Managing PPC Accounts: Improving Bounce Rates

Paid advertising has morphed into so much more than buying some traffic until your SEO can sustain  your site. There are now software programs that can create a unique landing page for (thousands of) keywords on the fly, specifically designed to address the keyword phrase the user typed into the query box and the ad they selected and clicked.

Although worth the money, the investment in these programs sometimes escapes the marketing budgets of smaller companies. The argument for better conversion rates is sometimes enough to convince you, or your client, to make the leap. I find that the higher the cost of the products, sometimes the conversion rates are quite low, and this step is scary.

Sometimes we have to tweak and maintain PPC accounts the old fashioned way, by hand. We also don’t always have unique landing pages available, so we build what we can and use existing pages as landing pages. This makes analysis of what you’re doing even more critical. Does the query match the landing page – in your eyes, your user’s eyes, and the eyes of the Search Engine that uses relevancy to determine your CPC, position, etc?

While maintaining keywords, ads and landing page bounce and click-through rates by hand, I generally have Google Analytics open on the other monitor so I can review bounce rate from PPC ads and keywords to show me what keywords and ads land on landing pages that in turn realize high bounce rates.

I use a couple of indicators to find this data. First,I open Google Analytics and navigate to the Traffic Sources section.  If we’re talking Google AdWords traffic, the built-in features here make it easy to get to the data you want – we’ll start there.

Google AdWords

Drill down into the AdWords section under Traffic Sources, then choose the AdGroup you’re working on.

analtyics&ppc1 Choose the AdGroup you want to work on:

  • In the first column, leave the drop down on “Keywords”
  • In the second column, change the drop down to “Landing Page”
  • Under “Views” (top of the image below on the right) choose “Comparison”
  • Leave the 3rd Column “Visits”
  • Change the 4th Column to “Bounce Rate”


Now start reviewing the landing pages that have a higher than the site average bounce rate. If the site average is kind of high, don’t forget to look at pages that have a bounce rate that is “x% better” than the site average. Because you should be writing multiple ads for each ad group, you need to look at what landing pages you’re using for each ad. One keyword can have a few potential landing pages.


In the example above, the keyword is the same but has 3 potential landing pages, we can see that one landing page is not acceptable at all – showing a bounce rate 122% HIGHER than the site average; but the bounce rate on the other two landing pages is 100% better than the site average. From this data,  you can do two things:

  • Give this keyword a dedicated destination URL
  • Tweak ad creative to eliminate the poor performer

If your AdGroups are VERY granular, I would tweak the landing pages on the poor performing ads to match the best performing landing page. You can take this testing a step further and write a comparison ad exploring the possibility for another landing page, if you have one.

If your AdGroups are not that granular, you could choose the best URL above and make it a dedicated destination URL for that keyword. It depends upon whether you want to test more ads and landing pages for this keyword.

Referrer accounts that are not AdWords

These are a little trickier. The key here is to have a unique source code, or have campaign tracking set up for our outside PPCs. We do this in two different ways:

  1. Add “?source=MSNPPCGroup1″ to the end of your landing page URLs in the AdGroup or at the keyword level in the non-Google CPC/PPC site
  2. Use the Google Analytics URL Builder to set up a source code that can be turned into a campaign in Google Analytics.  These urls look like this:

You’re going to be better off using option 2 and setting up campaigns in the long run. We have clients that have done it the old way (version 1) for years, so we’ve continued doing that. It does work quite well and its quick. If you don’t have huge campaigns, this might be enough for you.

If you’ve set these up as campaigns, you can drill into them nearly exactly like you did for the AdWords above. If you use option number 1, you can get the same info by following the steps below:


Choose content from the menu, and then select “Top Content”:

  • Go to the bottom of the list and in the Filter Page box and leave the drop down as “Containing” and enter “MSN” or “Yahoo” or another parameter from your ?source= code & select “Go”
  • Select the source code that correlates to the campaign/group you’re working on
  • From the drop down next to “Analyze” choose “Entrance Keywords”
  • Choose “Comparison” from the “Views” menu
  • Make the 2nd column “Landing Page”
  • Make the 3rd column “Unique Pageviews”
  • Make the 4th Column “Bounce Rate”

You can evaluate the keywords and their landing pages much the same as you did above! Find the poor performing landing pages, tweak them in your dashboard according to keyword or ad and make educated decisions on what landing pages work best for your users.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Search Marketing Toolbox


About The Author: is the co-founder of Ignitor Digital, along with long-time colleague Mary Bowling. At Ignitor, Carrie tackles tough technical SEO roadblocks many small business owners don't even know they have. Her experience with analytics and troubleshooting helps her get to the root of issues. When not working, Carrie loves to cook for friends and family, hang out with her pretty awesome kids, and read books that have little-to-no educational value! You can also follow Carrie on twitter, @carriehill.

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  • FranG

    I dont have the option to select other metrics for the visits and bounce rate columns?….

  • Carrie Hill

    Hi Fran,

    Did you click on the “comparison” view in the top right corner of the graphic – look at the 2nd graphic above withthe arrow that points straigth to the right —–>

    Hope this helps

  • ptremblay

    You mention that “There are now software programs that can create a unique landing page for (thousands of) keywords on the fly”, would you mind sharing some of these programs? All the ones that I’ve come across to this date have been very disappointing .

  • Carrie Hill

    Hi Ptremblay,

    The two I know off the top of my head are LiveBall from Ion Interactive – and HubSpot. I dont have any experience with HubSpot but I know the folks at LIveBall/Ion and have seen it at work – its an amazing software solution – very intuitive and easy to use.

    Hope this helps

  • Stupidscript

    How does your company manage the bad data that Google Analytics often displays?

    We would very much like to use the data we are seeing, but frequently it is so obviously erroneous (7 clicks for 1 impression … use of unrelated domains … non-existent landing pages … extreme variations in data when compared to our server logs … etc.) that we have a hard time using it for anything substantial.

    How do you handle the “slop” in Google’s data, to end up with trustworthy intelligence for maintaining your company’s bottom line? It seems quite similar to using as your news source … where you kind of get the idea that something happened, but you need to get past the spin and gibberish and then figure it out for yourself using other sources.

  • grey

    I use which has full Google Analytics integration already, which makes this process a bit easier…


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