Optimization Checklist for Google AdWords Campaign Settings

With the new year comes new budgets, new goals, and new strategies for your paid search campaigns. But it’s also a great time to check your campaign settings and make sure you’re optimized and not missing out on potential conversions because of an outdated campaign setting. Use this checklist to ensure your AdWords search campaigns are taking advantage of each available setting and fully optimized this year. (Most of these hold true for Display and Shopping campaigns as well.)

o   Campaign Name. Are your campaigns named systematically in a way that’s easy to navigate and understand? Make sure you’re using a consistent nomenclature for your campaign names.

o   Type. Typically, you want to be using “Search Network only – All features” here, unless you’re running advanced campaigns like Mobile App Engagement, Dynamic Search Ads, or Call-Only. We highly recommend segmenting display from search, so you should not have any “Search Network with Display Select” campaigns.

o   Networks. Campaigns opted in to both Google Search and Search Partners, or just Google Search. Segment your data on the Campaigns tab by “Network (with search partners)” to understand if the Search Partner network is working for you.

o   Locations. Confirm your targeted locations are encompassing all locations your business serves, and that the proper bid adjustment is in place for each. Confirm you are not inadvertently excluding any locations that you now serve.

o   Location Exclusions. Do you need to exclude your ads from specific locations? Make sure every campaign is updated with your latest exclusions and that you’re not accidentally excluding good locations.

o   Location Options (advanced). Confirm you’re using the right setting. In most cases, we change from the default to “People in my targeted location” unless your business wants to target people outside your service area who may be searching for services or products in your area.

o   Languages. Are you targeting English only? We’ve seen small but profitable gains by selecting All Languages. This captures English-keyword searches performed by people who have their browser set to another language but are bilingual.

o   Bid Strategy. Ensure that you’re using the right bid strategy to align with your campaign goals. Typically, you want to ensure you’ve activated “Enhanced CPC” bidding. If you’re running any campaigns on “Conversion Optimizer” you’ll want to check that these campaigns still have enough conversion volume for the algorithm to optimize. You may need to switch back to manual CPC bidding until you hit the 30 conversions per month threshold.

o   Budget. Check that you’re not budget-constrained on any ROI-positive campaigns, and if so, consider increasing those budgets. Conversely, check that you’re not overspending on any ROI-negative campaigns, and if so, consider lowering those budgets. For ROI-positive campaigns where you want to maximize impression share, make sure you switch off the default “Standard” delivery method onto “Accelerated” delivery.

o   End Date: Have any campaigns ended or nearing their end date? Make sure you evaluate whether it makes sense to extend those.

o   Ad Delivery: We usually recommend “Rotate Evenly: Show Ads More Evenly For At Least 90 Days, Then Optimize” when you start an ad copy or landing page test, but once you’ve gathered enough data and you’re able to eliminate the clear losers, it’s often wise to switch to “Optimize For Conversions”.

o   Experiment. This is a rarely used AdWords feature, but you still want to check if you have any campaigns with active experiments running. If so, analyze them and see if you have enough data to end the test and roll out the winner.

o   IP Exclusions. This setting is often overlooked because you have to click into each campaign and click the “Edit” button to see which exclusions you have in place. The most common use case for IP Exclusions is to prevent your ads from appearing at your office (to ensure employees aren't clicking on ads). If this is the case, first check with IT on which IPs should be excluded, then click into each campaign and ensure the list is up to date.

o   Dynamic Search Ads. This should only be set for DSA campaigns, and should usually be your main website domain URL.

o   Campaign URL Options (Advanced). If you set your tracking parameters at the campaign-level, go through each campaign to ensure the tracking codes are up-to-date and accurate.

o   Ad Schedule. This section of Campaign Settings often gets set, and then forgotten. Make sure that if your schedule is “OFF” at certain times or days, that there is still a business reason for that to be so. Next look at historic performance of each day and time, and adjust bid modifiers accordingly.

o   Devices. Same as Ad Schedule, you want to check in regularly on how mobile devices are performing relative to computers, and adjust the bid modifier accordingly.