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What is a PPC Auditing Framework?

For the first part of my Search Engine Strategies preview, I wanted to go over the panel topic on which I’ll be speaking and why it’s an important one.  The title of the panel is “Creating and Sustaining a PPC Auditing Framework.”  My first thought upon reading that was “I have no idea what that means,” despite the fact that I’ve worked on more than 450 PPC accounts in my career.  The problem is that it’s crowded with buzzwords –marketing people do love buzzwords after all (me included).  So let’s take apart the title and go from there.

First, auditing.  An audit (from the IRS point of view) is an examination of (financial) records to determine accuracy.  From a PPC perspective, it’s examining, adjusting, and correcting your accounts to verify not only accuracy, but effectiveness.  The framework part, to me, implies a mechanism to ensure that the auditing process is reproducible, ongoing, and easy to maintain.  So what we’re looking for is how to create a process that sustains and continually improves upon the optimization process.  This includes knowing and understanding what the optimization process entails.  At the more advanced, more detailed level, this can include automation, platforms, APIs, and more to eliminate the “grunt work,” but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, all the automation in the world isn’t going to help you.

The reason this is important is because no PPC account is EVER perfect.  At no point should an account be considered self-sustaining.  Set-it-and-forget-it accounts cannot thrive because the search landscape is constantly evolving.  How users search, where they search, the tools available in our PPC interfaces, and website functionality changes constantly and if your PPC account doesn’t evolve with it, performance will suffer.

But how do we create a framework in a system that has highly variable performance metrics and success indicators?  Well, I’ll get into that in greater detail next time.  The important take away is that if you don’t have a framework or a process in action that you can follow to continually optimize your accounts, they will suffer.  At the agency level, this can destroy the productivity of hundreds or thousands of accounts, making a major dent in your retention rate.  At the single account corporate level, it can decrease sales and devastate your PPC ROI.  If you optimize, but don’t have a plan in place on how to be efficient and effective, you’re wasting valuable time.

Buzzwords aside, this topic is incredibly important and valuable to anyone who works on a PPC account, whether it’s a single, small business account or a range of accounts for Fortune 500 corporations.