8 PPC Spring Cleaning Necessities

If you’ve just started running paid ads, or if even if you’ve been doing it for a while, there are always improvements that can be made: more keywords to target, bids to be changed, landing pages to be optimized. To help you get a fresh start on your account this spring, I’ve put together the most frequent recommendations I give during paid search audits.


We pair this with our Structure & Settings section, but really it could be an entire section all on its own because it’s so important. Here’s where to find your campaign split out by geographic location.

Let’s pretend this is your account. You are spending quite a bit of money in California, Florida, and Illinois.

There are a few options we recommend you take:

a. You can restrict your advertising from these areas to save the money if you aren’t seeing strong returns within 30 days or even through analytics.

b. If you are getting impressive returns for these states, you should consider restricting them from this campaign and create new campaigns for each state with state specific keywords and adverts

Ad Extensions

Enabling all possible ad extensions: Phone number, site links, products, G+, location, and even a mobile app ad extension. These are some of the things that make your ad stand out. Do you not have a product feed or mobile app? No problem. There’s still no reason to not use the other 3.

Opinion: Thirty or more Google maps reviews per location add ratings for non-eCommerce businesses. No one in paid search discusses brick & mortar star ratings (as far as I’m aware). I’ve seen some adverts with seller ratings extensions, and when I click on the stars they take me to the Places page with reviews. Just one more reason to pimp out your Google Places account and link it up with AdWords. This is where your mailing list and followers on Facebook and Twitter come in handy!

AdGroup Structure

One adgroup should contain one search intent so the advert is as closely targeted as possible. If you have 300 keywords and 25 adgroups, we recommend you separate your keywords by similar intent then expand your keyword list, segment by device and location, and label your adgroups and campaigns so you can easily filter data. This will help you quickly and easily review how different parts of the account are working.

A/B Testing AdText

With the latest update from Google being 30 day max rotation, A/B testing for the long tail/low impression keywords is probably going to be on the out. However, if you’ve been paying attention to your ads, you’ll see that Google has been favoring certain ads anyway when the setting ‘rotate’ was selected.


After you’ve created new ads for your adgroups, the least time consuming way to change over your rotation settings are to select ALL campaigns and go to the Settings tab.

If you’ve already done A/B testing and you have selected the best ads by statistical significance and you are seeing more than 15 conversions in 30 days, you should select ‘Optimize for conversions’ as Google will help you target people who are actually going to convert.

Search Query Report

If you don’t know what it is, you could be suffering from low Click Through Rates (CTRs), higher Cost Per Click (CPCs), decreased time on site, and wasted opportunity.

The search query report shows you the true search queries that are matched to your keywords. Broad and modified broad types throw the widest net (not always the best idea); phrase match connects your phrase “white boats” to “buy white boats” “white boat shoes for men” and many more; exact match pairs your ad with anyone who only searches for [white boats]. The modified broad match and search query report are now available in AdCenter as well. Make good use of them.

Pausing Quality Scores Below 3

If you just reacted negatively to this, let’s talk about it for a minute. You are probably receiving the majority of your traffic from broad match keywords with a QS of 3 or below, but any keyword with a 1 or 2 is barely showing anyway. You are only weighing down the adgroups and accounts by allowing these keywords to remain active. You need to do a few things:

a. Make better adgroups. I’ve seen keywords go from 6s to 10s when they were pulled out and regrouped with more closely associated terms. If you could increase QS just by restructuring, you need to do it.

b. You’re paying several times more than people who have higher QSs. People aren’t beating you because they are paying more, they are beating you because they have more relevant keyword groupings, ads, and landing pages (even though Google says landing pages don’t make or break QSs).

c. Your ads aren’t showing the way you think they are. Even if you’ve enabled all extensions, you are probably showing without them more frequently than not. Google won’t reward you if they think you aren’t good for [their] business, and CTR is the way they determine how amazing you are.

If you weren’t put off by pausing lower QS keywords, then you should:

a. Pause low-traffic, low QS keywords

b. Create tighter themed adgroups (potentially split by match type)

c. Pause low QS, higher-than-you-will-every-pay CPC keywords

d. Pause any low CTR ads.

If you take a massive traffic hit after pausing or deleting these low quality keywords, we would prefer you use broad match with higher QS keywords to supplement your traffic.

Segmenting by Network

It is now well known that we don’t mix display and search into one campaign. However, we always need to be cautious about the search partners network.

To see your campaign data by network, go to the Segment dropdown and select Network (with search partners).

This campaign shows exactly why we recommend eliminating the search partners.


a. CPA is much higher than that of just Google Search. If the CPA was lower, we would have kept the search partners network because it does not affect keyword quality score.

b. Google search network is more rewarding by $10+/conversion.

If you aren’t getting strong data from the search partners, go to the settings tab for that campaign and disable your ads from showing there. Remember to hit Save before leaving this page.


Segmenting by Device

This recommendation is very similar to the Network and Geotargeting advice we’ve already gone over.

If you either decide (based on data) that you should be targeting devices individually, go to the campaign settings to make your changes.

If you know your website is not mobile or tablet friendly (graphic heavy, small text, gray text & gray background, requires serious attention, etc), then create a duplicate campaign only targeted at tablet and mobile traffic, choose Wi-Fi traffic, and your  time on site will probably increase substantially.

If you are already low on budget and have high CPCs, you should stop advertising on devices that aren’t providing comparable, strong return.

There’s Always More

Segmenting by Device and Network is always a necessity, but don’t forget about the other ways to segment. Back in August I wrote about Top v Side, which is a great segment that allows you to bid more effectively. If you aren’t already familiar with all the available segments, you should spend some time reviewing them!

If you think your paid search account is so good it can’t be improved, you should start expanding to AdCenter, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Distilled can help you with your paid search agenda.

If you aren’t too sure about your account, we offer paid search audits to businesses looking to switch from their current agency or find their first agency. Our audits provide an in depth analysis of your AdWords and AdCenter accounts.

We review:

  • account structure and settings
  • keyphrase selection and match types
  • search query report
  • quality scores
  • adverts
  • CRO potential
  • and display advertising.
We’ve recently started providing feedback on paid video ads as YouTube Advertising has recently been transferred to the AdWords interface.

If you would like to have our team review your paid search accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook, AdWords, Paid Video, or AdCenter), contact our sales team with your monthly spend, your current goals, and what you want to accomplish with your advertising (We like to think big. We’ll help you with your global conquest to the top!).

Jasmine Aye

Jasmine Aye

Jasmine is our most senior US member of our advertising team and has had several years experience running paid promotions in house and at Distilled. She has become exemplary at understanding offline conversion attribution processes for large and...   read more

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  1. kyle

    Nice post Jasmine! It gave me a lot of good actionable tips.

    Can you recommend a good guide for running paid ads? Something like “Become a Linkbait Hero” or “Excel for SEOs” would be great.

    reply >
  2. Jasmine Aye

    Thanks, Kyle! I'm glad this could help you!

    We don't have anything published, but it's in the works. Until then, do you have any specific questions? If it's too big to answer here I can make it the topic of my next post :)

    reply >
  3. Wow ok, this is the most useful post i have read on the net all week. I should have known about the extensions but i guess i have been blissfully unaware for some time now. I actually have had adwords maintenance on my to do list for this week now I suspect you have made it sooo much more effective. A big genuine thankyou :)

    reply >
    • Jasmine Aye

      I'm so glad this post was appreciated and useful!! It looks like the Product/Google Merchant extensions were just enabled in AU so VacuumSpot should definitely start using those. Here's Google's help section on labeling products appropriately. I'd start with the Target Your Product Extensions portions as you probably know how to find and enable the extension. :) Thanks for commenting!

  4. Great post Jasmine - totally agree with you about pausing low QS keywords. If they are that important they deserve a separate ad group.. and if they aren't that important why are you letting them kill your CPA/CTR/insert appropriate metric here?

    And checking those search query reports is going to be even more important now if you've let Google run with the new "near match" setting for phrase and exact. It shouldn't be bringing any crazy queries to the mix, just a few typos etc. But best to check all the same!

    reply >
    • Jasmine Aye

      Thanks, Katie! Yeah, I absolutely agree. I haven't seen too many instances yet where it's been a problem though (yet). Let's hope they keep it that way and it only helps.

  5. Vusal

    Nice post Jasmine,

    Looking at those numbers... I am shocked :)
    How did get such high CTR?

    reply >
    • Jasmine Aye

      Thanks for commenting, Vusal!

      CTR is just a reflection of how relevant your ads are to the search. These ads do say 'Free' and 'Sale' in them which does drive up CTR. Ultimately, your ads should contain 3 key elements: The Keyword, A Strong Competitive Selling Point, and A Strong Call to Action

      To get your CTR up, you will need to make sure you follow AdWords Best Practices in regards to your adverts and campaign structure.

  6. hi,

    Tks a lot for your advices Jasmine, very useful, I like also to look at impr. share , and lost IS rank and budget metrics when i'm doing audit.

    reply >
    • Jasmine Aye

      Thanks for bringing that up! Impression share is definitely an important metric when you want to make sure you are getting all the traffic you can. These were just 8 very common things that I see in accounts that make a massive impact. I feel that Google tells people to increase their budgets all the time and many people know their budget is subpar. Unless it's a serious issue, I don't normally comment on budget. If the client expresses a particular intrest in knowing how they can increase their spend, it's always open for discussion.

  7. Great list Jasmine, a lot of stuff that people can easily overlook.

    reply >
  8. Thanks for the post, it made me learn a thing or two about ad campaigns.

    reply >
  9. Thanks for sharing this, I love the search query report and i have seen a lot of people hardly use it, which is not a good idea. i think main point to have segmentation and then it is easy to analyse and improve the areas where your account is strugling. Most of the PPC Analyst has to learn how to use Google analytics which can help them to improve the account performance big time.

    reply >
    • Jasmine Aye

      Thank you for commenting, Tahir!

      I completely agree. Analytics is really important to make sure your traffic is relevant and actually interested in your product. Thanks for bringing it up!

  10. Thank you jasmine for posting this useful post .......
    Now a days it is very difficult to find like this useful post..

    reply >
  11. Hi Jasmine,

    "It is now well known that we don’t mix display and search into one campaign."

    As a relatively new advertiser, I've heard this a few times (including once from an AdWords rep). My question is: why should one do this? I haven't heard a compelling reason yet, but maybe I'm just not understanding correctly.

    Great post as well, learned quite a bit so thank you!

    reply >
    • Jasmine Aye

      Hey Dave! This is a great question.

      You want to split display from search because the account build, click through rates (CTRs), conversions, and ads are massively different. You need to be able to customize a campaign to work with that specific network without the extra data getting in the way.

      By splitting them up, you have all of your data transparently displayed before you. This is probably the most important take away point from PPC in general. Paid search is all about the OCD control you can have on every keyword and every ad. That's why it's recommended you keep your keywords list in each adgroup short and focused, do not use broad match keywords, and separate your display from your search.

      Display advertising keywords will always accrue impressions and almost never show click data. You will also see more view-through conversions than 1-per-click conversions, as no one really clicks on the ads.

      Search comes in to sections: Google Search and Search Partners. You can check CTRs & conversion info for each under the Segments drop down menu. It's important to see if search partners is profitable for your business, because you can always stop appearing there and it will have no effect on your quality score.

      Please let me know if this was useful or where you would like more information. Might be worthy of a blog post :)

  12. Thanks, Jasmine! Very helpful.

    reply >
  13. Can anyone find the AdWords Support pages that state the Search Partners Network performance does not impact Quality Score on the Google Search Network. I know this page used to exist, but it looks like it has been removed.

    reply >
    • Jasmine Aye

      Hey Nick, I couldn't find it either so I called AdWords and actually got a very helpful response! What I found out was there is a quality score being created in each search partner website's auction but the quality scores we are seeing in the interface are for Google Search Only. Separating the two networks isn't available at the beta level yet (open or closed).

      Great spot on your part!

      Also, it sounds like quite a few people opt out of the search partner's network so when you opt in, you actually have less competition and your bids may place you in a higher position on each website. However, we still don't have any way to bid specifically on the search partners, so it's an all or nothing experience right now.

      Thanks for bringing this up!

  14. Good post,

    quick tip; you can check your own Google review page by going to http://www.google.co.uk/products/seller?zmi=yourdomain.com . This helps with seeing if you will receive stars next to your adwords. You need 30 reviews before you are eligable for the stars. VerifiedFeedback.com now supplies reviews into Google.

    reply >

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