The 6/90 Rule: 6 Reports Contain 90% Of Actionable AdWords Insights

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Google offers numerous AdWords reports that allow you to view more data than most people have time to analyze. One of the tricks to working with PPC is to determine what data you need to look at every day or week, and then determine what data is useful to analyze when improving your AdWords account.

There are six reports that, when used effectively, can give you the majority of insight you need to analyze your accounts on a day-to-day basis. In part 1 of this two-part series, I’ll take you through these reports to find insight into your accounts. In part two, I’ll take an in-depth look at the keyword report to create actionable items from the data.

While these reports are easy to run they are most effective when combined with the AdWords conversion tracking script. This is a different feature than what you find in Google Analytics. The conversion tracking script sends data from your website back to AdWords so that you can see conversion information in your AdWords reports. In walking through these reports, I’ll make the assumption that you are using this script. If you are not, then you can still use these reports; however, you should marry up the data with the analytics package you are using to track conversions to get a complete picture of what’s going on.

The keyword report

The AdWords keyword report should be your starting place for analyzing keyword data. This report shows metrics by individual keywords within your account. For instance, the main data points to examine when reviewing information by keyword are:

Impressions
Clicks
CTR
Conversions
Cost per conversion
Conversion rate
Value per click

There are three main uses of this report:

Set bids based upon cost per conversion or other metrics with your established bid methodology
Find low quality score keywords with high spends so you can optimize for quality score (note: it can be useful to use a pivot table to find AdGroups with high spend and low quality scores. See Josh Dreller’s In The Trenches column about mastering pivot tables for more info).
Find keywords that are not on page one (where the first page bid is higher than your max CPC). Remember, though, that just because your keyword is not on page one does not mean you should raise your bid to be on page one. If you cannot be profitable on page one, then you need to decide if this is a word that can be on page two; if not, you need to optimize the landing page, ad text, or other factors for this keyword before you raise your bid to be on page one.
In part two of this article, I’ll take a deep dive into the keyword report to show various ways of working with the data it produces.

The search query report

The search query report will show you the query that was actually typed into a search engine that caused your ad to be displayed. For instance, if you bid on the broad match “coffee mugs,” your ad could show for “yellow coffee cups,” “blue coffee mug” or possibly even “tea cup.”

Use the search query report to find words that are not converting yet are consuming your ad-spend dollars. When you find such words add them as negative keywords.

Then use the report to find words that are converting and are not keywords in your account—consider these to be Google’s gift to you to help you improve the overall importance of your campaign. Add these words as keywords so that you can bid on these words based upon their actual returns. Remember, your broad match keywords will never convert higher than your exact match keywords.

When you conduct keyword research, you should always consult the search query report as part of your keyword expansion methodology.

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