Is your search engine marketing (SEM) or Google Ads campaign working? How do you know? Below are ten metrics to help you measure the performance of your Google Ad campaign.
1. Search Engine Marketing Ad Impressions
Definition: The number times your search engine marketing ad is run or shown on a search engine marketing page.
The impression metrics within search engines aren’t necessarily a positive number. Most search engines penalize businesses that have high impression counts and a small number of clicks. Google, for example, uses an impression-to-click ratio as part of a quality score metric, which dictates the cost per click and the rank of the ad on the search engine page.
In summary, a better and more relevant the SEM campaign will have a low number of impressions.
Pro Tip: Use impression-to-click ratios to optimize text and keywords within ad groups.
2. Number of Clicks From the Search Engine Marketing Ads
Definition: The number of times your search engine marketing ad is clicked on by a consumer.
This metric description is simple, but it’s important to note not all clicks or traffic to a website are created equal. Clicks or traffic to a website doesn’t necessarily indicate the consumer/traffic is interested in what the website is selling or attempting to communicate. So, make sure you are not gauging the success of the campaign specifically off of website traffic (click) numbers.
When presented with click or website traffic numbers, recommend asking the following questions.
- How engaged was the traffic?
- How many conversions did you receive?
Pro Tip: If the traffic from your search engine marketing campaign (PPC) has little engagement and/or conversions, then consider auditing keywords (especially negatives), checking the geography where your ads are targeting, testing new ad copy, and upgrading the page(s) where the traffic is directed. Website page design and messaging have a large impact on search engine marketing performance and cost.
3. Search Engine Marketing Keyword Report
Definition: The keywords or phrases searched within a search engine that results in a search engine marketing ad click (SEM or PPC).
Use this report to understand what keywords or phrases are driving traffic to your website. Be aware of keywords that are broad and lack context. For example, an RV and camping trailer dealer should target consumers using keywords searching for camping trailers or RVs. Avoid targeting keywords such as “camping” without a qualifying term “trailer.” Consumers using the word camping within a search engine are most likely not searching for a camping trailer or RV.
Pro Tip: Use keyword reports to identify keywords that directly produce engagement and conversions. Once identified, budgets can be realigned toward these words, which tends to result in a more successful campaign.
4. SEM Keyword Cost-per-click
Definition: The cost charged by a search engine to the advertiser for a click on a search engine marketing ad.
Cost- per-click represents the demand for a keyword or phrase. The more businesses that bid on a keyword or phrase, the more companies will pay per click.
Search engines provide an average cost per click numbers per keyword category covering a 30-60 day period. These numbers provide context and help advertisers understand how their campaign is performing. If over the average, there is a problem with ad copy or web page relevance.
Pro Tip: A well-performing AdWords or search engine marketing campaign will show a decreased in cost per click (CPC) over time (3 months) compared to the published CPC averages. If the (campaign) cost per click is flat or is higher than average, there may be issues.
5. Search Engine Marketing Ad Impression Share
Definition: The number of times your SEM or pay per click ad runs on a search engine vs. the number of impressions available for purchase.
Use impression share to understand scale within ad groups. If the budget of the campaign is reporting a 10 percent impression share, then the pay per click ad is only showing or targeting 10 percent of the available impressions. A 10 percent share also means that there is an opportunity to spend 80 to 90 percent more within the keyword groups.
Pro Tip: Look to increase impression share in performing ad groups. Realign budget from underperforming ad groups or increase the budget.
Also, if you’re looking for an ideal impression share, we recommend a range between 30-80 percent.
6. (Google) Analytics Page Depth and Time-On-Site
Definition: How many pages consumers visit, and how long they stay on the website after clicking on a pay per click or search engine marketing ad.
Understanding what happens when consumers reach a website from a search engine marketing campaign is very important. Analytics is a must. If set up correctly, Google Analytics will provide page depth metrics for each ad group. These metrics provide insight into how consumers interact with the website once they arrive.
The Page Depth metrics allow us to understand interest and intent. An interested consumer will spend more time and travel to more pages than a consumer that has little or no interest.
In my experience, a strong SEM campaign will outperform, or at least match, the page depth stats originating from your Organic traffic page depth stats. Recommend using organic traffic numbers as a benchmark for the search engine marketing campaign.
Pro Tip: If there is significant pay per click (SEM) traffic with little or no page depth, you have a problem. Recommend a keyword and creative audit. Also, try and avoid using landing pages that are not on the client’s website. It’s not best practice and means the SEM vendor is attempting to hide numbers or it not savvy enough to integrate with the website analytics.
7. (Google) Analytic Engagement Events
Definition: How many pages did a consumer visit, how long they were on the site, and what buttons or links clicked?
Engagement events can be used to understand the value of the traffic coming to a website. Engagement events are actions that lead to a conversion (form fill, contact-us email, or a phone call).
Engagement events can be aligned with conversion value to create an average event value.
Engagement events also allow you to compare the value of traffic sent by your pay per click or search engine marketing campaigns. Differences in engagement may imply that your page design or messaging isn’t pulling weight, or that the traffic generated from the ad group isn’t ready to convert.
Pro Tip: Engagement events are best tracked using a tag system. Google Tag Manager or GTM allows tag or triggers to be applied to a web page via container without hard coding script directly on the website. Google Tag Manager should also be used to launch your Universal Google Analytics code, which is used to track capture user behavior information about your website.
8. (Google) Assisted Conversions
Definition: The number of interactions a consumer takes before a conversion. For example, a consumer may travel to a site four times prior to buying a product. Assisted conversion reports tell us how they within the three sessions previously recorded. Example: Display>Direct>Social>PPC
Assisted conversion reporting is a must for attribution funnels. The report allows you to see more than just past click interactions. In the example above, the PPC session received credit for the conversion even though the brand/product was initially introduced via “Display.” With an Assisted Conversion report, the display campaign would receive credit for a percentage of the conversion value.
Pro Tip: Assisted conversion reports can be used to understand funnel traffic. The report allows you to understand which messages within specific mediums are driving types of funnel traffic. Recommend testing flighted strategies during an extended period (see time lag reports in GA) of test the impact of budget increases to your conversion funnel.
Assisted conversion reporting allows us to see how consumers interact with a brand and its messaging. Theoretically, it’s one of the few areas where a true marketing funnel can be seen in action.
9. Phone Calls or (email) Fill Forms
Definition: Number of calls or fill forms that directly resulted from a consumer clicking on a search engine marketing ad within the same session.
The type of phone calls and form fills resulting from your search engine marketing campaign directly reflect the type of consumers the campaign is reaching. Are the calls relevant? If not, you may have an issue.
Pro Tip: Be aware of phone calls resulting from search engine marketing spend. These phone calls are resulting from a branded campaign or keywords specific to your business name. In most cases, branded campaigns are valuable, but should only require a small percentage of the overall spend. Branded keyword campaigns can also be used to introduce promotional messaging or help retain branded search traffic because of substantial competitive pressure.
Recommend allocating branded campaign phone calls and fill form activity into a separate category. Don’t let branded conversions hide issues with underperforming search engine marketing keyword ad groups.
10. Extra Credit Tip – Work With an SEM Expert / Consultant vs. a Team
Did you know that most companies that sell SEM services charged between 20% and 40% of your total budget to run or manage the campaigns? If your working with a Google Partner, they are required by Google to tell you how much of your budget is going to Google Ads, and now much is going towards their profit margins. Have you asked?
My recommendation is to find an SEM or Google Ad Specialist that works by retainer, meaning they will charge a flat monthly fee for Google Ad management vs. charging a percent of your total budget. You’ll find that you receive better treatment, communication, and better work.
If you want help with your Google Ad campaign, I’d love to help. Shoot me an email by filling out the form below.
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