Posted by James Lee on 27th September 2010

Troubleshooting Your PPC Campaigns, Part 1

Pair Adwords reporting with Google Analytics, and you have a pretty good way to tell when things are going wrong. Knowing what to do about them, however, is a whole ‘nother story. But good PPC management means staying on top of every aspect of your campaign and being proactive about addressing problems.

We’ll be looking at a few problems you’re likely to encounter in this series. To start with, here’s one almost all of us face at some point:

Problem #1: High bounce rate/low time on site.If you’re getting disappointing averages from Google Analytics (average bounce rate over 75%, average time on site under 1 minute), it could be either or a combination of two major factors: landing page (s) and keywords. Go to the Adwords tab in Analytics, click keywords, and take a look at your keywords to determine if you have a localized problem (a handful of seriously misbehaving keywords) or a site-wide one (moderately high bounce rates, low time on site for many keywords).

If many of your keywords are underperforming, your landing page(s) might be the problem. Check to make sure it’s working, loading quickly, highly relevant to the adgroup it’s tied to, attractive, trustworthy, and otherwise likely to inspire prospects to convert. (Read more about landing pages here.)


If particular keywords are the problem, you’ll need to start by checking to make sure your keyword really is relevant. Try searching for your term on Google. If many of the search and ad results that turn up are completely irrelevant, assume that you’re going to need to adjust your keyword phrase or match type. There’s a world of difference between the search query ‘red herring’ (a literary device common to mystery novels) and ‘salted red herring’ (preserved fish).

If your keyword definitely is relevant for what you offer, go to your search queries to see what triggered a click for any particular keyword. (You can see your search queries by going to the keywords tab of your Adwords account, selecting the keyword, and then pulling down ‘see search queries – selected’) from the main bar.) This is a great way to add negatives and cut down on the irrelevant clicks you’re getting.

Next, check conversion data (monthly and all-time if you’re low on data) to make sure this keyword is worth spending on. In our experience, even adding negatives can’t turn an underperforming keyword into a star converter. If there have been no conversions, or if the overall cost per conversion for that keyword is significantly higher than your adgroup average, you may want to consider lowering the bid or pausing the keyword.

And just a reminder: if you’re looking for a faster way to incorporate this data into your bids, ClickSweeper’s new Analytics-based bidding feature uses bounce rate and time on site to automatically adjust your keyword bids. Try it for free today!

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