Quicker Account Management

Friday, February 27, 2009 | 3:17 PM

We often say that getting the most out of your AdWords account requires ongoing management, but what is the best way to manage your account? We're not talking hours of attention each day: An hour or two each month will go a long way.

In this post we're going to share how taking 10 minutes to set up a monthly keyword report and then taking some time each month to review it can make active account management quick and effortless. By the end of this post you'll know what a Keyword Performance Report is and how to set one up so that it's automatically delivered to your inbox on a monthly basis. More importantly, you'll know how to leverage this report to quickly and effectively manage your account. Let's get started.

The Keyword Performance Report

Keyword Performance reports let you view statistics on how your keywords are performing across all campaigns. You can schedule reports to be automatically emailed to you on a monthly (or weekly) basis - depending on how often you want to receive account updates.

To schedule a Keyword Performance Report, first log in to your account and click on the Reports tab. Then follow the instructions in the AdWords Help Center entry on scheduling Keyword Performance Reports. When scheduling the report, please note two crucial details:

1. In the "Advanced Settings - Filter Your Results" section, you'll want to click the check box to "Include keywords with zero impressions."
2. In the "Templates, Scheduling, and Email" section, make sure to click the check box for "Save this as a new report template" and then schedule the report to run automatically. Also remember to enter your email address!

Once you receive the report, there are several actions you can take to examine the data and make changes based on the keyword statistics that will likely boost the performance of your campaign. You can either study the data in the e-Report that is mailed to you or you can open it as an Excel file, whichever option is more comfortable for you. Now let's take a look at how we can use the Keyword Performance Report.

Quality Score

The AdWords system calculates a 'Quality Score' for each of your keywords. It looks at a variety of factors to measure how relevant your keyword is to your ad text and to a user's search query. A keyword's Quality Score updates frequently and is closely related to its performance. In general, the higher your Quality Score, the lower your cost-per-click (CPCs) and the better your ad position.

In your keyword report, you will see your keywords rated on a scale of 1-10, these numbers are a finer breakdown of our standard quality scale of 'Poor,' 'Ok,' and 'Great.' On this scale, 1 is the lowest rating, while 10 is the highest. 1-4 corresponds with Poor, 5-7 with OK, and 8-10 with Great.

To start, either in the e-Report or in the Excel report, let's sort the Quality Score column so that it's in descending order. If you're using the Excel file, you can enable auto-filters and/or whatever filtering option you use most often. This will allow us to quickly see which keywords are not currently performing well.

What to do:
You should be wary of any keywords with a quality score of 4 or lower. We recommend that you try to maintain all keywords at a Quality Score of five or above. To do so, you can delete or optimize keywords with poor quality scores as soon as you see them. Paying regular attention to keyword Quality Score will help the overall performance of your account whereas poor performing keywords, if left unchecked, can adversely affect the overall health of your account.

Next, let's sort the CTR column so that it's in descending order. As you may know, CTR refers to the percentage of people who have seen your ad on Google and clicked on it. A high CTR is good, while a low CTR can lead to a poor quality score, which can stop your ads from showing and jeopardize your account.

What to do:
Once you've sorted your report by descending CTR, you can start by looking at the keywords that fall below 1%. When keywords have a relatively low CTR (or that have a CTR of zero), this generally means that people are not finding what they are looking for and/or not responding when they see your ad. A low CTR usually indicates one of two issues. Take a look at the two most common issues below and take action to remedy the situation:

  • Keywords that are too broad. It is likely that your terms are too broad. For example, the keyword 'donate' is likely too broad for any campaign. It helps to make these keywords more specific by adding more descriptive language to the term. If you run an Aids research non-profit, for example, you may want to use the term, 'donate aids research.'

  • Keywords that are too loosely related to the ad text or not related at all. If you notice that your keyword does not directly relate to your ad text, you might want to consider moving this keyword to a more relevant ad group. Or, if you determine that this keyword is unrelated to your campaign as a whole, you can pause or delete this keyword.

For keywords with a relatively high CTR, you can use the Keyword Tool to generate variations and expansions of these high performers. You will want to continually re-evaluate your terms to weed out the keywords that are not driving traffic to your site and to expand upon those terms that are bringing more support to your non-profit.

Lastly, let's sort the Impression column so that it is in descending order. Impressions refer to the number of times your ad has shown on Google.

What to do:
For this data metric, let's pay particular attention to the keywords that are receiving very few or zero impressions. When observing these low traffic keywords, look to see what the keywords have in common: Mostly likely, these keywords will be too specific. We can approach this issue from a few angles:

  • Use a shorter variation of the term. For example, a term like "free after school programs to help my child succeed" could be shortened to "free after school programs"
  • Use more the popular terms. As a specialist in a given field of interest, it is easy fall into the trap of using very niche terms. For example, if you are running a foundation to help save the manta ray population, Manta Birostris (the scientific term for manta rays) might seem like a common term to you, yet this term may not be used very much by the general public. You will want to make sure to use terms that would be known and recognized by your target audience. If you are unsure, you can use Google Insights for Search to gain some insight into the search volume of the keywords you use.
  • Find relevant expansions: Use Keyword Tool to find expansions of the low traffic keyword. The Keyword Tool will show you overall search volume of the relevant expansions, thus allowing you to find similar, more high traffic terms. Please be sure to exercise caution when adding keywords - in general it is better to err on the side of being too specific and growing from there than it is to err on the side of being too general - which can cause larger Quality Score problems.

Keeping these low impression keywords in your account will not hurt your account performance, but you should use the tips listed above to identify similar terms that will drive more traffic to your website. If you notice that certain keywords generate low impressions over a few months, you can assume that these keywords will never generate significant traffic and delete these terms.

Using these three metrics to optimize your account on a monthly (or weekly) basis will help to ensure that you're getting the most out of your AdWords grant. For more tips on building an effective keyword list, please refer to the post in the Google Grants Help Center.

Posted by Maren, AdWords Team