Six Habits of Highly Effective PPC Managers

Being an effective PPC manager requires persistence, creativity, and discipline. Adopt these six habits to consistently build the strength of your campaigns, and help them to meet your ROI goals.

Habit 1: Growing your keyword list

Capitalize on new or missed traffic by regularly adding new keywords to your ad groups. Aside from creating permutations of existing, top-performing terms, you can find new ones by sifting through your web logs for valuable search queries, or in third party data from KeywordDiscovery or the Google Keyword Tool.

If you’re using Google Analytics there’s a hack for revealing the true referring queries that trigger your ads when using broad match keywords. Check out e-commerce blog Get Elastic’s article and accompanying screencast on how to set this up.

Finally, to balance your recent keyword additions you‘ll want to add new negative match terms. Perhaps you notice that your ads are being shown for irrelevant search queries. Add these queries as negative match keywords in your ad groups to eliminate potentially wasteful clicks, and to keep your conversion cost in check.

Habit 2: Testing and tweaking

Within your ad groups you should always run more than one ad text at once. Test new ads against your control ad and eliminate the poor performers. Before you make any decision on what to eliminate be sure to check the statistical significance of your data using, for example, a split ad testing tool.

I often use Excel pivot tables to summarize data so I can better analyze and understand it. As an example, you’ve got multiple campaigns which are identical to one another with the exception that each is targeted to a different country. Let’s say you want to look at the aggregate performance of the same ads across the same ad groups for these campaigns. I’ve created a screencast showing how I go from creating an ad report in Google AdWords to summarizing and arranging it in a pivot table.


Another critical campaign element to test is your landing page. Google Website Optimizer is a great tool for doing split A/B and multivariate testing of your landing pages. You should also check your web analytics software for information on bounce rates and page view times to determine the performance of each landing page.

Finally, make sure that the content of both landing page and ad text match one another. If not, a searcher may quickly leave your site if the landing page they arrive at doesn’t contain information similar to what they saw in your ad.

Habit 3: Keeping a campaign diary

Trying to understand why clicks suddenly spiked? Or perhaps you recently introduced some new ad text but forgot when that was, or in what ad group. Keeping a campaign diary can help remind you of such changes; when to review them by; and whether or not the changes worked, so you don’t repeat your mistakes.

Sure, AdWords has the Change History Tool which allows you to see changes made to your account over time; however, you should still keep your own independent log. This is especially important if you’re advertising across other search publishers like Yahoo! Search Marketing or Microsoft adCenter.

With the NVI PPC team, our diary takes the form of a shared Google Calendar where multiple people can track their campaign changes by entering calendar entries for a particular date.

Habit 4: Leveraging your web analytics software

If you’re trying to understand why your conversion rate took a dive, or if the new landing page you’re testing is really any better than your old one, look to your web analytics software for some answers. Your analytics software can provide you with such information as bounce rates and average page view times to clue you in on the effectiveness of your landing pages or, say, your shopping cart process.

Furthermore, most web analytics software—like Google Analytics—can also give you other helpful data like geo-localization, funnel tracking, site overlay, and what position results in the cheapest conversion for your PPC ad.

Habit 5: Eyeing your competition

Is your competition suddenly outranking you on some key terms? Closely monitor your data over the next few days and take the necessary steps to adjust your ad ranking. Increasing your bids is obvious but you will also want to revise your ad text or simply add different match types or variations of these same competitive keywords to your ad groups.

Also, if your client’s product or service competes on price, and the price is stated in the ad text, check to see whether the price is in fact still better than the competition. A competitor may suddenly offer a price cut that results in fewer clicks on your ad.

AdGooroo is a paid service that offers monitoring of both paid and natural rankings of competitors across multiple search engines. I’ve not used the product myself but their website states that the product provides, among other things, a list of keywords that your competitors are bidding on.

Habit 6: Staying informed of advertising policy updates and other search publisher news

Subscribe to the newsletters or RSS feeds of the PPC publishers that you advertise with to learn about important things such as ad policy updates, like Google’s recent update to their ad text trademark policy. You’ll be better prepared for any fluctuations in CPC or conversion rate as a result of such changes. Also, keeping up with search publisher news will alert you to releases of ad tools and services for helping you to better manage your campaigns.

This article was originally written by George Jones

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  1. Excellent article, lots to grab on to. Excel Pivot Tables? Wow, I’m impressed.

    You touched on web analytics, but I noticed you didn’t include VisiStat. Their AdCam Module tracks PPC all the way down to the conversion. Their dynamic tracking snippet allows you to pass up to 10 variables (even tracking organic conversions).

    It even allows you to answer important questions like:

    “How much did that keyword make me?”
    “How much money did I make from that referral link?”
    “Did I sell anything from that e-mail blast?”

    …and all in real-time.

    Check it out at

    Sent on June 5, 2009 by Tina Bean
  2. Great article. The first habit alone is critical.. it’s important to continuously build and manage the keyword list.

    One of the things that is a huge help for me is tracking every detail of my traffic and capturing as much data about it as possible through analytics.

    Don’t just know what general keyword converted in your adwords interface, but the ‘exact’ keyword. Know what’s being added to your phrases (and broad) or what Google is actually serving (especially with broad match!). Build your negatives. Learn ‘where’ your traffic is coming from and use that knowledge to target better and cut costs.

    So much of what we do is not only about managing the winners, but also cutting costs and fat. A big impact on the bottom line. And knowing every detail through analytics helps immensely.

    Thanks again for the article! Some great tips and reminders.

    -Matt Levenhagen

    Sent on June 7, 2009 by Matt Levenhagen
  3. Great article! Why do so many companies that I talk to on a daily basis not get why adding new keywords is important?!?! Our software product, WordStream, is built to do just this in a semi-automated fashion but a lot of people that spend 10′s of thousands on PPC ask why they need to be doing these very things.

    Sent on June 9, 2009 by Shawn McCarthy
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