So, you’ve got your Adwords account running (If you don’t, you can find relevant blogs on set up here) and you’re all excited because there are now stats in the table – Congratulations! Your advert has been seen! But the question is, has your advert been seen by the right people? If the following process sounds a bit labour intensive, PPC Management services are available but if you’re taking the plunge and managing your account yourself, pay attention!

If you run a pet shop and your ads are being seen by users looking for toasters, not only will you look like a very silly billy indeed but you’ll also be wasting alot of your budget on someone looking to buy a new rabbit for little Jimmy – Not looking to buy a  band spanking new 4 slice toaster.

So here are some wonderfully useful metrics you should look at, understand and know how to improve.

CTR (Click-through-rate)

CTR is the percentage of users who have clicked on your advert after seeing it. As you can imagine, if you have a low CTR, the first conclusion to jump to is that your keywords are too broad, or your adverts are not particularly appealing. To check what keywords you are appearing for, view the keyword list in question and click ‘See search terms’ at the top of the table.

You will then be shown a list of keywords that your adverts have appeared for in the set date range. You can exclude these by ticking the box on the left of them and clicking ‘exclude’ at the top of the page, or you can take note of specific words and add them as negative keywords separately in order to block future searches including that word. Bear in mind, Google’s broad match can be rather erratic – I once worked on an account promoting energy saving methods, the ads for which were appearing for searches such as ‘Power Rangers’, as Google had made the incorrect connection between ‘energy’ and ‘power’. If terms say Broad (Session-Based) next to them, this means the user has been shown that ad based on other searches they have made in the same search session.The chances are most of these are irrelevant so keep an eye out.

If you think it’s your ads that are the problem, start split testing. Leave the existing ads in the account for testing and add another advert. Before creating the ad, use the Google ad preview tool to see what your competitors have in their ads. This is NOT so you can copy them – this is to see if they have prices in their ads. If they do and their prices are more expensive, you might consider featuring your lower price in your ad. Similarly, if your prices are slightly higher and you are unable to decrease them, you might want to leave the price out altogether. Check you have a call to action, USP’s and delivery information such as ‘Free Delivery!’ where appropriate. Run the old and new ads alongside each other and see which does best. Then replicate the key features of that successful ad in future ad copies.

I attended a seminar at Google’s offices in London a few years ago and was told that 2% is a good CTR to aim for. I haven’t heard any different since then so I can only assume this is still the standard. Obviously, the higher the better with CTRs but if it’s under 2%, that’s less than 2 out of 100 people who are actually clicking on your ad so you might want to pay it a bit of attention.

Quality Score (Also known as ‘The Headache”)

Quality score is a score out of 10 attributed to every keyword in your account. The exact formula is kept top secret by Google but we know it is partly based on CTR, past performance on the account, landing pages and keyword relevance. The higher your quality score, the lower your cost per click as Google is rewarding you for having a good account. Trying to get your quality score back up is a bit like trying to win back an ex-partner. What worked the first time might not work this time and unless you do the right things at the right time you probably wont have any luck – start off on the right foot and check this out early on.

If you hover over the speech bubble next to each keyword you will see the ad diagnostics tool. This tool tells you if your ads are showing (and if not, why not), your quality score and if there are any issues with relevant factors (E.g. landing page quality and load time as well as keyword relevance). If you have an issue with landing page factors, take a look at the landing pages and setup of your website. If you have an issue with keyword relevance, see if you can trace a keyword path from the keywords in your account through your ad and to your landing page – there should be a constant noticeable theme in keywords for them to be deemed relevant by Google.  (I hope you can forgive my 3/10, as you can see, this is a test account for blogging purposes only and the ads have never run so I’m off the hook.)

 Quality score is what stops advertisers from making their ads appear for high volume, yet irrelevant keywords just for the sake of getting their ad out there.


 The dimensions tab is crucial in getting an idea of what your users are doing on your website. It can be found in the usual place at the top of the table.

 This tab can show you the most popular times of day for your ads, the most popular days of the week, where your users are based geographically and much more. Have a play around – you can’t break it and you won’t lose any data. Just see if there’s anything you find interesting. If you receive most of your clicks or a higher CTR only between 9am and 5pm, you may consider scheduling your ads to only show between these times if your budget is tight. If you find most of your users are based in London, you may consider creating a campaign targeted specifically to London.


This is a very clever feature that allows you to see your data in a more granular fashion. You can find this ‘segment’ button at the top of the table in the campaign, ad group, ad, network or keyword view. This feature separates your data into the categories below so you can determine your most valuable traffic sources, whether that’s a geographical location or a time of day.

Again, have a play around. Different people will find different metrics interesting. Personally, I love the segment by device metric (data geek, hello). This shows you the details of the traffic that comes from mobile devices, tablets and PCs (if your ads are targeted to all devices). If you are receiving clicks from mobile devices and the CPCs are cheaper on these devices, you may want to consider creating a mobile targeted campaign. If you are using a PPC management company you could ask them about creating a mobile website, as many PPC agencies will have a web team too.

If something in your Adwords account seems irregular, it probably is and there will be a reason for it. Look into why a certain figure may be lower than the rest or why your budgets all gone and the phone hasn’t rung once. Adwords accounts don’t run themselves – they need to be carefully monitored and adjusted accordingly. Don’t freak out if your CTR drops by 0.01% but take note of quality score  factors and be willing to make changes a few times a week if necessary.

Keep your eyes peeled and don’t just ignore less-than-perfect stats!