Unfortunately it is not quite looking like spring around here yet...but that doesn't mean you can't start your spring cleaning. A good place to start since it will be indoors is your sponsored advertising accounts. If you are like many small businesses you probably let your campaigns get stale. Just because something worked once, doesn't mean it will continue to work. Just like your website content, we recommend keeping your PPC content fresh as well.
What Can You Do?
First and foremost I would recommend looking at some reports. You can start with Google Analytics, as you are hopefully somewhat familiar with it. Once you are in the account you will look at first look to the left side. You should see a link to traffic sources. Click that link and choose search engines; from here you can narrow your choice to paid visits only. You should look at a few different date ranges, but you may want to start with an entire year. The more data you have the better! You will want to see which of your keywords yield the highest quality visitors and create the most conversions (goals). By high quality visitors I mean keywords that generate traffic in which they visitors spend a significant amount of time on site, view higher volumes of pages and yield the lowest bounce rate. There is no magic number for these, as they will vary by site. You can somewhat base these numbers on your site averages.
You should make sure that these top performing keywords are still a focus of your PPC campaigns, don't let them slip past page-1 if possible. After looking at a year's worth of data I recommend looking at the previous spring. If you have a seasonal product or service, it is vital to know when these keywords under-perform and perform well. You can save some budget and increase conversions if you adjust the bids on these appropriate through the season. If terms under-perform through the warmer months, lower the bids a little bit, if the perform very well through the warmer months you should consider bid boosting if your average position is below 3.0.
Run Reports from Adwords
You may or may not have ran a report from Adwords, but is fairly easy and can be extremely useful. The process has changed slightly, which I don't necessarily like, but it remains somewhat straightforward. The most common reports you will look at are your keyword performance report, ad performance report, and search query report.
Keyword Performance Report
While logged into your Adwords account choose the control panel and library link on the far left. Once you arrive on the new screen you should be able to create a new report, choose keyword report. From here you will choose the format you will download it in, I recommend Excel .csv, and you can adjust the segments. This will allow you to segment by click type, device, day, week, month, quarter, year, and day of the week. For your first report I would not add any segments. Choose the time frame that you want to see and then click create. You will see an option to open or save your report, choose save and open. Your report should open up in Excel. While you need to pay attention to all of the columns in the report, you should try and understand your CTR, CPC, and Average Position for your spring cleaning. Terms that achieve a high CTR, or click-through-rate, are likely because you are purchasing the right terms and aligning them with the appropriate ad copy. If these terms correlate with terms that convert in Google Analytics, improve your positioning on these! Check your CPCs for your well performing keywords as well as your under-performing keywords. If you are paying too much for terms that yield a low quality visitor, you could be spending more wisely. Finally, your average position should be between 1-8 for the terms you are really looking to push. Remember, you don't have to maintain the top position to compete, often times position 3 performs nearly as well as position 1. Ensure that your top converting keywords are between the 1-3 position as much as possible.
Ad Performance Report
The best way to get your ad report is to click on the ads tab towards the top of the screen when you have completed your keyword report. You can begin to sort your ads based on whichever metric you prefer, but I generally recommend downloading this report as well. The key factor you should pay attention to is your CTR. If you sort by CTR you will see many of your top ones have a high CTR, but a low impressions. If you download to Excel you can sort by CTR while eliminating some of the terms that have low impressions. Keep your top performing ads but try and do a refresh of the under-performing ones. It doesn't hurt to keep your ad messaging fresh. If you haven't made adjustments in awhile it is likely that some of your marketing messages have changed since the ads were created.
Search Query Report
It is no longer called this in Adwords, but it is essentially the actual terms that are searched when your ad is triggered. If you are running on broad or phrase match you will see quite a few variations here, though if all of your keywords are on exact match, you can ignore this report. Take note, you may be losing out on valuable traffic if you are limiting everything to exact match!
To run this report click on your keywords tab, then click the segment button to choose search terms match types, then click directly below the chart where it says 'see search terms' and change that to all. Download the report to excel and begin looking at the data. I recommend sorting by impressions and eliminating the exact match terms, as it means you are actually purchasing the terms. Pay close attention to what broad match terms are triggering your ads. If there are terms that are getting a high volume of impressions but have nothing to do with your product or service, these need to be added to your negative keyword lists! If your ads are triggered by nonsense terms you are wasting money.
Make This a Habit
Try not to wait until spring every year to take these steps. Remember, every time someone clicks on your ad you pay...take care of your investment! And you can't stop there. Make sure that your website is doing it's job as well. Don't waste your money with a poor landing page, and once they travel beyond the landing page your website should be able to get you on the right track to sell your products and services. I know this was a long drawn out email. I guess that's what happens when you miss a few posting days. Remember, we are always here for any web marketing help you need!