PPC Spring Cleaning: 5 Things You Should Take A Hard Look At In Your Accounts

As we celebrate the first day of Spring this month, it got me thinking about spring cleaning. My husband and I bought a house last year, and even though we haven’t yet had years to accumulate lots of junk, there are still many things around the house that could use a good deep clean! I started thinking about the PPC accounts I help manage and how there are probably some elements there that could also use some cleaning up. Here are the top five things I plan to review and recommend that you take some time to review as well!

Negative Keywords

I have found over the years that a regular review of your negative keyword lists is just a good idea. It’s an especially good idea if an account has been passed through a few different account managers, or if there are multiple people helping on an account or if you have taken over an account from another agency. A client may have added or removed a product or service or maybe adjusted their business model, so reviewing your negatives to ensure all are still relevant is important.

Proper keyword mapping is also a good way to keep an account clean. Be sure to review your SQRs for less-than-ideal mapping. You want to ensure the best and most relevant possible ads are showing for users’ queries, so get in there and add some ad group level negatives as needed to clean up your accounts.

Keyword Performance

I would hope that a regular keyword performance review is part of your workflow, but if not then now is definitely the time to roll up your sleeves and take a deep dive into the data. I can’t tell you how many accounts I’ve taken on where there were keywords that had been allowed to spend significantly without generating a lead or sale. If some keywords haven’t been working then scrap them and let those dollars be reallocated to more efficient terms. On the flip side, there may be multiple keywords in an account that have sat in very low average positions for months on end and have hardly accrued any impressions; if you’ve got the budget to spare then test ramping up those bids to see if some of those terms can generate some good leads or sales.

Additionally, what about those Low Search Volume terms? Have they gotten impressions in the last 6-12 months? If not then they’re likely just cluttering your account and making management more cumbersome, so consider pausing them.

Lastly, I think that low CTR keywords are pretty regularly overlooked. Even though your low CTR keywords might be meeting KPI goals (for CPA, cost per sale, etc), improving CTR is a positive change. As such, I’ve made a low CTR review a recurring part of my account workflow; here’s my process you can follow if you’ve never done a deep dive into low CTR.

Channel vs. Channel Performance

For some accounts, you may have multiple campaigns running in multiple channels. When is the last time you reviewed how much of the overall budget was dedicated to each respective channel? Generally, your budgets should be tiered with the most efficient, effective channels getting the largest percentage of budget. For the lower performing channels, you can also take some time to ensure that top-performing elements (keywords, ad copy, etc.) from top-performing channels are present. For instance, it can be easy to add new keywords to just one channel and not carry them over to the other channels, but those missing keywords could end up being some of your best performers in the lower-performing channels.

Low Quality Score

Even though many of us probably agree that Quality Score is not a KPI, there are instances where a correlation can be seen between lower Quality Scores and higher CPCs. If you’ve disregarded low QS elements until now, I’d recommend you at least give it some attention during a spring cleaning overhaul. Generally, I download all of my enabled keywords, then create a pivot table that shows me CPA by Quality Score. If I see that my QS 3 terms have the highest CPA, then I’ll pull all of those into a separate tab and work through the list one by one (depending on how many keywords and how much time you have available to dedicate to this review you can also narrow it down by removing those with low impressions). For each, I see what improvements could be made to help boost Quality Score: are there negative keywords that need to be added? Can more keywords be incorporated in the ad copy? Should the keyword(s) be moved into their own ad group? Then I’ll set a task for myself to check back the following month and see if the changes helped boost Quality Score for any of those keywords.

Ad Extensions

When is the last time you reviewed your ad extension performance? And when is the last time you reviewed the new options available for testing? It seems like AdWords rolls out new extension options every couple of months so you owe it to your accounts to see what’s available; there might be an awesome new extension that could drive some great, high quality traffic for one of your accounts. Bethany recently put together a great post about AdWords Automated Extensions, so brush up on your knowledge and opt out of the ones that won’t work well for your accounts.

What Spring Cleaning tasks are you planning for your accounts? Let us know in the comments below!