The Ultimate List to Clean Up Your PPC Accounts for the New Year

Clean Up

Many strategies have come and gone within your PPC campaigns this year. Launching numerous initiatives can have an unwelcome side effect: remnant changes and content can linger within your account and impact your long-term performance. Now is the time of year to review your campaigns to clean up, synchronize, and spot check.

“Remnant changes,” mean the alterations that were inadvertently left active in your accounts. I’m sure you’re careful to double-check all your changes, but PPC moves fast and things can get missed even with the keenest eyes – especially if multiple people work on an account.

One example could be that you altered your ad scheduling to gain more impressions during your peak traffic season but now you should make sure that your pre-existing settings are correct.

Another example involves ad testing. You should be testing all the time. However, it’s possible when making thousands of changes throughout the course of a year that some lingering retired messaging may still be rattling around your ad groups.

Also, I’ve run into advertisers who, when enhanced campaigns were launched earlier this year, made some guesses as to which bid modifiers would work best. Now is a good time to review all of your modifiers (for devices, locations, etc.).

Here is an extensive list to help clean out some of those old, lingering strategies in your PPC campaigns and start fresh for the New Year!

✓ Geographic targeting & bid modifiers

Maybe you didn’t update your geographic targeting this year, but maybe you should? When was the list time you looked at AOV by region within your analytics? When enhanced campaigns launched, did you implement the best possible geographic bid modifiers? Now is a great time to review and adjust.

✓ Language targeting

Sure, it’s easy to just to default to “English” for all of your campaigns, but is this the best setting for your campaigns? Are you missing out on potential impressions by limiting your targeting?

✓ Mobile bid modifiers

Many advertisers took a shot in the dark when it came to their mobile bid modifiers in their new enhanced campaigns. Now is a great time to think about your mobile strategy going forward, and to make sure that your bid modifiers reflect your company’s objectives.

✓ Ad scheduling

As the year progresses and search patterns shift, you may have adjusted your ad scheduling to improve performance. Are those adjustments still valid?

Also, many times I ask new clients why their ad scheduling is set up in a specific manner and often this is their response, “That’s a good question. I’m sure we had a reason for not running ads from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., but I don’t remember.” Really dig in to the stats to see when your ads should be active and when you may need to adjust bids for optimal performance.

✓ Ad rotation & delivery

These two campaign settings seem to get missed all the time. I suggest that your delivery be set to “accelerated” in order to gain as much control as possible. Your ads should be rotating evenly or perhaps optimized for conversions (if that makes sense for you).

✓ Ad copy

Good PPC managers test ads all the time . This requires thousands of changes throughout the year (heck, maybe even thousands of ad changes in a day!).

Now is a great time to review all of the active ads in your account to make sure no retired messaging may still linger and also make sure that all destination URLs are active and correct.

✓ Landing pages

Along with ad copy testing, good PPC managers are driving their conversion rates higher with continuous testing.

However, in large-scale accounts we have found remnant pages that should not be active. This happens most frequently when clients have keyword-level URLs. In these accounts, millions of keywords mean millions of URLs that should be reviewed and possibly cleaned up.

✓ Tracking & URL Parameters

Anyone who has ever run a PPC campaign knows how delicate URL parameters can be. One small character error and all of your tracking is dead and your statistics are incorrect.

If you aren’t utilizing auto-tagging in AdWords, then you should certainly give all of your tracking parameters a review. Bing doesn’t provide auto-tagging, so you should do a quick check here too.

✓ Shared budgets

In AdWords, you can now share a daily budget between campaigns. Great! But you should make sure that the right campaigns are sharing the appropriate budgets and that the budget is the correct amount.

✓ Shared negative keyword list

You can also share negative keyword lists across campaigns. Too often I’ve seen keywords that spanned across campaigns that were incorrect.

Now is a great time to make sure all of your negative lists are targeted to the proper campaigns. You might be surprised at what you find.

✓ Search partner network

Management of the Search Partner Network in AdWords is extremely limited. Basically, you can turn it on or off within your campaigns. If you’re running ads on this network, just make sure they are performing at an acceptable level.

The same goes for Bing. Bing actually provides better reporting and controls for their Search Partner Network so don’t neglect to look here.

✓ Display Network

This entire article could focus solely on reviewing your Google Display campaigns. However, just a few things to check as you clean up your GDN campaigns:

  • Check your device settings because GDN on mobile tends to perform poorly.
  • Review all placements to make sure you don’t have any bleeders.
  • Review your settings for “Target and Bid” and “Bid Only” – this little setting change seriously impact your GDN campaigns.

✓ Audience lists

Thinking of the GDN, you should double check all of your audience lists. Make sure all of your lists are targeting the appropriate individuals, and if you are excluding anyone, just make sure this is correct too.

If you made any changes to your website this year, always double check your Remarketing audiences. For example, your purchase confirmation page may have changed from “/confirmation” to “/thankyou” and this could impact your URL-driven rules.

✓ Automated bid rules

This is a big one! Rules are often implemented to counteract a short-term issue within an account, or possibly just as a test. Now is a great time to make sure that anything that is adjusting campaigns automatically is still valid and working properly.

✓ Ad extensions

Our clients often launch offer-related or seasonal-focused sitelinks. Now, is a great time to review all of the sitelinks within your account to make sure the copy is correct and that all of the URLs are awesome.

✓ PLAs and Auto-targets

This entire article could also focus on cleaning up your Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and auto-targets within AdWords. To keep this short: review EVERYTHING!


This checklist helps you make sure EVERYTHING in your paid search accounts are purposeful and correct with no errors or lingering strategies that should have been retired.

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