5 Simple Ways to Troubleshoot PPC

by Luke Alley January 24th, 2013 

clip_image002Have you ever had to troubleshoot a crying baby? I have and am going to again next month when my wife and I have our first girl, Emma! Its not easy those first months as you are getting to know each other. However, I can tell you that the majority of crying babies simply need food, sleep, a diaper change, or their Mom (not Dad). Its easy easier when you know where to look for the problem! The same holds true for troubleshooting PPC. When you know where to look you can identify problems and get your account back on track quick.

We all have performance declines and those declines can come for dozens of reasons. Here are five ways to identify (and then fix) trouble in your PPC account:

Dimensions Tab

The first place I go when troubleshooting is the Dimensions Tab. This is the 30,000 ft view of your account. I usually start by looking at the entire account, then Time view and either Day or Week sub-selection. This allows me to identify if there has been a decline in performance and when it happened. Also, the Destination URL view can be helpful in identifying which landing pages are underperforming.


Using Segments

Once Ive identified a time period where a decline has occurred I go to the 10,000 ft view at the campaign level. I segment by time and identify which campaigns declined during that time period. When I find the trouble campaign I drill down further to the adgroup, keyword, or ad level. Youve now found where the performance decline has happened and can fix it!


Change History

In more cases than not the decline has occurred because of a test or change that we ran. Its easy to remind yourself of your tests using Change History. You can drill down to your campaign or adgroup and look at the timeframe you need. You can also sort through the thick of changes by selecting a user under Changed by or a change type under Change types. Usually the decline has happened because of bids, keywords, ads, or a settings change. But not always


Google Trends

In some cases factors outside your Adwords account are affecting performance. The most common are seasonality and competition. Its a little more difficult to identify competition factors however seasonality can easily be explained and shown using Google Trends. Recently, a clients impressions, clicks, and conversions all tripled. We looked in Google Trends and saw that happens each year in January (chart below is not from client).



Now when I am really stumped and have nowhere else to turn I go the best of the best, #PPCChat on Twitter or LinkedIn. On several occasions I was able to work through a problem with the help of experienced PPCers giving suggestions. This is generosity, helpfulness, and friendliness at its best! Hands down #PPCChat is the best resource for PPC advice/suggestions/troubleshooting on the web. Check out the site and past chats at www.ppcchat.co.clip_image011

Now, you wont be able to find all the answers using these 5 methods but the majority of the problem areas can at least be identified. I know there will be times in the next few months where I wont be able to calm Emma as quick as I would like and your PPC troubleshooting will be the same. At least we will both have a head start on calming our babies, clients, and ourselves!

Photo courtesy of deshow.net

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Luke Alley

Luke is the Director of PPC at Avalaunch Media - a trend setting Internet marketing and PPC Management firm with locations in Utah and Arizona. He graduated from Brigham Young University - Idaho with a degree in Business Management and an emphasis in marketing. He's worked with clients in many verticals including financial, travel, real estate, legal, healthcare, and best of all, chocolate. Lead generation is his bread and butter. Luke is an Adwords Certified Partner and Microsoft Advertising Accredited Professional. Recently, he has been consulting Google on Engage, a new Google program designed for PPC Agencies. Luke is also an active participant in #PPCChat on Twitter.

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7 Responses to “5 Simple Ways to Troubleshoot PPC”

  1. can we set a Dynamic Budget for everyday in a week?

  2. Hi Luke,

    How reliable is Google Trends and should I invest in niche that is going down? I found a niche and it still has 1000 search a month. However Google Trends is showing me that it is going down for years now. So how reliable is Google trends?

    Great article though!

  3. Good question Hans, I am also very curious about the reliability of Google Trands. Luke can you help us?

    Thanks for this informative article!!

  4. Bram Groenendaal says:

    Thanks for the quick respons Luke!
    I Will check the link you preferred.

    Keep up the Good work!!

  5. Hey Luke,

    Thanks a lot the link was very usefull. It gave me a great indication. Keep up the good blogs!