Is your Google Ads account as effective as it could be? Unless you’ve audited your account, you can’t know for sure.
What Is a Google Ads Account Audit?
A Google Ads account audit is the process of evaluating the effectiveness of your accounts.
An audit can reveal painful hidden issues that need to be addressed.
Once you’ve identified these issues, you will get to work improving the overall health and performance of your account.
While there are several automated tools and services that provide algorithmic-based audit results and grades for your account, they often lack the context of your marketing goals, focus audience, and unique desired outcomes of your PPC efforts.
The audit itself isn’t the time to make account or campaign updates (unless you uncover something so critical that it must be addressed immediately).
It’s important to get into, though, and out from the audit process delivering a report and results that can be put into an action plan for one-time follow-up activities and processes for ongoing management adjustments.
The last thing you want to do is start an endless audit that has changing objectives throughout.
Why You Need a Google Ads Account Audit
Whether you’re taking over an account from a client, another vendor, or as part of a new role in your company, knowing where things stand before investing significant time and money is critical.
There are also benefits to periodically auditing your finely-tuned campaigns, allowing time to take a step back and look at things that might be missed in day-to-day management.
Some benefits that can result from a Google Ads audit include:
What follows is a step-by-process you can use when performing your own Google Ads account audit.
You will gain invaluable insights and uncover big opportunities where you can improve your accounts.
Focusing on these areas and asking these important questions when performing your own Google Ads account audit will help make sure that you’re maximizing your PPC marketing ROI.
Step 1: Review Goals
Before diving into the Google Ads account, the first step of the audit is reviewing business and account goals to make sure you realize what your focus and objectives are.
There can be multiple conversion goals.
Understanding what they are and what performance outcomes you’re seeking will set the tone for your evaluation throughout the rest of the audit process.
Defining your goals and focus makes it better to objectively audit the account.
Some questions to ask related to goals:
When you’re clear on what you need your Google Ads account to accomplish, you can dig into the actual components of the search network campaign.
Step 2: Review Account Structure
Having the right hierarchy can positively impact the amount of time required for managing campaigns and yield better data for decision making.
There are many ways you can structure your use of campaigns and ad groups, organizing around:
While there’s not necessarily a “right” way to structure your account, you want to do so in a way that gives you as much control as possible on the more granular details of the bid, budget, ads, and overall management.
Steps to Conduct a Complete Google Ads Audit
Step 3: Account & Campaign Settings
In most cases, you can quickly review your campaign settings and move on.
However, you may ultimately need to come back to these settings to make adjustments based on your review and decisions for changes in other areas of the audit.
Prior to making performance-based updates, here are specific items to review:
Step 4: Ad Groups
At this stage, it’s important to remember that “ad groups = group of ads” rather than “ad groups = group of keywords.”
Sometimes we get those two concepts confused. We think too much about keywords and groupings before we think about the intent of the searcher and the destination, we’re sending them to.
You could have the best-organized groups of keywords that Google Ads has ever seen, but have them perform miserably if your ads and landing pages are an afterthought.
Your focus must be on ads, landing pages, quality scores, and ultimately the potential for performance for getting users to convert.
Step 5: Keywords
We can get lost in keywords, match types, search queries, negative matching, and a lot of detail at a granular level.
It’s important to identify patterns and trends during the audit process.
While doing so, resist the temptation to start making updates.
Now isn’t the time to start implementing or to run off and yell at the person who managed the account before you did.
When you look at keywords, do so within each relevant campaign to stay focused on the specific subject matter of the campaign and drill down into ad groups.
By applying the goals identified in the first step of the audit process, you can evaluate the specific intent and performance of keywords.
If you have a very large campaign, it’s best to look at samples to find patterns and issues rather than try to judge each keyword individually.
A lot of sorting and sampling is important to identify performance and optimization issues.
Step 6: Ads
Ads often are left to run unchecked in many accounts or are over-tested.
One way to effectively test ads is to set the ad rotation to force even rotation indefinitely and ensure that each ad group has two ad versions – an “A” and a “B” version.
At set intervals, you can then judge the winner and rotate in a new “B” version to test.
Even if you rely on Google’s algorithm in determining the ratio to serve ads and use dynamic tools, it is dangerous to leave things on autopilot.
Step 7: Landing Pages
Landing pages are external to Google Ads, but have a direct impact on the performance of the campaign and influence the metrics you see throughout Google Ads.
It would be an oversight to not analyze landing pages even if they don’t show up on your radar when evaluating ad quality scores.
Carrying consistent wording and terminology through to the landing pages, having clear calls to action, and positive user experiences are all key to ensuring optimal conversion rates (and raising your quality score to lower your costs).
When looking at your landing pages, consider the following:
Step 8: Reporting & the Action Plan
As you work through the audit steps and spend time looking at the details compared to performance expectations and goals, you’ll need to document your notes.
It’s likely that your audit is going to be shared with others internally or externally.
So organize your audit into a document or template format will help you both craft your action plan and share insights with others.
Your real work begins after you’ve documented each item, the status of it, and any issues to address.
Now the production list and action plan can come together, get scheduled, and be put into motion.
Whether you’re going to prioritize and tackle all of the areas identified for improvement, expansion, or optimization in a single round or work it into longer ongoing efforts, you have the power of knowledge versus simply sticking with the status quo or assuming that the work done by those before you was ideal.
Regardless of your situation, you’re ready poised for gains in your account that may impact your important thing.