The Complete PPC Management Checklist

How to manage your PPC advertising account on Google and Bing.
PPC advertising management checklist for Google & Bing.

How to manage a pay-per-click advertising account from keywords to networks to everything in between.

I’ve been personally managing PPC/SEM/paid search campaigns continuously for almost 7 years now. There’s a lot that’s changed since 2008, but some things have not. A few months ago, I put together a checklist to help manage my PPC clients.

Hopefully, it can be helpful to you guys as well.

Structure & Setup

Account setup

  • Verify account is tied to email address for notifications.
  • Tie Google Analytics to Google AdWords.
  • Tie Google AdWords to Google Analytics.
  • Tie Google AdWords to Google Webmasters.
  • Verify billing is tied to appropriate credit card(s).
  • Verify AdWords autotagging is on.

Account structure

  • Create clear, understandable campaign structure.
  • Create clear, understandable group structure within campaigns.
  • Establish clear naming conventions in campaigns and ad groups.
  • Create a branded campaign with branded keywords and targeted ads.
  • Set budgets to meet account spend goals.
  • Set ad group default bid to ensure minimum exposure.
  • Complete custom keyword research based on AdWords Keyword Planner & SpyFu competitive research.
  • Verify all keywords have the default ad group bids to ensure minimum exposure.
  • Weigh budget towards search, then remarketing, then display campaigns.
  • Use maximum of 20 keywords per group.
  • Build new campaigns if some groups/keywords need more exposure.
  • Build new groups if some keywords need more exposure.
  • Pause campaigns with high CPAs over a long time. Relaunch new streamlined campaigns.
  • Start with broad match modified keywords. ex. +pet +boarding + austin (NOT pet boarding austin)


  • Verify network-specified campaigns. ex. Search-only, Display-only
  • Create remarketing lists in Google Analytics.
  • Create a remarketing campaign for each account when it makes sense.
  • Create a Shopping campaign / merchant center for ecommerce sites.
  • Display campaigns focused on category-only, topic-only, managed, automatic, etc.
  • Verify no managed placements in the automatic campaigns.
  • Verify no keywords in managed placement campaigns.
  • Review to see if display campaigns have new targeting options.

Network expansion                                                                   

  • Expand to Bing Ads when there’s budget opportunity and acceptable CPAs.
  • Expand to Facebook and Facebook remarketing when there’s budget opportunity and when it makes sense.

Campaign settings

  • Geolocation: target the right location for client.
  • Exclude geos that client does not want to target.
  • Increase/decrease bids based on well-converting geolocations.
  • Check advanced geo settings.
  • Default to People in, searching for, or viewing pages about your targeted location
  • If there’s an issue with non-targeted traffic, change to: People in your targeted location.
  • Ad scheduling: verify ads are running at the target times.
  • Set bidding to manual bidding.
  • Mobile bids: Bids should be high enough to target mobile devices in positions 1-2.
  • Ad rotation: Rotate indefinitely to test ad copy for 90+ days (unless there are no A/B split tests).
  • Language: Target more than English, if it makes sense.
  • Day/Hour Parting: Review conversions.
  • Remove or bid down on least optimal times.


  • Ensure the correct tracking parameters are added to non-AdWords final URLs.
  • Verify call tracking is installed and working.
  • Verify the best goals are being tracking in Google Analytics.
  • Test conversions if goal tracking has stopped tracking conversions.
  • Verify Google AdWords is pulling in GA conversions.
  • Verify conversions are not being double-counted.
  • Verify other search engines are showing conversions.
  • Install GA ecommerce tracking for ecommerce websites.

Monitoring & Optimization


  • Budget checks 3-5 times per month.
  • Verify budgets will not overspend or underspend monthly client goals.
  • Balance budgets between campaigns to improve total conversion volume / lower CPA.
  • Reduce budgets on active keywords if campaigns budget caps are at limit.
  • Increase budgets on low impression share but good average CPAs.
  • Decrease budgets (or pause) high CPA / no conversion campaigns.
  • Shift campaign budgets to best CPA campaigns.
  • Advise client on budget impression share opportunities if campaigns are converting.

Keyword review & bidding

  • Review keywords with low CTRs, low QS, and no conversions to move to more appropriate groups.
  • Make sure all the keywords are housed in the correct ad group.
  • Remove duplicate keywords using duplicate keyword checker in AdWords Editor.
  • Review quality scores. Export active keywords and record average of all quality scores.
  • Pause or lower bids on keywords with very low CTR.
  • Pause or lower bids on keywords without conversions.
  • Pause or lower bids on keywords with low QS (1-3).
  • Pause low search volume keywords unless they have clicks.
  • Raise bids on well-converting keywords.
  • Adjust bids on mobile at campaign & ad group level to keep mobile in position 1-2.
  • Verify ad position is high enough for converting keywords.

Negative keywords

  • Add obvious negative keywords, usually in exact and phrase match form.
  • Review negative keywords periodically.
  • Review negative keyword lists to make sure relevant keywords aren’t negated.
  • Review search query reports for new negative keywords to add to campaigns.

Keyword expansion

  • Review search query reports for new keywords to add to campaigns (in AdWords & GA).
  • Fresh keyword research with AdWords Keyword Planner & SpyFu to improve exposure.
  • Utilize all appropriate match types: broad modified, phrase, & exact (no broad match)
  • Add exact & phrase match keywords with more interest. ex. [pet boarding austin] & “pet boarding austin”
  • Add more broad match modified keywords for high-interest search queries per search query reports.

Remarketing review

  • Verify remarketing campaign is getting impressions and conversions.
  • If no impressions, adjust settings on remarketing lists in AdWords or GA.
  • If no conversions, review settings.
  • Bid up if remarketing campaign is getting conversions at a good CPA.
  • Create new remarketing lists if remarketing campaign is performing well.

Display review

  • Review placement report for automatic placement campaigns.
  • Delete non-performing placements from automatic campaigns.
  • Promote performing placements to managed placement campaigns.
  • Do NOT launch managed placement campaigns without testing placements first.
  • Remove all mobile placements from display campaign.
  • Add image ads for each size to every display campaign.
  • Add relevant negative keywords to all display campaigns.

Ad copy

  • Include most relevant, understandable copy in each line of the ad copy.
  • Connect emotionally with prospect with ad.
  • Include primary keyword or emotional hook in headline.
  • Test dynamic keyword insertion in headline, description lines, or display URLs.
  • Include relevant, benefit-laden description lines.
  • Include call to action in description line 2.
  • Include primary keyword from group in ad copy.
  • Verify display URLs have keywords in them, if possible.
  • Launch mobile ads with mobile calls to action.
  • Review competitor ads to ensure our ads are still compelling.
  • Implement new ad copy in higher volume groups first / roll-out to other groups later.
  • Split tests: Create two different ad messages to test / test two different call-to-actions.
  • Keep 2 ads running in all active ad groups at all times for continuing split tests.
  • Review ads for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and symbols.
  • Verify ads are running current & compelling promotions.
  • Review disapproved ads / adjust and relaunch ads.
  • Ensure all current final URLs are active landing pages (no 404 pages)

Ad Extensions

  • Check that the PPC campaigns have all the appropriate extensions for the business.
  • Launch/verify location extensions for each campaign.
  • Launch/verify at least 4 sitelinks in campaign-level sitelink extensions.
  • Add more sitelink extensions if there are more compelling offers/pages.
  • Launch/verify app extensions.
  • Launch/verify call extension and call forwarding.
  • Launch/verify review extension.
  • Launch/verify social extension.
  • Launch/verify callout extension.

Landing pages / Final URLs

  • Verify important landing page factors are above the fold: relevancy, matched expectations to search query & ad, trustworthy site, low time commitment for visitor, clear action to take, and obvious next steps
  • Verify all ads are being pointed to the most relevant landing pages.
  • Include prominent phone number in header.
  • Remove unnecessary form fields.
  • Review final URLs in GA to verify good engagement. Make adjustments as necessary.
  • Review landing pages for useful content, ensuring it delivers on promise of the ad.
  • Strong calls to action as needed for the type of business or offer.
  • Keywords from ads should be used in the headline and copy of the page.
  • Easy navigation, and a speedy page load time.
  • Verify mobile-friendly pages.