MacAdam Lea
By MacAdam Lea | SEM | December 18, 2014

Getting Your PPC-legs (Part 1)

Advertising on Google can be quite intimidating when you’re first getting started. Google does its best to provide newcomers with all the tools they need to build a successful campaign, but with so many moving parts it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. Between Google AdWords, Google Analytics and the AdWords Editor there is an endless morass of columns and information (and that’s just one of many different advertising platforms). These tools can provide you with all the advertising information you could ever want, but sometimes it feels like more information than you could ever make use of. For now let’s focus on Google AdWords. AdWords gives us the option to choose what data it is showing us by clicking on the ‘Columns’ tab. Some of it is vital, but most of the columns are never going to get used. Take a look at the picture bellow.

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Apples Per Conversion?

Is Campaign ID relevant information? What about the number of Follows or Shares? Maybe if we’re trying to advertise on social media, but probably not for your average PPC campaign. With dozens of column options it’s easy to get distracted by data that doesn’t serve the overall health of your campaign. Fortunately I’ve already spent many hours exploring the caverns of AdWords, so I’ll provide the inside scoop on some columns that I find myself referring to constantly.

Clicks – Exactly what it sounds like, clicks is the number of times someone has clicked on your advertisement after a Google search within the given date range. This is vital information for determining when an ad has seen enough traffic to warrant rotating a new ad into the mix. My personal rule of thumb for split testing advertisements is to rotate out the lesser ad at around 30 clicks, since that is (generally) how much traffic an ad needs to see to generate sufficient data to make informed decisions.

Cost – Want to know how much money your campaign spent during a specific period of time? The Cost column is your new best friend. Since most PPC campaigns are working within a set budget, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on how much each campaign is spending from week to week. Going over budget is obviously a bad thing, but in the PPC world going under budget can be just as painful. If keywords aren’t spending enough to actually see any traffic and it goes unnoticed for a month, then that is a month’s-worth of AdWords revenue down the drain.

CTR (Clickthrough Rate) – This is the rate at which people who see your Google advertisement actually click on it, and it is calculated by dividing total Clicks by total Impressions. CTR is one of the strongest metrics for determining the efficacy of ad copy. Usually, the ad with the higher clickthrough rate will beat out the ad with the lower CTR (unless you have enough data to split test for conversions, for example). The basic purpose of the advertisement is to push traffic to a client’s website, so an ad that pushes a higher percentage of people to the site is usually better be better. Google makes its money from clicks, so a high clickthrough rate is rewarded with a higher quality score. This means more clicks for the same budget since Google gives a discount for clicks on advertisements with high quality scores.

Quality Scores: Your best friend or worst enemy

Conversions – Once a client has Conversion Tracking set up and functioning properly we can keep track of how many conversions (leads or sales) your clicks are generating. This is where we can really start to milk the value out of Google AdWords, because without conversion data we really have no way of telling if the traffic we’re pushing to a client’s site is good or bad. Ten thousand clicks and a CTR of 75% might look great on its own, but if those clicks resulted in zero conversions then we just paid Google a whole lot of cash for a whole lot of nothing.

In my next blog we’re going to get into Google Analytics. We’ll look at how it differs from Google AdWords and what kind of information it provides us that the other does not. Analytics is an even deeper rabbit hole than Google AdWords, but with a little help you’ll be finding your PPC-legs in no time.

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