PPC consultants now have a lot of choice when it comes to receiving alerts and reports on AdWords account performance. This includes automated rules, scripts and the reporting capabilities of various PPC bid management platforms.
Personally, I value the insights that can be gained from a few well-established MCC (My Client Center) level reports in AdWords. This post will outline how I customize the following three reports.
1. The Search term report to add and exclude keywords. 2. The Ad report to analyze what messaging is working well and what needs improving. 3. The Extensions report to develop these over time in a similar way to copy testing text ads.
Search Term Reporting
One of the key reports within a PPC consultant’s arsenal is the Search terms report. Adding and excluding keywords on a regular basis to show only the most relevant and lucrative terms is a fundamental optimization technique.
In order to set this up at the MCC level, you need to go into the "Client reporting" tab of the relevant MCC as shown below.
If you want to choose only a select few campaigns within the MCC, mark the option next to "Select accounts and campaigns." Depending on your MCC structure, you should be able to get all of your accounts into a single report even if they are spread across MCCs, provided they all fall under the same master MCC.
Unless you don’t want to view all client accounts in the MCC, I wouldn’t bother specifically removing inactive ones. The reason for this is that only active accounts will be shown in the report anyway (since only they will have accumulated impressions and clicks).
Here are the settings I've changed in order to make this report as useful as possible:
1. I have included a match type filter and un-ticked both "exact" and "exact (close variant)." Just to recap, "close variations" includes misspellings (singular and plural forms), acronyms, stemmings, abbreviations or accents. For exact match, these are going to be very close to keywords already live in the account, so they’re not worth spending too much time on. 2. I’ve asked for the report to be emailed to me on the first day of the month. This will ensure the last month time range includes the full month. 3. I’ve ticked the box to show "zero impressions" because I want to see every term my client’s ads are appearing for. All the better if they’ve only had a single impression on an irrelevant term and I can prevent being charged for irrelevant clicks by intervening early.
Also keep in mind when adding negatives that broad match negative keywords will only block queries where all of the terms appear and do not behave like regular broad match keywords (i.e., they won’t match for synonyms, close variations, plurals, etc.)
An alternative to scheduling a report this way is to make the same changes in the AdWords interface directly within the Keywords > Search Terms tab. However, this approach is quite limiting in terms of the ability to add keywords of different match types, and also not very scalable for larger accounts.
Reviewing the performance of text ads and coming up with new versions to replace poor performers is another important element to regular account optimization.
You can schedule an ad report for all the accounts you manage in a similar way to the Search term report example. Some customization of the standard layout is necessary to get certain information. As the screen shot below shows, I’ve altered the standard settings to:
- All time: I choose this option paired with the "ad state" filter (described below) so I can see how all current ads have performed since being launched.
- Include two segments of "month" and "device": these will be used during my Excel analysis to see how the ads are performing across devices/over time.
- "Select columns": Within this option, the following updates have been made:
o Removed customer id
o Removed CPM (as my campaigns are all search only)
o Added in the following fields from the "Attributes" menu: Ad, Description 1, description 2, display URL, destination URL, device preference. These give me the full ad text in my report.
o Added in the most relevant conversion metrics for clients from the "Conversions" section.
o Optionally, you can also remove Avg CPC, CTR and conversion calculations, like cost/conv, since you’ll be using pivot tables to perform the analysis in Excel. Calculated fields can be used to complete these calculations in your tables.
- Un-tick all options except for "Enabled" within the "Ad state" filter. You may also want to include campaign and ad group filters in a similar way depending on how you deactivate ads within your accounts. The goal here is to set this up once the right way and minimize the amount of unnecessary data that needs to be sorted through each month.
- Choose to email the report to myself on the first day of the month.
Ad extensions have become increasingly important ever since Google announced they were part of the Ad Rank formula in October 2013.
This section describes the modifications I make to the standard sitelink extensions report in order to monitor the performance of sitelink extensions within my account. There are, of course, other extension formats available that you might also have in place within your accounts. Here, I’m focusing on the following example, as there is room for testing by changing the text regularly, and they are therefore worth monitoring on a regular basis.
Here are the changes I've made, as shown above:
- Used the "Select accounts and campaigns" option to choose the accounts to be included if a shared MCC situation exists, or left this set as "All accounts and campaigns" (optional).
- All time: I chose this option to see how all current sitelinks have performed since being launched.
- Segments of "month" and "device": These were used during my Excel analysis to see how the sitelinks have performed across devices/by month.
- Checked the "select columns" option and made the following updates:
o Removed customer id
o Added in the following fields from the "Attributes "menu: "device preference"
o Add in the most relevant conversion metrics for your clients from the "Conversions" section
o Optionally you can also remove Avg CPC, CTR and conversion calculations such as cost/conv since you’ll be using pivot tables to perform the analysis in Excel. Calculated fields can be used to complete these calculations in your tables.
- Chose to email to myself on the first day of the month.
Unfortunately, the output file could stand a bit of improving as the "attribute value" column includes the whole sitelink in a single cell. These need to be separated into link text, description lines, etc. using a "text to columns" function in Excel.
These are three of the most important account-level reports I use to make optimizations on a regular basis. By putting some thought into setting these up properly in the first place you’ll be emailed a nice little reminder to check in on them and avoid any unnecessary data.
Let me know what reports you use and how you customize them in the comments section below!