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Why are you having problems?

No Negatives

It never ceases to amaze me how many advertisers are swimming in the PPC world without the aid of Negative keywords.

I recently audited a major global account with a spend of approximately $250k per month over 18 countries and the total number of negative keywords was 220! That’s 220 negatives over thousands of adgroups and $250k of spend per month! It’s like sending a capacity cruiseliner with 3000+ guests that is

only fitted with 60 life jackets. I calculated that for one adgroup alone, the spend for irrelevant keywords for a month was close to $600. This was for one adgroup out of thousands. As an example you sell Watermelons. Yes Watermelons, that’s what you do now. You sell the big fresh green ones with the red filling that for some reason stains like nothing else. (how does ‘water’ stain anyway?)

Anyway, where was I. Yes Watermelons.

So you run a campaign adver tising your watermelons. Your keyword list looks something like this:
– watermelons
– water melons
– buy watermelons

Look ok right? Well not really, especially since these are simply broad keywords. So Google will look for synonyms and anything else it deems relevant. What this means is that when someone looks for a honeydew, cantaloupe and possibly even those horrid rockmelons, your ad may show. If you are not selling these other imitation melons then you need to add them as negatives. There are more tools in the Adwords arsenal such as match types etc but get your negatives sorted first and foremost.

What you can do to fix it:


Put your negative keywords in. If you don’t then you are wasting both money and time chasing your tail.

No Mobile Landing Page

Mobile is huge now, and Jimmy is not just talking about the screens (yep.. I just went there). If you haven’t already checked, you will find that mobile traffic makes up anywhere between 30-50% (possibly more) of all the traffic coming through Search. People will take action from their mobile, especially in industries such as beauty, travel or auto.

So make sure you either offer a great mobile experience and/or have a defined mobile strategy otherwise you will be wasting your money. Understand your mobile traffic and take the appropriate action. If you don’t have a strategy in place and need time, set your mobile bid adjusters (for enhanced campaigns) to -100% and come back to it once you have decided on a strategy.

What you can do to fix it:


If your mobile experience isn’t up to scratch, then try using ‘click only’ call extensions. This will ensure people using mobiles only have the option of calling. Perfect for local service based businesses.

Day of the Week

Have you studied user behaviour for different days of the week? I guarantee you that most of the time there will be a correlation and a skew towards cer tain days performing better than others.

As an example, we have found for products selling physical items that need to be shipped, Thursdays – Saturdays were the worst performing days with CPA almost triple compared to a Sunday -Wednesday. Why? Well.. people didn’t like to wait 4 days to receive the item because generally no one delivers or ships on the weekend. Makes sense right? There is a good chance a lot of advertisers may not understand user behavior and be spending top dollar on days where a decent CPA was achievable. This will vary from Display to Search, with display’s impulsive users less likely to care when they get their product… as long as they get it.

What you can do to fix it:


Understand your day of the week reports and get yourself thinking ‘why’ the behaviour varies as it does. Understanding and asking yourself these questions is a great step towards improving your campaign.

Ad Extentions

Since there isn’t enough complexity in Google’s Adwords ranking system, towards the end of 2013, Google decided to change how it calculates its Adrank (Ie the position you appear on the search results page). Yes your bid is important. Yes your quality score is important. But there is now another factor in the mix and this third component is, quoting Google directly, “the expected impact from your ad-extensions and formats”. And yes… it is truly as vague as how it sounds.

So if all things were equal and there are two competing ads with the same bid and quality score, then the ad which is deemed to have the most positive expected impact from extensions will in most cases, appear higher. This all sounds a bit here-say but Google does kind of make it easy in that they will generally show the highest performing combination of ad extensions and formats as it deems appropriate.

What you can do to fix it:


Use the ad extensions, use them all and try to incorporate them into every one of your campaigns. Don’t do it.. then your competitors are already one step ahead of you (literally!).

Call Extentions

Do you simply need the phone to ring? Are you using call extensions? Are you driving people to a non-mobile friendly website instead of only giving them the option to call? Each business is different, but if you need phone calls, then make sure you are using call extensions.

What you can do to fix it:


Any business needing phone calls should utilize these and with today’s changing Adrank algorithm, its never been more important.


If you are generally ranked in the top 1-3 positions and are not using sitelinks via ad extensions then your competitors are doing a better job than you, simple as that. If they are also not using them, please contact me and let me know your industry, I want in! Again, like most ad-extensions, remember to use site links wherever you can (there is very little reason not to use them). Sitelinks allow you to take up more real estate on the front page and enables you to include more information about your business, giving potential customers more choice and more targeted deeplinked options. Use them. Full stop.

What you can do to fix it:


Use them.

Location Extentions

Are you a local business and need people to find you? Restaurants, Dry Cleaning services, beauty salons, dentists.. pretty much any business which requires someone to physically go to your business and interact, then you should consider using locations extensions.


What you can do to fix it:


Depending on the device you are targeting and what other ad extensions you are utilizing you may not be showing in the map 100% of the time. However due to Google’s new Adrank formula, it simply doesn’t make sense to ignore it.

Mobile Bid Adjuster

What performs better.. Mobile or desktop? If you can answer this then you probably have a good idea of what bid adjuster you should be using. Mobile performing through the roof? Up the adjuster. Mobile tanking a little, reign it in or shut it off completely.

What you can do to fix it:


Use conversion data to understand where your adjuster should be. Need the extremes? There are 2 numbers you should remember, -100% and 300%.

Mobile Ad Selection

Mobile ads don’t look the same as desktop ones. Ads you want to display on a mobile may not be what you want the desktop users to see. Ads perform differently whether they are on mobile, desktop or tablet… you get it.


What you can do to fix it:


Google actually allows you to select which ads you would prefer to show on mobile. If you don’t select anything, then all ads will be treated the same so it may be worth thinking about differentiating mobile and desktop ads.

Low Impression Share

Low impression share tells you a great deal about your campaign as a whole however many search marketers don’t actually know how to use this info to make the most out of their campaigns. Most SEM’s, PPCers or whatever they go by, still think that a low impression share means your budget is not high enough so you are missing out on impressions. It sounds pretty straight forward actually, you don’t have enough of a budget, so Google is throttling or switching your ads on and off so you don’t go over budget by the end of the day. Right?

Sorta.. but not 100% right. Or even close to 100% right. The more telling statistics to look at are the other impression share data that Google gives you. These include Search Exact Match IS, Search Lost IS (rank) and Search Lost IS (budget). Little briefing:

Search Exact Match IS – Looks at % of impressions you received for terms that matched exactly (or were close variants) your keywords.

Search Lost IS (rank) – Search impression share that was lost due to your Adrank.

Search Lost IS (budget) – Search impression share that was lost due to budget.


In fact the least important metric when it comes to analyzing impression share is, in fact, search impression share! To get a better idea we would use the other type of impression share data. In the screenshot above, on face value, we are missing out on 10% of impressions but that is only half of the story.

In regards to budgets causing lost impressions it is in fact, only 0.9%, so increasing our budget will not lead to an increase in search impression share. More telling is looking at the Search Lost IS (rank) which tells us that a low Adrank has lead us to missing out on impressions. Even more alarming, we are missing out on 19% of exact match IS.

What you can do to fix it:


So what shall we do here? Its all about Adrank, not budget. What can we do to improve Adrank? 3 things: Bid, Quality Score and Ad Extension usage. .

Not using Search Query Data

Fitting that this comes right after using the broad modifier as a crutch. Search queries can give you some of the most valuable data available to improve your Adwords campaign. Many marketers think the search query report is only really good for finding negative keywords but that is only one part of it. Understanding your search terms is also a great way to find more keyword ideas to flesh out your campaign.

What you can do to fix it:


The truth is, how you search for a product, may not be how they search for it. Getting the full story will allow you to build a better keyword list, write better ads (more specific to the actual terms coming in) as well as stop those rogue keywords from coming through dragging your quality score down and Avg CPC up.

Not Merging Analytics With Adwords

I can’t say merging Google Adwords and Google Analytics is the most intuitive thing to do , but its not very hard and the rewards are high. Lately the new look and relatively user friendly Analytics makes it quite easy to do.

All you need to ensure is that your Analytics account is shared as an administrator with the MCC account you are using and then it is pretty straight forward from there.

Merging Adwords and Analytics will ensure Analytics data can be filtered among what is coming in through organic or paid search. Note that there will usually be a variance between what Adwords tells you and what Analytics tells you. Once you have merged the two, you are given a ton of data that Adwords alone doesn’t tell you.

Once they are linked, log into Analytics -> Acquisition -> Campaigns… and there is all your data.

What you can do to fix it:


Use Adwords for raw click data and Analytics for behavioural analysis of your users. Don’t try to analyse exact numbers in Analytics as it will simply lead to you chasing your tail.. there will be a variance.. but analyse the data and use that information to both improve your campaign and your website.

Not Split Testing Landing Pages

If you don’t test then you don’t know what you are leaving on the table. Always split test landing pages where you can. If you don’t have an A/B testing platform or system, simply use Google’s experiments and start analysing landing page data. It’s almost fun in a way but remember to only test one thing at a time.

What you can do to fix it:


Things to try and test: headlines, colours, positioning of call to action, test prices. One test at a time is important to understand the effect of each test.

Not Testing Different Ads

Have you decided that your current adcopy is good and simply left it? Or have you tested any new adcopy at all? Often PPC marketers and agencies either don’t test enough adcopy or they don’t test at all. You could have the greatest campaign potential, however have deemed its useless as a result of simply not having good adcopy which can be attributed to not testing variations.

What you can do to fix it:


Good adcopy will mean not only higher CTR but also may lead to: 1. More impressions 2. Higher Adrank 3. Lower CPCs 4. More conversions. No brainer really, test your adcopy!

Not Using Trends To Anticipate Dips

If your organic sun screen business did really well in December, chances are April or May will be a big shock. Not all products are ‘evergreen’ and some are affected (sometimes significantly) by cyclical or seasonal trends. Understand where the trends are an anticipate the ups and downs. Just because your campaign was working well last month, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work well in 2 months times. Find the trends and adjust accordingly. Some interesting trends we have noted (dog fleas, Gutter and Window cleaning, Dating over Christmas)

What you can do to fix it:


Apart from search queries you could try using Google’s trend tool –

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