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5 Awesome Ways To Use Automation to Spring Clean Your AdWords Account

This is part of our "5x5" series, in which we share five tips per week over the course of five weeks. We will share must-have tips about AdWords Editor, account optimization, ad-writing best practices, and much more. Make sure to explore the full series.

AdWords can be a complicated machine, but it's just that: a machine. And it can be tweaked and automated according to the user's needs. As I've mentioned before, the sheer volume of features for advertisers in AdWords can seem a little overwhelming, and some of the really great automation options get lost in the crowd. 


In this, the 4th part of the AdWords Spring Cleaning series, I'm going to discuss five of my favourite ways that we use automation at our agency to clean up and improve accounts. Try these in your account and see how easy it is to automate and improve your performance. 


Link Checker Script


Link Checker.jpg


This has saved my skin countless times and it's the first thing we do when we set up a new account or take over management of a new account. On larger accounts, this tool is incredibly powerful and useful and it works in a pretty ingenious way. Essentially, it cycles through all your ads and checks the URLs for the status code that it returns. It marks the completed check with a label of "link_checked," and it publishes the URLs that return a 404 into a spreadsheet and emails the list to you daily/weekly. This script needs no configuration and works out of the box, so it takes about 20 seconds to set it up. All you need to do is supply an email address or address list and you're good to go. The only thing this changes in your account is that it adds a label so there is no way this can do any damage. It's pretty much a no-brainer and you can have the results (and peace of mind) quicker than the time it takes to read this article!



Labels - The Building Blocks of Performance


structured labels.jpg
Labels are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They're much more than simple coloured squares designed to make your account look a little less dull. Labels are the building blocks of a structured account. Like management accounting, labels can be used to organize your account in a way that makes sense for you and the various departments in your business. You can use them for something as simple as reminders or you can use them for splitting a large account out into coloured sections. Imagine working on the account for Sears and having responsibility for their swimwear section. Imagine wading through thousands of campaigns just to find the campaigns you need. Maybe you've assigned a creative naming convention that allows you to quickly find and work on them or maybe the taxonomy-based naming convention is simply too long (Main - Clothing - Women's - Swimwear - Summer Swimsuits). Labels allow you to quickly and efficiently categorize every aspect of your account from campaign names to individual ads. You can create custom filters and reports based on these labels, and you can even run powerful scripts to automate your account based on rules around labels. If you're not using them, you're not doing AdWords right.



Bid For Position Two


This is still categorized in my "top secret" toolbox. If you've taken my past advice and implemented the suite of extensions (netting you up to a 600% increase in CTR), try bidding for position 2. Position 1 can be expensive, but position 2 can be 10 times cheaper and when done right, you can even get more clicks.


Your quality score will increase too if your CTR is relatively higher than your competitor's. Seriously, try this out. Use the bid to position script to test out how you'll perform in the second position as opposed to the first. If you've been paying attention this week and you've got a killer CTR that's above your competitors', you can easily reduce your CPC thousands of percentages, actually increase the number of clicks you get, and still maintain your impression share. I implore you to try this one, it works way better than you think it will.


Shared Budgets


shared budgets.jpg


Got hundreds or thousands of campaigns with different budgets? A common scenario for large accounts is that management dictates the budget and you, Managing the account, get a spreadsheet with the budgets for the month. Try move them all to shared budgets. This way you and management can see at a glance the top-level statistics and you can use AdWords Scripts to allow managers or management accountants to update the budgets that you're working with using a shared spreadsheet, rather than letting them have access to the account to make budget changes and potentially messing something else up.


Automated Rules


automated rules.jpg


Granted, it took me a very long time to warm up to these. I came from the days of portfolio management through third-party apps (where have they all gone?). AdWords basically killed these management platforms when they introduced automated rules. Automated rules can be used in thousands of different ways and if you spend any time in an AdWords account, you need to be using them. Some of my favourite uses of automated rules are:


  • Pausing Low Performing Ads/Campaigns/Keywords
  • Turning On & Off Campaigns on Specific Dates (think of it like a multi-ad scheduler)
  • Automatically Raising Bids to Top of Page Bid Estimate (set an alert with this one)
  • Automation of Bid Scheduling
  • Increasing Budgets When Performance is Unusually Good (don't want to miss out on a black swan event!)


So there you have it. Some of my favourite ways to save time and improve performance of my clients' AdWords accounts using automation. I'm always incredibly skeptical of new features, and I'm a big proponent of manual account management, so leaving things in the hands of machines is difficult for me to do. However, using the above tried and true methods allows me to sleep soundly knowing that the 1s and 0s are doing all the hard work for me, and I can be confident that the accounts I'm responsible for are ticking along in peak performance, exactly how I want them.


What automation tips do you have? What are your favourite methods? Stay tuned for the next installment of the Spring Cleaning Series tomorrow!

about Dave Davis

Skydiving and travel obsessed. Director of digital marketing agency Redfly, based in Dublin, Ireland. An marketing agency that specializes in AdWords management, Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.

Sumanth Sridhar Rising Star
May 2016

extraordinary article, Dave!


Loved the link checker piece especially Smiley Happy

January 2017

Thanks Dave. my 2 cents:

  • Link Checker Script - truly a life save Smiley Happy 
  • Labels - We use them extensively. Even streamlined the reporting based on them.
  • Bid For Position Two - Strategically not aligned with this idea. We bid high for keywords till we are profitable for that keywords, irrespective of position, & maximized on reach.
  • Shared Budgets - Have used this off & on, but they are more used when we have budget constraints. 
  • Automated Rules - These are pretty cool. But have constraints when we want to optimize for specific conversion type. So we have gone a step further & using automated rules via scripts.