Everyday, more and more businesses are turning to Google AdWords to increase sales, generate leads or drive any kind of valuable customer activity.  Most of them find that the best way to advertise is hiring an agency to take care of their campaigns, but how do they know if the agency picked is the right one?. How is their performance evaluated?  You might say “what matters is the ratio between number of conversions and money spent at the end of the month”.  Yes, you are not wrong, but do you know if you are getting the best value for what you are investing?.   Have you ever wondered how much work is your “expert” actually doing?

I’ve been working many years as an in-house marketing specialist in different industries, working with agencies hand-to hand, and let me tell you… I’ve been in your shoes.  I’m not saying that outsourcing your PPC campaigns is a bad move. As a matter of fact, there are hundreds of great agencies that really work hard to get the best value of every penny you invest, but like in every industry, there are other ones that don’t like to do the hard work.  The relationship between you and the agency that manages your AdWords account should be like the one you have with your “Investment Advisor”. You have to trust them but at the same time you have to understand the game. Don’t play blind.

This is why I have put together these 5 signs that you should keep in mind to identify if your AdWords Agency is not doing the work they are getting paid for.

Sign #1: AdWords Account Activity

A healthy AdWords account should be maintained at least once a week, if not every day.  It depends on how big is the account is in terms of number of keywords, ad groups or campaigns to determine if it’s a high or low maintenance account.

The good thing is that AdWords registers every single change that has been made  in a log.  You can access to it by clicking on “View Change History” on the main campaign screen.

History Change AdWords

The “Change History” link will show you in detail all the modifications your account has experienced in a time frame.  You can set the period and see the log, day by day, or even minute by minute, like shown in the picture below:

Change history log


If you are wondering what you should be expecting to see on your log, any activity in the last 7 days would be a good sign.  Keep in mind that your agency should be continuously working on bid optimization (keeping an eye on the performance of your keywords to be sure that you are making the most of your daily budget), ad optimization (implementing ad extensions or trying new lines to improve CTR), negative keyword research (making sure that you are not wasting money on searches that are not related to your business), and keyword expansion (identifying new relevant terms that will help your business grow).

Remember, in the PPC world, relevancy is huge.  The main job of your agency is to keep that relevancy between your keywords, ad copies and landing pages in a very good shape… which takes us to “Sign #2”

Sign #2: “Quality Score is not important, what matters is that we are ranking well” – Your Agency.

If you heard that from your agency in a monthly meeting, chances are big are that they are not doing their job.

“In researching literally thousands of AdWords accounts, I’ve found that the biggest determinant for advertiser success or failure is Quality Score (QS)”, said Larry Kim and I believe he is 100% right, QS is the most important metric in PPC.

If you don’t understand very clearly what Quality Score means, don’t worry. I’ll tell you.   It is the rating that Google gives to grade the relevance and quality between your keywords and your ads.  It’s according to that rating that Google determines your ad position, impression share (how often your ad shows up, when it supposed to) and your cost per click (CPC).

Kim also shared a chart that explains the impact of the QS when Google sets the price for your clicks:



So, think about how much money means to you having a very bad QS and still ranking on 1st spot. Yep, and that’s when you hear Sign #3:

Sign #3: “We need to increase bids to improve Ad Rank” – Your Agency.

Throwing more money at your campaign is the laziest way to improve your rankings. However, I have to say that low bids can also negatively affect your rankings and your impression share, so it is very important to keep your bids competitive.

If your agency is constantly requesting to increase your bids in order to get better positions on the search result list, I would suggest that you first check your Quality Scores, to see if there is lack of relevancy between your keywords, ads and landing pages.   If your most important keywords have an average QS of 4 or less, then you should request your agency to get those ratings improved before you throw more money at your campaigns.

Sign #4: No landing page optimizations

If you are sending campaign traffic to your home page, you are throwing your marketing dollars to waste! PPC campaigns that use landing pages have a higher conversion rate than the ones that link to home pages.  Also, they have a huge impact on Google’s landing page component of the quality score (QS), which means that it will reduce your cost-per-click!.

Don’t forget that each campaign has a goal and it has to be clearly displayed in your landing page.  Let’s put it this way, if your campaign is promoting roofing tile repair, why is your landing page also offering drainage services?

Getting the attention of potential customers is very hard, and if you’ve already gotten them to click on your ad don’t push them away with a distracting and confusing site.  Show your visitor that they are in the right place.  Your landing page should maintain your visitors’ attention and make them focus into your goal (your Call To Action).  The ratio of number of links on a page to the number of campaign conversion goals should be 1:1.   Your agency’s job is to optimize your landing page for conversions.  Don’t accept one universal landing page for all the service you provide.  Request A/B testings with different variations of landing pages to get the best performance. I’m 100% sure that if you try this out, you’ll experience some lift on your conversions in the next 3 months.  If you would like to know more about Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), this guide will help you to shape your landing pages to provide the best conversion experience to your visitors.

Signal #5: No mobile optimization

Knowing that 50% of paid search will be made on mobile devices by the end of 2015, has your agency proposed you a mobile strategy? If not, chances are that your ads are not running properly on smartphones and tablets, which is making you (again) lose money.

Your agency’s job is to make your campaigns mobile friendly… Here some recommendations on what they should do:

  • You should have specific ad copies tailored to mobile searchers, using compelling text and appropriate ad extensions to engage with them.
  • Your landing page has to be optimized for mobile as well.  Use responsive site or a separate mobile site to ensure they won’t leave without clicking on your CTA.
  • Use mobile ad extensions. For example, including a click to call button in you ad can get you an advantage over your competitors. You can also schedule your ad extensions to your business hours.
  • Take advantage of mobile ads that are cheaper than desktop.  Bid to the top of search results, there is where most of the clicks come from.

What do you think? Were these signs helpful to you? If you are still concerned about how much work your Adwords Agency is doing in your campaigns and you would like to run an in-depth audit of your account, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a Free Consultation.   Do you think that I missed other signals? Please share your experience in the comments section.