Whenever you see a significant change in your PPC account performance, it’s only natural to wonder about the cause. Did your new keyword additions have any effect? What caused that sharp drop in clicks? In order to keep track of cause and effect, you’ll need to have a coherent strategy for keeping track of your account changes so that you can look back on your timeline and see which account changes correlated with changes in your metrics.
You can do this with something as simple as pencil and paper, or as complex as some project management software. You’ll probably want to keep it in some sort of digital format, though – you may need to search quickly through several months of data. My personal choice for PPC account management is Basecamp. It’s a web application for project management. It’s free for one-project accounts (which is enough for most single-client or in-house PPC efforts), and they have reasonable paid plans for managing multiple projects. You can create a new message whenever you complete a PPC task, manage to-do lists of planned changes, and search your changes through their web interface. Even better, you can add multiple users to your account and access the same data online to work better with your team.
For a more passive solution to the problem, Google has a built-in feature that can help you keep track of account changes. Just go to the “Reporting” tab in your AdWords account, and select “Change History.” From here, you can select a date range, campaign, and change type to see a record of every change that has taken place in your AdWords account. This is great for keeping track of what’s been going on in your Google account, but unfortunately this functionality is not yet available for Yahoo or MSN.
Once you have a decent historical record of your account changes, you can easily determine how those changes are affecting your account by matching up your change log with your account statistics within your PPC accounts or your analytics program. When you have this knowledge, you can use it to determine what changes to make (or not to make) in the future.