PPC Management Over Time


19. February 2012


Time span and maturity of your campaign will paint a different picture for how well exact/phrase match keywords vs. broad match keywords perform. Exact and phrase matches have shown to convert better in the early stages, and are cheaper because of the high CTR. However they are often too low in volume, and you end up missing out on all the great hidden/invisible long tail keywords that get triggered by the broad match phrase.

When a campaign has had enough time to mature and is managed well, I’ve found that the broad matches end up having equally good, and often times better conversions. I’ve read blog posts where authors conclude that broad match keywords waste money, but I think it’s because they’re going off of a limited data set, spanning 30 to 90 days of trial. This often isn’t enough time to make broad match keywords work.

Let’s break down the Phases of your PPC campaign and what happens as your account matures:

New AdWords PPC Accounts

Phase One: Month 1 to 3
For every new PPC account, I start with the exact and phrase matches in all groups. If the daily budget isn’t being exhausted, I slowly add the broad match version of the best keywords to the Ad groups until the budget is maxed out. The first 3 months of PPC management is the most volatile. During these 3 months, the CPA will fluctuate wildly because of:

  1. the buyer life cycle – CPA is super high in the first 30 days because of lack of buyer action
  2. trying different ad copy
  3. trying different keywords
  4. new and still developing Quality Score. Keywords start with a lower QS, and matures slowly with higher CTR, so the click through costs start out high and decrease over time.

Generating a Base of Historical Data in your PPC Account

Phase Two: Month 3 to 6
Now that your Campaign has collected enough data, we can mine for negative keywords and new keywords. Negative keywords will make your broad & phrase match keywords more effective. This data isn’t available in the early stages. Incrementally adding more phrase/exact matches as presented by Opportunities is also important. Landing page testing also because another majority focus, while managing ad copy, bids, and improving QS is minority. We can’t change too many factors at once! I want to lower your CPA by creating a robust negative keywords list.

Phase Three: Month 6 to 9
At this phase, you’re still doing everything mentioned in the first two phases, and now you have solid metrics to make good decisions. Usually by this point, campaigns are hitting their daily maximum budget because you have a wide campaign and good CTRs. Analyzing metrics to figure out what to pause/reduce/improve by using Google’s various campaign management settings is the major focus. If you’re performing well in SEO, then those metrics also feed into improving your PPC campaigns, and vice versa.

Keeping on Top of PPC Changes

Phase Four: Month 10 to inf.
Overall your PPC management follows a dynamic spiral (See spiral model for IT dev which is sort of related). Each month, there are are not only new problems/objectives, and various techniques that we’ll use to address them, but also Google’s constant evolution of the PPC tool itself gives us sharper ways to make the most out of your Adwords budget.