How do you know if you need to bring in the heavy machinery? Here are five classic signs that your PPC account needs to be completely overhauled:
A low CTR indicates one or more of the following things are occurring:
- Your keywords are too general, so you’re attracting unrelated traffic
- Your ads are not closely enough related to your keywords to appeal to searchers
- Your ads are not compelling enough to stand out among your competitors
These are major problems that you need to address in your PPC account to ensure that you are not losing out on traffic. Looking through search queries should tell you if you have an issue with your match-types for your keywords. Unrelated search queries will bring up your ads when you are using too many broad match keywords or the wrong keywords.
Combing through your ads is more difficult and can be more time consuming because determining whether or not the ads are compelling is more subjective. In order to avoid personal bias, lean on the numbers to help you indicate which ads are the best performers over time and test different headlines, value propositions, calls to action and other ad elements.
2. High Bounce Rate
To keep your bounce rate low, you should stick to the best practices for PPC landing pages – send traffic to the most relevant page possible to remove the steps needed to convert, provide a logical navigation, use enticing calls-to-action, inform without overwhelming, etc.
A high bounce rate is usually an indicator of choosing the wrong landing page for your ad, but it can also point toward some of the same things as mentioned above. If your keywords are too general, you may end up sending low quality traffic to your site. Searchers that aren’t looking for what you’re providing tend to bounce right away, driving up this number and indicating that you have a problem on your hands.
A high bounce rate can also indicate that you have a technical issue on your website. On occasion, advertisers will direct traffic to a landing page that has a broken call-to-action. This can prevent visitors from getting where they want to go, frustrating them into leaving. Ensuring the technical elements of your pages are working together is the best way to troubleshoot this.
3. Disapproved Ads
If you have a bunch of disapproved ads, you’re probably doing something wrong. Aside from keeping your ads from showing, having disapproved ads can throw up a red flag to Google that your account may not be entirely on the up and up. As soon as you spot a disapproved ad, you should use the information Google provides to figure out why it was disapproved, fix it and resubmit it and then check all of our other ads to ensure you don’t have the same problem anywhere else. (I know, this can be maddening! Unfortunately, it’s also necessary!) Having a cluster of ads get disapproved or letting disapproved ads sit there indicates to Google that you may be trying to get around rules and regulations… and Google doesn’t like rule-breakers.
4. Low Quality Scores
Low quality scores can result from many of the same factors as low CTRs or high bounce rates. If you have low quality scores for your keywords, the best way to fix this is to break up ad groups so that they are more tightly focused. Once you’ve done that, it enables you to create really specialized ads for each ad group, which will usually raise your quality scores.
If your quality scores remain low, you may want to also take a look at your landing pages to make sure that they are closely connected to your ads and keywords. Any disconnect between these three will manifest itself in low quality scores for your keywords.
Some of the factors that go into the quality score calculation are based on historical performance, so don’t expect a big jump overnight. However, as you make changes, monitor your quality scores to determine if they’re increasing respective to the improvements you’re making elsewhere.
5. Low Conversion Rate
A low conversion rate is usually the first thing account owners notice, but this can be the trickiest to determine the root cause of and fix effectively. This is where studying historical performance data and change history can help you to identify correlations that you can test. Don’t be fooled though, just because there is a correlation between two things doesn’t mean that one is causing the other.
Here’s a great example… At a former company, our team had a client send a frantic email one day because she was convinced that the political conflict in Egypt was causing her site traffic to plummet. Now, these two things certainly happened at about the same time. However, given that every month since her site was launched she had fewer than 2 visits from Egypt, there really wasn’t a cause-and-effect relationship there. The moral of this story is that correlation isn’t enough. Sure, you may have decreased your bids by $0.10 and your conversion rate may have fallen 0.5%, but that’s not to say that the bid adjustment caused this fluctuation.
The other thing I would caution against is getting too microscopic in your thinking. You never want to look at too short of a time frame to be able to see the bigger picture and make sound decisions, nor do you want to waste your time on changes that are statistically insignificant.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Consulting for small businesses, Copywriting and Local Online Marketing. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and enjoys cooking, watching sports and spending time outdoors. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about marketing theory and SEM trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!