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The Most Valuable Google AdWords Features for PPC Account Managers

Google AdWords has many features useful to any PPC account manager. Experts on the subject, Mike McEuen, Director of Demand Generation at AdStage and Amanda West-Bookwalter, Senior Account Manager at Hanapin, sat down to share with their top ten features, along with useful tips on how to best utilize Google AdWords for your PPC campaigns.

Watch the webinar below to learn more about search query reports, ad extensions, ad rotation and bid settings, and more. Check out the live Q&A session with questions from our viewers for more in-depth tips and tricks.


10. Search Query Reports

Running a search query report is any PPC account manager’s baseline. Search query reports are useful to get rid of irrelevant traffic and find additional opportunities to expand. When launching your account, broad match modifiers matches you with your actual searches.

Search query reports matches you with words that you are being paired with. This helps you discover negative terms that don’t lead to conversion, and ensures that you won’t show up for them in the future. When you come across a search term that does lead to conversion, it’s smart to add that keyword to it’s own ad group, along with similar terms, and create new ad copy.

9. Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are a useful tool that sometimes get overlooked, and can be seen as an afterthought. By successfully utilizing your ad extensions you can cover more real estate, become more relevant to your audience, and give yourself more opportunities for traffic. With this feature, you can increase click through rates and simultaneously decrease your average cost per click, just by taking advantage of your description area.

8. Ad Rotation and Bid Settings

Ad rotation helps you test your ad copy to make sure it’s catering to your end goals. Important features to take note of include optimizing for clicks, optimizing for conversions, or rotating evenly/indefinitely. For brand new campaigns with minimal performance history, you can start optimizing for clicks. With this feature, you can collect the actionable data you need to start A/B testing.

During the testing period, rotating the ad copy is a helpful comparison tool. Once you have enough conversion data and the account is actionable, you can switch to optimizing for conversions where you can choose the best ad to display based on your campaign goals and history.

 7. Exclusion Targeting on GDN

This feature is helpful for conserving your budget so your ads do not show on irrelevant sites. In addition, you can exclude specific categories, such as mobile apps, which tend to be accidental clicks. By adding sites or mobile apps as negative placements, you rid your account of budget-burning traffic.

 6. Labels

Labels is a great way to keep your account organized. Michael recommends for new PPC users to “label like a librarian”. In addition, you can get filtered views based on individual labels. With filtered reporting, you have access to quick and in-depth insights on how things are performing. In all, labels helps you keep your account clean and saves you time on reporting.

 5. Auction Insights

Auction insights gives you important data on your competitors that will really impress your boss or clients. You are able to view your competitors’ impression share, average position, overlap rate, position above rate, and top of page rate for specific keywords. Using an outrank bid strategy, you can stop your competitors’ aggressive strategies that may be hurting your business. Use Auction Insights to inform your bid strategy so you never miss out on impression share.

 4. Dynamic Search Ads

Finding new keywords is important to your ad campaign. Dynamic search ads is a useful tool for keyword mining, in addition to traditional search query reports. Using your search query report, you can identify keywords that people are searching for that you're not targeting yet. Dynamic search ads is another useful tool to help expand your keyword portfolio, just be sure to keep a small budget on these campaigns so you don’t overspend.

 3. Compare Time Periods

Compare time periods provides helpful graphs and metrics to view specific changes. You can check your performance to see if there is a drop in conversion rates and change your course accordingly to optimize your campaign. It’s always important to track progress over time and this feature provides insight into what is or isn’t working well to help you increase conversions.

 2. Search Audiences

With so many different uses for search audiences, there is something useful for any ad campaign. For example, you can retarget an audience more effectively by increasing bids on more qualified site visitors, use broad keywords, and exclude previous converts. By increasing the bids on qualified buyers, your target audience is more likely to see your ads.

Using broad keywords for your ad campaigns are a reminder for customers to come to your site when they aren’t searching specifically for you. Excluding previous converts is especially helpful if a second conversion has no value to you. Search audiences helps you reach out to customers with better precision for better results.

 1. Scripts

AdWords scripts is a hot topic at any conference - they programmatically control your AdWords data. For example, you can use scripts to forecast how much money you have to explore new advertising opportunities like display campaigns. By automating these difficult tasks in AdWords, your job becomes easier and more efficient.

The 10 Best AdWords Scripts to Scale your PPC Accounts


Q: In relation to ad rotation and bidding, how is much data is enough data before you should change a rule?

Michael: It all depends on what type of business you are, but typically, about 14 days once trends have developed. If you have a leaner budget, you might want to wait for 60-90 days.

Amanda: I would say, it’s more about volume of data, as opposed to time periods.

Q: Do call-only ads bid on the same ad space as mobile text ads with a click-to-call extension?

Michael: Yes, it does go into the same data auction as mobile. However, the experience is a little different. Instead of allowing options, any click leads to ideally dialing.

Q:There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to building keyword lists. Build a very large list, and whittle it down as you run your campaign. Or, build a small list, see what works, and build it out from there. Which school would you recommend?

Amanda: That depends on your business goals, and how much funding you have upfront for your marketing. For clients who want quick results and a lot of money to throw at it, I would say, go for the larger keyword set and see what works. In cases of lower funding, you’d want to start at smaller keyword sets.

Michael: I completely agree there, if you go a little too in-depth, you’ll have months of data without actionable insights. Unless you have a large budget, it isn’t very opportunistic to cast a wider net.

Q: Which bid strategy would you recommend for AdWords search? I currently use a flexible bid strategy with first page targeting. How does this compare to just manual bidding?

Amanda: I’m employed to do PPC, and I want to be efficient as possible, so I do everything manually. It’s a great idea, if you have the time to do that. If you don’t have the time, this may not be the best strategy for you. You have to be smart about your automations and check back regularly to ensure that it’s profitable.

Michael: I’ve seen enhanced PPC both work phenomenally, and take a nosedive. That’s why it’s very important to check if it’s working. Manually, the best is having a philosophy that manages in a spreadsheet form. If you don’t have the time, a flexible bid strategy could work well, but it’s always important to go back and compare the results over a time period to see the impact.

Q: What is your method of consolidating and managing A/B test results and optimization?

Michael: It depends on budget and what you're looking at. When A/B testing, you want to make sure to isolate your variables and stick to your hypothesis. Labels really help when checking results. You can see how things work in comparison to non-changing variables. Having too many experiments at one time makes it difficult to track impact. I record my expected result, make sure I have the timeline to determine if something works, and then compare results.

Amanda: At Hanapin, we’re super diligent about our ad testing. We have the creative testing cycle, where we follow a step by step process. We take a look at all of your site’s features, then list possible ad tests. We only run one ad test at a time, to ensure that it’s completely A/B. We then wait until it’s significantly relevant to determine what the winners are, and upload a new ad.

Q: Is remarketing required to do what you mentioned for search audiences?

Amanda: You don’t have to put remarketing ads on the display network, which is what remarketing is referred to as. But, you do have to place the remarketing code onto your website, and start collecting cookies into different lists.

Q: Can you talk about the pros and cons of using existing Google Scripts and having someone write custom ones for you?

Michael: Some of the alert type scripts work very well, allowing you to not be cautious on impact to your account. Looking at the bid modifier scripts, they can get more complex, causing unintended consequences. When finding someone to write them for you, you need to find someone that has the technical skills that also has knowledge of PPC.

Q: Any recommendations on how to find the best keywords?

Michael: As far as keyword mining is concerned, there are a lot of tools to help. One of my favorites is Übersuggest.

Amanda: I use the site as an influencer to find keywords that seem valuable. I also use AdWords keyword research tool, Quizio, and a lot of DSA campaigns.

Q: What is the rule on pausing keywords?

Michael:  General rule of thumb, if your keywords aren't creating enough value, pause them. If you aren’t receiving a return on ad spend, and it’s been a considerable amount of time, I’d look to pause.

Amanda: You want to take a look at your funnel as well. You may have a top of the funnel keyword, trickling down and causing conversion. I’d check that out before you pause. I’d also take seasonality into account, some keywords work better certain times of the year.
Have any additional questions for Michael and Amanda regarding PPC ad campaigns or Google AdWords? Ask them in the comments section below, or follow them both on Twitter @Lonohead and @Amanda_WestBrook!

AdStage Team