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5 (Not Quite) Spring AdWords Cleaning Tips

Spring Cleaning is traditionally a time to thoroughly clean a house and rid it of any dirt/mess/clutter that may have accumulated over a long winter.  In the case of AdWords, Spring Cleaning is when we log into our Accounts and clean, or refresh, them in hopes of achieving better performance.  Let's dive into five (not quite) Spring Cleaning tips for AdWords.


#1 – Review Search Terms Report

The Search Term Report contains information in regards to what Keywords searchers are querying that result in click on your Ads.  Here, advertisers will find two things – First, they’ll find Keywords to add as Positive Keywords and secondly, Keywords to add as Negatives.


If, through Broad or Phrase Match, advertisers are seeing Keywords that they’re receiving good, qualified traffic on without explicitly bidding on, they should add these Keywords as Positive Keywords.  Directly adding and bidding on quality Keywords will, among other things, typically yield more Impressions on these Keywords, more efficient traffic on these Keywords, and the ability to track their performance as their own line item inside of your AdWords Account.


Adding irrelevant, or non-converting Keywords, as Negatives, will help advertisers reduce their spend and, most likely, will lead to an increase in CTR.  Decreases in spend on non-converting Keywords will increase advertisers overall AdWords investment and help them spend money on better performing Keywords.  Decreasing irrelevant Impressions on superfluous Keywords, will most likely lead to increases in CTR and better Quality Scores.


#2 – Restructure your AdWords Account

Over the course of a year, often times AdWords Accounts can get out of synch.  That is, Ad Groups aren’t as granular as they once were, Ad Copy isn’t as focused as it should be, Ad Groups are in Campaigns that they probably don’t belong in, etc.  Take time to re-look at all of your Campaigns and Ad Groups and their components.  Make sure that your Ad Groups contain closely related Keywords, make sure Ad Copy relates to the Keywords and to the Landing Pages, make sure that Ad Groups are in Campaigns with the ideal Campaign Settings, etc.


Taking time to do a restructure will give you the opportunity to take a step back from your day-to-day AdWords tasks and ensure that your Account is optimally set-up.  Having an optimally set-up Account should give you efficiencies and lead to better performing Campaigns.


#3 – Audit Campaign Settings & Budgets

Again, over time, Campaign Settings can often get overlooked and modified for short-term initiatives.  Take the time to review all of your Campaign Settings and make sure that the Settings are what is best for their Ad Groups, and the Accounts overall.  Specifically, examine the Networks you’re opted into, review the Locations you’re targeting, make sure the Device Settings (bid adjustments) align with your website and business goals, and make sure your Bid Strategy aligns with your ROI goals. 


In regards to Campaign Budgets, take the time to review the money you’re allocating on a daily basis to each Campaign.  Look for Campaigns that are being capped on a daily basis – should you increase your Daily Budget to acquire more Clicks and hopefully Conversions?  Are there some Campaigns that aren’t performing as well and could use a reduction in budget?  Align your Campaign Daily Budgets with your overall AdWords advertising goals.


#4 – Review Ad Copy

Like Accounts and Settings, Ad Copy can often be overlooked and become stale and not as relevant over time.  Take time the review every single piece of Ad Copy that you have live in your Account. 


Among other things, your Ad Copy should:


  • Contain Keywords that closely relate to the query that triggered your Ads to show


  • Accurately describe your product/service


  • Set the searchers’ expectation on your website’s content and your business


  • Contain Calls-to-Action


  • Include any relevant, current promotional offers


Ensuring that your Ad Copy is fresh and current can lead to greater CTRs, and visitors who are more likely to convert on your website.  It’s a great practice to always test different versions of your Ad Copy, but at the very least make every Ad Group contains at least one Ad that relates to the Keywords in it.


#5 – Analyze Bids

Finally, take the time to review your Max CPC Bids.  Along with your Quality Scores, your Max CPC Bids help determine the actual CPCs you pay per click.  If you’re doing Manual CPC Bidding, look for Bids that you need to increase and look for Bids that you need to decrease.  If you’re ranking high and receiving a significant volume of traffic for certain Keywords, but the ROI is not strong, consider reducing your Max CPC Bids.  If there are high performing Keywords that you do not rank well for, consider increasing your Bids in hopes of increasing your positioning and, ultimately, traffic.


AdWords Manual CPC Bidding Tip: Download a recent (maybe last 30 days) Keyword report and perform a Bid Audit (analyze the gap between your actual CPCs and your Max CPCs).  If you’re seeing that you have a large gap between your Max CPC Bids and the actual CPCs, you may consider decreasing your Max CPC Bids.  This should help you decrease your actual CPCs and help drive efficiencies.


If you’ve selected a Bid Strategy other than Max CPC Bidding, such as Enhanced CPC, Conversion Optimizer, or a Flexible Bid Strategy, take time to review the Strategy.  Does it still make sense for your business goals?  Is there a way to make it even stronger and work better for your goals?


Bonus Tips


  • Do a Landing Page Audit – review all the Landing Pages that you’re driving traffic to and make they’re ideal destinations to send your visitors.
  • Review your Extensions – If you’re not using AdWords Extensions, why not?, if you are, make sure your Extensions such as you Sitelinks and Location Extensions are relevant and up-to-date.




Listed above are just five tips for doing AdWords (not quite) Spring Cleaning.  I like to focus on these areas because they address the Keywords I’m bidding on, the Ad Copy that is displayed to searchers, Campaign Settings, my Account structure, and what I’m paying per click.  Obviously this list is not inclusive of everything that can be done to “freshen up” your Account – what are some things I left out?

about Brian Valentini

Chicago-based husband and father who likes sports, traveling, and laughing. Excited about the field of Digital Marketing, especially Paid Search. Work-life = Vice President/Director of Search Marketing at DigitasLBi, a global digital marketing and technology agency.

PPCBossman Top Contributor
February 2014

Nice Article Brian!  I completly agree on all fronts and I like the bid gap tip.



February 2014

Thanks, Tommy!  Hope you had a good week!

santosh s
February 2014

Hi Vkore91,


"(analyze the gap between your actual CPCs and your Max CPCs)",where I can see actual CPC?



February 2014

Hi Santosh,

Thanks for reading!

To see your Actual Cost-per-Clicks, log into your AdWords and select the Tab you'd like to see CPCs for (Ad Group, Campaign, Keywords, Ads) (for the purpose of this exercise, I suggest you click on the Keywords tab). 

Then, between your CTR & Cost columns, you should see Avg. CPC.  (If you do not see it, click on the Columns button, below the main tabs, and then click Customize Columns.  Under the Performance menu, select Add next to Avg. CPC.  Then, click Apply).

Select a date range with statistically significant data - probably at least a couple weeks.  If you look at your Max CPC column, you'll see what you're bidding.

I like to download this AdWords report, and look at the differences between my Max CPC Bids, and my Actual CPCs.

Does that help?

Nisal L Rising Star
February 2014

Nice article. Thanks 

Nguyen Hoang
March 2014

Thank many!

It great for me Smiley Happy

Sal Rosso
November 2016

Nice Post. Very Helpful Smiley Happy