When you’re taking over an existing AdWords account from a coworker or new client, you’ll be tempted to jump right into optimisation after you’ve got the lay of the land. Of course you’ll be checking the existing campaigns’ settings for bid strategy, ad rotation, frequency caps, devices, bid schedules etc.
However, there are some often overlooked settings and features that can be detrimental to your account’s success if you do not include them during your familiarisation process.
Pay attention to the following items when you take over an existing AdWords account:
Selected Time Zone:
I’ve come across way too many AdWords accounts that had their time zone set to seemingly arbitrary locations, nowhere near their operating region. Head into the Account Settings > Preferences and check to which time zone your account is set.
The time zone cannot be changed, so you will need to keep any time discrepancies in mind when you’re analysing data, especially if you are combining data from various sources that have their accounts set to different time zones.
For example, I took over an existing AdWords account for a B2B SaaS company operating in Europe. When I went into their Google Analytics account to understand their highest converting hours and days of the week, it did not match the AdWords dimensions data on popular times at all
Hang on AdWords, are you telling me most conversions happen between midnight and 5am? A quick look into the time zone settings in both the AdWords and the Analytics accounts cleared things up:
So don’t jump to user behaviour conclusions too early, make sure you’re working with the correct data first!
URLs at Keyword Level
You may want to try out different landing pages with the AdWords account you’ve taken over. Or perhaps you’ve analysed the ad performance and found that certain landing pages don’t appear to be working well and you’re keen to pause these – but don’t be too hasty: make sure that the person before you wasn’t using URLs at keyword-level, otherwise your data may be inaccurate!
I fell into this trap when I was taking over an account as a newbie from a colleague. I was eager to run an A/B test on landing pages and didn’t realise that several of the top keywords in my campaigns had their URLs set at keyword level. It was only after a few days, when I checked the PPC landing pages in Google Analytics, that I realised my mistake!
To check, add the column “Final URL” to your Keyword Tab in the AdWords interface or in the AdWords Editor.
Broken Sitelink Ad Extensions
I see this one all the time when I take over accounts from clients. They created sitelink ad extensions at some point in the past but changed their website afterwards, so that the destination URLs break and result in 404 pages.
Once created, ad extensions are one of the features many advertisers tend to forget about, so check them regularly, but especially when you’re getting familiar with a new account.
Contrary to Search or Display Ads, AdWords does not flag broken sitelink extensions up to the advertiser, and your sitelinks do not get disapproved if their destination URL breaks. One of the first thing I do when taking over a new account is checking that all URLs work, including sitelinks.
I highly recommend using the Link Checker AdWords Script which reviews all URLs for errors so you can catch and fix them in time.
Note: whilst you’re on the sitelink extensions, you should also check that the other ad extensions are up to date and use the correct phone number, locations, price extensions etc.
Scripts and Automated Rules
All your future optimisation efforts will be ineffective if there are automated bidding rules or scripts counter-acting your optimisation activities.
Go into Bulk Operations in the left-hand navigation, here you will find Automated Rules and Scripts. Familiarise yourself with the active scripts and rules and decide whether you’re comfortable to keep them running.
Some people love automated optimisation, but if it doesn’t fit in with your optimisation strategy, you don’t have to keep them running. In either case, it is important to understand what parts have been automated and why, so that you can integrate this into your analysis.
Even if you are not comfortable with scripts making changes to your accounts, I recommend using scripts that track your account’s performance and issues, such as Quality Score and the above mentioned Link Checker. (Check out this useful list of AdWords Scripts from Koozai here)
I almost feel silly including this, but I’ve come across too many accounts that had automated URL tagging disabled (and weren’t using manual tagging for that matter, either). Ensure that data from AdWords is flowing correctly to Analytics turning auto-tagging on in your AdWords Account Settings > Preferences.
Making sure that auto-tagging is enabled is the first step; the second is to check in Google Analytics that AdWords’ auto-tagging parameters aren’t being dropped! In Analytics, click the alert button in the top right to see if there are any “invalid AdWords gclid” issues. If you do come across these, check out my tutorial on “How to solve the Invalid AdWords gclid Issue”.
Was this useful to you? Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments below!
Hi, I'm Eva
Thanks for stopping by, I'm so glad you're here!