Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be extremely powerful for small businesses because it allows you to put your product or service in front of a potential client at the exact moment they’re searching for a solution to their problem. This is the main source of Google’s revenue, which totaled $66 billion in 2014.
However, as PPC has gotten bigger and bigger, the interface has become more and more sophisticated to the point that it’s very difficult for many SMBs to interpret.
To make things simple, I’d like to show you the three best PPC reporting examples to look at and recommend that you make it a regular task to analyze these reports. You’ll cut waste, improve results, and learn how your customers think and talk about your industry.
Keyword Performance Report
Keywords determine when your ad will show, so it’s important to know how they’re doing. To see keyword performance you need to go to the Keywords tab. (these screenshots are for Google AdWords, but BingAds has a very similar interface.) Here is what it will look like:
Now let me explain the information you’re seeing here.
- Each row is for one keyword.
- You can sort by any column by clicking on the column name. This report above is sorted by Converted Clicks to show the keywords with the most conversions first.
- CTR stands for click-through rate and measures how often you got the click compared to how often you showed up.
- Average CPC is what you paid for each click.
I’ve also highlighted the columns that will be most helpful in determining the effectiveness of a specific keyword. A high CTR typically means the keyword is relevant and that users find your ad helpful, so they clicked. Low CTR can be a sign of a poor keyword or poor ads. (More on ads next.) You’ll also want to keep an eye on conversion columns. These columns help you know how effective a keyword is at driving a click that then converts on your website.
Based on the numbers, you have the option to pause a keyword by clicking the green circle or you can increase or decrease the bid by clicking on the number in the Max CPC column. For top performers, you may want higher bids to get even more results. For low performers you may want to lower bids.
Ad Performance Report
If you go just one tab to the left of the Keywords tab you’ll find the Ads tab. It will look like this:
This is quite similar to our Keywords Performance Report, but now we see the performance for our ads. I recommend that you always run at least two ads in each ad group so that you can test different messages. By testing different messages, you’ll find what resonates with your customers and what doesn’t. Then you can use this to write better email subject lines, better blog posts, etc.
I’ve highlighted three columns: Clicks, Impressions and CTR (click-through rate). These stats help you understand which ad is better at convincing a searcher to click instead of choosing another listing on the search engines results page. As you can see, the top ad has a significantly higher CTR than the bottom ad. Looking at the ad copy, we could hypothesize that people are more interested in finding a local grower they can trust. Our ad talking about health benefits might be redundant since people searching these keywords already know the benefits of grass fed beef. This can really help us as we talk to our customers in other places as well.
Again, note that we can pause an existing ad by clicking the green circle. We can also write new ads by simply clicking the red “Ad+” button.
Search Query Report
This report is powerful because it shows you exactly what someone typed into Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. That’s right, misspellings and all. But it’s also the hardest report to find. You’ll need to go to the Keywords tab again and then click the “Details” drop-down box. From that menu, you click on “All” to see the exact search queries. Here’s the visual:
The resulting report will look a lot like the Keyword Performance Report above, but this time you get to see exactly what people typed and the performance stats that go with each search query. Mining through this report, here are a few things to keep an eye on:
- Misspellings: If you see people consistently misspell a word, you might consider adding it as a keyword and bidding on it specifically
- Irrelevant words: Inevitably you find queries that include irrelevant words. If you’re a lawyer, you might not want to show your ad when anyone includes “free” in their query. If you are a plumber, queries with words like “video” might not be great because the person is looking for a do-it-yourself tutorial and not a real plumber.
- New ideas: Sometimes you’ll notice a certain modifier coming up repeatedly on successful queries. This is a golden opportunity, because it shows you ways that customers think or talk about their problem or your solution that you may not have thought about. You’ll pick up on new trends and jargon very quickly if you’re regularly analyzing this report.
Time is a limited resource, so you’ve got to be efficient. These are the three best PPC reports for your buck. You’ll see which keywords are doing the best and which aren’t. Same for your ads. And then you’ll see exactly what your customers are typing when they need a solution for their problem. Invaluable insight that you can use in all facets of your business.
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