Pay-per-click (PPC) analysis is a method to assess ad campaign performance and find ways to improve results. Learn which metrics to track and the top tools to use to get more value from your digital marketing campaigns.

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Brands waste 40% of digital ad spend ($5.6 billion) every year. This wasted budget can add up quickly if you’re starting small with PPC ads or looking to scale your campaigns.

You can keep costs in check by analyzing PPC advertising. In this article, we’ll cover what to include in a PPC analysis, what metrics to track, and how to use these insights to improve your marketing efforts.

What is PPC analysis?

PPC analysis is the process of evaluating advertising results and identifying optimization opportunities. It involves measuring performance, reviewing benchmarks, and finding areas for improvement.

A typical analysis focuses on three main elements:

  • Performance metrics: Is the campaign successfully driving outcomes like clicks and conversions?
  • Audience behavior: Are specific segments engaging (i.e., clicking or converting) more with the campaign?
  • Competitive landscape: What campaign types are competitors running? Which keywords are they targeting?

What to include in a PPC analysis

Not sure where to start with reviewing PPC performance? A thorough analysis should include the following elements:

Keyword performance

Search ad, campaign, ad group, and ad metrics are just the beginning. Look beyond these metrics and monitor keyword performance closely in your PPC audit.

Keyword analytics tell you everything from what percentage of eligible impressions you’re capturing to how competitive your ads are. Then, you can use this data to adjust bids, improve ad elements, and increase PPC ROI.

Ad copy effectiveness

Does your brand’s messaging resonate with your target audience? Getting ad copy right can drive clicks, whether you run search ads, display ads, or paid social media.

Review ad copy performance to learn which headlines and descriptions get the most clicks and conversions. Then, use this data to remove low-performing copy and optimize existing assets for better results.

Conversion rates

Your ads do more than just generate impressions and clicks. Effective PPC campaigns also drive conversions. Depending on the campaign type, you may target form submissions, adds to cart, or purchases.

Check conversion rates to identify campaigns that contribute the most (and the least) toward your end goal. Then, use these insights to reallocate budgets toward campaigns that deliver the most value.

Audience insights

Successful PPC campaigns require more than the right keywords and ad copy. They have to target the right audience segments to generate optimal results.
Use audience analytics to understand which segments are most likely toconvert. Then, apply these insights to scale successful campaigns or build targeted segments for similar campaigns.

Competitive analysis

No PPC account or campaign exists in a bubble. Every time you bid on an ad impression, you compete against countless other brands targeting the same audience. To succeed, you have to outperform competitors’ ads.

Use competitor analysis tactics to see what keywords other brands bid on, what types of ads they run, and how your results compare. Then, use your competitive PPC analysis to optimize bids, ad copy, and keyword targeting.

8 PPC metrics to track

Consider all aspects of the campaign — from impression to conversion — to get a complete overview of PPC performance and make data-driven decisions about what to optimize.
Use the eight metrics below to analyze campaigns:

  1. Click-through rate (CTR)
  2. Cost per click (CPC)
  3. Conversion rate
  4. Cost per conversion
  5. Quality Score
  6. Ad Strength
  7. Impression share
  8. Return on ad spend (ROAS)

1. Click-through rate (CTR)

CTR measures how often potential customers click on your ad versus how often the ad displays on search engine results pages (SERPs) or social media feeds. It reveals how well your ad copy resonates with people and prompts them to act.

According to Search Engine Journal, the average CTR for search ads is 3% to 5% across all industries. However, CTR varies dramatically between industries.

For example:

  • Arts and entertainment, sports and recreation, and travel brands have an average CTR of over 10%.
  • Legal services, home improvement, and business services have an average CTR closer to 5%.

To increase your CTR:

  • Include more keywords and call-to-action copy in ads.
  • Revisit your keyword list (including negative keywords) and add more relevant options.

2. Cost per click (CPC)

CPC measures the average cost for each click on your ad. A low CPC suggests you’ve set the right bids for the right keywords.

Across all industries, the average CPC for search ads is $4.22. The industries with the lowest CTR typically have the highest CPC, and vice versa.

For example, the average CPC for legal services is $9.21. In contrast, the average CPC for arts and entertainment is $1.55.

To lower your CPC:

  • Check your Quality Score and identify areas for improvement.
  • Lower your bids to spend less per click, but note that this tactic may decrease impressions.

3. Conversion rate

Conversion rate measures how often people complete the end goal versus how often they click through to your landing page. It reveals how well your landing page aligns with the ad and guides customers to a conversion. Higher conversion rates generally lead to higher campaign profits.

From form submissions to purchases, conversion types vary wildly. As a result, average conversion rates differ based on the industry. At 13.41%, the pet industry has one of the highest average conversion rates. At 1.57%, the fashion industry has one of the lowest average conversion rates.

To increase your conversion rate:

  • Get your Quality Score as close as possible to 10.
  • Ensure your offer and landing page match with your prospects’ search intent.

4. Cost per conversion

Also called cost per acquisition (CPA), cost per conversion measures the average amount you spend to get customers to complete a desired action. Ideally, you want to achieve the lowest possible CPA. But this metric depends on the industry and the conversion.

The employment industry has the highest average CPA, at $132.95. Automotive repair has the lowest average CPA, at $21.12.

To decrease your cost per conversion:

  • Align ads with your offer and landing page.
  • Optimize your landing page and improve the mobile experience.

5. Quality Score

Quality Score compares your ad quality to other advertisers on a scale of one to 10. It’s helpful for competitor PPC research because it reflects how your ads are likely to perform against other advertisers in the auction.

As a general rule, a low Quality Score typically leads to low performance and high cost. A low Quality Score can decrease Ad Rank, which affects your ad position in search results.
To improve Quality Score:

  • Align ads with keywords, and make the ad copy more relevant to search intent.
  • Revisit your landing page and ensure it matches the ad and creates a good user experience.

6. Ad Strength

Ad Strength reflects the quality, diversity, and relevance of ad copy and creative assets. It’s a Google Ads metric that uses Google’s best practices to evaluate ads.

Google Ads uses ratings from poor to excellent to rate Ad Strength. The closer yours is to excellent, the better your chance of optimizing performance.

To improve Ad Strength:

  • Write more headlines and descriptions with relevant keywords, and make them more unique.
  • Upload more images or videos (for display and Performance Max campaigns).

7. Impression share

Impression share reflects the percentage of impressions your ad gets (i.e., the percentage of successful bids) versus the total number of impressions it’s eligible to receive. It reveals how much of the total volume of impressions you’re capturing.

Achieving 100% impression share isn’t realistic for most ads. But if your impression share is significantly lower than 100%, it may signal a budget or bidding issue.

To improve impression share:

  • Increase your budget to give your ads more opportunities to enter the ad auction.
  • Increase your bid to make your ads more competitive against other advertisers.

8. Return on ad spend (ROAS)

ROAS measures how much revenue an ad campaign generates versus how much you spend to run it. The better a campaign performs, the higher the ROAS becomes.

To improve ROAS:

  • Revisit audience targeting and keyword lists to ensure you’re reaching the right segments.
  • Optimize the landing page experience to increase conversions.

How to use analytics to improve PPC campaigns

Once you start tracking the right metrics, put them to work. Use the tips below to improve campaigns and optimize your PPC strategy:

Reallocate budgets

Are some ad groups delivering a negative ROI? Consider reallocating that budget to top-performing campaigns.

“I look at which campaigns or ad groups are giving the best return, meaning they’re making more money than they’re costing,” shares Stefan Valentin, Ads Specialist at Irresistible Me. “Those are the ones I’ll give more budget to. If a campaign is spending a lot but not bringing in sales or leads, I’ll either adjust it to perform better or move the budget to the ones that are working.”.

Adjust bids

Are your ads using smart bidding strategies to automate the process? Get more control over search ads by switching to manual CPC bidding. That way, you can optimize bids for the keywords likely to drive the most value.

You can capture even more of your most valuable clicks with bid adjustments. Increase or decrease bids by device, time, location, or audience to improve results.

Update and test ad copy

Is your CTR lower than you’d like? Find low-performing ad copy and optimize it by adding keywords or relevant content.

Not sure which version of an ad is likely to work best? Use A/B testing to experiment with two or more versions. Then spend the rest of your budget on the winning version.


Enhance ad extensions

Ad copy isn’t your only option for including relevant information in PPC ads. Add as many ad extensions as possible to give Google Ads more ways to generate a high-performing ad. For example, include sitelinks, callouts, images, and structured snippets.


Add negative keywords

Are your search ads leading to low-quality traffic? Pinpoint the irrelevant terms that trigger this traffic and add them to a negative keyword list.


“It all starts with choosing the right keywords. Regularly check your search query reports to see what terms users type into the search engine before clicking on your ads,” advises Dmitrii Kustov, Marketing Director at RegexSEO. “This can help you find new high-performing keywords to add to your campaigns and identify irrelevant terms to add as negative keywords.”.

Optimize landing pages

Focus on landing page optimization when your conversion rates are lower than you’d like. Every PPC landing page should relate to the ad copy and guide prospects toward the next step with clear calls to action (CTAs).

Use a combination of ad and website analytics to follow prospects’ journeys and identify where they dropped off. Then make data-driven improvements to the copy, design, or offer.

“Your goal is to make everything clear. A common mistake is to add a large amount of information on the landing page with a few paragraphs of description of your company, service, or product and other unimportant details,” suggests Kustov. “Remember, a PPC landing page is different from your website page. It should prompt action but not educate the customer.”.

PPC analysis mistakes to avoid

Focus on the right aspects as you analyze ad elements and improve campaigns.
Avoid these common PPC analysis mistakes:

Tracking vanity metrics

Most analytics tools provide a wealth of information. You don’t need to pay attention to all of it.

Instead, identify the key metrics you need to measure. Focus on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your campaign goals and spend less time on the rest.

For example, awareness ads generally target impressions and reach. Clicks and conversions are great, but they aren’t the main goals.

Neglecting conversion tracking

Without accurate conversion tracking, you’ll struggle to connect the dots between impressions, clicks, and conversions. As a result, you can’t collect meaningful data from your PPC campaigns.

Before you launch Microsoft, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google Ads campaigns, set up conversion tracking. Depending on the platform, you may need to install a pixel, configure a tag with Google Tag Manager, or set up a conversions application programming interface (API).

Failing to consider external factors

Many PPC optimizations happen on the advertising platform itself. For example, you may benefit from improving ad copy, adjusting bids, or updating audience targeting.

However, conversions generally occur after prospects click on your ad and arrive on your landing page. Improving the landing page experience can increase conversions and create a better user experience.

Forgetting PPC competitor analysis

You can learn a lot from analyzing your own ads. But if you don’t include competitor analysis in your workflow, you’ll miss important optimization tactics.

Successful ads have to be more than great — they must also compete against other advertisers in your space.

Best PPC analysis tools

PPC reporting tools like Google Ads may be the most convenient for evaluating campaigns. However, these analytics aren’t always the most reliable. Google Ads doesn’t show real-time data, and it lacks some in-depth metrics.

To get the data you need to make smarter decisions, use the PPC analysis tools below:


ConversionIQ (CIQ) is HawkSEM’s proprietary conversion tracking tool. We use CIQ to track each step of the buyer’s journey and understand which campaigns drive the most valuable results.

With CIQ, we can find which parts of a campaign are working and which aren’t to optimize toward a higher ROAS. We also apply target audience insights to improve campaigns on other channels.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a website analytics tool that tracks user behavior throughout your site. Use it to see what potential customers do after clicking on your ad and visiting your landing page.

For example, you can use Google Analytics to measure engagement time, scroll depth, and micro-conversions. Each metric gives you more insight into how prospects engage with your site and whether you attract the right audience.


Supermetrics is an analytics tool that pulls data from every marketing channel, including paid search, social ads, organic search, and more. It lets you analyze all paid and organic campaigns in one convenient place.


“I rely on Supermetrics to analyze PPC performance metrics. It always gives foolproof results that help me to boost my PPC campaigns,” explains Vinika Garg, COO of Webomaze. “It integrates with well-known platforms like Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and LinkedIn. I like how it automates reporting and generates performance summaries and visual reports. As the visual reports are simplified, my team, clients, and other stakeholders never have issues understanding them.”


Semrush is a marketing tool for search engine optimization (SEO), PPC, and content marketing. It’s a keyword research tool that finds the most relevant PPC keywords to bid on, including estimated costs.


Curious how to analyze PPC competitors? Semrush’s Advertising Research tool shows search trends, specific keywords, and estimated results for any website. It also estimates competitors’ keyword lists, total traffic, and total cost.


Ahrefs is an all-in-one platform for SEO and PPC. You can use it to drive paid and organic traffic. You can also use it to gain insights into your competitors’ search engine marketing strategy.


How do you do competitor keyword gap analysis for PPC? Make a list of your top competitors and use Ahrefs’ Ads Report tool to analyze their ads. Then, compare your PPC keywords to find gaps.

“Checking out what the competition is doing is super important. I use tools like Ahrefs to see what keywords they’re targeting and how their ads look,” shares Valentin. “This helps me figure out new strategies or adjustments I might need to make to stay competitive. It’s like keeping an eye on the other players in the game to make sure I’m not missing out on any moves.”.

How can PPC analysis benefit your business?

Regular campaign analysis is crucial for brands using advertising networks like Google Ads and Microsoft Ads or paid social networks like Facebook Ads and LinkedIn Ads.

With PPC analytics, you can:

  • Improve campaign performance: Find underperforming campaigns and make updates to boost results.
  • Optimize ad spend: Reallocate budgets to scale top-performing campaigns or adjust bids for better results.
  • Increase return on investment (ROI): Get more value from campaigns by increasing conversions, not budget.
  • Make data-driven decisions: Stop guessing what to change. Instead, use analytics to guide optimization.

Your in-house team can certainly analyze PPC data. But when you partner with an experienced PPC agency, you get a more in-depth analysis.

For instance, at HawkSEM,, we use a performance- and ROI-driven approach to analyze and optimize PPC campaigns. A senior strategist manages every campaign, adding a human touch to every aspect.

What kind of outcomes can our PPC marketing efforts generate? By using HawkSEM’s PPC for small business strategies, Grayson Living increased its sales by 279%.

Checklist for PPC analysis

Choose a PPC analysis tool

Review keyword performance

Monitor copy and creative performance

Check landing page performance

Monitor audience performance

Calculate ROAS

Analyze competitors’ strategies

Optimize PPC campaigns

Adjust bids

Update ad copy

Enhance ad extensions

Add negative keywords

Refine target audiences

Optimize landing pages

Improve mobile performance

The takeaway

With the right metrics and tools, you can find areas for improvement in your PPC campaigns.
Then, you can use the tips above to optimize your ads and improve your PPC marketing plan.

When you need expert advice, our experienced team is here to help. Contact HawkSEM for a free consultation with our PPC strategists.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation