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Learn How to Conduct Effective & Thorough PPC Audits at #SESCHI 2012

Danny Goodwin
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audit-overhaulWant to learn how to inherit paid search campaigns and get them started on a new, exciting path to success, and how to create a sustained plan of continuous campaign auditing, analysis, and optimization? Then you’ll want to come to SES Chicago 2012.

Effective PPC Auditing” at SES Chicago is one session PPC managers won’t want to miss Day 1 (Tuesday, November 13) at 4 p.m. Here, you’ll learn how to achieve maximum PPC performance and fully determine an account’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges.

Jeremy Hull, Associate Director of Paid Search for iProspect, and Joseph Kerschbaum, Vice President for Clix Marketing, will be the guides on your path to profitability. Here’s why PPC folks should attend, and a taste of what you can expect to take away from the session.

Who are you, and roughly how many PPC audits have you conducted?

Jeremy Hull: I’m responsible for managing and growing our paid search service across all six US offices and 200+ brands we represent. I also lead our internal paid search audit team. I’ve audited dozens of accounts – we audit incoming business, clients who engage just our auditing/consultant services, and all full-service accounts (we audit all internally managed paid search accounts at least twice a year).

Joseph Kerschbaum: I’ve been in the SEM industry for over seven years and I’ve audited a few hundred campaigns during this time. We regularly audit campaigns for clients who manage their accounts in-house or through another agency, and we regularly audit our own clients’ accounts for challenges, opportunities, etc.

OK, I’ve just inherited an account and am ready to get my audit on. What’s the first critical area I should be looking at?

JH: The foundation of a paid search account is structure. Campaign organization affects performance (ROI) and analysis (reporting) — and it’s the first crucial piece to review when inheriting an account. Red flags include:

  • Campaigns which spend the majority of available account budget.
  • Campaigns targeting multiple devices.
  • Campaigns containing multiple match types.
  • Campaigns that are not granular.

If you see any of these, plan to scrap the existing structure and start fresh. Once you have a strong structural foundation in place you’ll be in great shape to move forward.

JK: I agree with Jeremy, one of the most critical areas for auditing is structure. The structure of an account heavily influences performance, reporting, ongoing optimization and the list goes on and on.

On the lighter side, and by this I mean if you want to review an account quickly for some short-term wins and not a major overhaul, I suggest folks audit their campaign settings. If we aren’t ready to completely restructure an account, but we want to give performance a quick lift, campaign settings is a good place to start. In other words, campaign settings can be quiet killers if not paid close attention.

Specifically, people should check these settings first:

  • Ad rotation
  • Ad delivery
  • Network targeting
  • Device targeting
  • Geographic targeting
  • Hourly targeting

Are there any areas PPC managers often overlook when conducting a PPC audit?

JH: Everyone has their own blind spots – especially when reviewing an account they work on themselves. It’s easy to miss opportunities because “you already tried that and it didn’t work.” But when was the last time you tried it? I always encourage team members to keep an open mind when hearing audit results, and really consider all opportunities present!

As far as specific blind spots go, ad copy tends to usually have some “interesting” things going on. Old copy accidentally left in the account, copy from tests that were set up months ago, and so on. Because ad copy can be set to “automatically” optimize, it’s easy to ignore!

JK: Well, honestly I think settings are often overlooked. I also think that ad copy/testing is often overlooked. When we review accounts we often find that ad tests have been running too long, or there is only one ad variation running, or there are multiple ad variations active within an ad group but even the account manager isn’t sure the difference between them or what is being tested (and learned).

What is the biggest danger of not conducting a PPC audit?

JH: There are several dangers:

  • A setting or strategy that you haven’t seen/don’t know about is severely hampering your PPC performance.
  • You spot an issue – and have no way to track it down to its root cause, because you don’t know the source (Which keyword is triggering the ad? What targeting is being used? Etc.).
  • Best practices change regularly – usually with every new feature released by Google AdWords! And since Google usually opts accounts in to the less strategic option when they launch a new feature, it’s easy to miss out on opportunity.
  • The biggest danger, however, is that you don’t know where your next opportunity is. An account that hasn’t been audited and reviewed isn’t ready to scale – and if more budget comes your way, and you’re prepared to effectively spend it, then you’ll be the hero! If you don’t know where to allocate the next batch of budget, you just missed out!

JK: Along with everything Jeremy very expertly stated, I think the biggest danger of not auditing accounts is neglect in general. Neglecting to find elements of an account that are hindering performance. Neglecting to find new opportunities within existing elements of the account. Neglecting to bring new ideas or strategies that can improve or expand an account.

The flip-side of negligence is lethargy. If you don’t auditing accounts regularly they can become lethargic, and I don’t know any account that doesn’t need to stay agile and innovative.

Who should attend Effective PPC Auditing at SES Chicago, and what can they expect to learn from you?

JH: Anyone who manages or is in charge of a paid search account. Joe and I each have lots of experience auditing accounts, and we’ll leverage that experience to share tips, suggestions, and warnings in a fast-paced, interactive session. This panel won’t just be us running through slides – we’ll spend the entire session time discussing (and debating) ideal strategies and how to implement them. In addition, we’ll have a surprise treat as a takeaway for all attendees!

JK: Amazing, mind-blowing, sea-change-inducing truth bombs. Just kidding (but I’m not, really). What Jeremy said is more than sufficient.

Anything else you'd like to add?

JH: Come to the session with questions in mind – and if you don’t get a chance to ask during the session, track Joe or me down afterward!

JK: Come to the session! This panel at SES is a discussion so I think what we’re doing is fun and unique.

The SES Conference & Expo returns to Chicago for the ninth consecutive year, and will once again provide online marketers of all experience levels with an in-depth education on a myriad of topics and amazing networking opportunities. And hey, the Early Bird rate for an All Access Pass has been extended through this Friday, Oct. 26, which is yet another reason you should attend SES Chicago, so register now!


The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES AtlantaSES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start - to help you master being found on search engines. Early Bird rates available through Sept 12. Register today!

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