Troubleshooting Pay Per Click Accounts and Issues

This week Luke Alley (@LukeAlley) hosted for Matt with a great question set titled “Troubleshooting PPC Accounts and Issues.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What are the most common issues you find wrong with your PPC campaigns?

  • Segmentation. Either too much or not enough. Hard to stay consistent. – John Holland (@ppathholla)
  • Inconsistent change frequency that analysis paralysis comes from trying to do everything manually and burning out. Unbalanced change distribution that comes from ego bidding & assumptions instead of focusing on profit & conversion efficiency. – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
  • Changes not having the impact you would anticipate. Makes for very irritating work. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • Not being as granular as you should be. And the fact that some accounts smell like overripe bananas. – Disruptive Ads (@DisruptiveAds)
  • Unexplained dips in performance, especially in DN. Also trying to get enough volume to satisfy client. – Luke Alley
  • Obsession with 1 type of optimization instead of a balanced & disciplined cadence across bidding, testing, targeting, coverage. – Chris Haleua
    • Totally agree. Sometimes managers get into a rut on optimization techniques. Always good to mix it up. – Michelle Morgan
  • Consistency and scale-ability of best practices with manual analysis & optimization. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • Non-dynamic, non-auto Product Feed that displays errors for sale items that the clients is trying to push. Very slow dev work. Anything involving Bing Ads!- Nate Knox (@nateknox)
  • Finding the balance between volume and conversions. It’s about the client, but it creates inefficiencies they don’t notice. When a client demands volume, but doesn’t quite have the budget to reach realistic goals. – Digital Impulse (@digimpulse)
  • Inconsistency sounds like a theme. I see it too. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)

Q2: How do you troubleshoot your PPC campaigns? What methods or resources do you use?

  • Start w/ aggregate view to look for trends or problems. Then narrow down piece by piece until I find an actionable problem. – Michelle Morgan
  • Spending some time to manually go through the campaigns is highly underrated. – Digital Impulse
  • Lots of segments, different time frames, and Excel pivot tables involved. You know, all the good stuff. – Michelle Morgan
  • Search query reports & auction insights always good for drilling in on issues w specific kw. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Analyze results against goals. If Good, keep going. If underperforming, find out why and change it. – Nate Knox
  • Search term report, destination URL, keyword diagnosis, auction insights. – Disruptive Ads
  • As much as I want it, this can’t be automated. The most important thing is having the time to really dig into an account. – John Holland
  • Look at a specific date range & specific KPI’s, change history & performance by geotarget, search queries etc. – Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
  • We start high, looking at dimensions to find date ranges, then drill down to campaigns using segments, then go deeper; SQR, etc. – Luke Alley
  • Using the UI Graph & cycling through diff metrics to pinpoint date the issues began (pos, imp, cpc”¦). – Greg Young (@PPCJedi)
  • 80/20 rule – determine priority & where largest impact can be made then analyze & fine tune. – Nicole Mintiens
  • First I check the change history, then account structure, then reports. I used to do that backwards. – Chris Haleua
    • Agreed. My favorite way to use the 80/20 rule is 1st to focus on conv volume leaders, 2nd non-conv cost, 3rd clickless imp. – Chris Haleua
  • Follow the money, like where it’s bleeding out. 30,000ft view of ad groups and keywords is a good place to start. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • Our favorite thing is to call Bing Ads, and talk troubleshooting with them. – Disruptive Ads
  • If you know your accounts like you should, and you’re not over-optimizing, you should know what changes you made helped/hurt. – Nate Knox
  • Look back to the period before problems occurred, see if any changes you made contributed to the problem. – John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
  • Start looking for lower performing sub-segments in main segments that seem to be working. Nothing is 100% successful. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • The recently released Anomaly detection feature on Adobe Media Optimizer data in SiteCatalyst has been very useful here too. – Chris Haleua
  • We use Marin Software and I have dimensions on EVERYTHING. Most accounts have double digit classification – Excel and Pivots. – Joseph Drury (@drurytheelder)
  • Q2.1 Per John Holland’s point on having enough time, what time saving methods make it quick to analyze your account?
    • Excel, priority lists & helper monkeys. – Nicole Mintiens
    • Lables and filters make analysis MUCH faster/easier. – David Szetela (@Szetela)

Q3: How do you best use Change History for troubleshooting?

  • Filter for the change you want to look for, specific date range. – Christina Hall
  • If I notice a negative trend starts on a certain day, I’ll go look at the changes made that day. – Michelle Morgan
    • Same here. Sometimes changes made day or week before. Nice that you can segment by campaign & time. – James Svoboda
  • Use Change History to help point to a change in performance trends. Especially on accounts with multiple PPC managers. – James Svoboda
  • Use the change history to: 1. connect the changes with conversion metrics 2. ensure changes focus on the highest impact objects. – Chris Haleua
  • We look at dips in the AdWords graphs and troubleshoot back to that specific date in the change history. – Distruptive Ads
  • Look at change history for last bid adjustments, analyze performance from then until present. – Trevor Morrissey (@t_revnorun)
  • Drill down into the dimensions and date ranges where I notice dramatic changes. And then hopefully get that “AHA!” moment. – Cathy Nguyen (@skipcattt)
  • I think BingAds has been doing a great job connecting the change history with performance data charts. – Chris Haleua
  • Plot when you made changes and match that timeline up with any performance irregularities. – John Budzynski
  • Has anyone used Revert Changes yet in Change History? – Luke Alley
    • Nope. Haven’t see them in any of my accounts yet. – Michelle Morgan
    • Not yet, but I think revert changes in the change history is an awesome idea. – Chris Haleua

Q4: How do you tell if market changes are affecting your PPC account? 

  • Review Google Trends, industry news as well as competitors. – Christina Hall
  • Use Auction Insights reports to see how you compare to your competitors on keyword: imp share, position, overlap, and so on. – Greg Young
  • Look at seasonal trends from previous years (if you have that data). – Timothy Jensen
  • Cost fluctuations, position changes, drop in brand/product searches, and most importantly: keeping track of trends! To clarify, not google Trends, performance trends. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
  • Combination of auction insights report and competitive recon. Test some queries & analyze SERPs. What do you see? – Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
  • That is where year over year trend comparisons become one of my favorite report types.They identify when were truly on/off track. – Chris Haleua
  • I love G Trends for projecting how my accounts should perform vs. what’s actually happening. – John Budzynski
  • Changes in position, impressions and search volume. And then GTrends, YoY reports and auction insights really seals it in. – Cathy Nguyen
  • A lot goes on here. SQRs, year-over-year, Impr share… also, just call the client and ask if they’ve seen things and know. – Nate Knox
  • Q4.1 Hearing Google Trends as a common answer, any tips/tricks to get the most of that tool? Or just plug and play?
    • Plug in all KW’s from an ad group, should show you what variations of the phrase should receive the most traffic. – John Budzynski

Q5: What notifications do you use to keep track of performance? Either in Adwords or 3rd party tools? 

  • Got automated rules that shoot emails for big changes. Otherwise, just me. No external notifications. – Michelle Morgan
    • What do you consider “big changes”? – Luke Alley
      • Pausing keywords or ad copy. Bid changes don’t need to be emailed. – Michelle Morgan
    • Same here, automated rules for high level stuff and just constant attention to monitor otherwise. – Timothy Jensen
  • We use Kenshoo and along with the preconfigured reports they provide, we can also create custom reports for almost anything. – John Holland
  • AdWords Script and have also used Kenshoo before to send me alerts. – Christina Hall
  • Auto rules notify my if a change needs to be made. – John Budzynski
  • AdWords script for quality score changes can help flag deeper issues if there’s a major drop. – Timothy Jensen
  • I have an Excel sheet which links to Marin and gives me an overview on performance. Adjust accounts with bad performance. – Rory Witt (@Rory_Witt)
  • Mostly it’s manual, but Marin has some automated reports that are helpful. – Luke Alley

Q6: Do you keep track of changes to help troubleshoot later? If so, how?

  • We use Basecamp to document all changes along with hypothesis we’re testing & expectations. – Robert Brady
  • I apply labels to changes so I can quickly review performance and make changes. – Rory Witt
  • Usually don’t record changes outside of knowing I can go back and track in history, but probably should get a system going. – Timothy Jensen
  • I use the change history plus short notes jotted down as I work on a campaign. – John Budzynski
  • Usually a combination of the Change History Report & making notes on my Calendar. PPC is not set and forget! – Dave Rosborough
  • I’ve used basecamp & Zoho to write notes to keep track of changes as well as download campaign/ad group structure before & after. – Christina Hall
  • Seconded Basecamp – One of the best PPC Tools out there for price. – Joseph Drury
  • It is always interesting to label changes like “creation date” for new keywords and show the client the aggregated lift trend. – Chris Haleua
  • I keep a log of all the general changes for all accounts. Its difficult & time consuming but Its a “change history” on STEROIDS. – Garett McGregor (@mcgregor212)
  • I search outlook sent items to see what I was discussing with my agency/internally at the time. – Chris Kostecki
  • We also document changes in basecamp so all things associated with the account are in one place. – John Budzynski
  • Yes! Use labels for certain changes but we also keep track of optimizations through Basecamp for quick reference. – Michelle Morgan

Q7: How do you address dips in performance with clients and or internal supervisors?

  • 1 Acknowledge drop 2 give possible reasons 3 give action plan to resurrect performance 4 report on changes after optimizations. – Michelle Morgan
  • Confirm the dip is significant instead of a seasonal pattern then identify the minority of objects with majority of impact. – Chris Haleua
  • Let the data do the talking. Explain what you tried and have a plan to fix it. Very little mystery in PPC. – John Holland
  • Acknowledge dip, look for causes & solutions before the meeting. If I see dip coming, prepare the client as soon as I see it. – Christina Hall
  • Identify and plan out changes to be made before speaking with client. Admit the dip, show you’re on top of it. – Trevor Morrissey
  • Always be up front with clients, provide reasoning why and how you’re planning to correct or if they need to do something. – Timothy Jensen


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCChat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Cathy Nguen (@skipcattt)
• Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
• Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
• Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
• Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
• David Szetela (@Szetela)
• Digital Impulse (@digimpulse)
• Disruptive Ads (@DisruptiveAds)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Garett McGregor (@mcgregor212)
• Greg Young (@PPCJedi)
• John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
• John Holland (@ppathholla)
• Joseph Drury (@drurytheelder)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Nate Knox (@nateknox)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Rory Witt (@Rory_Witt)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Trevor Morrissey (@t_revnorun)

Streamcapping PPC Issues

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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