5 metrics you need to include on your AdWords Dashboard

When you first look at your AdWords account, it may seem like information overload: there are so many metrics! The columns that exist in your dashboard by default may seem like more than enough.

But I’m here to tell you that the columns that are already in there when you open up your shiny new account are not nearly enough. This is particularly true for nonprofits who use the Google Grants version of AdWords because they need to make quick checks for compliance with the new 2018 rules.

The following are my recommendations for setting up what columns exist in the keyword view, but many of these options also exist whether you are looking at a campaign, ad group, advertisement, etc.

Quality Score

There’s an old adage in journalism: “Don’t bury the lede.” In Adwords, you should see your most important columns first, without having to scroll.

With the new compliance rules, the most important keyword attribute is the Quality Score. If you have a Quality Score below three for any one of your keywords, your account is in violation. When you first create a keyword, you will see a dash where there should be a number. Those are called null scores and mean that the system has yet to assign a rating. These are allowed, but scores of one and two have to be paused. You can create a rule in your account to automatically pause these.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)Michael Rasko quote

The next most important is CTR, and many would argue that this is the most important. Though I agree it is the most difficult rule to adhere to, I think it is slightly less important than quality score because one keyword in violation of the quality score can bring your entire account out of compliance—whereas it takes the account-wide CTR to be below the threshold of 5% for two calendar months in a row for the account to be considered in violation of that rule.

Put another way, the result of the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions must be below 0.05 for back-to-back calendar months for you to be at risk of being suspended for violating this rule. This is still a very difficult endeavor, but one in which each individual keyword’s performance has a diluted impact.

You may want to set up a rule in your account to automatically pause low CTR keywords as well, but I encourage you to be careful not to overdo it with how you set this up. Pausing every keyword below 5% may not be necessary to bring your account over the account-wide CTR requirement but could drastically reduce how often your ads are seen.

Clicks, Impressions, Average Cost Per Click, and Cost

These four come standard with the account, and they’re good to keep. They let you know whether your advertisement is being seen by people, how many of those who see it actually click on it, and what you have to pay for the click.

Among these four, total cost often gets overlooked simply because all the ad grants money is free. This should not be overlooked—even though you don’t have to pay Google for it, the traffic that comes from this AdWords spend is very valuable and is use-it-or-lose-it. You get $329 every day to spend ($10,000 a month), and that money doesn’t roll over if you don’t use all of it. Don’t leave that money on the table.

Conversion Tracking Information

If you haven’t set up conversion tracking for your account yet, make that your number one priority. Maximize Conversions bidding is literally the only good news that came out of the 2018 rules update.

There are many ways to track conversions. The Ad Grants team recommends using Google Analytics to set up E-commerce tracking for financial transactions and Goals for non-financial conversions. I agree, mainly because this method is one of the easiest to implement and gives you the most thorough information.

Additionally, they warned against setting up the view of a key page as a Goal in Analytics. They see it as an attempt to game the system as you could make the landing page for your ad the key page. The Ad Grants team announced in a recent video that they will be checking for excessively high conversion rates. Though they did not specify a threshold for when a rate is in violation of the policy, they claim in their compliance guide that a normal conversion rate is 1% to 15%. I would recommend revising your conversion tracking if your rate is outside of that range.

There are a currently 16 different conversion-related metrics that you can add as columns. The two I recommend above all others are total Conversions, so you can see if you have enough data in the system to start Maximize Conversions bidding, and Conversion Rate, so that you can see if your rate is too low or too high.

Expected CTR, Ad Relevance, and Landing Page Experience

Expected CTR, Ad Relevance, and Landing Page Experience are recently added columns.

  • Expected CTR is how likely someone is to click on your ad and is calculated by past performance.
  • Ad Relevance is how closely a keyword matches the content of your ad.
  • Landing Page Experience is how useful your landing page is for the search term, based on how well the content matches the search and how easy your landing page is to navigate.

These columns are measured as either below average, average, or above average. All three of these factors are considered when the system assigns your keyword a Quality Score. If you have a very low Quality Score for a keyword, this is something to take a look at to uncover why.

Additional Options

I said at the start that your keywords columns will mostly match those in other views. A notable exception is that in the search terms view, you can add a column for the keyword that triggered the advertisement. I find this especially helpful because when I see that my advertisements are showing for searches that are not particularly relevant, I can quickly find the keyword that I need to make alterations too, most commonly by switching it from broad match to phrase match.

Another column you may want to add for a variety of views is landing page. I don’t personally have this because each campaign I design is organized around one landing page, so I know the landing page by looking at the campaign title. But if you organize your account in a different way, it may be helpful to see where exactly your advertisements are sending your users.

Michael Rasko
Michael Rasko is a nonprofit marketing consultant who specializes in Google Grants, an online advertising program for nonprofits. He has been a volunteer, board member, and employee at nonprofits. He has been a guest speaker at NTEN's Nonprofit Technology Conference.