How Often Should You Check on Your Google Ads Performance?
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve probably encountered PPC advertising, through a platform like Facebook or Google. You’ve definitely heard the benefits of using it, paying for traffic and exposure, but how do you make it truly work for you?
The core of Google Ads is more than just running ads; it’s optimizing them. You need to check on their performance, test variations, adapt ads to changing circumstances, and tweak campaigns to get the most bang for your buck.
So how often should you check on your ads, and what should you look for when you’re evaluating them?
Is It Possible to Check Your Ads Too Often?
First, let’s talk about one extreme: is it possible to check on your ads too often? Tentatively, yes, though that limit may be higher than you think.
As with many things in marketing, the more attention you put into your Google Ads, the more likely you will be available to respond to changes in circumstances. Adapting quickly to changing tides is how you get the best return on your ads investment.
The thing is, those circumstances aren’t likely to change very frequently. Ads take a while to collect data, and in general, ads are pretty stable and predictable. Google will make changes to their algorithms occasionally, and news can affect different keywords and trends, but it’s fairly rare that those will impact you directly. They may present additional opportunities you can pursue, though, so being aware of your industry on a daily basis is always a good idea.
If you’re checking your ads once a day, it may be overkill, but you’re probably fine. Spend some time each day looking over your ads, checking key performance indicators, and looking for optimizations you could make.
The caution here is simple: don’t make changes every day. In fact, don’t make changes until you have enough data to back them up, barring extreme circumstances. If you’re paying for an ad and the cost per click doubles overnight, then yeah, you can pause it to figure out what’s going on. Otherwise, you generally need to run your ads for several days, or even several weeks, before you’ve racked up enough data to achieve statistical significance.
Issues come about when you’re checking your ads more often than once per day. Unless you have thousands of different ads with millions of dollars of ad spend each week, you’re probably safe leaving them for 23 or so hours.
When you check your ads too often, you end up spending a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. That’s the real problem with over-monitoring your Google Ads: you waste your time. Normally, you’re looking at a few hundred clicks in a day, give or take. Depending on the keywords you’re targeting, your budget, and other factors, of course.
That amount of data, divided up hourly, isn’t very much. You might see dips and spikes in traffic, but that’s natural for the daily active use hours of the people browsing the internet. You can optimize for that, sure, but that’s as simple as adding dayparting and doesn’t require hourly attention.
The risk of checking your ads too often is that you tend to obsess over them. If you’re not making changes every few hours, then you’re spending time, energy, and thought that you could be spending on other business processes, like making sales, developing new products, writing content, or performing outreach. It’s a poor return on the investment of your time.
Conversely, if you ARE making changes on an hourly basis, chances are you’re not basing them on data, but rather on gut instincts, guesswork, and statistically irrelevant changes in traffic throughout the day. You are, again, spending a lot of time and energy that could be better invested elsewhere, all to maybe capture a few more clicks or reduce your ad spend by a tiny amount.
In fact, Google has a lot of automatic systems running in the background, as well as automatic bidding strategies and other optimizations that you can use on an ongoing basis, which will be more responsive and have more data behind them than your hourly monitoring. It’s better to leave them to it than to try to do what they’re doing on your own.
A Better Schedule
So what’s a good schedule for checking in on your Google Ads? We recommend about three times per week. Check on Monday morning, to look at your weekend performance. Check on Wednesday, to check on your mid-week performance. Then check on Friday afternoon, to recap how your week went.
Smaller businesses with less ad spend can check less frequently because it will take longer to reach a statistically relevant level of data for lower budgets. Conversely, larger brands with thousands of dollars of daily ad spend or more will benefit from more frequent checks. There’s no doubt that massive brands running million-dollar ad campaigns are checking them daily, if not actively monitoring them 24/7, but that’s a special case. They likely have dedicated ad experts anyway.
It’s also important to know how long an ad has been running when you check it. If a campaign is new, it should run for 2-4 weeks at minimum to gather enough data to make relevant changes. Older ads that you’ve been running and tweaking for a while can be adjusted on a weekly basis. And, of course, emergency changes can be made in exceptional circumstances.
What Should You Look For?
So when you’re checking your ads, whether it’s daily, three times per week, weekly, or less frequently, what should you be looking for?
Conversion Numbers and Rates
Possibly one of the most important things to pay attention to in your ads is your conversion rates. After all, unless your goal with your ads is to grow awareness and nothing else, conversions are the only thing that truly matters.
In fact, chances are pretty good that a lot of your ads aren’t converting at all. Neil Patel found, over the course of over 2,000 ad account audits, that on average only 9% of keywords produce any conversions at all. That means as much as 91% of your keywords are doing nothing while eating up your ad spend.
In your ad analytics, look over your ads via the keywords tab. This tab has a details menu which will show you your ad performance by keyword. How many keywords are you still targeting that aren’t doing anything for you?
Sure, some of these keywords might be worthwhile to target just to take the opportunity away from your competitors. Your own brand name, for example, might do this. Still, once you’ve identified keywords that you’re paying to target but which haven’t resulted in any conversions in the past few months, get rid of it. Or, if your cost per conversion is way too high to justify the ad spend, disable that keyword. This will allocate more of your budget to your other better-performing keywords.
Ability to Achieve Your Goals
When you’re running an ad campaign, you need to have goals in mind. For one thing, you need those goals so you can identify what data points you should track. Setting up conversion tracking in Google Ads is pretty easy, but it needs to be done to be at all successful.
So what are your goals with your ads? Are you trying to grow brand awareness? Are you looking to generate new leads or new mailing list subscribers? Are you hoping to get some kind of on-site interaction, like entries into a contest or downloads of an ebook? Are you just in it for the product sales? Any or all of these could be goals, but you need to be tracking those goals, and analyzing your ads to see if they meet those goals. Any ad that isn’t meeting your goal for that ad should be cut off before it spends too much unnecessary money.
Ads are naturally going to be variable, from hour to hour, day to day, and week to week. Some ads work best on Thursdays before a weekend, some will spike before holidays, some will spike when people are going back to work.
Small fluctuations, plus or minus up to 15%, aren’t cause for concern. Even much larger percentage changes aren’t concerning if your numbers are low enough: a 50% drop in conversions from one day to the next isn’t meaningful if that’s going from 2 to 1.
Pay attention to fluctuations and look for huge spikes, drops, or swings. If your ad spending abruptly spikes (or drops dramatically), or if your ad positions change and another huge swing happens, you may find some more extreme underlying cause you need to address. This could be anything from a change in ad relevance, a change in competition, or a change to your ad that is affecting your spending habits.
Ad Click-Through Rates
Your ads only do so much if they aren’t being clicked. You want them to maintain a good click-through rate, which is easy to check in your ads dashboard. There’s just one problem: what even is a good click-through rate?
In 2010, WordStream determined that the average CTR for all Google ads was about 1.9%. More recent data indicates that the average for the Search Network is closer to 2.9% today, while the Display Network is only .6%. Of course, this also varies quite a bit depending on factors like quality score, industry, keyword, and competition.
Any ads with a zero CTR or a very low CTR should either be paused and tweaked to improve them, or cancelled before they waste too much of your overall ad budget.
Ad Test Results
The core of any good PPC campaign is testing. Every ad should have 3-5 variations running at any given time, whether those variations are minor changes to your landing page, in your ad copy, or in your targeting. When designing tests, make sure to only change one variable at a time, so the tests are as close to equivalent as possible.
Each time you do a review of your ads, check over these tests. As long as they’ve been running long enough to get a reasonable amount of data, you can start to make decisions. How long is long enough? It depends on your budget and traffic numbers, but you need to make sure you have a relevant sample of data you can compare. If you’ve only gotten a few dozen impressions and a couple of clicks, you’re not really working with a data set worth optimizing.
Average Positions and Placements
If you’re running ads in the search network, your ad position matters, with higher positions getting better results but costing more. Look to see if increasing or decreasing your budget could adjust your placement up or down to get into a sweet spot for ROI.
If you’re running ads on the display network, be sure to review your ad placements. Check the domains of the sites you’re placed on, and look for outliers that are underperforming. Check the sites and see if they’re relevant, if they’re decent quality, and if they’re delivering impressions and clicks at a reasonable rate. Knock out the ones that underperform.
Google sunsetted their average position metric, so you’ll have to review this manually by searching on another device, or with some third-party tools.
We mentioned above that a majority of the keywords you’re targeting are going to result in no conversions. While some of those keywords might be worth keeping around for brand awareness purposes, you still want to analyze each keyword to see if they’re worth targeting.
While you’re at it, look at the “exact search queries” report. It’s another report on the keywords tab, and it shows you the exact queries people were typing in that used a keyword you targeted and resulted in your ads being displayed.
One thing to look for here are queries that aren’t relevant to your brand but that you’re using for your keywords. For example, if you’re selling red running shoes and targeted “red shoes” as a keyword, and someone searched for “red dress shoes”, your ad could show up depending on your matching settings. They won’t click on your ad because it’s not relevant. The keyword is still fine, but you may want to add “dress” as a negative keyword to eliminate future similar queries.
Negative keywords are extremely powerful, so it’s worthwhile to identify them when you can. The more focused you can make your ads, the better return on your investment they’ll have. Seriously – out of nearly every ad campaign we’ve looked at, we found out that almost all of them were secretly paying for keywords that had nothing to do with their business. Google takes your keyword and automatically applies it to all sorts of other similar keywords. The problem is, some of these may not be relevant to your business, and are killing your conversion rate.
As you perform your thrice-a-week overview, you don’t need to audit every single one of these data points. You can do simple spot-checks and check for outliers in the data. A more comprehensive audit can be performed every couple of weeks, or once a month, to make major adjustments. The exact schedule is up to you; just remember, your time is valuable as well, so make sure you’re using it for the best effect for your business.
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