Pay-per-click Report Card: Has Opportunity for Growth sells footwear for men, women and children. The owner contacted Practical eCommerce with a request to review his pay-per-click advertising campaigns. He spends about $1,000 per month on pay-per-click advertising, with 99 percent of those monies invested into Google AdWords. For the purpose of this review, I will focus only the Google activity.

Account Structure

The basic idea behind a solid account structure is simple: Combine thematically relevant keywords into Ad Groups and thematically relevant Ad Groups into campaigns. Create as many distinct ad group themes as possible (i.e., cool
socks, black socks, white socks, and so on). BuyAndWalk implemented a somewhat similar strategy with a few notable exceptions:

  • All brand-related keywords have been aggregated into a single campaign called “Brands,” with 330 Ad Groups;
  • All competitor Ad Groups have been set up in a “Competitors” campaign, with 10 Ad Groups;
  • All generic keywords have been isolated into a separate campaign, with 6 Ad Groups.

Unfortunately, managers of this campaign failed to realize that the deeper you drill down into a specific theme – the better your quality score may eventually be. While the “Brands” campaign is a good start (with 330 Ad Groups – each specific to a sneaker name), the generic keywords campaign has been ignored. As a result, BuyAndWalk’s account structure is likely to weigh the overall performance down for a number of reasons:

  • Running generic keywords efficiently will be an issue due to the poor campaign structure (it’s very difficult to generate real efficiencies with just 6 Ad Groups in a generic keywords campaign);
  • Low campaign volume is always going to be an issue, since brand keywords are inherently lower search volume keywords;
  • Conversion rates on some brand terms may actually be lower if users are not introduced to your brand at the very beginning of the purchase process (when they are still searching for “cheap sneakers”).

Keyword Choices

“Brands” campaign is the most comprehensive campaign in the account. Overall, BuyAndWalk probably enjoys solid keyword coverage for brands that have been included into the campaign. To expand the keyword list further, I would strongly recommend leveraging:

  • Google’s new Search-based Keyword Tool. This nifty tool scans your site and your Google account and gives you keywords that you may be missing in your campaigns;
  • Utilizing a Search Query Report. This resembles a server log report, which should give you insight into what kind of keywords people are actually typing in. It can be accessed in your Google account by going to: Reports → Create a New Report → Search Query Report.

There is no such thing as complete keyword coverage and you can always add more. Review both tools above to figure out whether you can take advantage of any long-tail keyword opportunities.


My relevancy scale consists of the following:

  • Relevancy of a keyword to an ad;
  • Relevancy of an ad to a landing page;
  • Relevancy of a keyword to an ad to a landing page;
  • Relevancy of a landing page to user’s search query.
PPC Report Card for

PPC Report Card for

If there is a disconnect between any of the above components, the campaign is not at the best it can be. BuyAndWalk has done a good job at tightening up the relevancy of a keyword to an ad. Most Ad Groups in the “Brands” campaign have corresponding ad text that speaks to the right product. Unfortunately, some Ad Groups either have a) too many ads, b) not enough ads, or c) poorly written ads.

As a rule of thumb, keep a maximum of 2-3 ads in a single Ad Group. In these ads, address product benefits, store benefits, and spell-out your value proposition. If you can brainstorm to fit all of these components into 70 characters plus the headline, you have a winning ad. The next step would be test that ad and get some hard data behind your marketing intuition. BuyAndWalk has also done a good job at sending users on the right landing page. All “Brands” Ad Groups go to specific brand pages. The logic here is simple: If someone wants to buy “widget XYZ123”, send them to a page that sells “widget XYZ123.”

Landing Pages

Landing page is one of the most important factors in a successful pay-per-click campaign. Oftentimes, advertisers mistakenly assume that pay-per-click is supposed to miraculously generate sales. This is wrong. Pay-per-click is a great tool for driving targeted traffic to a landing page. It is the job of a landing page to communicate all the right product benefits and “seal the deal”, so to say.

BuyAndWalk’s landing pages have the right components, but all in the wrong places. Below is a list of changes I would recommend making on these pages:

  • Free Shipping, Free Returns, No Sales Tax. All of these promotions should be screaming on the page. But I can barely see the graphics because they’ve been positioned at the top right hand side. I would recommend adding either a starburst next to the product image or increasing the font of the promotional text below the “add to shopping cart” button;
  • Move the Better Business Bureau logo higher up on the page. These logos are very important as they serve the purpose of reinforcing website’s credibility;
  • Increase the size of the 800 phone number graphic. Most people will probably never call, but the fact that it’s an option is very important.

Account Settings

BuyAndWalk’s account is a good example of things to monitor in your own campaigns:

  • Never set up placement targeted, content or search campaigns in the same campaign. All three should be separate. (There is one exception to this rule. In a hybrid placement/keyword-targeted campaign, it’s acceptable, in my view, to combine distribution networks.)
  • Always include multiple match types. There is no reason not to test broad, phrase and exact match keywords
  • Always develop a comprehensive list of negative keywords for each campaign.


In summary, I think there is a lot of opportunity for growth in this account, even just in Google. If Yahoo! and MSN campaigns were properly developed, they should be contributing at least 40 to 50 percent of the overall sales volume.

Pay-per-click Report Card

Account Structure D

Keyword Choices A

Relevancy B+

Landing Pages B

Account Settings D

Overall C+

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Greg Laptevsky
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