Have you used AdWords Labels? How about the notes column or shared negatives library? What about all three (plus Google Analytics tools and adCenter workarounds)?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, you could make your job a LOT easier by reading – and taking action on – the next 1,000 (give or take) words.

By rich, deep, and thoughtful notation techniques in your AdWords accounts, you can streamline tons of efficiency in reporting and communication, call out (or debunk) important “gotchas,” and make account ownership transitions as easy as pie. Take the time to think out your plan thoroughly, then implement consistently to save yourself all kinds of time (and likely money) down the line.

If nothing else, master AdWords Labels

Labels in AdWords are an extremely powerful tool for two reasons: 1) they create a column in AWE or in spreadsheet downloads where you can note pretty much whatever you want; 2) they also create a way to instantly pivot data on those columns in your dimensions tab to get a very quick look at performance across the segments that matter to you.

labels adwords

You can add multiple labels at any level, but if you do, your “total” will not be a literal total as the slices of data can overlap. Because of this, I generally recommend thinking through what is most important to you and trying to keep labels per depth to just one.

Also, this function has secondary pivoting capability; I recommend starting the label-ification of your SEM campaigns here. Think deeply about the pivot table metrics that matter to you at each level of depth. (This will vary based on your business and account architecture.) A common set-up might have labels at the campaign level so you can quickly snapshot Brand vs. Non Brand or Mobile vs. Desktop or Search vs. GDN across multitudes of campaigns. Think it through, though, because (for instance) you can already see an overview number of search vs. GDN activity in AdWords, so don’t waste your labels on that.

How to use Labels on Ad Groups

At the ad group level, labels can be used for a variety of functions. If different ad groups or products have different CPA targets, you can insert those targets into your ad group labels. This allows you a snapshot of how performance is relative to those targets overall and lets you track your targets and quickly calculate deltas on the ad group level when you download results.

Another handy way to label ad groups is with the launch date of the group. Since AdWords doesn’t have a column that carries the launch date (a very handy metric for reporting and optimizing), it’s another way to force in some important data. Another common ad group-level label might carry info on which creative belongs in the ad group. This way you can quickly change out the creative or launch an ad test in one segment.

Typically, keywords will be labeled with something to do with the product groupings or intent groupings. The labels allow you to break away from having to organize “themed” ad groups in order to quickly report on performance by product sets or intent.

Once you have your labels nailed down, consider these other ways to make your life easier by adding information into AdWords.

AdWords Editor has a Comments column; use it!

AWE has a comments column. It’s similar to a label, with the big differences being that it doesn’t show in the UI and there is no auto-pivot. That said, you can still create your own pivot off this column, and it gives you an additional slot beyond the label to add a second piece of information.

For campaigns, ad groups, and keywords, the info would generally be the same sort of stuff that you’d put into a label except you can put the less important data point into your comments. This way, you always can pivot in the UI on your most important data point in seconds and pivot or organize on your secondary data point as needed when you download a report.

adwords editor comments

Another interesting thing about notes is that they can be added to negative keywords and ad texts (unlike labels). For a negative keyword, I like adding a note about WHY I negged it. Irrelevents can be noted as such, and for those where the neg is performance-based, you can note it with the performance thresholds or the dates. This allows you a quick way to revisit old negs to make sure they still apply or pull out negs paced to meet one performance goal when that goal changes and the advertiser gets more aggressive.

Take advantage of Shared Negative Libraries

The great thing about shared neg libraries (aside from efficiency) is that you can give them a title. Typically, there are several reasons negatives may be added, and the shared neg lib gives you a way to label WHY and know when to revisit which ones. You can have a negative list titled “always irrelevant” that contains those truly off-base or wacky negatives that you know you’d never want to show for. (This one rarely if ever gets revisited.)

Another might be “Irrelevant as of {Date}” that contains things like products you don’t carry or are out of stock on that gets frequently checked and adjusted to your current product mix. Others might have to do with partners (“Don’t show due to partner request”) or performance thresholds (“>3 Conversions Over 30 Days CPA>$200”) that can be revisited as goals change.

By labeling, you can hone right in on what negs need to get reviewed and how often. Note: all of the above applies to shared negative placement lists.

Use Change History and Notations in Google Analytics

Google Analytics also has a pretty robust system for notating actions. The change history is a godsend for any Account Manager who has ever been hit with one of those “You did this!” scenarios; it has the ability to back up a “No I didn’t; YOU did it” response. (On complex accounts with hundreds of daily changes, sorting through the data on a regular basis isn’t feasible; instead, note major keyword launches, ad tests, landing page changes, etc. in the analytics notes.)

Additionally, things that the change history wouldn’t see, like site down time or client changes to landing pages, can be noted, and multiple users can note stuff to create a timeline-based, cloud communication system for accounts with multiple people controlling different portions of the activity.

adCenter – fewer tools, so use workarounds

adCenter’s tools are less robust than AdWords tools (bet you’ve never heard that one), so you’ll have to get resourceful. Campaigns and ad groups can be “tagged” with relevant info using a non-standard character that you can split later using filtering or text to columns and then a pivot (Blue Widgets (Launch 10.13), etc.).

If you’re planning to tag and later pivot on multiple factors, make sure the number and convention of your tags is always the same, i.e.

Blue widgets (Launch 10.13)(Buy Now Ad)(Seasonal)

and

Green Widgets (Launch 8.11)(Free Shipping Ad)(Non-Seasonal).

There you have it! Hit me with questions or comments; otherwise, put these tips to use and enjoy your new, lower-stress life.

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Susan Waldes
Susan Waldes has worked in the search engine marketing industry since 1999; she is currently the SVP of Client Services at Fivemill Marketing. Susan has handled a multitude of lead generation, branding, and eCommerce clients in her previous roles at ROI Revolution and Rockett Interactive and as an independent SEM consultant. Susan has a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design. Susan has contributed insights about SEM and client relationships to other highly regarded outlets, including Techipedia.com.