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Cut the Fat in 15: Adwords Diet Plan for the Time-Short Marketer

by | Jun 30, 2016 | PPC

by Natalie Eagling, AIM Ireland.

“Focus on strengths rather than fixing weaknesses” – Drucker, 1967.

sweeping moneyTrust me, I know what it’s like.

You are spinning so many plates, some take more of your time and attention than others. And like a magpie, you’re attracted to the shiny stuff, the new strategies and techniques that you know will be great for your business.

But this means you can neglect the important stuff, the stuff that tends to “run itself” … AdWords being one of them.

If you’re lucky enough to have a mature AdWords account which takes very little management, you might easily go a week, perhaps two without checking in on it. Perhaps it’s a new account and you’re implementing all the right things, you’ve got GDN rolling, you’re creating video ads and you even launched a couple of GSP campaigns. Good for you! But are you paying attention to how much weight your account has put on?

Just like us, if we don’t regularly trim away the fat, our AdWords accounts – while they may look like they’re performing well, with a good conversion rate and CPA – are struggling beneath the weight of costly keywords and poor-performing placements.

And, while it seems easier to brush them under the carpet than to deal with them head on, I can tell you for certain, these tips I’m about to give you will take no more than 15minutes per week, but will save you money and ultimately, help your campaign performance. Get that AdWords account bikini ready!

Diet Tip #1: Placement Mining

The Google Display Network (GDN) has a real attitude problem. When it performs well, it runs like a dream. But a lot of the time it is sensitive, and prone to throwing tantrums. Oh, and will spend every penny of the budget you set. It’s prudent to keep a close eye on your GDN campaigns, and this should help…

There are two really simple strategies I use to cut the fat from a GDN campaign. Both of them fall under the “Placement mining” topic.

– Create a manual filter

I’d use this strategy to manage a new account, or one which needs more TLC.

  1. Under the Placements tab, create and save a filter which takes into account performance vs cost. For instance if your max CPA is £5, you’d create a filter which says “show me the placements on which I have spent £8 and seen 0 conversions”.
  2. From there you can manually review the results and exclude the placements which cost you the most.

AIM DOUBLE-TIP:

  1. Use a longer timeframe. You’re more likely to see the placements which, month to month only spend a couple of dollars, but over 6 months spend far more – and need cutting.
  2. Click the check box to “Save filter” and label it accordingly. You can come back to this each time and quickly eliminate costly placements.

add filters adwords

– Create an automated report:

Once you’ve set this up, this really becomes a 3 minute job each week.

  1. Go to your AdWords account, click Reports > + Report > Table > drag across Campaign, AdGroup, Placement, Cost and Conversions.
  2. Then add in a filter to Conversions < 1, and sort by highest cost (you could then add in a cost filter too – for instance anything < £5).
  3. Finally, set the time frame to whatever works for you. I’m setting mine to All Time to catch all the inexpensive placements which are accruing cost over weeks.
  4. Click Save.
  5. Then Schedule / Format > Specific account users (choose your email) and then set the frequency. I like once per week.
  6. Hit save.

Each week, when the report lands in your inbox, simply copy all the placements on the CSV and paste them in as Negative Placements in Editor, and upload.

editor negative placements

Diet Tip #2: Keyword Mining

Let’s get some definitions straight first off:

  • Keywords: these are the words and phrases you, the advertiser, believe to be something the searcher – your customer – is searching for. If you like, you can think of these as search query magnets.
  • Search Queries: these are the words and phrases the searcher, your customer, is actually searching. Google is either matching these exactly, or seeing a strong enough relationship to your keywords. (Thus, your keywords are acting like search query magnets.)

If you have Phrase or, ideally Broad keywords, you’ll be bringing in search queries on all sorts of weird and wonderful topics… some, sadly, won’t have anything to do with your campaign.

We’re not going to get into the deep, dark art of keyword mining here, because I promised you this would take you 15 minutes. (We’ll save the dark arts for another post!). But let me give you the skim on keyword mining. If you do nothing else, just do this.

You’ll notice that in your account (as with everything in life!) 20% of your keywords will be doing 80% of the work. Ideally, you want to look at both ends of the spectrum, so that you’re immediately filling the ‘holes’ in your leaky bucket by pausing the keywords that just aren’t working for you. But more importantly, you want to optimise for success. (See the quote at the top of this article… rinse and repeat).

So, we are going to repeat the steps we took to generate an automated report for Placements, but this time, we’ll do it for Keywords.

  1. Go to your AdWords account, click Reports > + Report > Table > drag across Campaign, AdGroup, Search Keyword, Cost and Conversions.
  2. Then add in a filter to Conversions < 1, and sort by highest cost (you could then add in a cost filter too – for instance anything < £5).
  3. Finally, set the time frame to whatever works for you. I’m setting mine to All Time to catch all the deceptively inexpensive keywords which are accruing cost over weeks. Click Save.
  4. Then Schedule / Format > Specific account users (choose your email) and then set the frequency. I like once per week.
  5. Hit save.

Each week, when the report lands in your inbox, simply map which keywords are costing you too much, and pause them in your account.

(I did this for just one small account, and found $847 wasted ad dollars from the last 4 months… It is definitely worth doing!)

But… that’s not all…

Diet Tip #3: Eradicate invaluable keywords

It’s not enough just to pause the poor-performing keywords. In some cases, the search terms that were coming in via that keyword will just find another keyword to match to, which means you’re still getting that poor traffic – even though you thought you had got rid of it.

You need to take a deeper look.

Under the Keywords tab, check the box next to the search query you want to pause, and click the new button which appears, labelled “Search terms”. Here you will see all the bad search terms that were matched to your search magnet. Its entirely possible that if you don’t make these negative keywords too, that they will just find a new home, with another keyword.

Simply check all the keywords that you think should be negative, and click “Add as negative keyword”.

keywords search terms

search terms

Conclusion

Keyword mining can seem a little daunting, especially when you introduce spreadsheets and pivot tables. But much like when you start exercising for the first time in years, taking small steps to reach you goals are better than taking no steps at all.

These steps are for the time-short marketers who want to keep control of their campaigns, but who perhaps don’t have the luxury of being able to check in and optimise every single day. They will help to keep your accounts lean, CPA low and most importantly, will help you to focus your time and energy on the stuff that is working, cutting out the stuff that isn’t.

Talk soon,
Natalie Eagling,
Account Manager,
AIM.
neagling@readyfireaim.eu

P.S. Still time-short? Adwords account still bloated and perhaps in need of a personal trainer? We’ve got you covered. Get in touch today to discuss the many ways we can help you. From coaching and mentoring, to hands-on account management (so you don’t have to!) we are here to make your life easier. (And we promise, no judgey eyes.)

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