Whether you work at an agency or you’re in-house, there’s always something keeping you busy all day. There will always be a task that could be completed to the extreme where some people end up working 12-hour days. Hopefully the tips below can help you prioritize your day and your week to make a bigger impact on account performance in less time.

Keep a Working Project Plan

Use a personal project plan to track all potential tasks. Write down every single idea that pops into your mind (nothing is too silly for this list). This is your ultimate tracker and will help put all new ideas in perspective. No one needs to see this list, not your boss, your direct reports or even your client – this is just for you to manage your own time.

Once you have your initial list, it’s important to identify the difficulty and the impact for each item. This will float the highest-priority items to the top as in the sample below.

Tactic Difficulty Impact Priority
Landing page test implementation High High High
Implement RLSA Low High High
Adjust geotargeting to match customer zips Low High High
Raise bids on top keywords Low Med Med
Add expanded sitelinks Low Low Med
YouTube remarketing Med Med Med
Clean up duplicate keywords Low Low Low
Review SQR to find negative keywords Low Low Low

Not only are difficulty and impact specific to each account, but they will change as performance and resources change. As you can see from this example, SQR and duplicate keywords review may keep getting shifted to the bottom of the list as new, higher-priority tasks win until account performance shifts and makes these tasks more important. For example, if you’ve seen CTR drop dramatically, you will investigate the SQR and add any negatives needed because impact on performance changed the potential task impact from “low” to “high”.

This project plan is a living document, not a numbered list. Each week you’ll review difficulty and impact and focus your efforts on making progress toward the items at the top of the list. Low/no impact tasks should seldom be completed unless you are having a really boring day – but who has those anyway?!

Prioritize within Tasks

My first tip helped identify which tasks to focus on, but how much time should you spend on each task? This is where I find it helpful to consider the curve of diminishing returns as shown here. Every hour you work does not add the same value to the bottom line – each hour drives slightly less returns than the previous hour. Recognizing this fact will save you countless hours spent in vain. The bottom line is that at a certain point incremental gains are so small that they aren’t worth your time.


To apply this to a major SEM management task, let’s look at bid management. Technically each keyword you touch will have an impact on performance, but if you have thousands or even millions of keywords, this approach will not work when manually bidding (and manual bidding will always have a place in a paid search account). To find where your changes will have the biggest impact, focus on these core terms:

-Top-spending keywords

-Top-converting keywords

-High impression share lost due to rank keywords

These are the ONLY keywords you should be looking at on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. Not only do you have insufficient data on other keywords, but each individual adjustment will have a negligible impact on the account. Instead, review all other keywords in bulk every couple of months and make adjustments as necessary. Here are a couple of quick and infrequent changes I’ve found to be helpful (just remember to exclude your top-spending, top-converting & high-impression-share lost terms that you touch regularly)

-Pause all keywords that have not converted in last 12 months (exclude newly added keywords from the filter)

-Reduce bids on all keywords that have CPA that’s 15%+ higher than your goal for the last 3 months

-Raise bids on all keywords that have CPA 15% less than your goal AND have average position below 1.7 for the last 3 months

Using this framework will allow you to make the greatest impact on your accounts and continue to drive results without suffering long hours of tedious labor. Your time is valuable – don’t waste it!

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Caitlin Halpert
Caitlin Halpert is an Account Director at 3Q Digital. She has worked in digital marketing since 2011 and held positions at Dealer.com and iSearchMedia before joining the 3Q team in March 2014. Caitlin graduated from Dartmouth College and is a native of Vermont.