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Google Ads audit (also known as SEM Audit, or PPC Audit) is a thorough review of your PPC account, highlighting areas negatively affecting your PPC performance. Ideally, answering questions about what kind of results you could expect if you solved the issues. Auditing your PPC campaigns is a crucial step in the management process.

Google Ads Audit

Why Google Ads Audit?

Completing a Google Ads audit means doing a thorough check of your account and campaigns. You dig around to find out where your money is spent, where results are coming from, and how it can be improved overall. Audits can uncover where ad spend is wasted and can even lead to new campaign ideas.

Understanding The Goals Of A Google Ads Audit

Very important to understand why you need to do Google Ads Audit of your account.

  1. Identify and reduce wasted spend
  2. Locate new opportunities
  3. Improve Quality Score
  4. In Improving the campaign structure of your Google Ads Account.
  5. A 3rd party helps you in figuring out points which you have ignored UNKNOWINGLY, a different perspective can give sometimes, a NEW IDEA.

PPC Google Ads Audit Checklist

Let’s start the Audit of your Google Ads Account based on the following checklist.

Step 1: Start Google Adwords audit by looking at a high-level overview of the account

Date range

Think about what date range should be used for the audit

Look for consistent data over time. Don’t include periods that contain vastly different types of data. Find consistent recent data covering six months to a year.

Conversions

What’s being tracked and what is the measure of success?

Are macro and micro conversions being used?

Macro examples include a lead-gen form being filled out or the sale of a product. Micro examples include a site visitor who looked at more than five pages.

Is this AdWords account using ‘conv’ and ‘all conv’ well?

Are values being used well?

Which metric is used to judge success?

Which attribution models are being used?

Goals

What does winning look like? What is the measure of success?

How does this relate to the business itself? What the business goals?

What’s the revenue model of the business? These can depend on the sales cycle and the type of business.

What’s the breakeven amount? Is there enough wiggle room to improve profit by allowing the cost per sale to be higher?

Structure

What does winning look like? What is the measure of success?

Does the naming convention make sense?

Why are multiple campaigns being used?

Which search networks are being used?

What’s the 80/20 of campaigns? Which are the top 1 or 2 campaigns to focus on?

What campaign settings are being used?

Are there bidding strategies being used?

which ad delivery options are being used? Standard or accelerated?

Which ad rotation options are being used? Are ads being rotated and split tested properly?

Is there tracking being used?

Automation

Are AdWords scripts being used?

Are auto-rules being used?

Are external tools like Optmyzr or PPC Samurai being used to help make decisions and make changes at scale?

Labels

Are labels being used inside the account? Are they being used well? Is a sensible naming structure in place?

Account level

Is the business using any kind of data feeds? Examples include dynamic remarketing and customised ads.

Do they have negative keyword lists being applied to individual ad groups or campaigns?

Are placement exclusion lists being used?

Is account-wide URL tracking being used?

Step 2: Segment the data – dig a little deeper

Impression Share

What’s the overall feel of the potential of the account?

Is it constrained by budget or ad rank?

Are there quick wins to be had? If something is being constrained by budget and it’s profitable then remove the budget constraint if possible.

Top v Other

Where do the ads show – top of the page or other (bottom)? Is there potential to increase average position?

Segment the data by a device using Excel or a similar app. What does top v another look like by device?

Chart the ratio of top v other to understand what’s trending and what’s changed over time.

Devices

Which devices are ads being shown on? Which campaigns are running on which device?

What’s the performance difference between the different devices? Which is working well for your niche, audience and market?

Is there a need for a different campaign for each device?

Are bid adjustments being used?

Are there quick wins by bidding devices up or down, even at just a campaign level?

Networks

Are search campaigns separate from display campaigns?

Is the Search Partner Network being used? If so, on which campaigns?

Are there any quick wins to be had? Examples include turning partners on or off.

Geography

Which locations are performing particularly well, or are performing badly?

Are they being bid differently? Is Bid adj. being used?

Are any locations excluded?

Check if there’s a big difference between where the user is vs what they’re searching for.

Are there quick wins to be had by changing bids?

Time

Look for seasonal patterns across multiple years or across the last 12 months.

Are there patterns in ‘day of week’ or ‘hour of day’? Does traffic get very expensive at certain times of the day?

Are these insights being used to bid differently?

Do some days/hours need to be bid up or down?

In my experience, Timing plays a huge impact in optimising your account sales or you can call as conversions so look closely here.

Experiments

Are regular campaign experiments being used and being used well?

Have you allocated any budget for experiments or opening of new fields?

Step 3: Get granular – delve into the nitty-gritty of AdWords / Google Ads

Brand

Are there brand campaigns set up? Are brand keywords being bid on? Are they being bid on properly?

Are those brand keywords being bid on in separate campaigns?

Do brand campaigns have great impression share and very high positions?

Ad Groups

What structure is being used? For example, Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) – one keyword per ad group.

Follow the money. What are the top ad groups by cost? Where are most of the money being spent?

What’s the range of keywords in those top groups?

Are there big differences in Cost Per Action or Conversion Rate or ROAS?

Bidding strategies

For new campaigns i recommend to go with Manual CPC or Maximise Clicks

For medium or campaigns with some data, i recommend to go with Impression share

and for campaigns where we have data, i recommend to go with CPA Bidding.

Again, this can be changed depending upon target market, area, niche and project to project.

Use a pivot table in Excel to work out how many ad groups there are per campaign. This will give you a high-level overview.

Step 4 : Analyze Keywords Part

Keywords

How many keywords are there in general?

How are they distributed throughout the account? How many keywords are there per ad group?

Which match types are being used? Does this account have lots of broad keywords, or mainly exact keywords, or a mixture?

What’s the relative performance of those different match types?

What are the top 1-5% of keywords? What are they and how are they performing?

Are there big differences in the main measures of success – CPA & CR%?

Negative Keywords

Are negative keywords being used well?

Are negative keyword lists being used?

How often are negative keywords being added?

Are there easy wins to be had by adding more negative keywords?

Search Queries

How closely do search queries match the keywords? Are ads being shown for something completely different than the account owner was expecting? If so, that could be a problem.

Are there search queries that could be added as positive keywords as well as negative keywords?

Are new search queries being discovered over time?

Quality Score

Quality Score is the heart of Google Ads or Any PPC Platform. In other words you can also relate Quality Score with the algorithm of PPC Networks such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads and Bing Ads.

How many keywords are there with impressions for each quality score? Chart the quality scores for all keywords with impressions to understand the overall quality of the account.

Roll that up into one big number to see the quality score weighted by impressions.

What’s the history of the quality score?

What components of the quality score are consistently below average? This gives you a clue about what needs to be worked on the most to improve the quality score.

Ad Copy

Here come’s the roll of Copywriters or how much expertise you have in designing an ad which not only win hearts but also sales/conversions or goals.

Are ads being tested, or are they being split tested?

Are big differences being tested?

Overall, how many ads are there per group?

What type of ads is being used? Legacy ads should not be used unless their performance is really good.

Are headlines (1 & 2) being tested?

Are paths being tested?

Google Ads Extensions

Google Ads offer so many extensions that you cannot miss having few in your Ad. It also increases authority for your website and ad copy.

Check that all or some of these ad extensions are being used:

  • Expanded site links
  • Callouts
  • Structured Snippets
  • Price extensions
  • Message extensions
  • Review extensions
  • Location extensions
  • Call extensions
  • Auto extensions

Every account should at least have expanded, callouts, structured snippets and price extensions (where applicable). (My Personal Opinion)

Final URLs

Which pages on the website are the ads pointing to? Is the homepage being used too often?

Is there a wide range of landing pages?

Does that list look sensible? Are there big differences in the landing pages, or could some be combined?

Is UTM tracking being used and are they being added to the URLs in a consistent manner?

Visit the landing pages and audit those too (if time allows).

Audiences

Are remarketing lists (RSLA) being used?

Are they used at campaign level or an ad group level?

Are demographic bids for search ads being used? If not, could they be?

Shopping

Are shopping campaigns being used?

What’s the ROAS/CPA relative to the other campaigns?

What shopping platform is the site built on?

How many different shopping campaigns are being used?

Are you using performance max campaigns or not?

Are the campaign priorities being well used?

Dynamic Search Ads

Audit the DSA campaigns. Are they being used?

What do auto targets look like?

Call Only

Ideally works very well with Service Industry but can be used anywhere. Call Campaigns can drive more calls

Audit the Call Only campaigns. Are they being used?

Are they working well?

Are they set up well?

Display Network

With a Huge Network of Google Adsense Publishers, Google Ads have one of the biggest Display Network, Covering almost 80% of Internet Traffic.

Which targeting methods are being used?

Can you map campaigns? Use the free tool at TheDisplayGrid.com to help you think about ways that you can target your display ads.

Are there placements that could be excluded?

Are ads running on mobile apps?

Are bid adjustments being used?

Are placement exclusions or exclusion lists being used?

Are category exclusions being used well?

Is there a lot of testing being done between text ads and image ads?

Are responsive ads being tested?

Are Frequency Caps applied to the various campaigns?

Are Smart Display Campaigns being used?

Remarketing

Are multiple RM lists being created?

Are multiple durations being used?

YouTube

Are YouTube campaigns being used? If not, it can be a missed opportunity.

What’s the performance like relative to others?

What’s the goal of these campaigns?

If YouTube is being used, are remarketing lists being built?

Analytics (this is not a full GA audit)

Is there a view for raw data?

Are filters being used?

If it’s a retail site, is enhanced ecomm being used?

Is the currency set correctly?

Is the right time zone being used on Analytics and AdWords?

Is site search turned on?

Are display features enabled?

Are Analytics and AdWords linked so that data flows properly between the two?

Are goals well set up (if micro conversions need to be tracked)?

Are all appropriate goals being imported into AdWords properly?

Are goal values used well?

Are events bring tracked well? Are those events being turned into goals?

Are Analytics remarketing audiences being created?

If so, are these Analytics remarketing audiences being imported and used in AdWords?

Conclusion

So this was a detailed checklist for any PPC Google Ads Campaign or Account. It took me a lot of time in compiling this. This is a result of watching many interviews, reading many articles and using my own experience in Digital Marketing Industry. I tried to be detailed and conclusive in compiling this list. You can easily use this list to Audit a Google Ads PPC Account.

Hire Us

In case if you are looking forward to work with a Google Ads Partner Agency, We will be more then happy to do a detailed audit of Your Google Ads Campaign. Hire us today and let’s get started. 🙂

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