Home › Strategy › Google Ads Optimization Schedule: Complete with Tasks, Strategies, and Checklist
June 26, 2020
Google Ads optimization Schedule completely updated with new format and content on June 26th, 2020.
What you’ll learn
To build successful campaigns, a Google Ads optimization schedule that serves as a checklist is vital. You would be surprised by how many PPC managers don’t have an actual process or schedule for their Google Ads optimizations but merely rely on notes or day-to-day management.
At this point, you might think, “Well, I’m doing just fine, and I don’t have a schedule!” Relying on just bouncing around the Google Ads interface is fine when you have 5-10 campaigns. When you start hitting >30 campaigns, it becomes impossible to keep track of what you’ve done and when you did it.
You’ll end up with outdated ad text, promotions that are no longer viable, run-amok ad groups, and missing ad extensions in one big chaos.
In this article, you’ll learn why, when, and how to set up your Google Ads optimization checklist, along with a complete template you’re free to use to implement the how-to tips.
In 2013, I wrote a piece labeled The 80-20 Principle to Google Ads Management on SearchEngineJournal.com, which is just as relevant back then as it is today.
The main principle is that by optimizing your biggest earning campaign’s performance by 30 percent, you can get 5-10 times more out of your account than if you double your marginal campaigns’ performance.
Let’s do a quick math example (we all work in PPC, right?).
You have 3 campaigns with stats that are listed like this:
They’re all roughly the same size with the same amounts of complexity.
If you spend equals amount of time on all three campaigns and improve them equally by 10%, the return on your time would differ greatly:
Between Campaign C and Campaign A, there is a whopping 24x difference in the return on your time.
This is what I think about all day, every day: Where do I get the biggest return on my time?
And so should you.
If you can improve your highest-revenue generating campaigns by spending more time optimizing them, then this is where your priority should be.
The default frequency I’m recommending in this article will allow you to automatically spend 80% of your time optimizing your highest earning Google Ads campaigns.
Our own optimization framework includes 38 different areas to optimize, but since first writing this article in 2017, we’ve identified 5 areas that has the highest impact on performance:
If you’re overwhelmed by the outlook of trying to keep track of all the 38 optimization areas, do this instead:
1) Organize your campaigns in primary (important) and secondary (less important) campaigns.
2) Optimize your campaigns according to the following frequency:
Rinse and repeat.
That’s really how simple you can start your initial optimization schedule.
Granted, when you first create new Google Ads campaigns, you should double the frequency for all tasks. So Bid management is twice a week, negative keywords are weekly, etc., for all campaigns.
Bidding is complicated, but as you become better at bidding, you will be more comfortable. Initially, it’s important just to stick to the basics:
I like to have a specific framework when I manage bids and have found it helps almost everybody manage bids more effectively:
Bid adjustments are intended for the following levels:
It’s a rather complicated topic, but you can’t manage bids without considering these segments. The performance you see from a keyword is based on a number of factors (like desktop vs. mobile performance), which you need to consider.
If this sounds overwhelming to you, then I suggest just focusing on devices.
Review your device performance on the campaign level:
If you want to take it a step further, then review device performance on an ad group level, and set device adjustments accordingly.
The process for optimizing bid adjustments is that you review how each device performs and set an adjustment, which is a positive or negative percentage.
Let’s take the following example:
Our target is a ROAS (conv. value/cost) of 1.6.
With Desktop having a ROAS of 1.6 and Mobile a ROAS of 1.07, we need to decrease the bids for mobile and tablet devices.
Seeing there is a rather big discrepancy between desktops and mobile phones, you add a 30-50% negative bid adjustment:
If you want a more precise method, you can calculate the relationship between the ROAS for each device and find the exact bid adjustment:
1.07/1.61 = 0.66 – A 34% decrease should result in the CPCs for mobile devices to be low enough for us to hit the same ROAS for mobiles as for desktops.
Other things to consider
Ad testing is about creating new ads and measuring the new ads’ performance against the existing ad.
The winner stays, the rest are paused, and the cycle repeats itself.
Ad testing is one of the only optimization tasks that you will never be done with. You can find all the keywords in the world. You can find the perfect bids (at least for a while).
But you will never find the perfect ad that will run forever.
You can find ads that you are able to run for a very long time. But not forever. At some point, enough competitors will have copied your ad, and your performance will decrease.
For more tips on ad testing, I recommend reading: 3x Your Ad Testing Output with Multi-Ad Group Ad Testing
Keyword harvesting covers looking through what search terms your keywords are triggered and adding relevant search terms as keywords to your existing campaigns.
I’ve gone in-depth with this topic in our keyword research article – specifically where I discuss the mining method for finding new keywords.
But to summarize:
For the negative keyword side, it’s a lot of the same steps as with keyword harvesting – it’s just the opposite. Instead of adding the search terms, you’re excluding them using negative keywords.
A great tip is to have a filter in place to quickly find negative keywords:
That way, you can easily find any new search terms that fall within a set list of criteria. It’s super-efficient.
Other tips are:
When you work in a strict schedule with specific times to do specific tasks, it can be tempting to just follow the tasks and blindly optimize. As much as I highly recommend following the schedule and only optimizing the specific tasks when they’re due, you have to periodically also spend time just bouncing around.
I call this random time. Or blank space.
It’s just time where you don’t have a purpose.
For the longest time, I tried to set up a strict process for analyzing accounts. Eventually, I’ve come to understand that spending 30-60 minutes just randomly browsing a new account and taking notes is the most effective way for me to familiarize myself with an account.
Spending 30-60 minutes just randomly browsing is the most effective way to familiarize yourself with an account
I regularly do this with existing accounts as well. This is the time where you don’t have a purpose. You’re just looking and letting the data guide you where to look.
I click on ads, review weird segments, click on demographics, check out notifications. Anything. I just bounce around. Much is worthless, but the one thing I find or the serendipitous moment that often happens is priceless, and it’s where I come up with my best ideas.
When I first began optimizing Google Ads campaigns, I innately focuses on prioritizing my accounts by performance. I truly believe this focus was instrumental in my early success. Why? Because trying to do it, all will scatter your attention and dilute your impact.
When it comes to your optimizations, it’s crucial to sort your campaigns into three different categories:
By splitting up your campaigns into three levels of priority, you can assign specific optimization frequencies to each, which will allow you to get the most out of your time.
When you’re optimizing your campaigns, it’s important to only act on statistically significant data. The challenge is that your various campaigns will take a varying amount of time to provide you with statistically significant data.
This means you can optimize a campaign that’s getting a thousand clicks per day a lot more frequently than a 5-click per day campaign.
If you don’t segment your campaigns, you’ll end up in the either of the following two scenarios:
By spending equal amounts of time across your primary and marginal campaigns, you’re missing obvious chances to go deep in your highest-earning campaigns.
Taking your ad writing a step further by writing 20 new ads, choosing the best ones, and start testing is something you can’t do if you have to do it across all your campaigns (remember, we’re talking about bigger accounts).
Often when PPC managers do “random” optimizations without a set frequency, they’ll say, “Oh, I’ll get to it next time” for their marginal campaigns. The problem is, next time never comes. They look at weekly or bi-weekly date ranges, which is never enough to judge a marginal campaign.
The marginal campaigns are always left until the end, and other priorities take over.
Even though you shouldn’t spend the majority of your time working with marginal or secondary campaigns, you can still get a lot out of keeping them optimized. Don’t ignore them.
When it comes to categorizing your campaigns, it’s a very individual process. Just telling you it depends comes to mind as my best answer, but seeing that a blog post is a one-way medium, then I don’t think you’ll get much out of that answer.
Below are some of the things you should keep in mind when categorizing your campaigns.
The biggest factor you should take into account is how fast you can get statistically significant data. With a thousand clicks a day, you can, and should, optimize certain elements of those campaigns once a week.
Especially if you’re working on a set amount of hours for your client or if you’re in-house and have different responsibilities, it’s important to take the actual time you have to optimize into account.
Don’t try to commit to a frequency that you know you can’t follow. On the other hand, frequent optimizations of things like search term mining can be done a lot faster and with more focus in short bursts, rather than marathon sessions.
The frequencies I list here are the default frequencies I use for my clients. They’re based on the principles of how we work and might not work for the amount of time you have to invest yourself.
Despite the importance of getting statistically significant data, there are campaigns that cover products or categories that are important to your eCommerce business.
They might represent a certain supplier that you’ve committed to selling a specific volume for, or it might be a perishable category that needs constant attention.
Whatever the case, you’ll always find some campaigns that should fall within your marginal campaigns but that you’d rather have in your primary category. Don’t sweat this. Just apply the primary label.
There is always someone who asks for specific data levels, so here they are. Just keep in mind these levels are not universal—other factors may come into play.
To be selected as Primary your campaigns should be in these ranges:
To be selected as Secondary, your campaigns should be in these ranges:
To be selected as Marginal, your campaigns should be in these ranges:
Again, I just want to say that this really depends on the account you’re running, and the time you have available. If you have endless time on your hands you want to add more campaigns in the primary rotation, so you optimize them more frequently, go for it.
If you have less time, then you should add fewer campaigns into the primary rotation, so you have enough time for your most important campaigns.
It’s all about being reactive when you see things not working out for you. Don’t be shy about changing a campaign’s label.
Here is a complete list of all the tasks you should complete for each campaign you control. After the list, I will dive into what each section means.
I rarely optimize for Quality Score specifically. The way I build campaigns already includes the various elements required to obtain a high-quality score, so I typically don’t need to optimize for it specifically.
However, there are times that factors outside your direct control will have an impact on your Quality Score. It might be a suddenly slow-loading website or something similar that causes your Quality Score to decrease. Keep an eye on this so you can identify and fix issues quickly.
I like to compare performance in the current month with the same month the year before.
This can sometimes be difficult if you’ve made big changes, increased your budget, or expanded your campaigns, but you can always notice trends or inconsistencies. Especially if you start applying segments, for example, looking only at specific search campaigns or only the desktop performance of your campaigns, etc.
When it comes to optimizing your Google Ads campaigns, it’s important that you always review your performance against two metrics:
Once you’ve optimized an account for a year or more, it’s rare that you’ll start seeing big performance increases. When this happens, it’s important that you figure out what your current performance is (I call this benchmark performance).
Your benchmark performance is a lower limit indicator for your performance. If you drop below this for too long, you should start to worry about whether you’re missing out on specific parts of your accounts.
However, you should also have a target—something to strive after – even if it’s just a 10 percent increase.
I, therefore, compare all accounts in our management up against this number.
This is a bit out of the ordinary, but I look for big changes week-over-week.
It might be a sudden product that stopped selling or an ad group that suddenly sells better than before.
It’s not always you’ll catch anything, but the times you do, it’ll pay off.
The best way to do this is to look at the last 7 days compared to the previous 7 days.
I always recommend using automated bid management. Whether you like the native smart bidding in Google Ads or a third-party tool, it’s important to manage it.
Part of managing automated bidding is to change your minimum and maximum bids on a regular basis.
I like having rather restrictive min. and max. bids, so I review and change them rather frequently.
Another aspect is changing your target entirely. As your ads, keyword choices, negative keyword lists, etc., become better, and you’ll want to increase the ROAS target you’re using.
Manually applying bids can be done through Excel or directly in the interface using filters. Whatever you’re more comfortable with.
You should review your bids over several time frames and always considering lag conversions (conversions that might come from clicks you received in the last 7-14-28 days).
If you only review the last 28 days, then your performance will be averaged out, and you’ll potentially miss larger fluctuations that you can take advantage of.
On the other hand, always using the last 7 days to review your bids is a recipe for disaster. A nice mix that matches your customer’s’ buying cycle will work beautifully.
Unless you’re splitting your campaigns in mobile, tablet, and desktop, then you should review your bid adjustments just as vigorously as you manage the rest of your bids.
Often this element gets overlooked or is managed just once a quarter. Mobile search volume has, for many industries, exceeded the desktop search volume. Don’t treat it as third-rate any longer.
No bid adjustments to apply here, but you should still review how the search partner network is performing for your campaigns. Turn them off if ROAS is poor.
Reviewing the time of day and day of the week your ads actually convert can be a great exercise.
Just don’t get drawn into this as a super get-rich-quick scheme. Take all the data with a grain of salt and understand there is more than meets the eye. People might see your ad in the morning and convert at lunchtime.
Just because there wasn’t a conversion assigned to a specific timeframe doesn’t mean that the click was worthless.
Especially for larger geographical areas, like the US, reviewing your geographical performance – even as an eCommerce store – and applying bid adjustments or entirely pausing areas can be a powerful Google Ads optimization strategy.
You should now be well-versed enough to know that your bidding should go past just bidding on keywords.
Strategically using your remarketing audiences to adjusting your bids based on the engagement of a visitor will work wonders to further tweak your ROAS.
One of the later new items to change your bids based on is demographic bid adjustments such as age and gender. This allows you to see the performance of the various segments and apply bid adjustments based on what you see.
If your store is selling items that don’t appeal to any specific gender or age group, then you will most likely not find any room for improvement here.
But if your store is heavily focused on either gender or age group, then you can tweak your bids towards the target market that you’re interested in.
Rookies often overlook budget allocation. It’s not as fancy as many other areas, but it’s one of the most powerful things you can do if you’re working within a set budget.
Getting more of the highly profitable clicks and less of the less profitable clicks always tips the scale in your favor.
You need to consistently write new ads for your Google Ads campaigns. It’s one of those things that just never goes away. You can find all the keywords you’ll ever find, but you’ll never run out of things to test in your ads.
I like to have a spreadsheet with all my ideas for ad tests as well as all the benefits, features, awards, specs, and other things that I can use in my ads. This ensures I don’t have to rely on simple brainstorming every single time I have to come up with a new ad test.
Routinely checking ad tests for statistical significance using a tool like Adalysis or Optmyzr (or Excel) should be a standard for all PPC managers.
Depending on the volume for the individual advertiser, I can choose to pause losing ads and wait the 3-10 days until I start a new test. Testing 100% of the time can mean you’re losing sales if you’re not coming up with winning ads at least a good chunk of the time.
Letting your champion ads run by themselves for a small timeframe is a hedge against testing 100 percent of the time.
Because we only manage campaigns for eCommerce stores, we have a task called “review promotional ads” as well as ad tests.
I’ll have regular ad tests running, but often we’ll have promotional ads running as well. These will have specific dates for when they end, so it’s important that these are reviewed consistently on exact days.
As you work on writing new ads, pausing ads, changing sitelinks, adding new callouts, etc., it’s highly likely that you will end up with a weird mix of ad extensions and ad text.
Nowadays, you can add anything from the brands you carry (structured snippets) to additional benefits (callouts) to better linking to subcategories (ad sitelinks) using ad extensions. Unless you’ve done an audit of your various ad extensions in combination with your ad text live, then it’s likely that you’re repeating yourself a couple of times.
At the current moment (Aug 2017), one of my best tips is to go to Google.com and search for your keywords.
In the new Google Ads interface, you can actually see your ad text in combination with all your active ad extensions.
Write new ad extensions where applicable: Ad Extensions can become outdated, just as regular ad text can. Ensure you update them once a quarter.
To this day, I’ll manually review search terms reports to find new keywords or negative keywords. I also use tools for this (see below), but the manual process is especially important in the beginning.
It’s one of the more time-consuming elements of Google Ads management that I haven’t found a good way to automate yet. Make this time count by maximizing the impact of the negative keywords you’re finding. Expand them to plural/singular, similar words, and synonyms. Add the negative keywords to your lists when applicable so they can work across as many campaigns as possible.
At the same time, jot down ideas for expanding your keywords. I tried separating the negative keyword finding and new keyword finding, but it turned out to do double work.
I like to use Optmyzr for my basic negative keywords. The Negative Keyword Finder tool is typically the best one to use as it works great and finds individual words in phrases that it recommends as being added to negative keywords.
The only drawback is that it requires significant data before it can make a recommendation to add a word as a negative keyword. That’s why the manual approach is still important – especially in the early stages of a new campaign.
It’s not always that your first choice for a Google Shopping campaign structure works out or even makes sense once you start seeing the data. Your first choice might have looked great in theory, but it’s not producing the results that you expected.
Reviewing your campaign structure can be everything from the general framework you’re using (i.e., segmenting brand searches and non-brand searches) to breaking out high-performing products to their own ad groups or campaigns.
These tasks aren’t necessarily supposed to be done every time, but it’s good to keep a reminder for reviewing the possibility regularly.
Reviewing your best selling products in Shopping Ads is a standard task for most PPC managers, but few actually label them.
With all the various performance aspects associated with Shopping Ads, it’s important to keep track of how the various products actually perform.
I like to use one of the custom labels in my feed management tool to highlight products that are selling particularly well. I do this mainly to ensure that I remember them. With most clients having thousands of products, it’s impossible to remember them all.
However, even small differences in price, stock, bids, etc., can have a big impact on the performance of a single product. Having a reminder that a product was performing well once upon a time can be good when it comes to boosting performance.
There are two areas that come into play when managing ROAS Shopping Ads: bidding and excluding products (equivalent to pausing keywords).
The bidding part is covered further up, but excluding products is just as important as old-fashioned bid management.
Where keywords attract different audiences, products (and variations of the same product) will often show for the same searches. So, it’s more about poor-performing products taking impressions away from high-performing products than just a poor-performing product.
This can be solved either by excluding the poor-performing products completely or by moving top-performing products into their own high priority shopping campaign. This can be difficult if you’ve already used all your priority levels, which is why you should always review all your options before choosing a campaign framework for Shopping campaigns.
You should clear out your data feed errors in the Merchants Center on a consistent basis. Sometimes the errors are big and can have a massive impact, while often, it’s just minor issues with a couple of products.
Prioritize your time as you see fit here. The only thing I recommend not doing is not checking feed errors at all.
Same idea as in the section above.
Consistently reviewing your rules for optimizing your feed (mainly your titles) is a great practice to get into to up your PPC game.
Writing new rules, writing individual titles for high-potential products, and generally reviewing your current rules can pay off well over time if you do it consistently.
Add New Keywords from Shopping Campaigns
Map search terms from Shopping with keywords from Search to see missed opportunities
I love this practice for larger advertisers. There frequently seem to be inspiration for new keywords in the search terms from shopping campaigns that can be used for search campaigns.
At least once a quarter should be spent researching new keywords “from scratch.” This means that you should review your favorite tools, site search, search console, and all the other various places to find new keywords.
This should be an ongoing practice that you have a spreadsheet managing. It’s impossible to keep track of it all manually, but it can easily be managed in a spreadsheet. Just “download” all categories and brands from the Shopping campaign, and you’ll have a list of everything (granted, your data feed contains all the products in your inventory and use product types to categorize your products well).
Otherwise, spending time to set it all up directly from the website shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. It’s boring but quick.
It’ll save you a lot of time wondering whether something isn’t covered with Google Ads or not.
Google comes with new audiences, campaign types, and new features quite frequently these days. Reviewing your account and ensuring you have all relevant campaign types running should be done regularly, though occasionally.
You never want to get caught having not implemented a new feature by your boss (or client).
I’m a fan of splitting campaigns into mobile, tablet, and desktop whenever it makes sense. I don’t like needlessly complex Google Ads accounts, but whenever it’s worth my while, I’ll do it.
As your account accrues data or as shifts occur in the competitive landscape, you will need to review campaigns and split them up.
I like to take a breather and just look at an account while asking, “What are we not doing?”. This isn’t set up as a structured process, but just a look around. What are we not doing? Any ideas that come up? Have we missed anything?
You want to review the auto targets (i.e., Categories) you have running in your Dynamic Search Ads campaigns to look for opportunities for improvement.
Maybe a new category has come up you want to bid for separately, or a category has stopped accruing any meaningful clicks because you’ve covered the search terms with a regular search campaign.
Again, negative keyword work applies here as well.
This task is infrequent, but it requires a place on the schedule.
Ensuring that your negative keyword lists are applied to all the relevant campaigns is something most miss, and it’s reckless. I do it myself. The workflow with adding negative keyword lists to new campaigns just don’t seem to stick with me.
Similarly, reviewing and updating your remarketing lists should be done around once a quarter. There are not always changes that need to be made, but it’s good to review once in a while.
Creating a schedule for optimizing your PPC accounts will be what takes you from an average PPC manager to a top-notch manager.
Much of the work you do in accounts is chipping away at the regular tasks one by one. With a schedule, you can be sure that you’re not going to forget anything or randomly optimize parts of accounts again and again.
I highly recommend that you grab the free Google Sheet with all the tasks set up in a way that you can see in what frequency you need to perform each optimization task. You can then easily import them to your favorite task management tool.
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Great read, Andrew!! Super detailed and helpful – keep the great content a-flowin’!
BTW, doesn’t look like the calendar popup is working. (at least I was thinking it was a popup)
Hereby fixed. I had moved from OptInMonster to Sleeknote and missed a URL update.
Hey Andrew – It seems like there must have been another update. When you click on the spreadsheet, it takes you to the top of the page.
Very well insights. I tried to download the template but I belive it has no link. Would appreciate if you can provide it 🙂
I just changed to a new tool again. This time there should be no issues.
Sorry about that.
Hi Andrew, this is a great read and the calendar sounds exactly like what I am looking for but the “get the spreadsheet” button has no document link attached to it
It should work, but I just sent you an email with it!
Great insights, but the CTA buttons of template, spreadsheets and all are not working.
Can I please get all of them?
Yep, I’m one of those annoying grammar freaks. (It’s one of my many quirks as a marketer.) So, I felt the need to point out a potential spelling error.
In the ‘Why Segmenting Your Campaigns is Crucial…’ section in the first sentence it reads, “I innately focuses” and I think it should be “I innately focused”.
Thoroughly enjoyed the blog and I’m checking out the calendar now. Love it!
Thanks, Whitney! 🙂
the button “Get the Google Ads Optimization Schedule” doesn’t work. Would it be possible to get the link?
Thank you for your interest in my schedule and for letting me know that the button doesn’t work.
However, the error is now corrected and the button should be back in business 🙂
I just sent you an email with it!
what is hidden under “Review landing page checker” and “Review out of stock checker”
yes the second one is…nearly self explanatory but if you could add few words!
It’s simply any landing page or out of stock scripts you have running.
Optmyzr have some great scripts for the purpose.
Great article! Is the optimization checklist still available? I couldn’t seem to find a link for it. Thanks so much!
It should be! Let me double check and get back to you.
That was a comprehensive checklist for reference. Thanks a lot.
Thanks a lot
This is possibly the best article on PPC management I’ve ever read.