Building PPC Muscle

Back-muscles-neveuxA couple weeks ago I wrote a post about how to recharge your PPC skills when you start to feel a little burned out. Staying fresh is important so that you can bring your A-game to your campaigns. Today I’d like to talk about bulking up your PPC skills.


As with any discussion about exercising, an underlying principle to success is consistency. You don’t go to the gym one day, do an awesome workout, not go for two months and then expect to win a bodybuilding competition. You need to go to the gym every day. Some of those days won’t be the most awesome workout, but the consistency is what builds muscle.

So too with PPC. Doing a full audit of your campaigns, fixing settings, mining search term reports, writing new ads, etc. is awesome. However, if you let the account sit for two months before doing anything else, it will get flabby and weak. You’ve got to be in there on a regular basis doing work. Here’s a suggested workout schedule from your personal PPC trainer Robert Brady:

PPC Workout Schedule


Many view this as a “set it and forget it” thing, but I recommend a monthly look at your settings.

  • Check your networks – Do you want to be on the search partners network? Use the Network segment view and see if the performance merits its inclusion. And make sure you’re not mixing search and display (unless you really, really, really mean it)
  • Locations? – A look in the dimensions tab will show you how you’re doing in certain areas. Maybe you need to exclude an area? Maybe an area is performing so well it needs its own budget?
  • Budget – See if you’re hitting your budget caps. Is that okay or not?
  • Devices – Have you set up your mobile bid modifiers? (I just came across an account that was being “managed” yet hadn’t done this)
  • Time of Day – Another segment to look at, but you could find times that aren’t cost effective and exclude them. Thing high level as well. If the call center isn’t available from 7pm to 6am then maybe you don’t want to be pushing calls their way during those hours.


This comes down to 2 main exercises. First, checking your search term reports allows you to find weeds growing in your account. They suck up the budget and produce nothing. Get rid of them right away. You’ll also discover ideas for expansion. Often your customers think about, and search for, your product using different vocabulary than you do. The search terms report will give you a window into their mind that you can’t get any other way.

Secondly, you need to look at match types. The search terms report will show some of this, but you’ll need to do a regular analysis on this. For myself, I will put in a modified broad match and exact match of the same keyword in campaigns, but with different bids. I’ll then look at the performance of the terms side by side to see if the bids need adjusted. Only having one match type will preclude this analysis and control. Make sure you’re using match types (and this includes negative keywords) correctly.

Ad Copy

This is one of the most important exercises. Quality Score (QS) greatly impacts how much you pay per click and what position you get. The main factor in QS is click-through-rate (CTR). Ads suffer fatigue and competitors are always improving. Therefore, to keep your CTR above average and keep those QS scores high you need to be regularly evaluating ad copy, dropping the lower performing ads, and writing new ones. This constant, incremental improvement is vital to your long-term success.

This is a really basic workout. As you get stronger you’ll want to expand into additional skill-building exercises like learning how to master Excel, run scripts, and mine your analytics, but for now, master these basic exercises and BE CONSISTENT!

Another great exercise is this one from Joe Kerschbaum – How to Compare Your PPC Performance to Your Competitors