Today’s post is by , CMO at WhiteShark Media.

Working with big accounts in AdWords can be a daunting task. There is never enough time in the day to optimize everything. Making sure that you know what areas need your biggest effort will undoubtedly make you get a bigger return.

A couple of weeks back I wrote a post on Search Engine Journal about how the 80-20 rule applies to AdWords management, but today I’d like to talk about how you identify the areas that need to be optimized first.

There are several useful ways to identify the weakest, or strongest, areas of your AdWords account.

1) Make Filters Your BFF

Filters are my absolute BFF. I can create a filter, save it, and come back to it at all times. Right now we have a bunch of important Back2School campaigns going on in many accounts. These need to be in our top 3 campaigns and converting profitably at all times.

With filters I can quickly identify all my Back2School campaigns, ad groups, or keywords and categorize them based on their performance.

A simple filter like this will enable me to find all the back2school campaigns, ad groups, and keywords whose numbers support increasing their bids:

filter adwords

If you put a filter like the one mentioned above in a big account and start looking at keywords, you might end up with a huge list of keywords. Starting to change the bids manually for these can again turn into a daunting task.

However, if we further group the keywords, we are able to set up rules for them by using the bulk edit feature in AdWords.

Categorize Similar Keywords and Increase Bids in Bulk

First, you should create your categories. This means that you should use a top and a bottom limit for your filter.

To categorize similar keywords, you can use criteria like this:

– Avg. position worse than 5

– Avg. position better than 7

– Conversion value/cost is higher than 7

The keywords lists in such a filter should receive a high increase in bidding as the position is too low to really have an impact. However, since the goal in our account is to have a conversion value/cost higher than 6, increasing the bid for a keyword with a conversion value/cost around 7 will be reckless.

I therefore change my Conversion value/cost to 9 in order to ensure that when I increase my bid, I won’t turn a low-position/profitable keyword into a high-position/unprofitable keyword.

After changing my filter, I will then click on Edit and then Change max. CPC bids:

edit bids adwords

Subsequently, I can increase all bids with 35% (or another suitable number) for all my keywords in this category:

change bids adwords

The next step is then to do the same practice, but change the values of our filter. This time we make the avg. position a bit higher and maintain a target conversion value/cost of 7.

– Avg. position worse than 4

– Avg. position better than 5

– Conversion value/cost is higher than 7

In this round, we increase the bids a little bit less – seeing that they don’t need as big of an increase as the other keywords in lower positions. I’ll therefore just increase them by 25%.

The same procedure continues up to keywords between ad position 2-3 – these must have enough volume to warrant aiming for the top 1-2 position in order to ensure more frequent Ad Sitelinks exposure.

2)  Revisit and Recognize Ad Groups in Categories

I use labels all the time. Since I wrote my first blog post about AdWords Labels (it’s worth a read), I’ve found more and more ways to use labels to better manage my AdWords accounts.

One of favorite ways to use AdWords labels is by labeling high performers and low performers. The main reason I want to label high and low performers is that I want to see if there are any fluctuations in their performance, and I want to be able to see it fast.

I start by using filters to easily categorize ad groups and high-volume keywords in their respective segments – High Performer or Low Performer.

If the account is really big and I have a lot of varying conversion values to track, I will also label the conversion goal for every ad group/keyword.

This way I can go through all high-performing ad groups by just clicking on one of my saved filters to see if any of them have dropped in performance. If a high-performing ad group had been running with a $30 CPA and all of a sudden shows a $50 CPA over a week or two, then I will start digging into what we can improve upon.

Identify Small Wins For Reporting and Feel-Good Purposes

One of the most important skills in managing clients is excellent communication. (This is also true for in-house AdWords managers and should also be used to impress your boss – especially if he/she is into PPC.)

Whenever I see an ad group or keyword move from Low Performing to High Performing, I change the label and immediately send it to my client in a very informal way. These small wins can make a big difference when a client is sitting at the end of the month and comparing reports on progress.

Especially if your overall progress is less than dramatic, the small wins can be a nice deal-breaker for your client to decide to keep you on and allow you time to show the big gains in the future.

3) Compare Dates and Expand on Important Information

I was pleasantly surprised when Ginny Marvin reported that you now can compare time periods directly in your AdWords interface. The Compare Dates feature has been live for a while, but to be honest, it was rather useless. Comparing two charts with each left very little, if any, actionable data.

However, with the new addition you are able to directly compare two time periods and see the change in percentage:

compare date range adwords

The tables can to get rather confusing to look at, but if you’re used to working inside the AdWords interface, it won’t be too much of a hassle for you.

By clicking on the plus sign, you’re able to see the change in both percentage and actual numbers:

adwords compare dates

If I had just used the compare dates feature and looked at the raw amount of conversions, I would have been horrified. The data is absolutely horrible. A loss of 33% of conversions from 1 campaign compared to last year? Ouch!

However, seeing that the campaign goal wasn’t to expand our number of conversions, but instead improve our profit margins (6.4 equals a 30% loss on the collected revenue), the results were actually pretty good.

We managed to almost double our profit margin compared to last year while “only” removing 31% of the conversions.

You can use the same stats to review from month to month or week to week in order to see any major fluctuations. In this example, I actually used Filters again in order to better be able to identify where I needed to put maximum effort. I filtered out campaigns that had produced less than 10 conversions in the current month.

Once I’ve dealt with the big hitters of my account, I will start focusing on improving the smaller parts.

Improve the Most Important Parts to Get the Best Results

Regardless of whether you’re managing AdWords accounts on behalf of clients or you’re running your own business, you won’t have enough time to handle everything that should get your attention fast.

Being able to dig deeper into your account and pinpoint the areas that could generate the biggest return on your time can be the key to increasing performance and keeping your client on hand.

I’ve seen several cases of AdWords managers dividing their time between dozens of campaigns equally and not regarding the amount of conversions or the possible performance increase optimizing one more than the other could bring with it.

Focus on where you’ll make the biggest impact and let the magic of compounding work to your advantage.

Please share this post on Google+ and Twitter if you found it useful.

– Andrew Lolk is CMO at WhiteSharkMedia.com and frequent blogger about all things AdWords. Get more insights from Andrew by following him on Google+ or on Twitter @AndrewLolk. Also check out WhiteShark’s latest infographic: 28 Tips For AdWords Beginners I Wish Someone Had Told Me.

Leave a Comment

3Q Digital