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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
2 thoughts on “The Complete PPC Management Checklist”
Hi Brandon, this is outstanding and comprehensive list for PPC! Thank you!
Thanks, Eric! It’s helped us really improve consistency with our clients!