2-step methodology for dealing with PPC performance downturns

The most important thing I’ve learned from my 15 years of PPC experience is that sooner or later, account performance will take a downturn. When that day comes, we must be prepared to deal with the consequences of performance not meeting expectations. These consequences could range from stakeholders losing trust in your abilities to receiving ultimatums to “fix performance or else,” and worst-case scenario, someone else being brought in to take over the paid search program you’ve spent so much time and energy building.
Performance downturns can be very stressful and put you on the defensive. However, having a solid methodology for responding when performance is bad can help instill confidence that you have what it takes to turn a negative performance situation into a positive one.
This article discusses a two-step methodology for confronting underperformance in a way that helps you garner trust with your stakeholders and instill confidence in your ability to manage PPC accounts through the

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Are you changing keyword bids too often?

The AdWords advertising system utilizes an auction-like process to decide which advertisers’ ads get to show and in which order. By bidding higher or lower, you can appear at higher or lower positions — depending on what your competitors are bidding.
Account managers use many approaches for setting and tweaking bids over time, and bid optimization is one of the oldest features in the SEM software industry. Automated bidding can work great, but many account managers (particularly agencies and consultants) have neither the budget nor the inclination to pay for an additional system to help them manage their AdWords account, so often the account managers must set bids themselves, which can be a daunting task.
I recently audited a large enterprise account and saw that the account manager had been very busy making bid changes, every three days or so, for the same keyword in many cases ($2.00 –> $12.00 –> $8.00 –> $15.00). Frankly, it looked pretty crazy.

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Four key holiday paid search trends to keep an eye on

During the holidays, there are a million different data points advertisers can look at to see how paid search is performing throughout this crucial shopping period. Depending on business goals and the type of products sold, which of those data points are most important for a particular site can vary widely from one brand to the next.
That said, there are a few overarching trends that apply to many advertisers and which help to set the stage for performance expectations over the coming weeks. Here I’ll outline four interesting paid search trends I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Will Black Friday continue to close the paid search sales gap on Cyber Monday?
Black Friday is for doorbusters. Cyber Monday is for online deals. That’s the way this thing is supposed to go, right?
The lines are blurring on those distinctions, with Black Friday Google paid search sales growth far outpacing that of Cyber Monday last year.
Paid search sales growth from 2015

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5 ways to sell more this holiday season with Google’s updates to shopping ads

With the biggest e-commerce days of the year just around the corner, it’s not too late to take advantage of some of Google’s newest ways to help you sell more stuff online.
Attract users earlier in the buying process with showcase ads
For consumers who are further along the path to an online purchase, Google is good for finding the best price and doing more in-depth research, but it traditionally hasn’t been the best place to help consumers make choices earlier in their decision process.
But with Showcase Shopping ads, Google is delivering a better discovery process for these shoppers. This ad format was introduced in limited beta in 2016 and is now available to every retailer. The idea behind it is that it allows advertisers to use a mix of lifestyle images and products to showcase its brand for generic e-commerce searches where ads for specific products wouldn’t be relevant.
Showcase Shopping ads allow retailers to promote their brand to

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The nitty-gritty paid search account health check: Part 2

Welcome to the second and final post in a two-part series about paid search account audits. If you haven’t read the first post, be sure to check it out here! Without further ado, let’s dive right into the good stuff — the remaining analyses standing between you and a perfectly manicured paid search account.
Keywords and negatives
Keywords are essentially the building block of your search campaigns, so needless to say, there’s always room for an audit. Here are some things to review:

Are there any keywords that are spending money without converting?

I look at this in different time frames, including the past 30 days or longer time frames, such as “all time,” because there could be keywords flying under the radar that may not be spending money quickly but that are slowly spending — like a small leak that can do damage over time.

Are there any keywords that are below the first page bid?
Are there keywords that haven’t really

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How to capture urgent leads with call-only ad extensions

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If you find yourself facing an overflowing toilet, you’re not going to deal with it from the confines of an ergonomic desk chair. There’s no time to sit in front of the computer and do your due diligence. Unless you happen to be deft with a plunger and a snake, you’re going to pull out your phone and look for a qualified problem solver as quickly as possible.
But what happens when that first search result is nothing more than a phone number and two disjointed phrases, an incoherent mess reminiscent of what’s clogging up your pipes?
You’re going to skip to the next item on the SERP in search of a solution.
If you’re the plumber, how do you fix this problem? How do you make sure the person with the overflowing toilet calls you and not your competitor?
Today, I’m going to dive into how the recent addition of ad extensions to call-only ads can help you

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AdWords Scripts now available in new AdWords interface

AdWords Scripts are now available in the New AdWords interface, giving users a visual refresh, as well as some new capabilities that make management a bit easier, especially for advertisers with lots of scripts in their accounts.
Here are some of the key changes:

See up to 500 script logs per page and filter by date.
See a more precise time when a script will run.
See who added a script to the account.
Filter scripts based on name or who created it.
Duplicate existing scripts.

You can find scripts in the three-dot menu, under the Bulk Actions section. If you go there from your MCC account, you’ll find your MCC-level scripts and, if you access the page from within an account, you’ll see the scripts you’ve set up for that account.
Scripts are now available in the new AdWords interface.
Google shows 10 scripts by default, but there’s a new option that lets you see as many as 500 scripts on one page. For heavy script

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Beat high-cost paid search clicks by sweating the details

In some industries and sectors, the per-click cost of search keywords is notoriously expensive — so expensive, in fact, that it dissuades some businesses from even stepping into the fray. When a click can cost you $200 or more, that reluctance is understandable.
At the same time, the costs of not stepping into PPC might be just as pricey, even if they’re not as obvious. In industries where competition is stiff, you could stand to lose a lot by being conspicuously absent from PPC.
So, what’s a business to do?
Fortunately, expensive clicks — even really expensive clicks — don’t have to stop you from venturing into PPC. You just have to make sure that every click counts.
Industries where clicks are costly
Before we get into a discussion about how to make sure every click counts, let’s get clear on the industries and sectors we’re talking about.
Though most advertisers aren’t paying more than a few dollars per click, some industries have

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Competitive analysis: Making your auction insights work for you

Oh, the auction insights report. You want to love it because it comes straight from AdWords, while most other competitive data comes with a grain (or maybe a pillar) of salt. Yet, while the information in this report is all nice to know, it might not seem to be immediately useful.
Don’t throw in the towel too soon, though — with auction insights, there’s more than meets the eye.  Let’s talk about how to put the data to work.
Who has the majority of the impression share?
This is, of course, the most obvious use of the report. Who seems to be dominating impression share?  You can look at this a few ways:

Who is dominating impression share across all of your campaigns?
Who is competing for impression share for each campaign? What about your top-performing, or worse-performing, ad groups?
Who is vying for impression share on your top-performing keywords?

You can garner a few things from this report at a pretty high level.

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Evaluating PPC talent, part 2: The test

Previously, we discussed how to find good PPC candidates for your particular company, but now it’s time to evaluate those candidates.
It comes down to this: You’ve held dozens of interviews with candidates almost impossible to tell apart. They all have similar credentials. They’ve worked in the right industry or environment, have used similar tools to what your paid media team uses and didn’t hesitate to answer your questions. But what’s next?
The technical assessment of your PPC hire may be the thing you’ve most overlooked, and it can often lead to a complete disaster.

How do we evaluate PPC talent?
You cannot properly assess how someone will fit into your team and impact your business simply by reviewing resumes and asking them a few questions to make sure they speak the language.
Unfortunately, there is also no one-size-fits-all assessment your team can find online and use. You have to start by taking an honest look at your work environment and understanding

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