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“How to Use Google Analytics to Audit PPC Traffic”

When was the last time you took a deep dive into your PPC traffic sources? If it’s been quite some time, you’re not alone. Google AdWords is one of the single most complex platforms to master in the marketing industry. With its plethora of reports, tools and investment strategies, it can be intimidating, to say the least.

However, by neglecting to effectively analyze your advertising traffic, there is a great chance that you are wasting a sizable chunk of your marketing budget and losing out on reams of potential revenue.

Given that the future of your eCommerce company rides on generating traffic and sales, the smallest of errors can lead to catastrophic results, potentially crippling your business’s marketing budget.

It can be easy to put off auditing your PPC analytics as business owners tend to get buried in a whirlwind of other tasks and business demands. But doing so can help your organization put its ad dollars to greater and more efficient use, thereby increasing your brand’s bottom line.

Furthermore, ensure that your PPC strategy and traffic sources are accurately assessed and optimized. This way, eCommerce merchants can then make more informed and profitable decisions.

To help ensure your PPC traffic is the most qualified and advantageous for your company, today we will be exploring the process of auditing your advertisement traffic in Google Analytics.

Without further ado, here is how to effectively audit your PPC traffic for maximum results.

Sort Out AdWords Tracking Issues

To begin reviewing your PPC traffic in Google AdWords, go to Acquisition > AdWords > Campaigns. If you find that your campaign name is “(not set),” this means that your AdWords tracking has not been set up properly. Before proceeding any further, be sure to go through the steps for proper linking provided by Google through its Analytics Help page.

Another common problem that frequently plagues advertisers is when campaign reports Clicks and Session feature divergent figures. The fact is that Clicks and Sessions should reflect relatively close statistics. If the deviation is greater than 20 percent, further investigation is necessary.

To unearth the source of the discrepancy, the first step is to go into the campaign to view Ad Groups that seems to have tracking issues. Depending on the nature of the issue, users may need to drill down to the keyword level. For both keywords and Ad Groups, tracking problems could potentially result from errors in one or more destination URLs featured by ads or keywords.

The most common URL oversights include:

  • A keyword-level destination URL was input some time ago and has since been forgotten, meaning that the URL is no longer valid.
  • An ad destination URL needs to be adjusted as it is antiquated.

 

The desktop version of the AdWords Editor is an incredibly useful tool for inspecting keyword destinations and/or reviewing ad destination URLs. Through this resource, head to the Keywords report to examine the “Final URL” to understand which keywords destination URLs are currently implemented and that they are up-to-date.

This can be something of a time-consuming process; however, ensuring the correct information tracking and assets are in place ensures that you gain a comprehensive understanding of your PPC traffic.

While it is vital to review the keyword-level destination URLs implemented, it is equally important to analyze the actual keywords that your brand is utilizing in its campaigns.

Inspect Keyword Match Settings

A properly structured AdWords account tends to encompass an array of keyword match types. Different match types serve a unique purpose regarding the types of traffic they drive. For instance, broad match is most useful for keyword search and driving the most traffic possible. However, that does not mean that the consumers attracted through these keywords are the ideal audience. For pulling in the most highly-qualified consumer, exact match is the best course of action.

One of the most commonplace and hazardous flubs made in Google AdWords is when retailers run all of their keywords on the same match type. This happens so often as Google utilizes broad match as its default setting. While this will surely drive lots of traffic (and suck up a good portion of your budget), a sizable portion of the impressions made will correlate to searchers who are entering queries that loosely relate to your ad’s intent. This tends to result in incredibly unfavorable click-through rates and conversions, ultimately harming your brand’s Quality Scores. More on Quality Scores momentarily.

 

While this issue is somewhat pervasive, the reverse is just as true. Employing all exact or phrase match keywords will likely result in extremely limited volumes of traffic.

Even if you are utilizing a blend of broad, phrase and exact qualifiers, there is another match type that needs to be carefully analyzed in order to ensure your PPC campaign is driving high-quality traffic.

Limit Wasted Ad Spend via Negative Keywords

When auditing an eCommerce merchant’s PPC traffic, oftentimes there will be a sizable chunk of expenditures wasted by unqualified traffic that could be eliminated through the implementation of a variety of negative keywords–phrases that you don’t want to trigger your ads to surface.

Recent studies have revealed that “…the average AdWords account wastes 76% of its budget on the wrong search terms.” This, however, is far more detrimental than it seems as such wastes result in an increased cost-per-conversion. As the same research notes:

“Every 10% increase in wasted ad spend increases your cost-per-conversion by 44-72%.”

One of the most effective strategies in reducing these lost ad dollars and ensuring that your store is reaching its target audience is to utilize the negative keyword tool in the search terms report.

To complete this task, dig through your search terms report to identify keywords that are appearing that you don’t wish to pay for and that aren’t serving your goals. Most often, you will find various terms that surface because of using broad match keywords in your ad campaigns. This is the biggest problem with broad match keywords: They drive tons of unqualified traffic that will never end up converting.

By understanding and removing the traffic being driven by such terms, you can hone in on your target audience more effectively and achieve a greater chance of boosting your brand’s bottom line.

Additionally, it may be wise for your eCommerce brand to cut down on wasted ad spend by employing a click-tracking software. This is a valuable investment as roughly 40 percent of internet traffic are bots. Utilizing this type of tool can help your business reduce malicious click spend that is tanking your ad budget.

Analyze Ad Relevance

The relevancy of your adverts is essential to the types of traffic each group garners and weighs heavily on your advertisement’s Quality Scores.

When auditing your ad groups, each one should be limited to about 20 keywords. While the number of keywords is exactly detrimental to performance, it does end up hindering your ad’s copy which most certainly impacts your campaign’s results as it can tend to be irrelevant to a given query.

Whenever an ad group becomes bloated with a massive keyword list that encompasses a variety of themes, this forces merchants to craft rather generic ad copy. This tends to turn off audiences or drive undesirable forms of traffic.

The solution to this issue is to simply populate various ad groups with a list of thematic, hyper-focused keywords that share a coherent motif. This enables eCommerce purveyors to generate specific adverts that speak to a searcher’s needs, thereby increasing click-through rates, Quality Scores and (most likely) conversions.

As detailed by Google, advertisers can check their Quality Score by viewing the Keywords tab.

To conduct a keyword diagnostics test:

  • Click the Campaigns tab at the top.
  • Select the Keywords tab.
  • Click the white speech bubble next to any keyword’s status to see details about that keyword’s Quality Score. You’ll be able to see ratings for expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience.

This is an important part of the auditing process as undesirable Quality Scores directly correlate to low-quality traffic.

Ensure Conversions Are Properly Tracked

Now, this may not exactly be a part of the traffic auditing process, but if this data is not properly harvested, it is impossible to know if your improvement efforts are bearing fruit.

This seems like it would be an obvious notion and one of the first things eCommerce merchants set up in their accounts; however, the aforementioned AdWords study also revealed that a mere 29 percent of AdWords accounts are effectively tracking conversions.

Some of the signs that conversion tracking has not been properly implemented include:

  • Identical conversion and click-count rates.
  • High conversion rates contrasted by low sales figures.
  • Abnormally low conversion rates.

If any of these kinds of issues are present, it is vital to set up your conversion tracking properly to understand if your audience refinement efforts have proven effective.

When it comes to PPC advertising, understanding the kinds of traffic generated by your adverts is of the utmost importance. Without this knowledge, there is a great chance that you are wasting a significant portion of your ad dollars and failing to have your eCommerce store reach its fullest potential.

Be sure to go through these steps to properly audit your AdWords traffic. Alternatively, you can hire a professional eCommerce marketing expert that can help you wade through the complexities of such data and analytics information, ensuring that you will get the results you desire.

 

Meet the Author

Brittany Currie

A Georgia Southern University graduate, Brittany joined Visiture in 2015 and manages Visiture's extensive internal marketing endeavors. Interests include: true crime podcasts, *watching sports, and her two pups, Lulu the Pug and Laurence the Greyhound.

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