AdWords campaigns need a fair amount of maintenance. In fact, neglecting to actively manage your campaign will end up costing you a lot of money over time simply from the extra cost per click that comes from a lower quality score, a lower CTR, and lower quality landing pages. For this reason, we actively manage our clients’ AdWords campaigns on a regular basis and have gotten pretty good at doing so in less than a half hour each week pre campaign (in most cases). We do this through having a system in place that automatically pushes out reports and makes changes based on several criteria and customizing the columns on our campaign management pages. Here are some ways that you can “actively” manage your campaigns with less and less time each week.

Set up automated reports

Automated reports allow you to see how your campaigns are doing without having to go to all the trouble of logging in to AdWords itself, which can be a real pain to do if you have separate personal and business accounts. We have automated reports for the base campaigns and we can reference them at a glance without having to login.

Set up automated rules

We have several automated rules (all of them customized to each individual account) that do a lot of work for us. For example, we have a rule that will pause any keyword that sees more than 200 impressions with no clicks over the last rolling 30 days. These keywords drive down our click-through-rate while providing no real brand share as they usually aren’t showing up in the top of the results anyway. Another example is a rule that pauses any keyword that falls to a quality score of 2 or less. This keeps our cost down and will alert me to a larger issue – such as a poor quality landing page.

I set all of the reports to run about 10 on a Monday morning and to alert me every time they run so I can browse through the emails and see if there is a change I want to reverse or if there is a larger problem I need to address. It also allows me to schedule some time in my head to look through the campaigns about the same time to lump all of my changes in one timeframe.

Check your opportunities panel once a week

The opportunities panel usually holds some real gold and you’re giving up some good chances if you ignore it. It will tell you if your budget is too low/too high and almost always has some keyword suggestions to increase your inventory. However, you don’t want to go through and just approve any changes, you want to be selective about approving any suggestions as the keyword selections usually aren’t as intelligent as they should be.

 Arrange your columns better

The columns you put into your campaigns/ad groups make it really easy or really hard to look at the important statistics at a glance. There are unfortunately some columns you aren’t allowed to get rid of (thanks, AdWords) but you can add some important ones here. These are the columns I run with on our Campaigns page: (not including required ones)

  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • CTR
  • Avg CPC
  • Cost
  • Avg Position
  • PTR (if you have Google Voice call extensions setup)
  • Phone Calls (if you have Google Voice call extensions setup)

And these are the columns I have setup on the individual ad group keywords page: (again, not including required ones)

  •  Clicks
  • Impressions
  • CTR
  • Avg. CPC
  • Cost
  • Avg. Position
  • Quality Score
  • Estimated Top Page Bid

Run at least dual ads on all ad groups, and check them once a week

Running competing (or A/B) ad tests is really important to a campaign. It lets you hone in on the absolute best titles and text to use in your campaigns and will almost always net you a better CTR, which lowers your cost. I browse through all of the ads to see if there’s a big and profitable change that I can make to ads such as pausing one or adding another test ad. In this glance-through, I’ll usually look at the CTR combined with the percentage served as the best indicators of success.

 Adjust your lowest-performing ad group (monthly)

This is more of a monthly task, but a very important one. If you can focus on your lowest-performing campaign/ad group each month, you’ll be able to raise the overall performance significantly and save yourself a LOT of money. The lowest performing ad group is usually one that sucks a lot of money due to a low quality score and