Saturday, August 30, 2014

The PPC Search Network Campaign Launch Checklist

Even if you can launch a PPC campaign in your sleep, sometimes, things get overlooked; items slip through the cracks, and months later, you’re scratching your head wondering how a scarf ad landed users on a hat page.
It happens to the best of us. No matter how focused and experienced a PPC manager, there are endless details that go into a streamlined campaign launch.
Organization is a PPC manager’s best friend, and creating repeatable processes through detailed checklists is one way to ensure everything you can think of gets done pre-launch.
In this post, we’ll look at all the key areas of a PPC campaign, and give basic checklists for each part in preparation for making a new campaign go live.
It’s worth mentioning that the checklists in this post apply to PPC search network campaigns that are both being built from the ground up, and those being copied and pasted from existing campaigns, where all the settings are carried through. Even though the copy/paste approach is convenient, appropriate adjustments always need to be tended to, or the campaign can go off path.

Keywords Checklist

First, we’ll start with the keywords. Follow these steps to be sure you’ve tackled common obstacles in this area:
  1. Make sure all the keywords are housed in the correct ad group.
  2. Be sure you’re utilizing all appropriate match types. (And don’t forget the close variant setting is changing in September.)
  3. Make sure you look out for duplicate keywords.
  4. Check the negative keyword lists to make sure relevant keywords aren’t negated in the new campaign.
  5. Keyword lists should be short and sweet. If you have more than 20 keywords in an ad group, you probably want to break things out more specifically.

Ads Checklist

The next thing we want to do is double-check on our ads before they go live. Consider the following checklist:
  1. Be sure ads include the most relevant headline.
  2. Verify display URLs have keywords in them, if possible.
  3. Ensure you have mobile-specific ads. If it makes sense for the type of business, make the call-to-action mobile-specific, like phoning the business.
  4. Include a messaging test between the two ads you include per ad group. Create two different ad messages to test and try testing two different call-to-actions as well.

Ad Groups Checklist

Now we move onto ad groups. Standard checks and balances on the ad groups side for optimal account structure include:
  1. Review the naming convention for each ad group.
  2. Make sure the ad groups match the content that’s in them, and the keywords and ads are under the correct ad group.
  3. Double-check the ad group default bid to ensure it’s what you want per ad group.

Campaign Checklist

Reviewing the campaigns is next, and here are some of the things to watch for before launching a new one:
  1. Double-check the daily budget, and ensure that new campaigns have a decent budget to launch with. The last thing you want is to reach the max cost per click after just one user clicks through.
  2. Verify the campaign settings. When a business is in different locations, such as in the U.S. and internationally, make sure to target the right location and ad scheduling.
  3. Ensure you have your campaign set to the search network as well.

Ad Extensions Checklist

Ad extensions help businesses and prospects get the most from PPC ads. When reviewing your campaigns for launch, make sure you:
  1. Check that the PPC campaigns have all the appropriate extensions for the business. There are a lot to choose from, like sitelinks, call extensions, location, seller ratings, and much, much more.

Landing Pages Checklist

The landing page is an important part of your Quality Score. As you’re gearing up for launch, take a moment to review your landing pages, looking for all those items that help ensure the page is relevant, like:
  1. Useful content, ensuring it delivers on the promise of the ad.
  2. Strong calls to action as needed for the type of business or offer.
  3. Keywords from the ad used in the headline and copy of the page.
  4. Easy navigation, and a speedy page load time (especially if you have mobile users, Google wants pages served in one second or less).

Tracking Checklist

Finally, ensure your tracking is on the up and up, so you can begin measuring performance from the launch of the PPC campaign. Consider the following:
  1. Ensure the correct tracking parameters have been added to the ads’ destination URLs if the account requires additional tracking parameters.
  2. Be sure to include a goal in Google Analytics tied to the ad as needed to track conversions, as well as adding the AdWords conversion code to the thank-you page when necessary.
Although we almost always build campaigns in AdWords Editor, often we’ll post a campaign in paused mode, and view again in the live AdWords interface. The different view can sometimes be helpful in catching errors.
Once you have your campaigns up and running, be sure to check out the guide to PPC operations, which gives daily, weekly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual checklists for your PPC campaigns.
Now that you have my checklist, what’s yours? Anything you’d add that you don’t see here? Let me know in the comments!

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