This is part 4 in a 5-part series.
Learn PPC Series Navigation:
- Part 1: What Is PPC?
- Part 2: Starting Your PPC Account: From 0 to Getting Your First Click
- Part 3: How Bidding Works in PPC
- Part 4: Navigating Your PPC Account (You Are Here)
- Part 5: Optimizing Your PPC Account
Navigating a new software is always a challenge. However, what could be more important than knowing what you’re looking at?
Google does a good job making the interface simple, but there is a lot going on. Learning the terminology and where everything is located in your account will help you save time in the long run.
This article will explain the most important parts of the Google Ads UI. From selecting a date range to editing your billing info to sorting and filtering your data.
The Big Picture
Okay, don’t get too overwhelmed! It is a lot, but let’s take it step-by-step.
1. Campaign Navigation Panel
This panel is a simple one. You can either select “All Campaigns” to show all of your campaigns in the data window, or you can select individual campaigns or ad groups to view their data.
This panel is one way for us to filter down our data window to show clicks and other metrics for specific campaigns and ad groups. If we want to look at all of our account’s data, we would stay on the “All Campaigns” setting. But if we want to dig into one particular campaign, we would select it here.
For now, let’s stay on one of our campaigns: “Cheap Books.”
Tip: “Minimize” the campaign panel by clicking the the left arrow.
2. Primary Navigation Panel
This panel has a lot of options. Lets work our way down from top to bottom.
Overview: This will give us a high-level overview of our campaign’s data and performance. Great for at-a-glance information on how our campaign is doing.
Recommendations: Google’s suggested changes to your account. You can also find account alerts and issues in the tab. This can be a good tab to check on once or twice a week to address high-level issues.
Ad Groups: This populates our data window with a list of our ad groups. Each ad group gets it’s own row of data. We can also add a new ad group from this view with the circular “+” button.
Ads & Extensions: This populates our data window with all of our campaign’s ads. We can also access our ad extensions from here.
Landing Pages: This is where you can find Google’s score for your landing pages and each landing page’s data.
Keywords: Access to all of your campaign’s keyword data. This will populate our data window with all of our keywords. Can be a bit much if we’re looking at a large campaign (100 keywords +) so filtering to a specific ad group is usually the right course of action.
This tab also gives us access to Negative Keywords and Search Terms
Audiences: An advanced tool where you can build custom audiences of your site’s visitors. An example would be users who have visited your site and signed up for an email
This tab also gives us access to In-Market audiences, which are Google’s pre-built audiences to hone in on your target user. These range from “Parental Status” to “Interested in Boats.”
Demographics: Similar to In-Market audiences, but more basic. This is where you can see your campaign’s demographic data. The three demographics are Age, Gender and Household Income.
Settings: This is where you set your budget, your language targeting, location targeting, and all of the other initial campaign setup settings. You can come here to modify any of those settings, or if you simply want to change the name of your campaign.
There are some advanced settings here, like tracking templates and IP exclusions, but these can be addressed later on.
Locations: Add your targeted and excluded geographical regions here. You can also access geographical reports to see where your users are located when searching and clicking your ads.
Ad Schedule: Set up a custom schedule for when your ads will show on Google. For example, if your business is closed from 6PM to 7AM, you could have your ads shut down for this time.
Devices: Check on performance on the 3 major device types. Often times, clicks are cheaper on mobile phones, but conversion rates are also lower. You can also set bid adjustments here to decrease your Max CPC on Mobile or Tablet. You can even exclude a device entirely by giving it a -100% bid adjustment.
Advanced Bid Adjustments: adjust how high your bids are for certain types of interactions, like calls.
Change History: See who made what changes, when.
Drafts & Experiments (Advanced): Allows you to A/B test an entire campaign.
You will frequently use this panel to navigate your PPC account. It is the place to turn to if you want to add new ads, change what data you’re looking at or update settings in your campaign.
Tip: Use the small panel in the upper left hand corner to know where you are in your account. You can also click these links to navigate between items.
3. Secondary Navigation Panel
The secondary navigation panel is the horizontal bar that appears above your data. The contents of this panel will change depending on which primary navigation item you have selected. I like to think of these as tabs, kind of like in an internet browser.
For example, when you are in Keywords, you will see tabs for Search Keywords, Negative Keywords, Search Terms, and Auction Insights.
Each of these will show you different options for analysis or manipulating your account.
For example, you can add new negative keywords under the Negative Keywords tab.
Or under Demographics, we can navigate to Gender to view data by gender.
This navigation panel will default to the most useful option first, but it is important to be aware that these optional “tabs” offer a deeper look at your account.
Tip: Go through each primary navigation page and see what options exist on the secondary nav.
4. Search, Reports & Tools
One of the most useful features early on will likely be the Search button. Click on this and type whatever you’re looking for.
Ideally, you will learn how to properly navigate to the items you’re seeking. However, if you’re not sure, the search bar can help you find something fast.
Reports allow you to look at your data in a more visual fashion. You visualize your data in graphs, tables, charts and more. It’s sort of like a mini-excel tool to help you understand your account’s performance.
Tools & Settings is another highly-concentrated drop-down. Most of these features are advanced and we will not cover them, however this is where you find billing, set up conversion tracking, and access the keyword planner tool.
One other tool worth mentioning is the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool. This tool allows you to emulate a Google search from anywhere in the world. It will give you a preview of the actual ad space and tell you whether or not your ad is appearing.
If you are in need of account support, this is where you can reach out to Google Ads customer support. Use the “?” box and either call or fill out a form to contact Google.
This panel is also where notifications will appear for your account. You’ll receive alerts if your budget has run out, if your ads become disapproved, and much more. Keep an eye out for any new notifications, they’re usually important!
5. Date Range Selector
The date range selector is something you should always be aware of. This is where you set the date range for your data. This setting applies to the entire account and all of the data you are looking at, so be sure it is set to the intended time period!
You can choose today, yesterday, last 7 days, last 30 days, all time, and more presets. You can also select a custom set of days to look at how your account performed over that time period.
If you want to compare one date range to another, you can toggle on the “compare” feature and select two date ranges to compare.
Note: My most frequently used date ranges are today (for daily monitoring) and last 7 days.
6. Main Data Window
This is where your data is shown. You can access all of your metrics here. You can sort your data alphabetically, from greatest to smallest, or vice versa by clicking on any of the column headers.
Tip: Hover over any column header to get a brief explanation of the metric.
This is the area of the account that you will likely spend the most time looking at. Data is what will help you decide what needs to be changed in your account.
Are some keywords performing great, and others not? Probably!
Time to change some bids, and you can do this right here in the main data window:
7. Data Manipulation Panel
This panel allows you to slice-and-dice your data add new metric columns to the table, and even search your data.
The Segment button will allow you to show more details for each of the rows in your data. For example, if you segment by device, each item will have 3 rows instead of one, one for each device type.
There are many segments to choose from, so if you’d like to learn more, check this out.
Columns are very important. Each advertiser will likely be interested in seeing different metrics. You can click Columns and select from a large number of options.
I would recommend starting with the following metrics, and adding or removing any to your needs.
- Avg CPC
- Impr. (Top) %
- Conv. value/cost (ROI)
- Avg. Pos. (If it is available)
- Quality Score
Once you have selected your columns, you can reorder them by dragging on the right.
Now, click “Save Your Column Set” and give it a name. This way, you can easily load these settings back to your data table.
The last portion of this panel that will be useful now is the Download button. If you have experience working in Microsoft Excel or any other data software, you can download any data table into a file format. This can be extremely useful if you are looking to work offline with large sets of data.
More Useful Knowledge
Keyword Match Types
Earlier in this series, we added new keywords to our account. We chose “Exact Match,” and I said we would come back to it a bit later.
Each keyword you add can have one of four match types.
Exact Match: The user’s search must match your keyword exactly. If the user adds another word on the end or in the middle, your ads will not show.
Phrase Match: The user’s search must contain your keyword phrase, but may also have other words surrounding it.
Broad Match: The user’s search must be related to or synonymous with your keyword. This can lead to many unwanted clicks and irrelevant searches. Advertiser beware!
Broad Match Modified: The advertiser can add the “+” symbol to the beginning of any word, making that word a required part of the user’s search.
When adding new keywords, you can tell Google which type of keyword to create using the following formats:
I recommend starting with mostly exact match and maybe a few broad match modified keywords. Be sure you fully understand keyword match types before adding new keywords!
Copy & Paste
Google Ads makes it easy to create new items by simply copying and pasting. You can copy existing campaigns, ad groups, keywords, ads and more by checking the item, clicking edit > copy. Then navigate to where you would like to paste the item, and click edit > paste.
You can also simply click Control+C on your keyboard to copy, and then Control+P to paste.
This can save a tremendous amount of time if you are creating similar campaigns or keyword sets. Use this feature to your advantage!
Now that you have a better understanding of navigating your PPC account, you’re ready to learn some long term optimization tips!
Learn PPC Series Navigation: