PPC Management When Time and Sanity Are Scarce

Mike Fitterer

I was recently blessed with the birth of my 2nd child. We’re almost 7 weeks in and both mother and child are doing well. And to celebrate this beautiful, life-altering change I’ve pledged to sleep much less and have very little free time for the next few years. Whoo-hoo!!!

Since there are sadly still only 24 hours in a given day, determining how to most effectively spend my time has become an absolute necessity.

That said, my sleep deprivation is your gain as it has me thinking about prioritization in work, specifically how to get the most out of PPC management when time and sanity are scarce.

The concepts covered here are fundamental and intended to provide better structure to your account, saving you time and money after some initial setup. If you’re sleeping as little as I am these days, saving time for things like sleep is, well, a marvelous concept. For that reason, we’ll hold off on going too deep into the advanced optimization under each concept.

Final note: I’m going to focus specifically on the Google AdWords platform. Bing and other search providers have made up ground in recent years, but they still lag far behind Google. That said, many of these concepts are transferable to other platforms. Especially those that have modeled themselves after Google in order to achieve user friendliness…cough…Bing….

Ad Scheduling

What is ad scheduling?
Hypothetical question:  do customers commonly shop for new sun glasses at 3 AM? Do they enquire about business consulting on a Saturday afternoon? I think / hope the answer is generally “no”.

Just about all businesses have times throughout the week when customers aren’t actively looking for their goods or services. This often includes weekends and overnight (when non-parents are sleeping). The hours just before the business day, during, and right afterwards are often prime targets (especially in a B2B lead generation practice).

With AdWords you can set the precise days and times when you want ads to run. So, why not preserve spend for the times of day and days of the week when your customers are most active?

How is ad scheduling set up?
You’ll need to pull data within AdWords to see which days of the week and times of each day provide the most transactions or leads. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) will also be an important KPI in your evaluation.

To pull “day of week” data, simply:

In AdWords go into Campaign settings > Dimensions > Click the View button > select View: Day of the week. You’ll want to select a year of data or at least 6 months in order to ensure your decisions stem from a decent sample size.

Ad Scheduling 1

For “hours of the day” do the following:

In AdWords go into Campaign settings > Dimensions > Click the View button > select View: Hour of the day

Ad Scheduling 2

The Result
More great visibility, of course! With your ads showing up only when customers are most likely to buy, you’re increasing your chances of getting sales or conversions from your target audience.  You’re also decreasing the volume of window shopper visits and lower quality clicks.

Negative Keywords

Why are negative keywords important?
Remember our hypothetical sunglass retailer? No sane luxury sunglasses purveyor wants their brand associated with anything remotely related to the word “cheap.” Oh, and “free” is another big no-no.

Again, these are easy examples of the must-do stuff, no matter how little time you have to spare. You should absolutely spend the few minutes to pick off the worst homonyms, stop-words, and off-target attributes like “cheap.”

For another quick example, let’s look at a marketer or business owner trying to generate leads for “business consulting” services.  Here, being tremendously specific with the type of consulting you do is critical. Further, if you have a more common name (think “Acme” Consulting), this gets even more important and challenging.

Bottom line: without at least some simple refinement, you can quickly find yourself bidding against a sea of businesses that aren’t really competitors. We’d ideally avoid bidding on all traffic in searches for anything other than your exact services.

Luckily, you can create just such a list of terms for which you don’t want ads to show. Having an in-depth list of negative keywords will help ensure you’re not throwing away your budget (and time) on terms that are never going to result in customers for you.

How is a negative keyword list set up?
Simply do the following:

In AdWords click on the Keywords tab on the main account page > Negative keywords. You can set up negative keywords on the Ad Group or Campaign level.

Negative keywords

The Result
By taking the few minutes to throw out those useless keywords, you’ll have more money left for the terms that are generating great leads or shoppers for your business. Taking the time to reserve more of your budget for the winning terms now should lead to more revenue, leads, and time-saved down the road.


What is Geotargeting?
Let’s stick with the familiar example. Many people looking for “business consulting services” would prefer a consultant within their approximate geographic area. Meaning searches within a certain distance are more likely to convert. So why not focus more of that precious time and budget on prospects within your geographic area, especially if you’re a regionally based business?

By default, if you’re based in North America, Google targets the whole USA and Canada. However, Google absolutely allows you to target by country, region, city, or even postal code.  Geotargeting is a must for businesses who have customers only in specific geographic regions or even confined to a particular town or part of a city.

How is Geotargeting set up?

At the Campaign level go into an individual campaign and click on the settings tab. From there go into the “Locations” section.


The Result
Geotargeting will help you keep your ads tightly focused on the areas where most of your best prospects are based. You can even create specialized ad copy and landing pages targeting specific geographic areas. While all of this takes some time, it’s very likely to improve your overall click-through rate as well as the quality of the visitor clicking through on your ads. Again, just a little extra time now, to earn dividends in the future.

Location Extensions

What are location Extensions?
Let’s start with the “business consulting services” example again here. Since most people prefer a consultant within their approximate geographic area why not make it immediately obvious in your ads that your physical location is close by?

Simply, Location Extensions allow you to have your company’s address show up in your ad without giving away precious characters in already short text. Better still, if you have multiple locations, the address of the closest store or office will show up in the ad based on someone’s IP location.

How are location extensions set up?

  1. To set up this feature, go to the All Campaigns page, click on Ad Extensions, Change the view box to “Location extensions” and click on the +Extension box to get started.
  2. OR if you already link your AdWords Account with your Google Places Account, choose “Upgraded” from the Location Extensions section.

From the drop-down menu select “View: Location extensions” Choose “Upgraded” from the menu Click +EXTENSION You will then be prompted to link your Google My Business Account.

Location Extensions

The Result
With Location Extensions a customer will have an easier time locating the most convenient office, or brick-and-mortar store in their area. That translates to more visits and potential customers as well as less frustration with the purchasing process. Higher in-store visit volumes should follow.

Sitelink Extensions

What are Sitelink Extensions?
To touch back on the luxury sunglass example: as a retailer, we want to get shoppers to the best bits of your store as quickly as we can.  Whether that’s a best-sellers page or a buying guide, your analytics should offer good insight on where to start. Taking the time to set this up well can increase the visual real-estate your ads get on a page, and even fast-forward shoppers to the right part of the shopping or conversion process.

Mechanically, Sitelink extensions allow you to pick specific pages on your website to be linked to from within your ad. They provide an opportunity to link to the most popular or high-converting pages on your website.  The link text and URLs can be updated easily and even sales and special offers can be featured when they’re running and halted as you please thanks to the scheduling feature.

How are Sitelink Extensions set up?

Simply go to All Campaigns page > Ad Extensions > Sitelinks Extensions > +Extension

Sitelink setup

Pro Tip:  You’re limited to 25 characters, but you’ll want to use around 20 characters max for desktop, and 15 characters max for mobile, in order to ensure the ad content doesn’t appear cluttered. Character limits will also prevent the clickable text from getting cut off.

The Result
With Sitelink Extensions your ads will take up more space than competitor ads, not to mention helping conversion rates by getting people to the exact parts of your site that they needed. A small trade-off of time today, for better user-experience, visibility, and ultimately revenue.

In Summary

Taking a few minutes to tackle the basic features we looked at here will absolutely help you run a more efficient, productive, and profitable paid advertising program.

Go forth and implement. Hopefully earning you some much deserved R&R. And if you don’t have a newborn child sleep, sleep, sleeeeepppp whenever you can!!!

Small Business PPC Services - Portent

Mike Fitterer

Mike Fitterer

PPC Team Lead
PPC Team Lead

Mike began his career as an International Sales & Marketing Manager living and working in Germany, focusing on product placement, marketing, and sales. For the past 9 years he's worked at Portent. Mike manages Portent's PPC Team and also works on strategy development and relationship management for Portent's top-tier PPC clients. He enjoys spending time with his wife and 2 young sons, travel, learning new languages, soccer, and supporting Seattle sports teams.

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  1. Thanks for the article, Mike.
    It’s been over 10 years since I ran an Adwords campaign (don’t judge me). I wasn’t very good at it back then and the experience left a scar, I guess.
    I think it’s time to try it again. Thanks for your tips and advice.

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