60 Second #PPC Self-Audit! Is Your Account Fat, Dumb & Lazy?

Posted in PPC, Self-Audit



In late 2009 we published a blog post, “Is Your PPC Expert Asleep at the Switch? 6 Minute Self-Audit.” The post generated a bunch of happy-buzz as laypeople (non-PPC professionals) finally had the means to grab a peek to see if their current PPC agency of record or in-house team might be comprised of smelly carpetbaggers. Though the AdWords PPC UI has changed some, the 2009 suggestions are still applicable. Today we’ll cover how to instantly finger absolute waste using 2011 preset tools.

That said, things have changed a lot in AdWords and there are hot new screening filters built right into the UI. What follows is a quick test that can easily indicate your PPC firm is fat, dumb, lazy and/or all of the above. Best of all, it takes less than two minutes.

There is one caveat regarding the screening technique. It applies only if your in-house crew or agency tracks conversion using AdWords native conversion, which is most common.  If you see any conversions whatsoever in AdWords, then proceed. If you see no conversions, shoot your agency an email and ask what software they’re using to track conversions and request a report that shows “Any keywords we buy that do not convert, sorted descending by cost.” Most advertisers do track conversions using AdWords native conversion tracking.  Here’s how you run the screen yourself.  Ladies and gentlemen, start your egg timers!

Costly Keywords With No Conversions
1- Login to your AdWords account. Click on the “Campaigns” tab. Then, click on the “All online campaigns” tab.

2- On the “Keyword” Tab, click “Filter” and then, “Costly keywords with no conversions.”

3- If not already open, expand the filter in the upper left of the yellow filter box and click “Apply.”

4- Sort the filtered results by cost descending by clicking on the cost tab to see the most expensive keywords that blow. Scroll down towards the bottom of the page for totals on the filtered keywords. Eeep!

There are many reasons a hapless purveyor of smelly PPC could completely screw off $40K. The keyword may drive traffic but be totally irrelevant. The landing page could be poor at keeping the ad’s promise.  Also, and just as disturbing, perhaps there is a problem that results in not all conversions being tracked.  The point is that we’re talking about a ton of ugly waste.  Pause that junk now so you’re not bleeding precious budget whilst your team figures things out.

Another possibility is that you’re not seeing all conversion because some take place outside of AdWords, I.E call tracking. That might be an important problem as it’s hard to optimize a PPC account without seeing aggregated conversions. In some cases agencies use other software to track out-of-AdWords conversion, in which case they should be mashing the data together using either Google Analytics, or another analytics software. Sometimes these mashups are even done with spreadsheets.  If you believe this is the case, then ask you agency for a report that “mashes up all conversion channels into one table” and (again) reports “Any keywords we buy that do not convert [in any channel], sorted descending by cost.”

Which Creative Absolutely Does Not Work?
BTW, run the same filter on the “Ads” tab, and sort the filtered results by cost descending by clicking on the cost tab. Again, these ads don’t convert in unison with associated keyword targeting and landing pages, so keep that in mind.

Of course this is just the tip of the melting iceberg. Still, this screen is a handy technique to get a nearly instant idea of absolute waste. Happy hunting!

Image: © lunamarina – Fotolia.com
  • Justin Hornung

    Just fantastic, through and through. This post, FYI, has been starred and added to my “Advertising Bible” bookmark folder.

    • Marty Weintraub

      @Justin Hornung: I’m glad the post resonated and thanks for jumping in to comment. Will we see you at #SMX East?