What to be checking after the first month

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by Ash Smith

December 1, 2019

What to check in your Google Ads Account After the first month

When it comes to managing a Google Ads account, creating your account and setting up campaigns is just the beginning of your journey.

A lot of time and effort goes into managing a successful account – but don’t let the road ahead overwhelm you! With regular monitoring and optimisation, you’ll start seeing healthy growth in the direction you want to head, whether that be increased clicks, conversions, impressions, etc…

In the first month after setting your campaigns live, you may feel a little overwhelmed with where to start optimising. The good news is that in these early stages of your account, it’s a prime time to observe and learn. This is your research and development phase where you’re looking at the data for the first time, noticing trends and considering what to do next. You don’t necessarily need to be making any big changes to your account at this stage – but there’s a number of things you should be checking.

So read on – we’ll walk you through what you should be looking for in your Google Ads account after the first month of it being live.

Clicks

While it’s not uncommon to see slow growth at the launch of an account, you do want to be monitoring that you are receiving clicks for your campaigns. While numbers may be low to begin with, if campaigns are not generating any clicks for up to a week, you’ll likely want to review deeper into your account to see what’s dragging the chain. Common issues may be that you’re targeting keywords that are too long that have low search volume, or your bid cost may be too low, sending you below the first page of results.

To check on your keywords, simply click into an ad group within a campaign, and select the ‘keywords’ tab. If you see a message alongside your keyword stating ‘low search volume’, we recommend trying a more generic, shorter keyword (if possible), or if you’re using phrase or exact match targeting, try using broad match or broad match modified to open up your search query possibilities.

If your keywords appear to have good estimate search volume, we recommend investigating your bids. A good place to start is putting lackluster keywords from your account into Google Ads Keyword Planner:

Google Ads Keyword Planner>Tools & Settings > Planning > Keyword Planner

Google will make recommendations for first page bid estimates; based on these, ensure that your bids are competitive (or close to), and increase them if not.

Click through rate (CTR)

Click through rate (CTR) is the primary metric that Google looks at when determining the position of your ad placement. As Google makes money off clicks, an ad that has a strong historical CTR is a safe bet for ongoing revenue, and Google will continue to keep it in the spotlight. For new accounts, Google is taking a risk (as it doesn’t have historical data), but it will run your ad regardless based on things such as your keywords, and your bid. But if ongoing poor CTRs go unanswered, Google won’t want to show your ads.

Starting at the campaign level, look at your CTRs and quickly see if any campaigns have a CTR under 3%. If so, click through to your ad groups and if you spot any obvious low performers here, look at their keywords and ads to see where CTR is falling away. If you are getting a lot of impressions for your keywords, but low clicks, it’s time to look at your search queries and ensure that you’re not appearing for irrelevant searches, and check your ads to make sure that they are highly relevant to your keywords in that adgroup.

Search query reports & negative keywords

The keywords you bid on will generate a number of search queries. The variety of these search queries will be dependent on the kind of match types you are you using, but in most cases, in the first weeks of your account being live, you’ll likely find search queries that are irrelevant.

At this point, you’ll want to add these irrelevant searches as negative keywords. If there’s a common word that appears in irrelevant search queries, a pro tip is to add that word as a phrase match negative so that no future searches that include that word will trigger your ad.

Pro tip – If there’s a common word that appears in irrelevant search queries add that word as a phrase match negative so that no future searches that include that word will trigger your ad

You can add negatives at the ad group level, the campaign level, or even to the entire account. A quick way to add negatives across the entire account is to set up a negative keyword list that’s applied to all your campaigns.

To do this:

  1. Click on tools and settings > shared library > negative keyword lists.
  2. Click on the blue plus button to add a new list, and call it something along the lines of ‘Negative keyword list – all campaigns’.
  3. You’ll then be prompted to add campaigns to this list – add all of your campaigns.

Now you’ll be able to add keywords to this list moving forward and build out negative keywords that are applied across your account.

Checking ads

It goes without saying that checking your ads is crucial to maintaining a solid account performance. If your ads are working well, your account will thrive.

In the first weeks of running an account, Google will be checking that your ads don’t violate any policies – and there are a lot of them. If you’re noticing that your clicks are very low, we’d recommend taking a look at your ads at the account level. To do this:

  1. Click on ‘all campaigns’ in the left toolbar
  2. Select ‘ads and extensions’.
  3. Create a filter.
  4. Click the filter icon, and choose status > disapproved.

Roll over these and you’ll see why your ads are disapproved. If you don’t believe your ads are in violation, you can submit a review request with Google by clicking on the help icon in the top toolbar.

For ads that are approved and working well, ensure that you have at least two ads for each ad group to test against one another. If you have two ads, take a look at their CTR and see which is performing better. At this point, it’s best to leave the ad copy as is (you’re still in your research and development phase), but consider the differences between the higher performing ad and the lower performing one. Is there a stronger call to action in one? Does it pair up better with a high performing keyword in the adgroup? If the data is still showing a clear winner after a couple more weeks, you should start testing new headlines and descriptions. When you’re testing new ad copy, simply pause the low performer, duplicate the high performer and tweak the copy slightly. Be sure to label the new ad so you can spot it quickly in the future.

Conversions

Regardless of what you are advertising – all accounts should have conversion tracking set up. If you don’t have conversions set up here’s a support article from Google to help you get setup. If you have conversions set up, you’ll want to be checking in to ensure that conversions are being recorded.

If after 30 days you haven’t seen any conversions appear in your account, you should check what messages are appearing for your conversions via ‘tools and settings > measurement – conversions’. On this screen, you’ll see the status of your conversions in the ‘tracking status’ column.

There are four different types of status’ you may see, and Google’s support documentation explains in detail what each means, and what you should do.

If your conversion tags are set up correctly, but haven’t recorded any conversions in the last 30 days, you may need to rethink how your customers may be engaging with your business. Not everyone converts on the first visit – sometimes it takes multiple visits over a larger period of time. Consider extending your conversion window out to capture a bigger time period by clicking on a conversion name, and editing the conversion window. Google’s largest default window is 90 days, but you can select custom if you’d like to extend it out further.

Summary

Campaign level

  • Make sure clicks are being recorded
  • See which campaigns are lagging behind with regards to CTR (your most important metric for a new account)
  • Check your average CPC
  • Check you’re not bidding too low – are your impressions lacking? Is the average below the top three?
  • Check the estimated first page bid estimates via the keyword planner.
  • If you’re bids are too high – you may be limiting your exposure. If clicks seem low, but your impression share is being limited by budget, you may be running through your budget too quickly.
  • Make sure conversions are coming through

Ad group

  • Look at which ad groups are generating clicks
  • Look at the search queries that are occuring from your keywords
  • Adding negatives
  • Looking at keywords to see which are generating the most clicks/impressions/conversions, also looking at which ones aren’t driving much, or driving high cost without conversions.
  • Keyword quality scores

Ads

  • Checking if any ads are disapproved
  • Looking at how ad variants are performing and thinking ahead to things you can test – try to check in weekly. We recommend holding off on making any immediate changes in the first month – this is your R&D phase, wait for the data to tell the story. If after one month, ads have a CTR below 1%, either pause them (if you have more than 2 variants), or trial new ad copy.

Keeping on top of these areas of your account will see you get a good foothold in improving the performance of your account. Remember, it’s an ongoing process, and that with a little TLC on a regular basis, you’ll see your account thrive.

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