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If W. Edwards Deming Were a Search Engine Marketer…

Deming Cycle & Paid SearchWITH THE RECENT economic tough times we are facing it has become more and more important to make sure the work you do is profitable. That is not to say that your work should not always be profitable but I believe in times of prosperity it easy to get sloppy and lose focus on doing the right work that adds the most value to your customer. In Paid Search it is easy to get lost in a sea of keywords and ad creatives making the focus on what matters and what adds value hard to understand. This is where being more process oriented in your work rather than focusing on results can lead to better value-added implementation. The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) process developed by Dr. W. Edwards Deming* provides a frame-work for such value-added work to be completed by following simple, repetitive standardized work. Developing standardized processes for Paid Search ensures quality is built into your campaign designs. Customer satisfaction should increase as a result. Better Paid Search processes also will reduce the time and costs associated with your work. Becoming more process oriented, in economic crisis or prosperity, makes you and your organization more effective and efficient and ultimately more profitable.

Following the PDCA process I’ve listed some guidelines as to how each step applies to a new or existing Paid Search initiative. The guideline is not exhaustive and it is not enough just follow the guideline and assume you are going to be profitable. It is critical for you to standardize each step of the process so it is easy to repeat.



Planning is the most critical step in the Paid Search process – when done correctly everything else will fall into place. Planning includes:

  1. Review of Client Website and Offerings
  2. Assessment of PPC Accounts
  3. Assessment of Analytics Implementation
  4. Client Goals and Past performance
  5. Competitive Analysis
  6. Campaign Structure and Design
  7. Keyword Research
  8. Landing Page Development
  9. Ad Creative Development
  10. Budgeting



Once the plan is communicated and agreed to it is time for implementation. Implementation can be broken down into two main areas – PPC Campaign Build and Analytics.

PPC Campaign Build includes:

  1. Campaign Settings
  2. Budgeting
  3. Ad groups
  4. Keywords
  5. Ad creatives
  6. Landing pages
  7. Destination URL tagging
  8. SiteLinks, ProductLinks, etc.

Analytics Implementation includes:

  1. Java script development
  2. Site tagging for analytics packages like VisiStat or Google Analytics
  3. Audit site tagging
  4. Verify conversions are tracking properly
  5. Set up a method for reporting (if this includes using a PPC Platform like Acquisio, additional steps will be needed to import campaigns into third party tools.)



Now that you have launched your Paid Search campaigns and allowed then some time to run, it is now time to check the progress.

Monitoring & reporting on progress includes:

  1. Review keyword activity for conversions and Quality Score
  2. Search query mining for new keywords and negative keywords
  3. Review text or display ads for conversion performance
  4. Identify patterns in data for new targeting options
  5. Review audience and demographics performance
  6. Weekly Dashboard review
  7. Monthly Dashboard review & analysis



Evaluation of the first three steps should provide insight in to ongoing continuous process improvement.

Actionable insights on where and what to do next to improve performance include:

  1. Campaign and ad group targeting
  2. Keyword performance and bid management
  3. Keyword and Search Query expansion
  4. Ad creative performance and future testing
  5. Landing page testing


Again, this is a general guideline to follow. Using the PDCA process alone is not enough to keep quality, customer satisfaction, time, costs and profitability in its most effective and efficient state but it will give you a solid foundation to build from. By following the PDCA process you need to standardize the steps in each part of the process in order to tie those steps back to the amount of time and cost it takes to complete each step. Standardizing the processes allows you to make certain that you are using the most efficient way to complete the various tasks in the fewest amount of steps. Time, they say, is money. And lastly, you need to make sure you are not only following the standardization of the processes, but that you are also choosing to do the right type of work that adds value and meets or exceeds customer satisfaction and expectations.

*Deming’s PDCA (The Deming Cycle) was initially developed by Walter A. Shewhart. In his later years Deming updated PDCA to PDSA replacing the ‘check’ phase with ‘study’ since he felt that ‘check’ emphasized inspection rather than analysis…

Related Articles

American Society for Quality (ASQ) – Plan Do Check Act

Training for Endurance in Lean (with PDCA)

Filed under: Featured, Featured Articles, Google Adwords, MSN AdCenter, Online Strategy, Paid Search in General, Quality, Systems Thinking · Tags: , , , , , ,

3 Responses to "If W. Edwards Deming Were a Search Engine Marketer…"

  1. Dan Strongin says:

    An interesting article that should be of help in marketing more effectively. Another use of the Deming Cycle: Dr. Deming made to replace the C with and S, STudy for Check. For some reason few know this. Depending what you are doing, it can make all the difference.

    There is an article on the Deming Collaboration Website on the difference called PDCA…PDSA is it as simple as C or an S? here:

  2. Interesting, except that Dr. Deming would tell you that PDCA is actually the Shewhart cyle.

  3. Vimal Oomman K says:

    Good to see PDSA applied to marketing and is stressed as a foundation step – applicable to any service or product.

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