To perform a full Google Ads audit: –
- Use this 8-step audit process to find areas that need improvement, expansion, or optimization.
- A Google Ads account audit is the process of evaluating the effectiveness of accounts.
- An audit can reveal painful hidden issues that need to be addressed.
- Identify problems, get to work to improve the overall health and performance of the account.
- While there are many automated tools and services that provide algorithm- and rating-based audit results for the account, they often lack the context of marketing goals, target audience, and unique desired results of PPC efforts.
The key to a good audit is:
- Identify what is to be reviewed and understand its importance.
- Review and document the status of each item in the audit.
- Take detailed notes and give examples of items that need to be reviewed or addressed in the post-audit action plan.
- The audit itself is not the time to update the account or campaign.
- It is important to enter, go through and exit the audit process by delivering a report and results that can be included in an action plan for one-time follow-up activities and processes for ongoing management adjustments.
- It’s critical to take over an account for a customer, another vendor, or as part of a new role in the company, to know where things are before investing a significant amount of time and money.
- There are also benefits to regularly auditing finely-tuned campaigns, allowing time to step back and look at things that might be overlooked in day-to-day management.
The benefits that can result from a Google Ads audit include:
- Find areas of wasted spending.
- Identify new opportunities to expand.
- Promote ongoing management processes.
- Get audience insights that can be applied to the account and other marketing channels.
- Validation of assumptions.
- Follow a step-by-step process that can use when conducting the own Google Ads account audit.
- Invaluable knowledge will be gained and great opportunities will be discovered where accounts can be improved.
- Focusing on these areas and asking these important questions when conducting the own Google Ads account audit will help ensure that the PPC marketing ROI is maximized.
- Before diving into the Google Ads account, the first step in the audit is to review the business and account goals to make sure to understand the focus and goals.
- There can be multiple conversion goals.
- Understanding what they are and what performance outcomes are being sought will set the tone for the evaluation throughout the remainder of the audit process.
- Defining the objectives and focus facilitates the objective audit of the account.
Questions related to goals:
- What are the company’s conversion goals?
- What are the conversion goals in Google Ads?
- Have the goals changed?
- Can performance be tracked beyond ads (for leads, sales, or traffic)?
- Has the target audience or set of people changed?
When they are clear about what they want their Google Ads account to accomplish, they can delve into the actual components of the search campaign.
2: Review the account structure
Having the correct hierarchy can positively impact the amount of time required to manage campaigns and produce better data for decision making.
There are many ways in which the use of campaigns and ad groups can be structured, organizing around:
- Logical business objectives.
- Objectives of person.
- Product lines.
- Service lines.
- Topic in question.
While there isn’t necessarily a “right” way to structure the account, they want to do it in a way that gives as much control as possible over the most granular details of the offer, budget, advertisements, and general management.
The aspects of the account structure to be evaluated are:
- Do the campaigns represent different campaign settings level segments (geo-targeting, day split, campaign-level bids, campaign-level budgets)?
- Do campaigns provide meaningful comprehensive reporting for the ad groups that are included in them?
- Are the campaigns easy to compare with each other and balance budgets?
3: Account and campaign setup
- In most cases, they can quickly review the campaign settings and move on.
- Ultimately, however, they may need to revert to these settings to make adjustments based on the review and change decisions in other areas of the audit.
Before performing performance-based updates, here are specific items to review:
- Is the geographic orientation adequate and accurate?
- Do they see a country or region in the “placements” tab that they don’t want to target?
- Is device targeting adequate?
- Are they sure they have advanced placement settings set up exactly how they want them for the audience?
- Is it the bidding strategy, budget, and ad serving methods that want?
- Do they have the right time slot?
- Are they using dynamic search ads?
4: Ad groups
- Important to remember that “ad groups = ad group” rather than “ad groups = keyword group”.
- Think too much about keywords and groupings before thinking about the intent of the search engine and the destination they are sending them to.
- They could have the best-organized keyword groups Google Ads has ever seen but perform poorly if the ads and landing pages are an afterthought.
- The focus should be on ads, landing pages, quality scores, and ultimately the performance potential to get users to convert.
The aspects of the ad groups to consider in the audit are:
- Do the ad groups have about 10 keywords or less?
- Do the ad groups align with each other and complement each other rather than compete?
- Are the maximum CPCs at the ad group level set to an optimal level?
- Are my best ad groups getting enough budget?
- They can get lost in keywords, match types, search queries, negative matches, and lots of detail at a granular level.
- It is important to identify patterns and trends during the audit process.
- As they do so, resist the urge to start making updates.
- When looking at keywords, make within each campaign relevant to stay focused on the specific theme of the campaign and drill down into ad groups.
- By applying the objectives identified in the first step of the auditing process, they can assess the specific intent and performance of the keywords.
- If they have a very large campaign, it is better to search for samples to find patterns and problems rather than trying to judge each keyword individually.
- A lot of sorting and sampling is important to identify performance and optimization issues.
Aspects of keywords to audit:
- Are negative keywords used?
- Does the search query report show keywords that are unrelated to the topic and conversion goals?
- Are there terms that have zero conversions but have a high level of impressions, clicks, or spending?
- Are there keywords that have low-quality scores?
- Are there keywords that have the status “no” to display at this time? If so, are there negative matches or other conflicts when they want them to be running?
- Are the keyword-specific maximum CPCs set at an optimal level?
- Are there any terms that don’t match the expected or desired CPC, CTR, conversion or conversion rate goals?
- Ads are often left unchecked across many accounts or over-tested.
- One way to effectively test ads is to set ad rotation to force uniform rotation indefinitely and ensure that each ad group has two ad versions: an “A” and a “B” version.
- At set intervals, one can judge the winner and rotate into a new “B” version to test.
- Even if rely on Google’s algorithm to determine the ratio to serve ads and use dynamic tools, it is dangerous to leave things on autopilot.
- The audit can expose these problems.
Audit announcements include:
- Two ad variations in each ad group.
- Using dynamic keyword insertion and performance versus a static title.
- Use of calls to action in ad headlines and effectiveness.
- Are there ads with medium to low-quality scores?
7: Landing Pages
- Landing pages are external to Google Ads, but they have a direct impact on campaign performance and influence the metrics that can be seen in Google Ads.
- It would be an oversight not to analyze landing pages, even if they don’t appear on the radar when evaluating ad quality scores.
- Bringing consistent wording and terminology to landing pages, having clear calls to action, and positive user experiences are all keys to ensuring optimal conversion rates (and increasing the quality score to lower the costs).
When looking at the landing pages, consider the following:
- Is there a good title and a clear call to action on the page?
- Do the forms work?
- Is there a dedicated call tracking number?
- Is the form being sent to a thank-You message or to a page that contains the conversion tracking code?
- Are the quality scores of the ads that link to each respective landing page medium to high?
- Does it make sense to add more landing pages or to condense them down to less based on page and ad performance?
8: Reports and action plan
- As they go through the steps of the audit and take time to analyze the details against the expectations and performance targets, they will need to document the notes.
- The audit will likely be shared with others internally or externally.
- Therefore, organizing the audit in a document or template format will help to develop the action plan and share knowledge with others.
- The actual work begins after they have documented each item, its status, and any issues that need to be addressed.
- Now the production list and action plan can be put together, scheduled, and rolled out.
- Whether they are prioritizing and addressing all identified areas for improvement, expansion, or optimization in a single round or working on longer ongoing efforts.
- They have the power of insight rather than simply sticking to the status quo or assuming that the work is done, for those before they were ideal.
- Regardless of the situation, they are in a poised position to make profits on the account that will affect the bottom line.