The SEMrush Checklist for Running a Successful PPC Campaign

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The SEMrush Checklist for Running a Successful PPC Campaign

Luke Harsel
The SEMrush Checklist for Running a Successful PPC Campaign

Do you want to bring more visitors and conversions to your site? You know a PPC campaign can help, but you don't want to waste hours of time on research and you don't want to waste any of your money bidding on keywords that won’t give you a return on your investment.

Luckily, you're reading a blog post on SEMrush - the perfect place to plan and execute killer PPC campaigns.

This checklist will walk you through different tools and reports in our software that you can use to research keywords, study competitors, plan ad groups, and track rankings for a campaign. Links to each area of the software are in the body of this post and are also in the checklist.

1. Keyword Research

Keywords are the heart of all search marketing. However, finding the right keywords that will create conversions on your site is easier said than done.

SEMrush offers actionable data on hundreds of millions of keywords. You probably knew you could find search volume and cost-per-click, but did you know you could measure a keyword's competitive density, look up keywords in a U.S. Bing database, or export a .csv with up to a million keywords?

This can all be done in the Keyword Analytics area. Start by entering any word or phrase into the search bar to receive a Keyword Overview report with this information.

  • Enter a keyword in the Phrase Match report to see the list of longer search phrases containing your keyword. Use this report to look for low-volume searches with more specific searcher intent that you can target with a relevant landing page.

  • Enter a keyword in the Related Keywords report to see the list of the closest related searches based on how similar their result pages are.

  • Enter a keyword in the Ad History report to see the list of advertisers that bid on and ranked in Google’s top paid positions for that keyword over the past twelve months.

  • Use the Keyword Magic Tool to view and download a master list of up to one million related keywords. This tool breaks down the keywords into categories that can help inspire ad group ideas.

2. Competitor Research

In order to find keywords that your website can get traffic and conversions from, you’ll have to learn from your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. Competitive research should inform your keyword research and ultimately sharpen your target list. Find the gaps in your competitor’s strategy and attack them with your campaign. All of this can be done within the Domain Analytics and Gap Analysis areas.

  • Start with the Advertising Competitors report. If you currently run any AdWords campaigns, enter your domain in the search bar and receive a list of other websites that compete for the same keywords as you. If your domain has not run any AdWords campaigns before, you can use a similar website in your industry to get results.

  • Enter a competitor’s domain in the Ad History report to see the keywords that they bid on and the ads they ran over the past twelve months.

  • Enter a competitor’s domain in the Ad Copies report to see the headlines, URLs, and body copy from their ads over the past year.

  • Enter a competitor’s domain in the Position Changes report to identify any new, lost, improved, and declined positions for the keywords they bid on.

  • Enter up to five competing domains (including your own) in the Keyword Gap tool to compare similarities and differences between respective keyword portfolios.

Whether you’re creating a PPC campaign from scratch or looking to improve an existing one, you should take a holistic approach. SEMrush PPC toolkit is a one stop shop for preparing successful AdWords campaigns: from comprehensive keyword research to creating an effective ad copy and responsive ads. Discover the combination of powerful competitive research tools and handy keyword & ad...

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3. Planning Keywords, Ad Groups, and Landing Pages

Once you have your thorough list of keywords to target, the next step is to organize them into ad groups for your AdWords campaign. Using the Projects section, there are a number of ways to plan the pieces of your campaign. 

  • Start a project using your website’s domain and set up the PPC Keyword Tool. This tool offers an interface to organize a large group of keywords into ad groups for a campaign. Add your target keywords to the campaign and organize them into ad groups within the tool's interface.
  • Use the cross-group negatives feature and generate a list of negative keywords for each ad group to prevent your ads from competing with each other on the results pages.
  • Create single-keyword ad groups. Putting your top performing keywords into their own ad groups allows you to create precise ads. With one keyword in an ad group, you can design a specific headline, landing page, and call to action for each top keywords in your campaign.
  • Discover your real-time competitors in a Position Tracking campaign. Inside the tool there is a Competitors Discovery tab where you can see a list of the domains that compete with your for traffic from your target keywords. This list is updated daily based on any changes in rankings among your keywords.
  • Receive ideas on how to improve the quality of your landing page content with an On Page SEO Checker campaign. Enter the landing pages and keywords from your campaign, and SEMrush will generate ideas on how to optimize the user experience of your pages. The more relevant your landing pages are to your keywords, the better chance Google will reward your ads with a positive quality score.
  • Audit your landing pages to spot any potential issues with their health and structure with a Site Audit. Start a campaign to crawl your website and find any potential health issues on your pages that could damage the user experience or quality score.

4. Competitor Tracking 

PPC competition may sometimes seem intimidating, taking into account the fact that you cannot keep abreast of your PPC rivals’ progress in Google AdWords, you can only use your common sense to interpret some elements in their campaigns. 

If you want to stay up-to-date with how your competitors’ ads perform and which of your rivals take up ad space at the top of SERPs for your target keywords, Position Tracking can be a great help. 

Once you set up your campaign in the tool, make sure to choose AdWords as the keyword “type”, not Organic, to track your competitor’s ranking for target keywords in the Google paid results.

Position Tracking Keyword Type Adwords

  • Discover the domains that are your biggest competition for the same target keywords in the Competitors Discovery tab of Position Tracking.

  • Uncover the ad position of your competitor’s domain for a given keyword and check whether it improves or declines over time.

  • See the URL of the competitor’s landing page a given keyword is related to and view how the ad is displayed in the SERP.

  • Review the Overview, Rankings, and Rankings Distribution to get the overall picture of your domain’s visibility compared to competitors.

I hope this checklist helps you get the most out of your SEMrush subscription and run a successful campaign. If you're still looking for more PPC news, tips and best practices for optimizing your PPC performance, read How to Plan a Successful PPC Campaign in 2018.

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I write articles on the SEMrush Knowledge Base and blog to show people how the tools on SEMrush can make it easier to participate in digital marketing. When I'm not at work I like to write music and spend time in nature.
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