so I’ve outlined the most important metrics to follow.
Are all live campaigns serving impressions?
If a campaign in your account is live, but no impressions are accruing, chances are you have an error in your setup. But before jumping down the rabbit hole, get a sense for how often the keywords in a campaign are searched. If search volume is very low, or your campaign is newly-launched, you may not have given it enough time to serve impressions. For existing accounts, remember to set an appropriate date range.
Are your marketing goals being met?
Most accounts are assessed by a core group of metrics: Cost-Per-Acquisition or Lead, Order or Lead volume, Conversion Rate, and Revenue/Return-on-Ad-Spend for e-commerce. Set up your columns like this to assess your goals:
- Lead Gen: Cost/Converted Click (CPL), Converted Clicks (Leads), Click Conversions Rate (CVR)
- E-commerce: Cost/Conversion (CPA), Conversions (Orders), Conv. Rate (CVR), Total Conversion Value (Revenue), Conv. Value / Cost (ROAS)
Are bid modifiers being used?
Not all ad serving is created equal. Performance may vary every which way across an account. The segments you’re able to control are: Location, Device, Time-of-Day, Day-of-Week, and even Household Income. Make sure that the performance of each of these segments is being assessed, and that changes in bids and exposure are being made appropriately.
How’d you do? If you found holes in your or your agency’s current account you’re not alone.
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