It’s that time of year again—the weather is starting to warm up, the days are growing longer, and the groundhog saw his shadow. Spring is on its way, and we all know what that means: time for that ever-dreaded spring cleaning! This year, why not take this daunting task beyond the brushes and brooms, and dive in and tidy up your search engine marketing accounts?

One of the hardest parts of spring cleaning is deciding where to begin. There’s so much to do, and deciding what to tackle first and when can be a stressful task. Luckily, Elite SEM has created an action plan that will help you approach the job like a pro. Follow the task schedule below, and all your accounts will be squeaky clean in no time at all!

Elites Action Plan


  1. Check & analyze yesterday’s performance and compare to prior day & same day last week
  • How is your account performing? Compare today’s data with yesterday’s and last week’s so you can make appropriate bid changes, if necessary
  • You can also consider comparing this data to the same day last month or last year to determine any trends/ progression
  1. Update your daily budget tracker
  • Don’t let your spend get out of control
  • Keep all costs accounted for, and adjust bids as necessary
  1. Campaign budget analysis & budget reallocation
  • Make sure campaigns that are coming in at or under the account goal are not hitting budget caps
  • If there are underperforming campaigns, then those should be re-evaluated for daily budgets as well


  1. Send weekly reports & cross-reference data in report with data in the UI’s
  • If you use a platform, such as Kenshoo, Marin, Doubleclick, or SearchRev, double-check to make sure all reports generated have the same metrics as the AdWords & MSN accounts they’re being pulled from.
    • This way, you can make sure that when you review the data with your client or anyone else in your organization, the information is complete and accurate
  1. Manual bid optimizations
  • Adjust your bids to make sure all keywords are performing at optimum capacity
  1. Ad Group Analysis – Zero Order/High Spend, High CPA (Above Average), Low CPA/Low Rank
  • If there’s an ad group with no orders/high spend or a very high CPA then it should be re-evaluated and potentially paused
  • Conversely, if there is an ad group that has a low CPA and is consistently not in a high position, you may want to position it higher within search results
  1. Keyword Analysis – Zero Order/High Spend, High CPA (Above Average), Low CPA/Low Rank
  • Same idea as the ad group analysis; poor performing keywords should be re-evaluated on a weekly basis and potentially paused or dropped down the page
  • If there is a keyword that is in low position and has a low CPA, increasing CPCs is always best practice


  1. Check SQR for last 30 days for new & negative keywords
  • Keep your accounts performing at their best. Pull search query reports to analyze your account’s search traffic
  • Use this data to add new keywords to ad groups and campaigns
  • This is also a great strategy for finding negative keywords that can be applied at the account, campaign, and ad group levels.
  1. Display-Only:  Review Automatic Placements
  • If there are automatic placements that have performed well over a 2 week span, you should add them to your managed placements so you can monitor them more closely
  • On the other hand, if there is an automatic placement that has consistently performed without conversions, then adding it as an exclusion is best practice


  1. Send Monthly Reporting: Cross Reference Data in Report with Data in UI’s
  • Always make sure you are aware what’s been going on in the account; be proactive in providing them data and have routine calls to review with them
  1. Ad Text Analysis
  • Prune out poor performing ad copy and test new headlines and description lines
  • Also, test headlines that have performed well with new description lines and vice versa
  1. QA URL’s For Dead links, 404 Errors & Check That All Parameters Are Correct
  • Make sure every page you send users to is working and is tagged with all of the correct tagging and parameters
    • This is more easily done by downloading a keyword report, removing the tracking parameters, eliminating duplicate versions of the same urls in your active url list, and reviewing a smaller list.
  1. QA All Campaign Settings to Ensure They Have Not Changed
  • Be sure that every setting you’ve had in place hasn’t somehow changed and is all set correctly moving forward
  1. Ad Group Level Audit to Identify Poor-Performers
  • Just as you should be doing on a weekly basis, it’s important to prune out poor performing  ad groups on a monthly basis as well
  1. Check Main Competitors & Keep a Running List
  • Check with your client while also checking competitive tools to see if there are any new competitors that you should be bidding on
  • Search for some of your top terms and see if there are new companies bidding within the same auction as you.  If so, it’s best practice to bid on their brand terms as well
  1. Check Conflicting Negatives
  • Be sure that there are no negative keywords that are blocking active keywords from showing ads
  1. SQR of Prior 90 Days for Keyword Expansion Purposes
  • While it’s important to do regular SQR for negative purposes, it’s also a useful tool to see if there are additional keyword categories that could be expanded into.  If there is a search query that has been searched a lot and has converted, but it is not currently in the account, it should definitely be added.
  1. Campaign Impression Share Analysis (Keep Running Document)
  • Check impression share lost by campaign.  It’s important to make sure branded keywords are above a 95% impression share and that campaigns that perform at or under goal also have a high impression share
  1. Call Discussion Point:  Upcoming Marketing Calendar
  • Check in with the client about upcoming promotions, budgets, sales, etc.
  • Plan ahead with the client so you both know changes, additions, subtractions, etc. that may be coming to the campaign at any time
  1. Call Discussion Point:  Recent Tasks Completed & Results +Upcoming Tasks (New Features & Opportunities)
  • Review what tasks have been completed over the past few weeks and go over results of those
  • Discuss upcoming tests and specific ideas to expand the account in the future


  1. Keyword-Level Audit to Identify Poor-Performing Keywords
  • As per the weekly and monthly tasks, it’s always important to review recent performance down to the keyword level.  Reviewing per quarter will give you plenty of data in order to make the right decision about keeping a keyword live, pausing it, raising/reducing CPCs, etc.
  1. Talk To Search Engine Reps about New Opportunities & Recommendations
  • Google and Yahoo/Bing are constantly coming out with new betas to test and other new opportunities for improving accounts.  It’s essential that you reach out to the teams at the search engines to find out if there is anything new that could benefit your client
  1. Review Sitelinks to Ensure Relevancy to Season & Working Pages
  • Check the site links that are currently live to see if they need to be changed based on seasonality, relevancy to current sales, etc.
  1. Send Quarterly Report
  • As you also send weekly and monthly reports, quarterly reports are also an important thing to review with the client as they are a more accurate predictor of yearly performance
  1. Call Discussion Point:  Prepare for Seasonal Changes (create or activate campaigns/pause those not relevant to upcoming seasons)
  • Many businesses have different products, sales, etc. per season.  It’s important to review with your client to see if that applies to them and if so, how you’re going to handle it from a paid search perspective


So there you have it- Elite SEM’s version of your SEM spring cleaning.  Following all of our guidelines on a regular basis will ensure that your accounts are running successfully and will also show your client that you are as invested in their success as they are.

This article was written with the help of Shannon Greene

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