Paid Search Metrics 101: All the Metrics You Should Track for Optimal PPC Campaigns

Paid Search Metrics 101: All the Metrics You Should Track for Optimal PPC Campaigns
Article by Jelena Relić
Last Updated: July 30, 2023

PPC metrics aren't exclusive to Google Ads; they are the universal language across all paid advertising platforms. By focusing on paid search performance metrics and understanding their meaning, you can maximize your advertising budget and get better results.

In this article, we'll break down the top ten metrics essential for PPC reporting, showing why they're important and how they can help improve your ads.

What Are Paid Search Metrics?

Paid search metrics are specific data points that provide valuable insights into your PPC campaign’s health, performance and improvement areas.

These metrics help advertisers assess how well their ads reach their audience, drive engagement and achieve specific objectives like sales or sign-ups.

By monitoring and analyzing these metrics, advertisers can refine their PPC advertising strategies, optimize their spending, and enhance the overall performance of their campaigns.

Ten Paid Search Metrics to Keep Track Of

  1. Clicks
  2. Impressions
  3. Click-through Rate (CTR)
  4. Average Cost per Click (CPC)
  5. Conversion Rate
  6. Cost per Conversion
  7. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
  8. Quality Score
  9. Ad Position
  10. Cost per Mille (CPM)

Here are ten indispensable paid search performance metrics that every advertiser should consistently monitor to optimize campaign performance and drive desired outcomes:

1. Clicks

Every time visitors click on your ad, it's recorded as a click in your campaign analytics. More clicks mean your ad is appealing and relevant to the target audience.

While clicks are a good starting point, necessary to understand all other PPC metrics, they only tell part of the story. That is why we look at impressions and click-through rates.

What is it? Clicks show how many people clicked on your ad.

Why it's important: It directly measures how many people interacted with your ad.

Formula: N/A (It's a raw number.)

2. Impressions

Impressions show how often your ad has been displayed on a screen, whether on search engine results pages (SERPs), a website within a display network, or an app.

An impression is counted whether the user interacts with the ad or not. It helps measure the visibility of your ad. More impressions suggest that your ad is being seen by more people, which could lead to higher brand awareness.

However, a high number of impressions with low clicks may indicate that your ad is not compelling enough to inspire action.

What is it? Impressions are the number of times your ad has been displayed on a screen, regardless of whether people clicked it.

Why it's important: It shows the reach of your ad, giving an idea of how many times your ad was visible.

Formula: N/A (It's a raw number.)

3. Click-through Rate (CTR)

CTR refers to the proportion of people who clicked on your ad after seeing it. Simply, it shows how often people click on your ad every time it's displayed.

A high CTR indicates that your ad resonates with your target audience and effectively entices viewers to learn more or purchase.

You can calculate the CTR by dividing your ad's total clicks by the total number of impressions, then multiplying by 100 to get the percentage. According to LocaliQ’s “2023 Search Advertising Benchmarks for Your Industry” report the average CTR across all industries is 6.11%.

What is it? It is the proportion of people who click on your ad to the total number of users who saw it (impressions).

Why it's important: It indicates how relevant and engaging your ad is to the audience.

Formula: CTR = (Total Clicks / Total Impressions) x 100

4. Average Cost per Click (CPC)

CPC is the average amount you pay whenever someone clicks on your ad. It's a critical paid search metric for understanding how much you invest for each visitor to your website.

Lower CPCs are generally better, as they mean you're getting more value for your advertising investment.

You can calculate the average CPC by dividing the total cost of your clicks by the total number of clicks. The average CPC across all industries is $4.22.

What is it? The average amount you pay every time someone clicks on your ad.

Why it's important: It helps determine your ad's financial efficiency in attracting visitors.

Formula: CPC = Total Cost of Ad / Total Clicks

5. Conversion Rate

The conversion rate measures how often a click on your ad leads to a desired action, for example, a purchase, sign-up, or download.

It tells you how successful your ad is at getting people to do what you want them to do. A high conversion rate indicates that your ad and your landing page effectively convince visitors to act.

You can calculate the conversion rate by dividing total conversions by total ad interactions that you can track to conversion. The average conversion rate across all industries is 7.04%.

What is it? The percentage of users who take a desired action after clicking on your ad.

Why it's important: It evaluates the effectiveness of your ad in achieving its primary goal, be it sales, sign-ups, etc.

Formula: Conversion Rate = (Number of Conversions / Number of Visitors) x 100

Our experts will find the best PPC marketing agencies for you, for free.

6. Cost per Conversion

Cost per Conversion, also known as Cost per Acquisition (CPA), shows how much it costs to get a customer to take the action you want them to take after clicking your ad.

The desired action could be purchasing, downloading a freebie, signing up for a newsletter, etc. This paid search performance metric helps you understand the value each conversion brings compared to the amount you spend on ads.

To calculate it, divide the total cost of your campaign by the number of conversions. For example, if you spend $500 and get 25 conversions (sales), your cost per conversion is $20.

What is it? The amount you pay for each conversion your ad achieves.

Why it's important: It shows the cost-effectiveness of your ad in leading to desired actions.

Formula: Cost per Conversion = Total Cost of Ad / Number of Conversions

7. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

ROAS shows the profitability of your ads. It tells you how much revenue you generate for every dollar spent on your PPC advertising campaign.

You can calculate ROAS by dividing the revenue generated from the ad by the total cost of that ad. For example, if you spend $100 on an ad campaign and generate $500 in sales, your ROAS is 500%.

What is it? The revenue generated for the total amount of money spent on your advertising campaign.

Why it's important: It shows the profitability of your advertising campaign.

Formula: ROAS = (Revenue from Ad / Total Ad Spend) x 100

8. Quality Score

The Quality Score is a Google Ads-specific metric. It evaluates the quality and relevance of your ads and landing pages compared to other advertisers.

It impacts your ad rank and how much you pay per click (CPC). A higher Quality Score means that Google deems your ad and keywords relevant, which can lead to higher ad rankings and lower costs.

The Quality Score is measured on a scale of 1 to 10. You cannot calculate it yourself; Google gives ratings based on your ad relevance, expected CTR, and landing page experience.

What is it? A Google rating that measures the quality and relevancy of your ads and landing pages.

Why it's important: A higher Quality Score can lead to higher ad rankings and lower costs.

Formula: N/A (Google provides ratings based on several factors.)

9. Ad Position

Ad Position shows where your ad ranks in SERP compared to other ads in the ad auction. A higher position means your ad will appear closer to the top of the page, which usually leads to higher visibility and CTR.

It is determined by a combination of factors, including the amount you bid on, the quality of your ad, and the keyword's competitiveness.

Ad position is often confused with another similar metric, Ad Rank, which is the value that determines your ad position.

What is it? The position of your ad compared to other ads in the SERPs.

Why it's important: Higher ad positions usually lead to better visibility and potentially higher CTR.

Formula: Ad Position = Max Bid x Quality Score x Expected Impact of Extensions

10. Cost per Mille (CPM)

CPM, also known as Cost per Thousand, measures how much it costs to get 1,000 impressions on your ad. This metric is beneficial for campaigns focused on increasing brand awareness.

With CPM, you pay for ad visibility rather than clicks or conversions. You can calculate CPM by dividing the total cost of an ad campaign by the total number of impressions, then multiplying by 1,000.

What is it? The cost of obtaining 1,000 views or impressions on your ad.

Why it's important: It is helpful for campaigns focused on brand visibility rather than direct engagement.

Formula: CPM = (Total Ad Cost / Total Impressions) x 1,000

Paid Search Metrics: Final Thoughts

PPC advertising delivers immediate results and precise measurement of success. Each metric offers insights into campaign performance. However, a single metric is insufficient. Considered together, they paint the full picture.

Online advertising constantly changes; therefore, you must track your PPC campaigns and adjust them based on the abovementioned metrics. That is the best way to ensure you effectively connect with your audience and get the best return on your investment.

Paid Search Metrics FAQs

1. How do you analyze paid search campaigns?

Follow these steps to analyze your paid search campaigns:

  • Set clear objectives for your PPC campaign, be it sales, sign-ups, or brand visibility.
  • Examine key paid search metrics like click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), conversion rate, and return on ad spend (ROAS).
  • Monitor Quality Score and ad relevance to ensure you're reaching the right audience.
  • Measure your performance against industry standards or past campaigns.
  • Adjust your ads and bidding strategies based on the insights from your metrics analysis.

2. What is the most important metric in PPC?

The most important PPC metric is conversion rate. It shows how effectively your ad drives people to perform the desired action.

We'll find qualified PPC marketing agencies for your project, for free.
Subscribe to Spotlight Newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest industry news