Whenever I inherit a clients PPC account that has already been setup by usually another Internet Marketing company, I will go through a mental checklist of important factors that go into the overall performance of the campaigns.  Usually you can find some major mistakes and wasted ad spend just in the first 2 minutes of looking at the account.  This will give you a breakdown of what and the order of how I review an existing pay-per-click account.

1.  Google Analytics/Adwords Data

Before I even look at the account, I will review the site analytics just to gauge how people are finding the site.  Specially I will look at the search engine referrals, then drill down to paid vs non-paid.  I can start to see which of the paid keywords are bringing in the majority of the paid traffic, as well as important engagement data like time on site and bounce rates.

2.  Account Structure

To me, how you setup/organized your campaign is as or more important than the keywords you are bidding on.  A well structured and targeted PPC campaign can show outstanding results compared to a very broad and unorganized campaign.  I will identify ad groups that may be in the wrong campaign or deserve to be pulled out into their own campaign.  On the other hand I will

look for ways we can merge two ad groups in different campaigns into one, to make the account more organized and easy to manage.  I have found that using a whiteboard or piece of paper to map out your Campaign Levels and Ad Group Levels will make it much easier when you actually go in to start editing the account.

3.  Budget Distribution

Depending on the clients monthly budget, I will identify opportunities for not only shifts in budget for ad groups that are performing better, but ways to increase the quality score to decrease the CPC.  If you can clean up the account by restructuring it to be more targeted, remove non-performing keywords, and tweaking ad copy and destination urls, you can make your ad spend last a lot longer and drive more qualified traffic with that budget.

4.  Keywords

Looking at the keywords, the keyword match, and the keyword bid will help me to gauge the advertiser competition and how broad/targeted our campaigns are.  If you are bidding on the broad term “widgets” that means that anyone using that keyword in their search query will trigger their ad.  What if they were searching for “blue widgets”, but the store doesn’t sell blue widgets, it would make sense to bid on terms like “red widgets” or “yellow widgets” on phrase match to better qualify the searcher.

5.  Negative Keywords

There is a little Google Analytics hack that I have been using for years now that will show you the exact term the user searched which led to that user clicking your ad.  This is extremely important in finding negative keywords that you can ad to your campaigns.  If you notice that 50% of visitors coming in from the keyword “SEO software” are also putting “free” in front of the phrase, you may want to add “free” as a negative keyword.

6.  Geo-targeted Areas

It may seems pretty basic, but are the ads targeted for the correct geographic areas?  If the store only caters to people in a 20 mile radius and for whatever reason the ads are targeted to the entire site, make sure you fix that so the ads will only show for people in that specific area.

7.  Ad Copy

Ad copy can be a big part in increasing CTR.  What do the ads say?  Are they trying to pre-qualify the user before they click on the ad?  Are they testing different ad copy by doing A/B tests?  Are they using price qualifiers in the ad to entice or deter users from clicking?

8.  Day Parting

Depending on the industry, it may be best to use day parting to try and have your ads show when targeted users are searching.  By looking at the data to see when people are clicking on the ads or not clicking will help you to find the optimal time to start and end your ads during the day.