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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is Your PPC Performing?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In today's tough economy, there are lots of marketers and small business owners who want to do more with less. That being the case, today we're focusing on your PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns.

The burning question I often get is, "My PPC results aren't what they used to be, now what?" To answer that question, we need to first see where we are:

1) Keep a log of PPC activity.

You can do this using advanced PPC management software. If your software does not have this feature, you can view your change history in Google. For other search engines like Yahoo and MSN you must keep a manual a log of all of your activities and changes. At the very least be sure to note that you made edits to a particular ad group within a given campaign on a specific date.

2) Look at PPC reports.

Choose the most recent block of time prior to the degrading performance of your PPC campaigns. I recommend one week before the problem occurred to the day before the problem occurred. Then choose up to a one-week time frame after the problem initially occurred.

3) Look at your logs.

See what changes occurred in that time frame. Analyze your reports by campaign and by ad group to see what campaigns and ad groups have changed for the worse in that time frame.

4) Analyze the data.

You can now isolate to a single variable or a set of variables that caused the problem. Learn from what happened and adjust your campaigns moving forward.

Once you've gone through this process, you should be able to determine which changes or variables had an impact. If you are unable to track the information properly or are still unable to discern what caused the drop in PPC results, then consider the following questions:

Could it be your conversion rate? Here are some things to check.

1) Is your landing page still working? Is it up and fully functional? Click on one of your PPC ads within your Google interface. Go through the Web page as if you were an actual user, click on links and fill out forms to make sure everything works as it should.

2) Have you switched landing pages and not documented the change? Additionally, were changes made to your calls-to-action or layouts on any of the landing pages?

3) How about your tracking? Is your tracking code working properly? Test your pages and make sure they are being tracked.

4) Review your analytics. Do you see a jump in your bounce rate? If no changes have been made to keywords, landing pages or destination URLs, is your website loading slower than it used to?

Now is a great time to diagnose your PPC campaigns from start to finish. Make sure that your ads, landing pages, and tracking code is working properly. You can then assess what's working and what isn't. Also, be sure to check out your overall traffic (clicks) to determine if there has been a change in volume. These tips should help you discover why your ads are not performing as well.


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