April 24th, 2009

Using AdWords reports to strengthen your PPC campaigns

by sage island

There is a ton of useful information in your main AdWords campaign summary pages, especially now that they’ve released the new interface (still in beta).  However, on these pages and even in Analytics, you don’t get to see the whole story. To most accurately target the keywords, ads & budgets of my AdWords accounts, there are several reports that I rely on which fill in the gaps that are missing from the main performance data.

Search Query Performance Report

Most likely, your ad groups are composed of keywords set to broad, phrase, and exact match (and if not, they should be). With broad match keywords, your ad is triggered when a user searches on a term that Google determines to be similar to your keyword. The Search Query Report lists the exact search queries which triggered your ads and resulted in clicks.

By looking at the report, you can determine new keywords, or even ad groups, which you hadn’t originally included by seeing which terms are receiving the most clicks and/or conversions. I’ve also found the Search Query Report to be extremely useful in determining negative keywords for my campaigns, especially with short-tail terms. The report identifies variations that don’t match the original intent of my keywords.

Account/Campaign/Ad Group/Keyword Performance

Depending on how specific you are looking to get, you might use these reports to see an overall view of your data for any amount of time.  However, I’ve found the best thing about these reports to be their customizability, from a unit of time, to a date range, to specifically what type of data I am looking to see (CTR, conversions, etc.).

I have often used these reports to show the historical success of my campaigns over each day of the week. By selecting “day of week” from the drop down menu and choosing a relatively large amount of time, I can often determine the best days to focus our clients’ PPC budgets, which can be extremely beneficial, especially for smaller ad budgets. A similar report can be used to determine peak hours of the day (choose hourly from the drop down menu). By taking advantage of AdWords’ ad scheduling feature, you can focus your budget only during the hours of the day in which you receive the heaviest number of clicks.

Geographic Report

Whether you are a large nationwide operation or a small local company, geotargeting is an important tool. The Geographic Report is an excellent way to determine areas in which you have the most success (or the least). The report can be customized to show as broad of an area as entire countries, or as narrow as a single city.

If you find that your ads are especially successful in a certain area, it might be worthwhile for you to allocate a certain amount of your budget to specifically target that region (just make sure to exclude that area from any other campaigns which might overlap those targeted regions). You may also find areas where your ads are far less successful. In that case, it may be wise to exclude these areas in an effort to focus your ad dollar on those regions which are most likely to convert.

These are just a few of my favorites. There are plenty of other reports in AdWords that are also highly beneficial, and I encourage you to dig around and explore this often underused feature.  No matter your PPC advertising budget, each of these can help you to allocate your budget in the most efficient, targeted way.