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PPC Checklist: From Zero to Profit Wielding Hero

When you hear people talk about Pay per Click (PPC) Management they typically mean Google AdWords.

That said, PPC now spans a whole spectrum of platforms from social media, content, display and of course ‘the daddy’ Google search itself.

This actionable ppc optimisation checklist is directly attributed to managing an AdWords ppc campaign, but it’s fair to say it can be applied to other paid search marketing too. It can also be used as the basis for a campaign review and audit check list.

The Purpose of a PPC Checklist?

You need a plan and structure (you need a checklist!), because your pay per click accounts won’t run themselves.

Simply put, keeping on top of your paid search campaign means:

  • You control and reduce any wasted budget
  • You improve your conversion rate over time
  • You maximise the return on investment from PPC
pay per click campaign optimisation checklist

Where to start with optimisation?

Optimise for spend or conversions? A simple rule of thumb:

  1. If conversions are high (and accurate), optimise your conversion metrics first
  2. If your account is a low conversion account, look at your costs first
  3. If you’ve high spend with high conversions, such as Ecommerce, focus on best sellers

Setting expectations

In order to understand performance you must always outline your targets and KPIs. Key elements of your projections such be:

  • Budget
  • Conversions
  • Conversion type (i.e. first-touch, lead, sale, return sale)
  • Cost per Click (CPC)
  • Click-through Rate (CTR)
  • Cost per Acquisition (CPA)
  • Historical performance

Frequency of measurement would be typically 30-days, month to month.

Bigger spending, faster moving AdWords accounts could be measure bi-weekly or even weekly.

Pay per click is forever changing

The below PPC checklist is a tried and tested formula – how do we know, because it’s based on our highly successful internal process:


  • House keeping – ensure Analytics is linked and accurately reporting
  • Conversions – tracking is configured and accurately reporting
  • Metrics – understand and outline your KPIs
  • Budget – set budget expectations
  • Project performance – what do we expect to happen when we make the changes
  • Reporting – define your frequency of measurement
  • Daily Tasks


    • Monitor and tend to spend vs conversions, split out campaigns that need more spend
    • Measure against historical averages and your campaign targets


    • Look for daily issues in your Click-through Rates (CTR) and spend


    • Manual adjustment of top performers, bid up high converters with lower CPA
    • Bid down low or none converting keywords, remember to consider assisted conversions
    • Consider enhanced or automated bidding if >30 conversions per month
    • Look for imperfections and issues with automated bidding performance


    • Monitor poor performers, pause manually or create rules to pause based on spend/conversions
    • Look for duplicate and cross contamination keyword issues
    • Pause under performing keywords based on spend and/or CPA

    Weekly Tasks


    • How are top versus side positions effecting cost and conversions


    • Refine any performance anomalies such as a drop in CTR


    • Use search term reports to find new keyword opportunities
    • Extract and add negative keywords
    • Split out and experiment with keyword match types
    • Look for duplicates and cross contamination issues


    • How is mobile performing versus desktop, adjust bids to suit
    • Optimise click to call vs website conversions

    Bi-Weekly Tasks


    • Run impression share reports and look for gaps to fill
    • Are high converting Ad Groups and Keywords hitting >95% impression share


    • Split larger groups >10 keywords in to more targeted, smaller groups
    • Create highly targeted ads to suit keyword(s)
    • Ensure consistent structure of match type groupings


    • Make sure there are 2 adverts running per Ad Group
    • Analyse Ad performance – test headlines, CTAs and value propositions
    • Ensure Ad to landing page continuity
    • Ensure sufficient click/conversion data before declaring winners


    • Review placement performance, exclude where appropriate

    Monthly Tasks


    • Impression weighted quality score assessment
    • Identify low quality keywords and work to improve


    • Check performance of ad extensions, such as sitelinks, which impact Ad Rank
    • Remove poor performers and replace with new links


    • Review spend weighted against Search CPA/ROI
    • Review bids and conversions, identify targets and demographics that get results
    • Ensure display ads are being split tested


    • Look for best and worst performing landing pages and work to improve
    • Optimise based on visitor metrics vs conversions


    • Can you improve efficiency by using rules for certain processes


    • Look for and investigate anomalies in spend, CTR, Impressions and Conversions
    • Do all broad and phrase match groups have negative keyword lists
    • Do all campaigns have sitelinks and relevant ad extensions



    • Review effectiveness of landing pages
    • Where appropriate A/B test content changes
    • Use identical ads to test new landing pages, old vs new
    • Consider improved, more targeted landing pages for continuity


    • Identify regions that don’t convert, consider splitting out best performers


    • Identify times of day and day of week that require bid adjustments up/down
    • Avoid over optimisation on thin data sets


    • Conversion tracking still relevant and tracking correctly
    • If values are set, are they still true – for example sales/lead LTV
    • Look for new macro and micro conversion opportunities 


    • How has the account performed this month, quarter and year
    • Compare and contrast, address any top-level performance issues

    Looking to multiply your marketing money with pay per click management services? We’ve got that covered.

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    Ed Leake

    Author: Ed Leake

    PPC nerd, founder and Managing Director of Midas Media, Ed started in 'tech' when he was 12 years old, building websites and selling computers from his parent's garage. Outside of work Ed enjoys yet more work, motorsport, attempting to cycle with clip-on shoes and refuelling on fresh doughnuts.


    1. Great Analysis Ed. PPC has always been a bit of a mystery in the past but crystal clear Now!

      1. Thanks Mikey, I’m working on some additional resources to compliment this, as I appreciate each section – and even bullet point – could be it’s own article!

    2. No Problem Ed. It’s encouraged me to Publish my own Do’s & Dont’s of Email Sends when I have time!

    Comments are closed.

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