10 Tips For The PPC Noob

You know that cliché ‘we all have to start somewhere’? It’s not something you particularly care to hear as you are urgently trying to finish up a full ad copy refresh and figuring out where on Earth to pull a search query report from.

Here are 10 tips I picked up in my first couple of months on the job. I learnt very quickly that when it comes to PPC, there are easy ways to do things and very difficult ways too. Unfortunately, it seems that the latter usually involves a lot of what newbies waste their precious time on. The following pointers and resources will hopefully save you the pain of figuring out the little things the hard way.

1: Don’t be afraid to ask questions

This point has been over stressed in your schooling life, I am sure. However, we sometimes forget that in a professional environment it is still ok if you do not know everything. Sometimes it might seem like those in the office who already know their way around AdWords might not remember that some people don’t. This, however, is where feeling confident enough to ask a question when you need to could be the difference between surviving your first couple months and always being 3 steps behind. Asking questions and engaging others in problem solving exercises also helps to develop an office culture of collaboration and sharing, which your bosses might thank you for later when you crack the code on some age-old PPC problem.

2: …but, don’t be that person

You know the one who phones tech support because their computer just refuses to turn on, only to find out they haven’t plugged it in? Yes, that one.Asking questions is necessary, and there will be at least one person in the company whose part-time role it is to help you learn and adjust to your new job. However, as with most industries (especially advertising) time is money, and you will soon be very unpopular if you start asking very google-able questions while your colleague is in the middle of a huge client crisis. Always see first if you can figure it out yourself.

Not only will this save you from being viewed as the lazy office question-pest, but it helps develop your critical thinking skills, which will continue to come in handy in any professional environment. If you are finding that ask-how forums are not really doing it, here are a list of the sorts of places I go to when I need a more reliable answer:

3: Get to know those pesky three letter words

Take a couple of minutes every day just to read through a couple terms you have come across before. You’ll soon find yourself comfortably firing off your own tirade instead of spending time nodding glassy-eyed anytime a colleague tries to chat to you about an account.

4: Get to know excel

I cannot stress the degree to which excel has saved me time, especially when coupled with some good formulas and a basic knowledge of its set-up. Pay it some attention, talk to it nicely and it will take the drudgery out of many tasks such as SQRs, ad copy, CPC bid adjustments and so much more.

5: Don’t underestimate the importance of good ad copy

It’s simple, good ad copy helps to increase Clicks, CTR and Quality Score, which are the basis of any good account. You will never regret spending a little extra time making sure headlines and destination URLs are ad group specific, and that the copy is relevant and has a clear call to action.

6: Have clear goals in mind, and monitor the data

Understand what your clients want from the account and what targets they have in mind say for conversion volumes, CPA etc. Take the time to understand exactly how you can work to reach these targets and set steps to follow if you need to.

7: Set aside time to learn

Learning on the job is a good way to start, but sometimes you need to actually set aside some time to sit down and read, explore the AdWords interface or test out an excel formula.
The Google Insiders Guide to AdWords is a comprehensive PDF study guide that will help you get through your first encounters with AdWords. It may appear a little daunting at first, but it is easy enough to digest and will help you grasp the basics of how a PPC advertising account works.

8: Diarise

Write everything down. Whether it’s a task that’s going to take ten minutes or two hours, make note of it. In the beginning it is so easy to forget to do a simple bid adjustment or budget check that takes minutes but is essential. Asana is a great online diary that allows you to set yourself tasks and assign tasks to others. When used correctly, it is a useful teamwork tool that helps get everyone organised and on the same page. Create your diary by signing up for free at

9: Check the little things every day

Make sure you have a good pacing document that tells you exactly what you need to know in order to achieve the targets you set on your accounts, and check it every morning. Prioritise checking accounts that are a little more unpredictable and whose targets change day by day, but make sure you make time to pace on every account every day. Try telling a client the month’s budget ran away from you because you did not look at their account for a couple days, and you will soon realise how essential pacing daily is.

10: Do it right the first time

If there is one thing all these tips culminate in, it is the understanding that in the end, you save time (and your clients’ money) when you realise the degree of expertise and effort each task takes, and you do it right the first time. This is especially important when initially setting up an account or doing a build. Get to know your company’s specific account naming conventions, set up ad groups so that they are sufficiently granular, write good copy and choose relevant keywords. This takes a little more time and work initially, but it is always a good idea to start with a strong account than to set it up poorly and be chasing good structure later on. It becomes messy, complicated and wastes precious time. Step up to the challenge initially and you will love yourself for it later on.

And, lastly, some extra tips just in case.

10.1: Get a good playlist
If you’re able to listen to music while you work, it can really help to have your favourite jams pumping away in the background when trying to conquer a particularly tough or arduous task.

10.2: Spell Check
Management and clients alike somehow don’t find it funny when you end your first carefully planned, articulate client email (checked and triple checked) with “Knid Regads”.

10.3: Bring chocolate brownies on Mondays …
This is self-explanatory really.

When you feel confident in your PPC skills, take the Google AdWords fundamentals test. It’s a good measure of where your basic AdWords knowledge stands and you get a certification of completion at the end to prove that you know what you’re doing.
Good luck and get optimising!

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