30th January 2020

10 key metrics to measure your PPC campaign success

If you’re new to digital marketing it can be incredibly easy to become overfaced by the sheer scope of Google Ads, formerly Google AdWords.

Google’s advertising service allows users to place links to their website across many of the Google-owned platforms, such as the Google search results, YouTube and websites that have opted in to the Google Display Network.

Yet for many, the experience stops there; when businesses come to us at Pixel Kicks we often find that they have experimented with Google Ads in the past, but had no real understanding of how to measure the success of the campaign that they set up.

This extensive article talks you through a huge range of different campaign metrics and measurables, clearly defining each one to give you a better idea of how it may reflect on the campaigns that you are managing.

Impressions

Impression Share

When a user sees your ad, this is counted as an impression. In Google Ads, you can see how many impressions your ads have generated, but tracking this data alone doesn’t measure the success of your campaign as there’s no telling how effective those users found your ads.

A metric that is valuable, however, is impression share. This measures the number of impressions your ad received against the number of impressions it was eligible to receive.

The simple calculation for impression share is: number of impressions received ÷ total number of impressions available.

The total is displayed as a percentage, and is a great way of indirectly measuring the success of your campaign against your competitors. For example, if there were 100 searches for a keyword and your ad got 30 impressions, you would therefore be looking at a 30% impression share and the remaining 70% was taken by your competitors.

If you look at it this way, you essentially have a 70% lost impression share, and should look at how to improve areas of your campaign to claim some of that back.

Google Ads impression share

So, how can we increase our impression share?

The two main factors that impact your number of impressions and therefore impression share, are:

  1. Ad Rank – Naturally, if your ads fall below the first page of results you won’t get as many impressions, as people are less likely to search deeper than that. There are many factors that could influence a drop in ad rank such as quality score and max CPC, so it would be worth assessing your overall campaign to see if there are any easy wins to boost your ads back up the search results and see an increase in impressions.
  2. Budget – If your campaign is limited by budget then there will come a point where your ads stop showing in search results, therefore you will be losing out on daily impressions and the chance of generating valuable clicks. If this is the case, consider increasing your daily budget to keep up with the competition.

Measuring impression share over time can help to gauge a real idea of changes within the ad auction itself. An increase in impression share could mean any recent changes you have made have put you on top of your competitors, or alternatively that they have dropped down the rankings.

Similarly, this metric can help to explain a sudden increase or decrease in clicks/impressions. If your impression share remains the same as it did the previous week, it may not be that your ads are performing better, but rather that search volume has simply increased.

Top and absolute top impressions

It’s natural that advertisers want to know where their ads are appearing on search pages. Previously, we would find this out by looking at the ‘Average Position’ metric in Google Ads, but this was removed in September 2019, in favour of ‘top and absolute top impressions’ with the aim of providing a clearer view of where ads appear on search pages.

What are top and absolute top metrics?

Where previously, Average Position used to show the order of which ads appeared in the auction, the new metrics indicate the actual placement of ads on the search engine result pages (SERPs).

Absolute top means the very first result on the search page, the location which would previously be referred to as position one, and top indicates all ads which show above the organic search results.

The four main metrics tracked are:

  • Impr. (Abs. Top) % – Search absolute top impression rate. This is the percentage of your impressions appearing in the top position of search results, divided by your total number of impressions. This indicates how often your ad appears as the very first result.
  • Impr. (Top) % – Search top impression rate. This is the percentage of all impressions your ads received above the organic search results, divided by your total number of impressions. Therefore, this will show how often people see your ads above the organic results.
  • Search (Absolute Top) Impression Share – This is the total of absolute top impressions divided by the amount of absolute top impressions your ads were eligible to receive
  • Search (Top) Impression Share – This is the number of impressions on top divided by the total number of impressions your ads were eligible to receive above the organic search results.

Tracking top and absolute metrics for PPC

Why should I track them?

The truth is, you don’t have to track top and absolute top metrics, unless your aim is to appear in a prominent position on the SERPs.

A limitation of Average Position was that many advertisers would aim to be in position 1, without actually knowing whether or not this was at the top of the page, as it could well have been at the bottom below the organic results.

The old metric simply indicated the order of your ad compared to competitors, and it could have been the case that ads weren’t relevant enough to searches to display at the top of the page.

Now, we can use the new metrics to aim for a high Impr. (Abs. Top) % and Impr. (Top) % by using the data from Search (Absolute Top) IS and Search (Top) IS, if a prominent location is your goal.

You will be able to identify whether displaying your ads at the top of the page is both possible, and valuable. Then, work towards improving your ads and increasing your budget to achieve an 80% or more Search (Top) IS.

Click-through-rate

The next key metric for measuring your PPC success is click-through rate. Having a high CTR is something many marketers place too much emphasis on, when actually they should be fine tuning it to their campaign, but more on that later.

First, what is click-through rate?

Click-through rate, or CTR, is simply the metric for how many people who see your ad actually click on it. It is considered the next stage in the PPC funnel after impressions, and therefore is measured closely with it. Calculating your CTR is very simple, just use this formula:

(Total ad clicks ÷ total ad impressions) x 100 = CTR %

For example, a campaign with a total of 62 clicks and 1548 impressions would have a CTR of 4%. This is considered to be a good CTR, however the goals vary between different industries, and so it is important for you to research and understand what your business should be aiming for (for instance, the average CTR for B2B ads is ~2.5%, whereas for legal ads it sits at ~1.4%).

Click-through-rate Google Ads

Now that we know how to calculate it, why is CTR important?

CTR is one of the three factors in deciding your ad’s Quality Score, which in turn affects your ad position in search results. This score is calculated from ad relevance (AR), landing page experience (LPE) and click-through rate, with CTR and LPE accounting for 39% of the quality score each, and AR only amounting to 22%. This means that to improve your overall ad position it is imperative to improve your CTR.

So where do marketers go wrong?

Many businesses fall into the trap of assuming that a high CTR is all they need to call their campaign a success, when in actual fact their high CTR could be working against their business goals.

Anyone can achieve a high CTR with an ad, just target ambiguous keywords and headline it with an attractive piece of copy:

FREE Holiday | 10 Winners | Click to find out more!

Now without a doubt this ad would gain a very high CTR, but if your business aim for the campaign is to generate bookings for paid holidays, this ad will be of little help to you and will spend your entire budget on creating a high bounce rate. Instead you should consider targeting more defined keywords that better reflect your aims:

Last minute holidays | Deals on beach hotels | Book now for the best savings!

As a more refined ad you may find this has a lower CTR, but it is far more relevant for searchers looking for last minute cheap holidays, and with a good landing page can achieve an excellent quality score. This ad is also far more likely to generate conversions as it is targeting an audience who are already considering booking a holiday, instead of simply drawing the maximum amount of ad clicks possible. This simple change should make a noticeable reduction to your cost per acquisition, and helps to prevent your brand appearing as a spam advertiser.

Click-through-rate report on Google Ads

How should I prioritise Click-through Rate in my campaign?

The answer to this question is “It depends.” Each industry is made up of hundreds of different businesses, and each business will need to run a slightly different campaign in line with their goals.The key to success is to find the right balance of affordability and relevance for your campaign.

You should always begin by evaluating your aim. Do you want the maximum number of people to visit your site? Focussing on getting a high click-through rate will achieve this. If you want the maximum number of valuable visitors that are likely to convert you are better off sacrificing your CTR and letting your ad budget be spent on those who present a better return on investment.

Conversions

Conversions are arguably the most important thing to track within your PPC campaign. Clicks, impressions, and average cost-per-click are some of the most common ways of seeing how your campaign is working in terms of performance, but conversions are key to getting an idea of how your efforts are actually affecting your business’s end results.

A conversion is an event or action that takes place on your website or app, that you have chosen to track for the purposes of your PPC campaign. When choosing the action, you should select something that has a value for your business, and fits within the aims and targets you’ve set up the campaign to achieve.

Read more: Different ways to track conversions

Conversion Types

There’s plenty of flexibility when it comes to selecting what to track as a conversion, with multiple options across the different advertising platforms:

  • Website Purchase: If you have an eCommerce website, you can track when someone seeing or interacting with your advertising has gone on to make a purchase.
  • Website Lead: Instead of tracking sales, you can track actions that can lead to them in future. The most common example of a lead conversion is the action of someone submitting a contact form enquiry, leaving a business their contact information that can be used to sell a service a product down the line.
  • Page View: As simple as it sounds, you can count a user viewing a specific page on your website as a conversion.
  • Sign Up: If the aim of your campaign is to get people signed up to your newsletter, or maybe register to attend an event, then this conversion type will help you to track your success.
  • App Installs: If your advert is set up to encourage people to download your app, you can track this across multiple platforms. For example, you can link your Google Ads account to Google Play to automatically keep a record of installs that have come from your advertising.
  • App First Opens: Similar to app installs, if you want to ensure those who’ve seen your ad don’t just download your app but actually use it, you can also count their first open of it as a conversion.
  • In-App Actions: Advertising your app to increase downloads is popular, but it’s also quite a common approach to remarket. You can advertise to people who already have your app but haven’t used it for a while, to encourage them to re-open it, and complete a specific action such as an in-app purchase.
  • Phone Calls: As mentioned earlier, tracking new leads is an important method of conversion, but not all leads come from contact form submissions. In Google Ads, you can add a “call extension” to search ads, which displays a forwarding number which will record a conversion each time it’s dialled.

Google Ads conversions

Conversion Rate

Once you’ve set up the right type of conversion tracking for your campaign, there are more key metrics for you to track to make sure things are going the right way.

One such metric is conversion rate. Conversion tracking effectively keeps count of how many times your ads have converted, but without doing some maths with the rest of your data, it doesn’t give you a clear view at how well it’s performing amidst certain factors.

If you compare two campaigns that have three conversions each, it doesn’t mean they’re performing equal to one another – one of those campaigns might have only received five clicks in the allotted time period, while the other might have had 500.

Conversion rate is the percentage of clicks your campaign has received, that have gone on to make a conversion. Tracking the number of conversions you receive on a monthly basis isn’t a greatly effective way of monitoring your PPC performance, as it doesn’t take into account that less conversions may have come from issues such as your campaign being offline for a short time, or your average cost-per-click increasing and reducing clicks.

Tracking your conversion rate over time can give a clearer idea on how your campaign is performing, and enable you to make key decisions on what sort of adjustments you may need to make.

How can I improve my conversion rate?

A low conversion rate can come from a number of things, and it’s important that you test any key changes you make to your campaign to combat this. There are numerous things you can try that might help to improve things for you, but we’d suggest running A/B tests first to see how much of an impact certain factors have.

Although the list of tips for improving your conversion rate is potentially huge, here are two key things to check:

Check that your ads are relevant: Take a look at your PPC campaign, and ensure you are offering results that are relevant to what people are searching for. Check that your advertising copy clearly describes what you are advertising, to reduce the number of people who might click through, only to find you’re not what they need.

Another thing to check in this department is how people are finding your ads. If you’re running a Google search campaign, look at the search terms people are using to trigger your ads – although they’ll match some of your keywords, there’s a chance your match type isn’t strict enough. For example, you might be an optician bidding on the keyword “glasses” – if someone searches “wine glasses” and finds your advert, they’ll be wasting your budget if they click through. As such, you should add “wine” as a negative keyword, to stop ads for showing for any query that includes that word.

Make sure your landing pages are optimised: What page do users land on when they click your advert? Is it just a generic page on your website, or maybe even your homepage?

A user is more likely to convert when they go to a specific page that has been set up especially for PPC campaigns. If your campaign is aimed at one specific product, service, or range, the adverts should go to a page that is exclusively about what the user is looking for.

Once you have a page set up, you should ensure it’s optimised to encourage as many conversions as possible. Having clear, visible call-to-actions is one such way of doing this – it’s important to keep in mind that the process for users to get to what they want should be as simple and straightforward as you can make it. If things are overcomplicated, unclear, or slow, users start to click away from your site, bringing down your conversion rate.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Another good metric to follow once you’ve got your conversion tracking set up is return on investment.

The name is fairly self explanatory – it calculates what the advertising campaign returns to you financially following your investment into running your PPC.

A typical way in which ROI is calculated is:

(Revenue – Costs) / Costs

Revenue refers to the amount of money a user pays for a product on your website, while costs is the amount you spent to produce or stock the product in the first place. Costs also include the amount of money you’ve spent on your advertising.

Where you’re using PPC to gain conversions that aren’t necessarily sales, you can manually assign a conversion value to each chosen action, something which will help you to track your ROI across all kinds of campaign.

Cost per click

Cost per click is one of the biggest metrics you can measure in your PPC campaign, but is not necessarily the most important. Referred to as CPC, this metric is simply the amount of money it has cost you to have someone click on your link and visit your site. CPC is the factor of PPC advertising that you are actually budgeting for, and it can make or break a campaign.

The actual value of your CPC varies depending on which business you are in, but Google recommends for new users to set their max bid to £1 per click and this is often adequate to get results.

Why should I be tracking my CPC?

As we’ve already mentioned, costs per click vary between industries, and so it is important to do research into your competitors costs to make sure you’re not over-paying. Your CPC is the cost of getting a search engine user onto your site, and so it is important to ensure that your CPC is providing a good ROI. One very easy way to do this is to track which keywords are costing you the most, and assessing if they are generating the conversions to justify the click.

Average cost per click on Google Ads

What can we do to stay ahead of the curve?

Like all marketing tactics, PPC and its elements can often be misunderstood. In terms of CPC, many people often attempt to lower their costs by lowering their bids, and restricting expensive keywords.

This is a valid tactic for lowering your overall CPC, but will damage your cost per acquisition over time. Expensive keywords carry a high cost because they are considered to be the most relevant, and are what potential customers are searching for. By removing them you are hiding your ads from the people who are most likely to convert, and the cheaper ads that remain may be being shown to people who are not at all aligned with your product or service. Lowering your bid amount will also limit your ad position in search results moving you further from the path of someone looking for your product.

Cost-per-click on Google Ads

The key takeaway for CPC is to find balance. Is your audience expensive? Do you need to invest in expensive ads to sell small numbers of high priced, specialised items? Or is your audience large and diverse, making a large number of less specific ads more appropriate?

Landing page performance

You’re coming to the end of this mammoth article, so by now you’ll have surely realised there are an abundance of metrics and measurables you can use to track the success of your PPC campaign.

Because we can become so bogged down with the performance of our ad groups and bidding strategies, the most important aspect of the campaign, landing pages, can be forgotten about or neglected.

Landing page: It’s exactly what it says it is, the web page your traffic will land on when clicking through on one of your Google ads.

Unlike general website pages, which can possess a range of goals or encourage a user to further explore the site, landing pages are designed with a single focus or goal, which we refer to as a ‘call to action’.

Where we discussed conversions earlier in this article, you’ll see that a call to action on a landing page can be almost any of these conversion types: from email sign ups through to app installations, landing pages are designed and developed to convert the user by encouraging that action.

PPC Landing Pages

How to measure and improve landing page performance

Using Google Analytics, we can track some key metrics to gain an insight into how our landing pages are getting on.

Bounce rate
This is the percentage of visitors to the landing page who closed the tab without making any further interaction with the website.

A high bounce rate could indicate a number of things. Firstly, you may not be serving the user with information that is relevant to them. In this case you should evaluate your content in correspondence with the ads that you are running, to ensure that the page is in keeping with the service or product.

Secondly, the page may not be loading quickly enough. You can run a Google PageSpeed test on this URL to identify faults and fixes.

Session duration
This is the average amount of time that visitors will spend when browsing the content on your landing page.

Similar to a high bounce rate, a low session duration could be the result of inadequate or a lack of information to help the user make a decision. They may also click off of the website if they find the layout to be poor, or unresponsive on mobile.

Fix these things by running some internal testing first. Have people interact with the page to test its browsability.

Goal completion & abandonment
Goals will measure how well your landing page is meeting your target objectives. Every goal can be assigned a monetary value, and that means as marketers we can assess how much a conversion is worth to our campaign. Using monetary values for goals allows us to assess ad groups and campaigns to focus on the highest value conversions.

You can set these up in Google Analytics. Learn more about Goals here.

You’re paying good money to send targeted traffic to your website, make sure they’re greeted with a good user experience that you’re able to track.


Pixel Kicks are full, official Google Partners, having built up years of knowledge creating, analysing and optimising successful Google Ads campaigns.

Interested in measured PPC campaigns that fully utilise your advertising budget? Get in touch today to discuss your needs, and find out how we can help you.

Extra reading

Google, Facebook & More: 4 key PPC platforms that can accelerate your online marketing
Utilising your PPC budget: Essential features you should be using on Google Ads
Google Ads Search Extensions Explained: Increasing your PPC performance

Jamie Swain

By Jamie Swain

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