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Expansion QA Tips for SEM Newbs: Journey to the Center of the Search

Published: October 22, 2013

Author: Molly Shotwell

Today’s post is by David Goldberg, Account Associate at 3Q Digital.
So you’re familiar with the phrase “You learn something new every day,” right? As a relative newcomer to the world of large-scale SEM campaigns, I find that isn’t the case at all. Since beginning my career at 3Q Digital a few short months ago, I feel as if I am learning something new every minute.
One of the first and best pieces of advice I was given during my first week was to take good notes. This statement especially came in handy when I started working on one of my first production tasks: doing ad and keyword expansions for an e-commerce site.
As the expansions continued, I learned the hard way that when working on large-volume builds, something as simple as forgetting to turn off a filter in Excel can completely throw all of your work out of whack. There are so many little steps in making sure all of your ad and keyword upload sheets are correct, I decided the best solution was to keep a QA checklist close by in order to minimize any issues.
Here is part of my QA checklist to share with any SEM newcomers as well:
1) Remove all excess spaces. ASAP Utilities in Excel has a great tool that allows you to remove excessive spaces that may be difficult for the eye to see. This important for making sure that you aren’t wasting any space in your headline, descriptions lines, or display URL. After all, AdWords real estate is like Manhattan real estate (cramped and hard to find), so it’s important not to waste any space.
ASAP Ultilites
2) Use the length lookup formula to make sure your headlines, description lines, and destination URLs are within the AdWords limits. Make sure the columns you use to look them up are hidden when you are done.
3) Make sure all of your filters are turned off. I learned this lesson the hard way and it can result in missing ad copy, campaign names, etc. It can be a simple thing to forgot, but it can turn a build into a huge mess that will make you nuttier than a bag of cashews.
4) Double-check to make sure that the spelling, grammar, and punctuation within your ad copy is correct. Also, make sure your ads make sense. Conversions don’t grow on trees, so it’s imperative your ads appear as professional as possible to appeal to the consumer. After all, what does it say about your business if your ad looks like this? (That is, of course, unless bear parts are in this year.)
Bear Parts
5) Make sure your ad groups aren’t overly long. I try to keep them between between one and five tokens (with five often being long but necessary in some instances) depending on the account. Although the max is 10 tokens, generally speaking when people are searching for something their queries tend to be short.
6) Make sure hyphens are inserted in to your destination URLs.
7) Remove apostrophes from Display URLs, keywords, and ad groups. Make sure to get rid of punctuation such as &, “, etc. as well. The way I like to think of it is that Google speaks its own language. Unlike your high school English teacher, it will get mad if you use apostrophes correctly all the time.
8) When working on large expansions, get up and talk a walk or a quick break from working on them. Sometimes it can be easy to get lost in the vast ocean of Excel. Give your brain and eyes a break. It will make the process much easier in terms of catching any errors.
Any more tips or hints? Share the love!
David Goldberg-David Goldberg joined 3Q Digital in June of 2013 after working in marketing for a cloud storage company in the Bay Area. Prior to moving to California, he spent several years traveling the country while running his music marketing business and working as a professional musician. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the bass, discovering new music, outdoor activities, and rooting for his hometown Boston sports teams.

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