Do you know what’s in Santa’s sack? Conversions. Loads of them. However, he only dishes them out to account managers who get their accounts into top shape. So, if you want to be on the big man’s “Nice” list this year, we have a checklist to help you do just that. Let us present to you, “The 12 Days Of PPC Christmas” – 12 things that you can do right now to get your account ready for Christmas and the New Year.

Start the New Year strong

Here are 12 things that we highly recommend you consider implementing into your Google Ads account to get it into the best health possible.

  1. Implement display remarketing
  2. Set up conversion tracking
  3. Optimise ad rotation
  4. Write extended text ads
  5. Create a DSA campaign
  6. Speed up your website
  7. Add ad extensions
  8. Revamp landing pages to improve QS
  9. Take advantage of demographic targeting
  10. Change to a multi-touch attribution model
  11. Set up tracking for cross-device and view-through conversions
  12. Uncap budgets in campaigns

(Of course, if you somehow find time between eating mince pies or a slice of pumpkin pie, feel free to jump ahead a day or two.)

There’s a little bonus for you at the bottom, so make sure to read the whole thing!

Day 1: Implement display remarketing

There are multiple ways to use the Google Display Network (GDN), but few of them are ever as effective as a well structured remarketing campaign.

It just makes sense – why wouldn’t you target those who have already shown that they’re interested in what you have to offer? Due to the typically lower costs on the GDN, you can get many more chances to convert with this already engaged audience often at a much lower cost than via a Search or Shopping campaign.

Even better, you can segment your audiences to bid more aggressively on those who are more highly-engaged, e.g. those which have been on the website for a certain duration or those who last visited the site within a certain number of days.

PRO TIP: For the icing on the cake, make sure to include some seasonal ad creatives.

Day 2: Set up conversion tracking

No excuses – you should have done this already. Although it can be a bit fiddly for the less technically inclined, it’s absolutely essential for you to be able to track how effective your advertising is.

Conversions don’t always mean sales – you can also track other valuable customer interactions, for example, phone calls, email sign-ups or even downloads.

Rather than attempting to summarise how to set up conversions, I’m going to sensibly direct you to the authority on the subject – Google itself.

Please, please, please – do this today. You’ll thank me later.

Day 3: Optimise ad rotation

There are currently only two options to show your ads on Google:

  1. Optimise: Prefer best performing ads
  2. Do not optimise: Rotate ads indefinitely

I won’t beat around the bush here: Choose Option 1. You’re basically choosing between Google finding the right ad for the right user at the right time or showing ads randomly. It’s a no-brainer.

The only exception to this is if you are running an ad copy split test and want to collect data faster. (If you are, you should read this.)

In short, unless you are pretty amazing at statistics, let Google do your optimisation for you.

Day 4: Write Extended text ads

Extended Text Ads are far superior to their predecessors for one reason and one reason only: They are big – really big.

With 30-character headlines, 2 15-character Display URL paths and up to 2 90-character description lines now available, you can create ginormous ads up to 300 characters long. That doesn’t even include ad extensions which I’ll come to later.

The SERPs are no different to anywhere else. The bigger you are, the easier you are to spot. If you want your ads to be seen, use Extended Text Ads.

If you want to build an empire, go big.

If you’re trying to build an empire, go big.

Day 5: Create a DSA campaign

You’ll never cover every keyword that your site could be bidding on, but Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) can certainly help you fill the gap. If your website doesn’t change very often, they could be perfect for you.

There are different ways that you can set up a DSA campaign.

  • You can target all web pages. Google will use its index to work out which terms your website is relevant for and generate an ad for you.
  • You can target specific web pages. You could pick one-off pages, all pages within a certain category of your website or even pages containing certain words or phrases.
  • You can target using a page feed. You can create a spreadsheet full of URLs and then target either your entire feed or just a section of it.

As simple as these are to set up, they’re not perfect so it’s important to be hot on your negative keywords if you’re going to set something like this up. While they’re great for covering the parts of your website that you might not even think to drive traffic to, they’ll also bring in a lot of waste. Hit back by adding negative keywords thick and fast as soon as they roll in.

And before you ask, yes, we’ve got a script to help you do that too.

Day 6: Speed up your website

Google has explicitly said that page speed is a ranking factor for mobile searches. Considering that the company is extremely secretive about the signals that make up its special sauce, them telling us this is a big deal.

This isn’t charity from Google, it’s business sense. Google wants to serve its users the best experience: A page that takes 20 seconds to load on a mobile is not going to do that.

If you’re not sure whether your site is up to scratch, Google has even made a tool to tell you. It’ll give you a nice little score, plus all of the insights that you need. Try it out on your site now!

Improving your page speed won’t just help PPC performance but will also give your SEO rankings a boost too. To find out how to improve your site for digital marketing success, give this blog post about Google’s Core Web Vitals a read.

Day 7: Add ad extensions

Remember what I said about Extended Text Ads? The main reason that they’re so great is that they’re big. Almost always, taking up more space in the SERPs leads to more clicks. Ad extensions are another great way to make your ads appear bigger and better than your competition’s.

Although ad extensions won’t always appear, when they do, it’ll make a big difference. They don’t cost anything to add so you might as well add as many as you can. Google will then choose the combinations which perform the best.

GOOD TO KNOW: The higher you bid, the more likely your ad extensions will show.

Depending on your goal, there is probably an extension to support it. Whether you want to drive more people to your physical business location, get customers to contact you or just get users to convert on your site, there’s an extension for that.

There are automated ad extensions too but the jury is still out on them. For now, stick to making your own. You’re much more creative than any computer could ever be.

Day 8: Revamp landing pages to improve QS

Quality Score (QS) is a vitally important factor in your Google Ads account. Since your ad rank is your Quality Score multiplied by your cost per click, improving your QS can mean major cost savings.

There are three things that you can do to improve your landing page Quality Score:

  1. Make your landing page as relevant to the ad as possible
  2. Reduce the landing page’s loading time
  3. Make the landing page easier to navigate

Something you might find handy is the “Landing pages” page in the UI which you can find in the left-hand panel. It gives you a full performance breakdown of the pages you’re sending traffic to.

To find out some other ways to improve your landing page score, read this Google Ads Help article.

Day 9: Take advantage of demographic targeting

If you know your ideal customer, demographic targeting will be ideal for you. Depending on which type of campaign you try it on, you can target people by Age, Gender, Household income and even Parental Status.

It’s most useful for controlling bids, allowing you to bid more aggressively on those groups who are converting the most and less on those who never convert or aren’t your ideal clientele. You can exclude groups too but I’d tread carefully here. The last thing you want to do is stop a potential customer from seeing your ads, especially if they’re using someone else’s device or someone more tech-savvy is helping them find your product or service.

When you’ve got a chance, hop into the Demographics tab and have a look to see what data you have already. You can then add appropriate bid adjustments from there.

GOOD TO KNOW: As tempting as it might be, don’t exclude the “Unknown” category. Google doesn’t know everything about everyone so your best customers could be in this group!

Day 10: Change to a multi-touch attribution model

Last-click attribution is like driving a car to the train station, taking a train for 20 minutes, walking across the city centre, taking a lift to the third floor and then telling everyone you travel to work using the lift.

Technically that’s true but the 10-second lift journey played such a small part in your commute to work that it’s almost negligible. However, that’s exactly what last-click attribution is doing – giving all of the weight of a conversion to the last channel that the user used before converting. Pretty non-sensical, if you ask me.

There are much more sensible attribution models now available, e.g. Time decay, Position-based or Data-driven (if available). As long as you’re getting as far away as possible from Last click attribution, you can’t go far wrong.

If you’re not sure which attribution model your conversions are using, click “Tools”, then “Conversions” and then click on the conversion that you want to check. You’ll be presented with a page like the following:

Conversions: Are you using last click?

From here, you can see which attribution model the conversion is using and can click on “Edit Settings” in order to change it.

Not sure which attribution model to pick? Go for position-based. You can’t go far wrong with that.

Day 11: Set up tracking for cross-device and view-through conversions

How many screens are there in your home? Apparently, 31% of households have more than 4 TVs (Someone’s doing well – they’ve clearly been taking advantage of those Black Friday sales!).

TV screens, smartphones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers, video games consoles and e-readers are present in most homes and we switch devices regularly.

So here’s a question for you – have you ever sat down at your computer, seen an idea for a trip and booked it then and there in one sitting? Unless you’re extremely impulsive, the answer is “Probably not”. That’s exactly why you need cross-device conversions enabled – to ensure that you’re capturing the conversions users make after clicking on an ad on one device and completing the conversion on another.

Good news – Search and Shopping campaigns automatically count cross-device conversions in the Conversions column. However, to include view-through conversions (conversions that take place after people see your ad but don’t click on it), you need to opt-in.

You can find this setting by clicking on “Tools”, then “Conversions” and then “Settings”. Click the check box, click “Save” and Bob’s your uncle.

Depending on your setup, you may need to install a Google Ads tag on the site but for most people, you’re done.

Now you can finally start getting the device insights that you need!

Day 12: Uncap budgets in campaigns

No, I haven’t gone completely mad. While you might not have bottomless pits of money to spend, you do need to do your utmost to uncap your budgets. It’s not as extreme as it sounds!

For this, we’ll need to add a column at Campaign level: Search Lost IS (budget). It’s under “Competitive metrics” if you can’t see it.

If you’re not quite sure what this metric is, here’s Google’s explanation:

The percentage of time that your ads weren’t shown on the Search Network due to insufficient budget. This data is available at the campaign level only.

BE CAREFUL: There’s also a Display Lost IS (budget) and a Search Lost IS (rank) but we don’t need those right now. What you’re looking for is Search Lost IS (budget).

Basically, if Search Lost IS (budget) isn’t 0%, at some point over the time period you’re looking at, you ran out of budget and didn’t show your ads to all of the people that you could have done. Naturally, you want to get this number down as low as possible, preferably zero.

How to reduce Search Lost IS (budget)

How do you reduce impression share lost to budget? There are multiple ways:

  • Increase campaign budgets
  • Add more negatives to cut wasted spend
  • Reduce bids
  • Pause keywords which are low converters
  • Implement an ad schedule to only show your ads at specific times
  • Restructure your campaign, reducing the number of keywords in a campaign

The above tend to fall into one of three camps:

  1. Increase budgets
  2. Reduce the number of queries you’ll show for
  3. Bid less

Do any one of those or a combination and you should see a reduction in your Search Lost IS (budget) meaning that more of your potential audience is seeing your ads.

LOOK OUT: Avoid bidding less if you can – you might lose visibility for some of your top performing keywords!

If you do decide to increase budgets, make sure that it’s at a level that you can afford to spend. It’s always nice to have a bit of “breathing space”, but if Santa sends a surge of traffic your way, your account (and your bank balance) needs to be able to handle it.

The 12 Days Of PPC Christmas

Here’s a quick and catchy way to remember all of that:

On the twelfth day of Christmas
Impression gave to me:
Twelve Uncapped Budgets
Eleven Device Insights
Ten Fitting Models
Nine Demographics
Eight Landing Pages
Seven Ad Extensions
Six Speedy Websites
Five DSAs
Four ETAs
Three Great Ads
Two Conversions
and some Display Remarketing

(I promise that I’m better at PPC than I am at songwriting!)

Good PPC is for life, not just for Christmas

Regardless of the time of the year, any PPC manager worth their salt should be implementing as many of the above as possible.

At Impression, we’re committed to making data-driven decisions and creative strategies that drive strong results for our clients. To find out more about what we do and how we do it, see our PPC page.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Nathan Ifill

Technical PPC Specialist

Technical PPC Specialist at Impression. Putting the ‘ting’ into ‘digital marketing’. Connect with Nathan on LinkedIn.

Nathan has specialist knowledge in PPC and Paid Media.