It's what stops us from achieving our goals. Clutter on our desk. Clutter in our heads. And clutter in our PPC accounts.

When we take a step back from the day to day micro-management of ppc campaigns we can sometimes catch a glimpse of the bigger picture. The one where the fundamental principles shine through.

PPC management is simple and the secret is.....

Do more of what works and less of what doesn't.

The key is being able to tell the two apart. That and not being distracted by the shiny new objects that pop up along the way.

Knowing what is working is not as hard as it sounds. Ideally, we should establish our objectives before we even begin structuring our campaigns - but many managers inherit campaigns that are already running like excited children with a free pass to a sweet shop. Take a step back, take a deep breath and determine what is is you are wanting your visitors to do. In some cases this is simple. If you are an online store, then your main objective would be to get people to complete a purchase. If you are a debt consolidation company, then you want people to ask you for an audit. If you are a locksmith then you want people to call you when they are locked out of their house.

In other cases it's a little more complex - do you want people to download your white paper? Do you want people to watch your video?

But we all want our visitors to do something - maybe one of a few things. And once we determine what that is then we can start to focus our activities.

Just about everything our visitors do on our site can be tracked. Completed transactions are easy. As are pdf downloads, but even such things as video views, and clicks on external links can be tracked with just a little bit of configuration - check out Google Tag Manager if you haven't already done so - the learning curve is steep, but the view from the top is more than worth the effort!

Once you have established your objectives then everything else you do either brings you closer or moves you further away.

Your objectives determine your testing protocol - they are the benchmark against which you measure the tests you design. Does an increase in your bid improve your conversion rates or not? Does this headline reduce your CPA compared to the original? And so on.

Google are continually adding new features and opportunities for PPC managers. By all means test these - they may well make a positive contribution. But the word to focus on is test. Accounts with all the bells and whistles may not be those that perform best.

And, sometimes, clutter is just that, clutter.