Spring Cleaning: A Quarterly PPC Checklist

There’s something about the changing of the seasons and yearly quarters that inspires us to start anew each time. That’s why marking our calendars to review and improve our PPC accounts helps take advantage of those moments.

As we near the end of Q1 in March, it’s time to gear up for some PPC account spring cleaning. In fact, the checklist we’ll talk about today can be followed all year long as each new quarter comes to a head.

You may remember that I shared a mega guide in January last year that covered everything from weekly to semi-annual PPC tasks. This quarterly checklist builds on those ideas to include some of the things I left out previously (please see that post for a list of 12 quarterly or semi-annual tasks to consider aside from these).

Let’s get started!

Mobile Ad Opportunities

Every few months, we review campaigns to make sure they’re optimized for mobile. Ads for mobile tend to have their own special considerations, and only certain types of ads can show on certain devices. Check out this chart via AdWords:


From the AdWords help files on mobile ads, here’s some advice:

In general, starting by tailoring your message to be compelling to customers on mobile devices can help your ads look and perform much better in any format.

To make sure your ad looks great on the small screen, you can create a mobile-optimized ad with a message, display URL, and landing page specifically for mobile devices.

To do so, select the “Mobile” checkbox next to the “Device preference” setting. If your ad groups contain ads that are eligible to appear on all devices and mobile-optimized ads, only your mobile preferred ads will appear on mobile devices.

Here’s another bit of useful advice from that page:

To get your message across in less space, try writing description text that is short, direct, and highly relevant to people on the go.

During our quarterly reviews, we also assess the call extensions to make sure everything still looks good. Sounds crazy, but sometimes a business may change a phone number without letting the PPC team know about it (big surprise, right?).

There are additional opportunities during the quarterly review to determine if call-only campaigns would be right for the business; these are meant to generate calls, not clicks to a website.

It’s also important to review certain metrics for mobile ads quarterly and make adjustments. We look at data for the following:

  • Mobile ad position
  • Number of new visitors going to the site from mobile
  • Mobile conversions

Based on this data, we adjust bids appropriately. Remember that on a desktop, more ads can be shown than on a mobile device, so we want to secure our mobile position. A reminder from the AdWords help files:

Mobile text ads look like standard text ads that you’d see on a desktop computer. The main difference is that we can show more ads per page when someone’s searching on a desktop computer, and fewer ads per page when someone’s searching on a mobile device.

That said, we usually adjust bids so that ads appear in the number one position on mobile devices, but no less than position two.

AdWords Extensions Review

To the uninitiated, AdWords extensions factor into “Ad Rank”– which determines if your ads will show and what position they will show in. For more on Ad Rank, see the following video, or skip over and meet me below.

There are a ton of useful extensions you can include in your ads to better support your business goals and your ad’s relevancy. Check out a big list here with visual examples. Your choices vary by type of business.

We happen to love the callout extension as a multipurpose feature to display a brand’s differentiators (and it’s new since we last published a checklist). So ensuring all ads are making good use of this one is standard in our quarterly checklist. Here’s a sample of what that looks like:


Duplicate Keyword Analysis

Duplicate keywords are a nuisance for PPC accounts. They can arise for one reason or another unbeknownst to the PPC manager – especially when running large accounts.

Sometimes, advertisers think bidding on the same keywords ups their chances of success (you can read more about duplicate keyword woes in a deep dive here).

Every quarter, we run the AdWords Editor tool to help us identify those duplicate keywords and get rid of them. It’s a fairly painless process.

Page Speed Issues

No matter what side of the marketing channel you’re on – organic or paid search – page speed is crucial to ensuring your visitors make it to your site and have a good experience after that initial click.

AdWords explains the impact that a website landing page can have on a PPC account here:

Your landing page experience affects not only your Quality Score, but also your Ad Rank and advertising costs.

According to one case study that looked at revenue and page load time for a particular client from 2013 to 2014, we found some pretty interesting data that showed as page load time became slower, online revenue fell.

So quarterly, dig into the page speed data you have via your Google Analytics to ensure everything is running smoothly, and then dig into the recommendations Google is giving you to see how you can improve the page load time.


So, are you ready now to get out those gloves and start your quarterly sweep of the PPC accounts you manage? Go on and get your PPC house in order so it’s in tip-top shape as you move into the next phase of the calendar year.

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