Reporting is a very integral part of search engine marketing (and digital marketing in general). Of course, it’s important to be able to show the return on investment (ROI) of the digital budget. However, by using reports to analyze performance, search engine marketers can optimize their accounts by changing bids, adding or pausing keywords, rotating in new ad copy, etc. Needless to say, it’s important to be very familiar with the reporting options that are available.
Last week, in Step-By-Step: Your First Keyword Report, you learned how to pull your first PPC report at the keyword level. The process for creating that report in Google AdWords is fairly similar to the method you will use to pull other reports. For example, you will choose your date range, the types of data you want to see, and select campaigns and ad groups for reporting. In addition you can set filters and even schedule these reports to run automatically. One of the best practices that I think is important to try to institute into your process early on is to not pull everything in a report. Try to narrow down exactly what you’re looking for and not bring in useless rows and columns that can clutter things up. You can always go back and add to reports later.
This week, we’ll go through the other available AdWords reports, and I’ll share a few tips on how you can start to analyze the performance of your accounts.
Ad performance. This self-evident report allows you to view performance data for each of your ads. Be careful how you view your ad data because it might be very dependent on the keywords that triggered the impressions more than that ads themselves. Of course the ads are vital to the performance, but if you’re going to look at the ad level, try viewing it all at the ad group level first. If you set up your campaigns with very tightly themed ad groups (as I recommended), this data will make more sense. Try to look for common themes that either spike or drop performance such as using pricing or strong calls to action in the ad text. This may help you come up with some winning directions to take your next creative build.
URL performance. This report allows you to view performance data for each of your Destination URLs. Obviously, if you’re using one or just a handful of landing page URLs, this report might not be very helpful for you. But, if you have many URLs, especially ones that follow a certain hierarchy of your site, it may be useful to see which combinations of keywords, ads and web pages are bringing in the highest return. For example, are you selling more items by sending traffic directly to the product pages, the category pages or the sub-category pages? What about lead generation? Are more people filling out your lead form if they’re sent to a specific info page or to the home page?
Ad group performance. This report allows you to view ad group performance data for one or more of your campaigns. If you do have tightly themed ad groups, it might be easier to manage your keywords at the group level than at the keyword level. Sure, you can go in every now and then and adjust your keywords, but it may be easier in the day-to-day grind to optimize 100 ad groups vs. 10,000 keywords.
Campaign performance. This report allows you to view performance data for your campaigns. Because the campaign level data is easy to see from a single screen in the interface, you would probably only need to pull this report for historical purposes. For example, you can set the date range to go back several years and then choose the unit of time in months. This way you could get a good month-over-month look at how your account has been performing.
Account performance. This report allows you to view performance data for your entire account. As with the campaign performance report, you probably only need to pull this report when you want to focus on comparing units of time against each other.
Demographic performance. This report allows you to view performance data for sites by demographic. Demographic information (male/female, age, etc) is not available for your search campaigns. You should know that Google offers more than just advertising on search engine results page. Their ad network, the Google Content Network, is one of the largest (if not the largest) ad networks in the world and allows advertisers to put ads on various sites around the internet. I’ll discuss the Google Content Network (and placement targeted campaigns) in future posts of this column.
Geographic performance. This report allows you to view performance data by geographic origin. The geographic performance report shows you approximately where your visitors are coming from, based on their IP addresses or any locations included in their search queries. Use the report to reach your marketing objectives by reviewing the data as free market research and as a basis for optimizing a national campaign by region. For example, if you find that users from the east coast are converting higher than those on the west coast, you may want to change your campaign settings to just target those higher converting areas. As well, you may find some great intelligence to share with your advertiser about which parts of the country (or world) are searching for product or brand terms. This may be a good indicator for which regions could use more offline marketing efforts.
Search query performance. This report allows you to view performance data for search queries which triggered your ad and received clicks. This report is one of the new(er) reports from Google and is a great source of data from your campaign. Remember, the keyword which gets credit for an impression, click or conversion may not be the exact keyword or phrase that triggered the actual ad. Does that make sense?
Remember how broad match works to cast a wide net for you? So, if you see that an impression was recorded for the term cake, the actual query may have been pineapple upsidedown cake or even cake walk. Because cake appeared in the query string, your ad was triggered. The more general the term, the more often you’ll find various iterations and versions that can trigger it to show an ad. By looking through the search query performance report, you’ll be able to uncover keywords that are triggering ads but you may not have in your account. It’s better to add these keywords (or make them negative keywords) so that you can have better control over their spend and optimization.
That’s it. There are some good reports here for you to check out. Once your account has accrued a good data set (maybe two or three weeks worth), try running some of these reports to see what you can find. It’s good to get used to start seeing the data now so that you’re more familiar with it later.
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