PPC Optimization [Part 5/5]

This article is part 5 of a 5-part series.

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PPC optimization is the maintenance that you must do in order to keep your account healthy. As your PPC account begins to spend and you receive paid traffic, you need to be ready to optimize.

How Does PPC Optimization Work?

PPC Optimization
  • Collect data
  • Segment and Analyze the data
  • Make changes to improve results

The process of PPC optimization is, at it’s core, simple. We collect data, then we analyze that data, and finally we make changes based on what the data tells us.

Collecting Data

As you begin spending money on clicks, Google Ads will collect lots of data for you. You’ll be able to see things like:

  • Number of clicks
  • Number of impressions
  • Average position (but not for much longer)
  • Impression share %
  • Cost
  • Cost per click
  • Conversions (if you’ve set up conversion tracking)
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per conversion
  • Conversion value
Google Ads Metrics

…and many more. These are very basic metrics that appear in most accounts, but depending on your ad strategy you may wish to explore the other available columns in Google Ads.

Tip: Hover over a column header to see a brief description of that metric’s meaning.

Metric Description

Your data becomes very powerful when you begin to segment. Segmenting is when you look at smaller portions of your data instead of all of it at once. For example, you can analyze how females responded to your ads vs males.

Or you could see how top 10% income earners performed.

There are many ways to segment your account’s data, but today we’ll focus on the most important segments to sort out first.

Segmenting and Analysis

Device Type

Mobile searchers behave very differently than desktop searchers. Hence why there is an entire tab dedicated to devices. Click on one of your campaigns, and then click devices along the left-hand sidebar.

This shows us how each of the 3 device types performed over a selected date range. Google and Bing show us Desktop, Mobile and Tablet performance individually.

We can analyze our data, determine which, if any of the devices, is underperforming, and apply a bid adjustment.

A bid adjustment is a percentage change to your underlying keyword bids. These adjustments can apply to devices, time of day, demographics, and many other account segments. Here’s an example:

Keyword: “Cheap Used Books Online”

Bid: $1.00

Mobile device bid adjustment: -25%

Effective mobile bid: 0.75c

Learn more here.

It is common to decrease mobile bids, as conversion rates tend to be lower, however your business may be different!

Some online businesses do most of their business on smartphones, and decrease or even exclude desktop traffic. This will have to be your decision. The data you collect will be instrumental in determining what to do.

Ad Scheduling

Does your business behave the same on a Monday as it does on a Friday? How about at 7AM vs 9PM? Probably not, and you’d better believe that other Google Ads marketers are taking advantage of ad scheduling. Ad scheduling is the adjustment of your bids on different days of the week and hours of day.

By default, the ad schedule is set to all days and hours. When you start to add new schedules, only the blue outlined areas will be “active” periods for your account. If you want ads running all the time, make sure you have a complete schedule set for all days and hours.

Tip: Always keep your date range in 7-day increments to avoid skewing data for certain days of the week (try the last 28 days).


Location, Location, Location! This may or may not be a key aspect of your marketing strategy, but it is important to consider early on.

Where your customers are searching from could indicate a lot about their likelihood of purchasing. Are they near your business? Within a 15 mile radius? Do you ship nationally? Internationally? Maybe your best customers are in another country!

Example location targeting:

Here we have targeted a 20-mile radius around New York, NY and Boston, MA. This means that only people whom Google knows are in these areas will ever see your ads.

Perhaps our business only serves these areas, or we know that our best customers are located here. Whatever your business model, location targeting can help you zero in on your customers.

Excluded Locations

Use excluded locations to block traffic from certain regions.

Find locations to target or exclude in the locations tab on the left hand side-bar. You can target countries, states, cities, custom radii, even zip codes.

Note: This targeting feature is only available on the campaign level, so plan accordingly!

Under campaign Settings > Locations > Location Settings, you should choose the location targeting option that best suits your needs.

Location Reports (Analysis)

If you aren’t sure which location targets you should choose, start broader (perhaps targeting the entire US). After some time advertising (enough time to get a good amount of clicks), look at a location report here:

Here you will see which geographical locations users were clicking from. You can then choose to exclude those that did not perform well and increase bid adjustments for those that did.

Negative Keywords

One final type of analysis to start early is finding and adding negative keywords.

Similar to keywords, negative keywords are phrases that people search for on Google. However, in this case, we are blocking traffic from seeing our ads.

After our ads have been running for a while, we can download a “Search Terms” report. This will show us all the searches that have triggered our ads.

This can be used to determine which searches are not relevant to your business. You can then add those keywords as negative keywords to your campaigns.

By adding a negative keyword, you are telling Google that, if this keyword appears anywhere in a user’s search, do NOT show my ads!

Tip: Use Phrase Match negative keywords to block words that are always irrelevant to your business. For example, “library” might be a phrase match negative keyword in our bookstore account.

Negative keywords help save money on irrelevant clicks to your website. If you keep your keyword lists focused, you shouldn’t have too much work to do here, but it is worth checking on search terms at least once per month.

There are many higher-level analyses to perform, like custom audiences and demographics, but be sure to attack these basic ones first. Once you get the hang of analysis and making account changes, you can start to sophisticate your PPC account strategy.

Making Changes

Making bid changes and adding negative keywords is important, but perhaps more important is how often you make these changes.

It can be tempting to over-manage your account, especially if you have small data sets. Don’t do it!

The frequency of account changes should be based on the amount of data you receive.

What is statistical significance?

Statistical significance is the percentage likelihood that results driven by testing did not occur by chance.

The most common test is an A/B test. This is where a control and a variant are pitted against one another, often in the form of ads.

When one ad performs significantly better than the other, it is ruled the winner of the test, and becomes the new control.

Use this A/B test statistical significance calculator and strive for 90% significance or higher in all of your data-driven account changes.

Frequency Of Changes

Tiny accounts
< 50 clicks per day
Most analyses should be performed on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Don’t make too many changes early on without letting the clicks speak for themselves.
Small accounts
50-250 clicks per day
Most analyses should be bi-weekly or monthly, but some can be weekly. Again, give the account time to accrue data.
Medium accounts
250-1K clicks per day
Most of your analyses should be performed weekly or bi-weekly. You cannot make informed decisions without enough clicks to identify trends.
Large accounts
1000+ clicks per day
If your account is receiving thousands of clicks per day, some analyses should be performed daily, but not all. Many will be weekly, and some segments may still need 2 or more weeks to accumulate enough data.

Note: These are rough guidelines. Generally, you should get enough data for statistical significance before making major PPC optimization changes.

PPC optimization can be a grind, but over time you will learn to be more efficient. If you ever become overwhelmed, there are many tools available, both free and paid, which can help make tasks easier.

What’s Next?

You did it! You made it through PPC Ad Geek’s introduction to PPC tutorial. There are endless opportunities to improve your account performance and drive your business.

So, stay in touch! Keep learning. I am committed to bringing more PPC related content to people like you.

Thanks for reading.

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