Extreme Makeover – PPC Account Edition

If you own your own home, you’re probably already used to things not working (as efficiently or at all) and everything needing constant updates and repairs. Well, your PPC account is no different from a home. Sometimes you need to remodel and sometimes you’ll have to tear it down to rebuild it from the ground up.

When it comes to PPC accounts, here are some common problems that might indicate you’ll need to change a few light bulbs or completely rewire the place:

  • Poor thematic structure
  • Flighted campaigns with high-performing ad groups
  • Significant volume of keywords with low quality scores
  • Poor representation of business/website segments
  • High number of duplicate keywords across the account
  • Heavy reliance on broad match and inconsistent keyword coverage
  • No breakout by demography, device or location if each segment performs differently
  • Difficulty to push promotions and keyword expansion in a scalable manner

Hopefully your account doesn’t have all of these problems, which means you can focus on identifying low hanging fruit instead of starting from scratch. However, if you’re facing a situation that calls for rebuilding, be prepared for an initial increase in CPC across the account as it will take some time to build good quality score.

Short-term losses will be well worth the future gains, so it should be more a question of when is the right time to start. The next important question you should ask is: who will be your architect, contractor, electrician, plumber, etc.?

It Takes a Village to Restructure an Account

Whether you decide taking care of business in-house or choose a third party to do it for you, the human capital behind the restructuring project will be the foundation for your extreme makeover. The ideal team includes:

  • An account manager to understand the business needs.
  • A business analyst with an SEM background.
  • A creative mind with plenty of media experience.
  • A multi-tasking media coordinator for a lot of the heavy lifting like bulk uploads.

Choosing the Right Tools

Once you decide how to break out your account thematically and geographically, you need to address your keyword expansion and match type strategy. Note that while broad match will get you great coverage, if it isn’t used correctly, it can be quite costly and spend through your daily budgets before your high-quality long-term exact and phrase match terms can see the surface.

While it’s crucial to create long tail keywords to drive down your CPCs, it isn’t uncommon to end up with an extensive number of keywords that bring in no traffic whatsoever. The key to building the right list is using the right keyword mining tools and tactics.

A clever use of broad match modifier with significantly fewer keywords will give great insights within search query reports. This will help you expand your exact match keywords based on what really works instead of what you think is going to work.

Now that you have the right amount of coverage, you can focus on writing relevant and effective ad copy to further improve your quality score.

How to Read Your Success


It’s important to set quantifiable benchmark KPIs prior to restructuring in order to understand where you’ve succeeded.

  • Benchmark your match type coverage by getting total counts before and after restructuring.
  • Analyze your cost per click (CPC) and click-through rate (CTR) change by match type.
  • Set a target to achieve at the end of the project, e.g.,:
    • 10 percent improvement in CTR.
    • 15 percent drop in CPCs.
    • Ratio of good/poor quality score keywords.

Ultimately, the goal should be to raise the bar – or the efficiency curve, in this case. By measuring both before and after your project, you can get a great sense of the overall impact you’ve made. Much like replacing your windows and tired HVAC system, a truly successful account reorganization should lead to a quantifiable lift in efficiency.

Friends Don’t Let Friends “Set it and Forget it”

After you’ve successfully restructured your account, don’t just put your feet on the table and chill out. You need to constantly test your landing pages and ad copies to get the best out of your PPC account.

Search engines are always coming up with clever ways to improve user experience (sitelinks, location extensions, proximity bidding) which will have significant impact on CTR and CPCs. Keep up with the trends.

Don’t settle for what you have. It’s OK to be greedy when running an SEM campaign. There’s always room for improvement.

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