How To Prioritise PPC Management Tasks: The PPC “Magic Quadrant”

One question that I keep getting asked recently is:

How can I best manage my time when I am managing my Adwords accounts.

A lot of marketers and PPC management agencies alike struggle to know what to do and waste huge amounts of time doing tasks that are time consuming and make very little impact on their account.

If you feel like your peddling fast and going slow then todays post is going to teach you the exact Adwords optimisation tasks you need to doand exactly what order you need to do them to get the highest impact.

I was recently looking at a Gartner magic quadrant report and decided that I would create something similar for the different PPC management tasks.


High Impact / Low Time

High impact low time optimisations are your low handing fruit.

Do all of these tasks first before you even consider doing any other types of optimisation tasks.

Most of the tasks within this section should generate you at least a 10% increase in performance or save you a significant amount of time.

1) Automate Optimisation Tasks With Adwords Scripts

If your serious about improving your Adwords performance then you need to implement Adwords Scripts.

They let you automate optimisation and reporting tasks within Adwords and save you a tonne of time.

Adwords Scripts have helped me cut my optimisation time in half and still deliver incredible results.

I won’t discuss this too much here as I have a guide on this which you can read here:

120 Adwords Scripts to Supercharge Your PPC Campaigns 


2) Add The Full Set of Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are an incredibly easy way to increase your CTR and generate more highly qualified traffic.

However on almost every account I’ve consulted on there have been at least one form of ad extension missing.

Here are the expected CTR gains your can expect from adding different ad extensions

ad extensions

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By implementing all of these extensions you should increase your CTR by 67% on average.

To learn how to implement ad extensions read this article  by Sam Owen from PPC Hero.

3) Add 24 Hour Bidding Schedules & Mobile Bid Modifiers

Your conversion rate changes a lot deepening on the time of day that your ads run, so its crucial that you adjust your bids accordingly.

Just take this account here:


Google Adwords only allows you to change your ads 6 times per day, however luckily there are Adwords scripts to allow you to change bids 24 hours per day.

You can download the script here.

When Dominos implemented this strategy they saw an 11% increase in CTR.

To learn how to add mobile bid modifiers you can read this guide here.

4) Split Test Your Landing Pages

Landing pages split testing can make a huge impact on your Adwords performance.

If you double your landing pages conversion rate, you won’t just double your conversions, but your going to half your cost per conversion meaning you can buy a lot more leads for your budget.

From a well planned and researched A/B test you can expect to see conversion increases of 30-40%.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of split testing here is how it works.


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For a basic guide to what you need to split test we would recommend that you read: 11 Epic PPC landing page best practices that will double your conversion rate.

Or for more advanced users you may want to read articles on either Conversion XL or Conversion Rate Experts blogs.

5) Implementing a Bidding Strategy

There is no doubting the that the wrong bidding strategy can ruin your Adwords performance so getting this right is fundamental to success.

Advertisers in the past have seen their cost per conversion drop by over 50% by implementing the correct bid strategy

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On the very basic end you might simply have bid modifiers and bid up oh high converting keywords and bid down on poor converting keywords.

Slightly more advanced users may want to use automated rules or Adwords bidding methods that allow you to bid towards a certain lead price or ROAS for example.

Advanced users that have very large numbers of keywords and mid to large size adwords budget in the $100K+ range per month will want to instead use more complex portfolio or positional based algorithms to maximise their ROI.


High Impact / High Time

Once you have completed all of the low hanging fruit optimisation task, you then need to move onto high impact tasks that are more time consuming.

1) Add Your Top Performing Search Queries into Their Own SKAGs

The Top 20% of your keywords and search queries will account for 80-90% of our conversions on average.

It is therefore fundamental to ensure that these adverts and keywords are optimised to the max.

By implementing single keyword ad groups on accounts we have consistently been able to generate:

  • Increases in CTR by 14%
  • Decrease in cost per conversion of 21%

Sam Owen from PPC Hero also published a case study based on the performance increase that Audi found when they implemented single keyword ad groups in to their PPC accounts. There results were as follows:

  • Increase in CTR by: 22%
  • Reduction in cost per lead by: 50%
  • Increase in leads by 106%

Single keyword ad groups allow you to maximise your Quality Score and CTR by ensuring that your ads are a perfect match to the users search query by only placing one ad per ad group as shown below.


Image Credit: Unbounce 

You can learn how to implement single keyword ad groups by reading our guide on it here.

2) Add New Negative Keywords From Your SQR

Your search query reports are a goldmine for finding new negative keyword opportunities and this is where you will find the vast majority of opportunities.

The search query report shows you all of the searchers that users have typed into Google that have triggered your adverts to appear.

Your search query report can be found by going into your keywords tab and then navigating to your search terms sub tab. (shown below)


There are several types of search query that will make good candidates for negative keywords.

The first and most obvious one are search queries that are completely irrelevant that have been caused by using broad match or phrase match keywords.

There are lots of other candidates that might make good negative keywords, for example:

  • Ssearch queries have high impressions but no clicks
  • Search queries have resulted in a conversion but have a large amount of spend
  • Search queries have a below average CTR for the ad-group
  • Search queries have an above average Cost/Conv

Chad Summerhill wrote a brilliant 4 part series for Wordstream that teaches you exactly how you can find these types of search query using excel and a few simple functions.

You can read his articles here – Advanced search query mining part 1: The power of search queries.

For more advanced users you will want to use something called n-gram analysis to find new negative keyword opportunities.

This allows you to analyse the performance of individual words within the search query. So for example you may find that all of the searches that contain the word free convert very poorly and you may want to add this as a negative keyword.

Here is a script that can run this analysis on your Adwords account for you and then will create a report within Google Sheets.

You can then analyse this report to find new negative keyword opportunities.

3) Adding Cross Pollination Negative Keywords

Inside your AdWords account, you most likely have short tail and long tail versions of different keywords.

What you may not know is that your shorter tail keywords could be stealing away impressions from your longer-more-specific-tail keywords.

Usually, this happens because AdWords doesn’t know how to correlate the search term to your long-tail keyword because of the way you are using match types.

Johnathan Dane suggests that you should strive to do is to get all AdWords accounts to have at least 25 search terms (from highest impressions and down) in a row that are pulling from the exact same keyword.

When that happens, your search term report starts looking like this:

You can read the full article here on how to add cross pollination negative keywords.

4) Split Test Your Ads

Split testing your ads is of vital importance for improving your Quality Score and your CTR.

A lot of advertisers skip this however its vitally important.

Take a look at this data from Wordstream. It shows that on average to find an ad copy that is 3x the average CTR that will absolutely crush your competition you will need to test at least 20 ads.

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If you want to learn more about split testing the number 1 place to go is the Adalysis blog that has a section that is dedicated completely to split testing.


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Low Impact / Low Time

Low impact low time should be part of your optimisation process but should only be completed once you have expended all of your efforts on tasks that will provide high impact

1) Improve Your Campaign Naming Conventions

Improving your campaign naming convention is a good way to help you save time in the future and improve your reporting which can help you uncover optimisation opportunities.

At cliteq we use the following naming convention that helps us keep our accounts organised

{web category page} | {web sub category page} | {network} | {device} | {match type}

For example if we were running ads for a website selling iPhone cases and they were specifically for iPhone 4 on the search network it would look something like this:

iPhone cases | iPhone 4 cases | Search | Desktop | Exact Match

2) Set Ad Delivery Method to Accelerated

Moving your ad delivery method to accelerated will help you shows your ads more frequently which can help some advertisers who are not yet hitting their budget to buy more profitable traffic.

This is however not recommended if you are getting the “campaign limited by budget” warning.

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3) Pause Poor Performing Ads and Keywords

Going through your account and pausing poor performing ads and keywords is an important task but it won’t move the needle that much.

It like many other Adwords optimisation tasks can also be automated using Adwords Scripts to save you time which we suggest that you do.

Great candidates to be paused are:

  • High spend keywords with no conversions
  • Keywords that don’t spend much, don’t convert and have low Quality Scores
  • Keywords with a Quality Score lower than 5 that are not profitable to your business

4) Review GDN Placements

If you have any Google display network campings running (including remarking) it is important to review your placements.

This is very similar to reviewing your search query report as it shows you where your remarketing / display ads have been displayed.

You will want to go through and pause or even exclude poor performing placements.

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This will not be a game changer for you but can help you incrementally reduce your cost per conversion.


Low Impact / High Time

Low impact, high time optimisations are time wasters, try to avoid doing these tasks unless you have done all other possible optimisation tasks.

1) Negative Keyword Expansion

This one is going to upset a lot of people but when you actually look at the data long tail keywords don’t actually do a great deal within your account.

There are three main reasons why optimising for the long tail is not effective.

  1. From an optimisation time perspective your time is 33X as effective working on your top 20% of keywords as it is working on your long tail keywords that contain 4+ words.
  2. 90%+ of all impressions are generated by search terms that are 4 or less words long, so the long tail only represents 10% of all paid search traffic, not the 70%+ that most search marketers believe.
  3. For keywords that contain 5 or more words you would need 200 keywords on average to generate 1 click per month.

You can read the full argument here with all of the data to back it up

Here is what the long tail graph actually looks like. As you will see 90%+ of impressions come from keywords that are 4 words long or less, so don’t waste your time adding hundreds of long tail variants.



2) Manually Tracking Quality Score

One thing you can’t track in Adwords is your account level Quality Score and I often hear of people tracking this manually.

Tracking Quality Score is essential to ensure that you are improving, however doing this manually is a thing of the past.

Instead use this script that automatically writes it to a spreadsheet for you.



If you were unsure of how to best mange your time when managing your Adwords accounts before you should have a good understanding of which optimisations move the needle that you should be focusing on and the ones that are just wasting your time.

Make sure that you focus your time on the high impact, low time optimisations first and then move to high impact, high time when you have completed them.

Try to keep your time doing low impact, low time optimisations to a minimum and look to automate these. As for low impact high time optimisations avoid these like the plague!

If you have any questions about the guide please feel free to ask them below in the comments section and I will do my best to get back to you.

wesley parker
About wesley parker

Wesley is Founder and CEO at Clicteq. He currently manages a £6 Mil Adwords portfolio across a range of different sectors. He regulally features in leading search publications such as Search Engine Journal, Econsultancy and Certified Knowledge. You can follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Linkedin

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