PPC Chat Streamcap – Managing and Optimizing Pay Per Click Campaigns

Welcome fellow PPCChatters!

This week, our host Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro), lined up another round of great questions. This chat’s topic focused on “Managing and Optimizing Pay Per Click Campaigns”. The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat.

Q1: For specialists at agencies managing multiple accounts, how often do you make optimizations (edit bids, add negative KWs, etc)?

  • All client bids are adjusted daily. KW research frequency depends on the size of the account (more frequent 4 larger accts). – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
    • You must utilize a tool(s) that helps out? – Matt Umbro +
      • Nope, just manpower. – Melissa Mackey
  • Varies by size of campaign (both size & budget) but generally I spend 4 – 6 hours a week in each campaign. – Matt Umbro(@Matt_Umbro)
  • Depends on the traffic volume, current goals & where that acct is in terms of PPC lifecycle (IE how much has been done before.) – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • Certainly a well optimized campaign helps the management process. – Matt Umbro
  • For those who adjust bids daily, I assume that doesn’t mean the same KW’s bids are changed daily…right? – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • Depends on volume & campaign scope, small business= min monthly for Negatives, Bids, & Text Ad Analysis. More for larger budget. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Depends on budgets/volume, etc. but daily in most cases. Missing 1 bad neg term (for ex.) could cost you a ton of $. Crystal Anderson (@CrystalA)
  • Bids are adjusted most every day in the larger accounts. Keywords/Negatives research is done based on traffic/data to the account.- Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • I monitor results daily w/first cup of coffee, then dig in if something is unexpected. But some tasks are routine & maintenance. – Lisa Sanner
  • Standard answer is monitor daily, research weekly, & plot monthly, how that is executed differs based upon size and performance. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos) ++
  • Ad Copy Optimization & Negative Keywords. Optimal keyword bids can change based on those two factors, but not vice versa. – Harris Neifield (@HarrisNeifield)

Q1 Summary: Like many aspects of running a PPC campaign, the amount of time and frequency in which you optimize will largely depend on size, scope and budget. Enterprise size campaigns might need daily attention and small business campaigns where there traffic volume is low may only require optimization on a bi-weekly or monthly schedule.

Q2: If you are limited on time, what is the one report you would run and subsequently what is the action(s) that would be taken?

  • Search query report with the action of adding negative keywords. – Matt Umbro +
  • Search query report (or see search terms). Add negative keywords and long tail keywords based on results. – Neil Sorenson
  • Search query report. Gives you both new kws to add and negatives. – Michelle Morgan +
  • SQ’s hands down!! – Crystal Anderson
  • Search query report & adding negatives – biggest bang for your buck. – Jessica Cameron Ruud (@Camruud) +
  • Keyword performance report w/conversions. – Darci Mino (@darcimino)
  • Search query reports. Better to have good exact keywords and add Negatives than rely on broad/phrase matching. – James Svoboda +
  • Query reports – identify new negatives and keywords to bid on. – Harris Neifield
  • The importance of a Search Query report cannot be understated. Probably the most important report to run in PPC. – PurePPC.com (@pureppccom)
  • MTD (or lagging 30 days) cost vs conversions starting at the camp level then drilling down where necessary. – Chris Kostecki +
  • I think we’re in agreement that SQ reports are huge (& don’t take much time to run and subsequently add new positive & negative KWs – Matt Umbro
  • I would run a match search query report in Analytics (if linked to AdWords) to optimise the keywords. – Andrew Baker (@SEOEdinburgh) ++
    • Review bounce rates from SQ’s for quality! – Jessica Cameron Ruud ++
  • Daily report- Campaign level w/ conversion data, knowing expected metrics. Actions – bids, negatives, look at new ads if testing. – Lisa Sanner
  • IDK, SQ reports are good when inefficiencies at the search engine but seem to be out in the weeds when it comes to all my clients. – Chris Kostecki
    • I agree for my accts too. I only look at SQRs once a week, not daily. – Lisa Sanner
      • Yeah, I am more apt to use SQR for selected kws, than for entire ad groups or camps. – Chris Kostecki
  • Since the popular & good answer is Search Query reports, I would ad in ad performance reports for ad optimizations. – Matthew McGee (@Matthew_McGee)
  • If you use Analytics to review search queries you get site engagement metrics as well as AdWords metrics – 2 for the price of 1. – Andrew Baker

Q2 Summary: The Google AdWords Search Query Report is one of the most useful reports for optimizing pay per click accounts. These reports will show you the exact keywords with impression data that you received visits from. These keywords tend to be the basis for building-out a campaign by adding new “Good” keywords to target in your ad groups as well as new Negative keywords that you do not want to waste clicks, impressions and you ad budget on.

Q3: Once a campaign has been running for several months, are search query reports the number one source for keyword expansion?

  • In addition to SQ reports, I like to review the Opportunities suggestions. Some are bad, but also some gems. – Melissa Mackey +
  • They become closer to 50% for me. I use words from SQs to do outside research. Wikipedia, news articles, etc. SQs become a guide. – Michelle Morgan ++
  • Yes, but using the SQ report solely for KW exp has limitations. For out of the box , still use KW tool, wonder wheel, etc. – Neil Sorenson
  • No. Then it is on to new segments to research and build. – James Svoboda
  • Most likely, but it is still important to do competitive analysis, forum/article research, industry research, etc. – Matthew McGee
  • You can I love Analytics right! I use customised organic keywords vs conversion report in Analytics as a great source. – Andrew Baker
  • Maybe not THE #1, but certainly one of the top sources! Other sources-competitive analysis, industry research/news, new features/products from the client, opps tab, etc. – Crystal Anderson ++
    • True a good chat with the client always throws up new opportunities. – Andrew Baker
  • No tools like SpyFu & Keyword Spy tell me what competitors are doing. Those tools aren’t just for the initial keyword build. – Harris Neifield
  • Certain phrases in the SQ can tip you off to bigger changes in the industry. SQs, organic & paid = good for ad group exp. – Michelle Morgan +
  • You prob know most of what people are search for to find ur client, i would look to other sources, trade pub, offline employees. – Chris Kostecki
  • Analytics reports too! – Crystal Anderson
    • I’m with you on this! I use Analytics as much as I use AdWords for optimisation. – Andrew Baker
      • The best source of info is usually the clients, they know their industry as much as we know PPC! – Chris Kostecki +++
  • Agree with most here, SQ reports give you a good basis to research new terms, but still need to always be researching other areas. – Matt Umbro
  • Search query reports are keeping me busy enough for now. People have a lot ways to talk about the same plants. – Dennis Petretti (@Denetti)
  • I do look at Google Insights and Trends regularly for certain types of products. – Lisa Sanner
  • I don’t know if anyone mentioned it, but your analytics for organic terms is helpful as well. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • I always use the “see search terms” within the campaign to find new keywords & negatives. – Darci Mino
  • I’m surprised so much talk about kw expansion. I have many exact matches that drive my revenue. Those are my top priority. – Lisa Sanner
    • I’m the same way mostly, but I still do a good amount of kw research. – Michelle Morgan

Q3 Summary: Once past the initial months of the “Build, Discover and Refine” phases of a campaign, you might start looking into 2nd tier keyword research tools. One keyword source that is practically a virtual treasurer trove for search terms, is a site’s own keyword history contained within web analytics. By analyzing existing organic and paid search terms you can start to spot keyword trends and phrase patterns that can be hidden on a PPC campaign or ad group level.

Q4: Do multiple employees work on the same account, and if so, how does the change history report factor into the management?

  • We try to avoid this; it’s hard not to step on each other’s toes. We do use change history for accts where this is the case. – Melissa Mackey
  • Here, only 1 person is responsible for an account. to keep tests going and strategies in place. – John Lavin (@Johnnyjetfan)
  • A little, but try not to. C history helps but mostly we tell each other if we’re making big changes. – Michelle Morgan
  • I know of places that use Google docs in collaboration with change history when multiple people work on an account. – Michelle Morgan
  • I keep a separate record that includes notes/observations. Change history is a backup. – Robert Brady ++
  • Yes to a small degree &under the direction of 1 lead mgr who knows the ins/outs to avoid confusion (always on the acc). – Crystal Anderson
  • Always a frustration, team has to meet so they know what the other is doing, what are the accnt hurdles, what actions taken etc. – Chris Kostecki
  • Yes. We document separate changes in Basecamp to remember what and who made them and use for reporting. – James Svoboda ++
    • Basecamp rules. We don’t use it enough – great reminder. – Melissa Mackey
    • I despise Basecamp! – John Lavin
    • LOVE Basecamp! – Crystal Anderson
  • We try to avoid this as well, but the change history is very important. – Darci Mino
  • We clearly assign accts/campaigns to diff CMs so no one is overlapping and messing up bidding or testing. – Lisa Sanner
  • Multiple folks work on accounts. We use GAW change history & Basecamp to log changes. For MSN, we use Basecamp (no history). – Joe Kerschbaum (@JoeKerschbaum)
  • Also, change history is good to see if the client is dinking with the acct. – Melissa Mackey +
    • Also good for Audits to see if any one is. – James Svoboda
      • Most of our clients don’t dink with accts, but it does happen & usually isn’t good. – Melissa Mackey
        • That’s why it’s necessary to set expectations with clients and make you both know who will make edits. – Matt Umbro
  • Varies by agency. Multiple viewpoints are helpful, but if the committee approach goes too far nothing gets done. Harris Neifield
  • Our clients don’t sync with their accounts because they are relatively clueless. Couldn’t imagine it happening though! – John Lavin
  • adCenter has a “change history” selection in Reports. Not as helpful as GAW, but it is still useful. – John Lee (@John_A_Lee)
  • At this point we don’t have multiple employees working on the account, but having separate logins + change history helps. -David Pedersen (@SeaPPC)

Q4 Summary: When having multiple PPC managers work on an account it is important to document changes, observations and notes in a central location that can be accessed and added to by all. To help you manage this you might consider an online project management tool like Basecamp or a collaboration tool that can be edited by several authors like Google Docs.

Q5: When new AdWords features are announced, how proactive are you in implementing them in client accounts?

  • We implement ASAP. automate rules was awesome. – John Lavin
  • I usually know before my reps do. I’ll implement them if I think they’ll help (which mostly they do). – Michelle Morgan
  • Depends on the feature: sometimes right away, sometimes never. – Melissa Mackey
    • 60% are useful I’d say. – Sergey Smirnov (@Smirnovi4)
  • Depends if time is allowed. Usually test new features for larger accounts then roll out to smaller is applicable. – James Svoboda
  • Depends on account objectives and impact of new feature. Potential for high impact = immediate test. – Jessica Cameron Ruud +
  • EXTREMELY!!! If its a good fit, great to test while its in alpha/beta usually free/cheaper & you learn before competitors. – Crystal Anderson
  • Most new updates I implement right away, when extended headlines came out I was writing new ads left and right. – Matt Umbro +
    • I was shocked checking my ads when they got longer – I had punctuation in place initially, but hear news. – Sergey Smirnov
  • Extremely. Why not take advantage of everything AdWords has to offer? – Harris Neifield
  • It all depends on how much time you have to implement the fun stuff. Sometimes you just run out of time. – Melissa Mackey +
  • Depends on the client need, the new comm ext is cool and will prob try to get white listed for lead gen. – John Lavin
  • Depends on the client. Some new features don’t make sense for certain industries/account sizes. – Robert Brady +++
  • Depends on the account. – Darci Mino
  • Very proactive! We even have regular calls with GAW our reps to get in on beta tests. Some tests work, some don’t. We try! – Joe Kerschbaum
  • If it fits with the client’s goals I deploy them straight away, it’s another opportunity to get one over on the competition. – Andrew Baker
  • Being proactive goes a long way w/client relationships too! – Crystal Anderson
  • For us, due to seasonality, sometimes new features get implemented for the next season. – Dennis Petretti +
  • Learned/burned w/ sitelinks, more cost & less cvr on targeted searches, now have been less aggressive out of the gate. – Chris Kostecki +
  • Depends on the feature. Some I jump right on. Some I wait for others to test. Some w/ “Easy, Optimized, Automatic” I don’t touch. – Lisa Sanner
  • Speaking of new features, if you haven’t already taken a look at @Realicity ‘s new post you should! Google AdWords Communications Ad Extension – Matt Umbro
  • Depends on if the feature is in Beta. Sometimes beta products do not have the tracking needed for proper control & measurement. – David Pedersen +
  • If the feature helps the client achieve goals faster or cheaper, then immediately. – Mukul Gupta (@mukulkrgupta)

Q5 Summary: Pay per click professionals tend to be very proactive in testing and implementing new AdWords features… if they make sense for the campaign. Since many of the new features help make your ads stand out from the crowd, adding them will often provide a boost in CTR and can impact QS.

Q6: What tools or strategies do you use to map keyword & text ad performance over time in order to make actionable decisions?

  • Some implemented strategies are affected by search trends, so I try to take that into consideration. – John Lavin +
  • Excel excel excel… and Excel again. – Sergey Smirnov +
    • Excel is always open on my screen! – John Lavin
    • I almost always have 3 or more workbooks open. – Michelle Morgan
    • Knowing excel should be a PPC job requirement. – Matt Umbro ++++
      • Excel is a job req for us and yes, we give interviewees a test. – Lisa Sanner
    • Of course Excel rules the day for tracking & analysis. – Melissa Mackey
    • Actually to be more specific I’d say Pivot tables in Excel more than anything else. – Sergey Smirnov +
  • For ad copy, I use Ad Magic template. For kws, I have tons of little graphs and spreadsheets in Excel. – Michelle Morgan
  • Strategy: Document a Timeline for “Active Benchmarks” for major changes (more than 1 ad or kw change.) – James Svoboda ++
    • Good use For GA Annotations! – Jessica Camerson Ruud
  • Add segments to AdWords reports to include date ranges. That’ll get performance over time. The trends show when to make changes. – Harris Neifield
  • We also surface many of these insights in client reports; good way to keep a history too. – Melissa Mackey +
  • Ads-Internally Developed tool! ๐Ÿ™‚ & <3 Stat Checkers (http://tinyurl.com/4xf8d5y) KWs-reports w/excel (<3 pivots & vlookup), SFs – Crystal Anderson
  • Currently we use Adobe SearchCenter to track keywords, but recently hit a limit in the number of keywords we can properly track. – David Pedersen
  • Let me add to that Excel + Dimensions tab (or segments) for w/w, m/m reporting trends. – Chris Kostecki
  • Here’s a split testing tool one of our CMs developed in Excel. Download now. http://bit.ly/jrqQYt . – Lisa Sanner

Q6 Summary: For PPC marketers, being proficient with Excel is almost as important as being proficient with AdWords Editor. Almost. The views, flexibility and data management that Excel can provide you when working with campaigns of size can be invaluable.

PPC Tip of the Week

This week’s pay per click tip came to us from Chris Kostecki (@chriskos), search analyst at Keurig in the Boston area:

The best source of info is usually the clients, they know their industry as much as we know PPC!

Chris provides up with an often overlooked source of keyword data. Since clients, business owners, and employees, usually have much more experience in their fields than we do;) they will often be our best source for brainstorming search terms. And while it is sometimes difficult to pin down these sources to extract this information, the campaign will always be better off for having done so.

Additional Resources – PPC Ad Split Testing Tools

  • Web-Based Version from WebShare via @CrystalA
  • Downloadable Excel from Point It via @LisaSanner
  • 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.

    About the Author

    James Svoboda provides Pay Per Click Consulting at WebRanking.comThis is a guest post by James Svoboda, managing partner at WebRanking, a Portland search engine marketing agency, infrequent blogger, Sphinn Editor, SEM content hound, and Co-Founder of the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association.

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