I recently shared a blog post detailing how to go about building an AdWords optimization calendar, including a template for exactly when to take what steps. However, as I was writing the blog post I realized a few of the lessons I left out might be even more interesting than the areas I did cover.
So, I decided to share a few of the more in depth lessons I have learned through trial and error development of our AdWords optimization calendar. This is a calendar/process that’s been iterated upon multiple times since early 2012, so there is a lot to learn!
These lessons will help you see the reasons behind certain optimization techniques and allow you to see even better results.
Remember to grab my free AdWords optimization process/schedule that I created after 9 years in PPC and having trained more than 150 PPC managers:
Search Term Mining Is More Effective When You Combine Negative Keywords and Expansion Ideas
In my first editions of my optimization schedule I had split up the search term mining in two different tasks:
- Look for negative keywords
- Look for new keywords to add to the account (keyword expansion)
As I was going through negative keywords I would always think “Geez, that looks like a great search term – I hope I stumble upon this keyword when I go through this list again.” It was just a waste of time to do it twice, so I combined the two tasks.
Now I simply copy any good search terms to a notepad I have open at all times in case I find any good terms I should add to the campaigns. This way I don’t have to go through all the lists twice.
Too Much Granularity Makes an Optimization Calendar Difficult to Manage
People who know me well know I like to make things very granular. I just seem to get a warm fuzzy feeling when things are split up without much room for vagueness.
However, I quickly ran into a problem when applying this to my optimization activities; it was just too hard to keep track of everything when I did this. I would see eight different tasks for practically the same thing, which confused me and made it hard to account for how much time I needed to invest each day.
An example is bid adjustments, which included the following tasks:
- Optimize mobile bid adjustments
- Optimize tablet bid adjustments
- Optimize day of week bid adjustments
- Optimize hour of day bid adjustments
- Optimize remarketing bid adjustments
- Optimize audience bid adjustments
Let’s say you’re managing ten clients. Six “tasks” split up on ten clients results in 60 tasks —just for bid adjustments! That’s too much to keep track of.
So, I have since simplified the list and just keep notes on the specific things to check inside each task if necessary. You need to remain flexible to move tasks around until you find the exact formula that works for you.
Frequency Depends Heavily on the Amount of Traffic/Conversions You Have
You shouldn’t be scared to change the frequency of your optimizations if you find you’re not seeing enough data to make any meaningful performance improvements.
I’ve covered this more in detail in the actual blog post, so I won’t go into further detail here.
You should note that certain tasks might just be “checks” where you don’t actually do anything in the frequency specified, but they have to be there just in case there is some reason for you to make an adjustment.
An example of this is checking for Shopping Feed errors. It’s important that you have a decent frequency for this task, but you should not run into many feed errors on a recurring basis.
This is, therefore, more of a check than a task you have to actually do every time it’s on your calendar.
During High Season You Should Increase Your Optimization Frequency
One of the important things I’ve learned has been that during any high-season you should increase the frequency of many of your optimization activities.
I hadn’t worked this into the first edition of this checklist, so I found myself fumbling a bit in the beginning.
Today, I add all high-season times to my calendar for clients and change the optimization frequency as listed below.
- Bid Management: All tasks
- Ad Testing: All tasks
- Search Term Mining: All tasks
- Shopping Campaign: Bid management / product exclusion
- Shopping Feed: Fix feed errors
- Budget Management: If budget is finite, review budget allocation in campaigns
- Misc.: Review landing page checker
- Misc.: Review out of stock checker
Frequency Should Increase When You Just Start Out
When you’re just starting a new campaign there are certain things you should review more frequently:
- Ad performance
- Bidding (Keyword Position, Impression Share)
- Search terms
If a chunk of your ads are performing horribly from the get-go, you don’t want to wait a couple of weeks until you figure it out. You need to know and act right away.
The same goes for your keyword bids and their position. If you start your campaigns and they aren’t even ranking, then you’ll end up waiting seven days (or more) until your next scheduled optimization and have no data. This is a waste of time.
With keywords, what you see isn’t what you get – especially these days. In the beginning you’ll start seeing a lot of weird negative keywords that never crossed your mind.
Stay ahead of issues and, depending on the size of your account review, these on a daily or weekly basis in the beginning.
Learn From Your Optimizations and Make Adjustments as Needed to Frequency or Add Specific Tasks
Working with different clients at different levels, I recognize the need to change up my frequency or even add extra tasks as needed. Don’t be afraid to do the same. If you work in-house then you can take this a step further and really hone in your optimization tasks.
As an example, one client updates their promotions every three weeks like clockwork.
I’ve added a specific task to update our business feed and ads the day after these go live.
Optimize the Same Things on the Same Weekday
A helpful tactic is to optimize the same things on the same weekday as often as you can. I enjoy doing my weekly bid reviews on Wednesdays instead of Mondays.
Depending on your situation, this will give you enough time to collect most of the conversions that happened based on activities from that week.
Using the same weekday also makes it easier to schedule the tasks. Especially monthly tasks can jump around and suddenly you have a lot of tasks happening the same day as your big team meeting, or your leave-early Fridays.
Mix and Match the Tasks So You Don’t Burn Out
This is a balancing act.
On one hand, you’re more effective when you work on the same tasks with a focused mindset again and again.
On the other hand, you can burn out looking at search terms lists for eight hours straight, which will make you a lot less effective.
Find the ideal balance for you, so you can get in the right mindset for doing the same tasks while avoiding burning out on a single task.
Why I Don’t Do “Daily Optimizations”
After many years in the industry reading competing proposals, product pages, blog posts, etc. it almost feels like I’m admitting to murder when writing this:
I don’t believe in daily optimizations.
Phew. It felt good to get it out.
In my opinion, if you’re optimizing the same thing daily, then you’re doing something wrong. Changing ads, correcting bids or any other task done on a daily basis is straight up inefficient and will likely impede your account performance from reaching higher levels.
Talking to a client many years ago, he asked me why I wasn’t optimizing daily. My answer was straightforward:
“If I have to do damage control on your AdWords account on a daily basis, then I’m not doing my job.”
Much of the damage control that is daily optimizations can be avoided by a proper account foundation and solid optimization processes (like the ones highlighted in my original AdWords optimization calendar blog post).
So don’t optimize daily. You’re not impressing anybody.
Note: Before all the haters jump down to the comments, I’d like to clarify that I’m talking about optimizing the SAME area daily for most accounts. Segmenting your tasks on separate days or upping your optimization frequency for special occasions (like Valentine’s Day, Black Friday, Christmas) is perfectly fine and recommended.
You Live and You Learn
One of the most important things that I’ve learned over the years is that your potential is directly linked to what you do with the experiences you have. If you never review your situation to make improvements —in PPC or in life— then you will miss important opportunities.
Notice that something can be done better, and then do it better. Commit to small, incremental improvements every day and you’ll see how your success increase tremendously.