PPC Management Operations: The Ultimate Guide

engine-x-rayWhen your PPC operations are set up well, account management should run like a finely tuned machine. Just like a car’s engine, PPC management needs regular tune-ups and maintenance in order to perform at the optimal level.

When you have regularly scheduled checkups daily, monthly, quarterly and semi-annually, you miss less opportunity to respond to change and increase your return on investment.

Planning is half the battle, so here’s your starter calendar for your PPC management at the start of a new year.


Daily PPC Tasks

Every business is different and the level of attention needed for certain accounts will vary. But in general, one of the first things you should do is check your accounts each day to see what happened yesterday.

  1. For ecommerce, check ad spend and revenue.
  2. For lead gen sites, check conversions.

Those are the two basic performance indicators – what everyone cares about anyway. But look for standouts – did any one account spend way more or less than usual? Did it have a fantastic sales day? Track the ups and downs.

And don’t get too freaked out if something looks out of the ordinary. Unless the client is used to making $10,000 per day and it dropped down to $1,000, it’s likely part of the inconsistencies businesses sometimes see.

Pro tip: If you’re an agency or consultant and you notice something is off, call up the client. They might be able to explain the odd behavior, for example, the shopping cart was buggy or someone internally clicked on the ad and put items in the shopping cart to test the process, thus making a purchase. (I’ve seen both of those scenarios and more). If you’re running your own PPC, talk to others on your team or dig deeper to uncover reasons why you might be seeing this behavior.

Monthly, Quarterly & Semi-Annual PPC Tasks

These tasks within your PPC calendar will once again depend on the individual business and its advertising needs. For example, changing ad messaging could be a quarterly task, but depends on how much data you have about your ad performance, or if you have special campaigns that run consistently on a shorter timeline.

A good rule of thumb is: the newer the account, the more attention it will need – and some of the tasks we’re going to go over may occur more frequently in that case.


5 Monthly PPC Tasks

1. Negative Keyword Management

The simplest and easiest way to avoid wasted money is managing negative keywords. If you stay on top of this, squandered ad spend is practically non-existent. For newer accounts or existing accounts that need a revamp, doing this daily is wise.

2. Review Ad Positions and Manage Bids

You want to make sure you’re claiming top spots in paid search placement, just like in organic search. Bid management is key, and you can help streamline this with rules and settings in advertising platforms like AdWords.

3. Communications With Clients or the Team

If you’re a party of one running your own campaigns, this doesn’t really apply. But if you’re managing PPC on behalf of a company, a monthly check-in is a must, and can go a long way when you learn about something the client or team is working on that you can assist with.

4. Watch for Good and Bad Performers

View this at the campaign level down to the ad group and keyword level. It’s also sometimes beneficial to do this in reverse as well.

5. Google Display Network Management

Site exclusions are to the Display Network what negative keywords are to paid search ads. Make sure you’re managing which sites your ads are featured on, so you’re not inadvertently showing up on weather sites if you’re a cloud computing company (true story!).

Quarterly and Semi-annual

12 Quarterly or Semi-Annual PPC Tasks

Many of the following are interchangeable (quarterly or semi-annual), and depending on the account, you could do them on a monthly basis. I recommend semi-annually at the very least.

1. Click-Through Rate Review

This is at the keyword level, and the rule of thumb is to flag anything below 1 percent CTR. However, it’s not uncommon to see high-volume keywords with less than 1 percent.

If the ROI and quality score for the keyword is healthy, you can often just leave it be. Otherwise, consider pausing it and weighing your options for tweaking the messaging or something else.

2. Sitelinks Audit

It’s a good idea to check in and see what sort of sitelinks are set up. When things change on the website (for example, sales or product pages are added), the sitelinks can also change to drive traffic to the new pages. You can also review how the sitelinks are performing, and axe the links that don’t get clicks.

3. Quality Score Reports

Here, you’re looking for low score between 1 and 3 that should be addressed immediately. Sometimes when accounts have been poorly managed, the quality score will remain low for some time – even if you’re doing everything right – until the improved practices have been in place for a while. You might even decide to pause these keywords and reinstate at a later date.

Quality scores of 4 and 5 are also worth flagging to investigate.

4. Keyword Trends and Program Development

You can sometimes find keyword trends when you’re managing negative keywords. However, longer data sets like three or six months can help you better identify them. These trends can forge new campaigns you may not have thought of before.

5. Consider Remarketing and Product Listing Campaigns

These advertising options can fall by the wayside in favor of regular search network campaigns. Have a close look to see if remarketing or PLAs might be an option at this time. Similarly, if they are already set up, review their performance to look for improvements.

6. Campaign Performance Review

Starting at the campaign level, and working down to the keyword level, isolate the “darlings” of the campaigns and optimize for best performance. Also work on improving the worst. With poor-performing campaigns, make a decision about what you want to do – pause it or work on it more.

7. Ad Messaging

At this point in the campaign, it might be a good time to refine and test the ad copy.

8. Settings Audit

Sometimes campaign settings “mysteriously” change. It happens to the best of us, so it’s always good to do a review of every setting to check for anything that may have been turned on, off, or modified accidentally.

9. Geo “Hot Spots”

Are there any cities, regions, or states that show the most ROI? Decide if you’ll isolate those; it’s always worth trying. Don’t forget about international opportunities as well.

10. Search Partner Review

When you’re advertising on the Google search network, it includes other search partners like Amazon and even Yahoo and Bing. Check the ROI for those other sites and if it makes sense, turn off these partner sites to save money (especially if you’re working with a smaller budget).

11. Competitor Review

This one can be challenging if you don’t have good tools. It’s sometimes hard to trust the data coming from providers that claim they have it. You can start with Google Auction Insights.

12. Day Parting

Check the campaigns against times of day or days of the week to see if anything may need adjusting. If you have a tight budget, you can save a little money by only running when you know your audience is online, for example, during the week for some B2B businesses.

Ongoing PPC Management

Advertising platforms change all the time with new features. Staying on top of this can be a full-time job, but build it into your calendar. You don’t want to miss important updates that can enhance your ROI.

Try reviewing the latest updates in AdWords here and here, and in Bing once a month when you’re performing some of your other reviews.

But keep in mind that every new advertising product doesn’t fit every account, so use discretion on what you pursue; testing new features are good, but you don’t want to waste resources on those that aren’t a good fit for your account.

Stay Organized, and Full Speed Ahead!

PPC management takes organization, scheduling, and attention to detail. Now that you have recommendations on what to look for throughout the year, put it all together using your favorite project management tool (e.g., a combination of Excel spreadsheets and Basecamp).

The following screenshot is a sample of what your company’s spreadsheet could look like, with the various tabs at the bottom:

PPC Management Spreadsheet

Here’s to a more profitable year through streamlined PPC advertising!

Related reading

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