What Is A Google AdWords Audit?
A Google AdWords audit is the process of evaluating how efficiently your PPC accounts are running and to ensure that the proper settings are in place for each account, campaign, and ad group. Many times an audit can take a long time to complete, but it is essential to ensure you maximize spend and the overall performance of your Google AdWords campaign management efforts.
As you expand your online marketing strategy or build out new campaigns, your Google AdWords accounts may become unorganized. This can lead to reduced performance and increase the amount of money spent on your marketing efforts. There are a number of things that you should look at when auditing a Google AdWords account, but the basic (and often most important items to review) are:
- Audit Campaign Structure & Campaign Types
- Check Ad Group & Keyword Themes
- Evaluate Google Text Ad Copy
- Look At Location Settings
- Review The Quality Of Your Landing Pages
In any of these scenarios, you should be performing a PPC audit to make sure that everything is organized to avoid costly mistakes. We will be looking through lots of Google Ads metrics to determine what is working and what should be improved, so make sure you have access to your account before continuing.
Before you begin your Adwords audit, your goals should be clear and defined to avoid continually shifting objectives. You should know how much your products/services cost, your estimated marketing budget, and industry-specific metrics for CTR, Conversion Rate, etc. These are needed to make decisions on what you should change- otherwise, you could start making changes without any business reasons.
Let’s take a deeper look at the five most important elements of a Google AdWords audit so you can start improving your Google Ads performance today!
1. Audit Campaign Structure & Campaign Types
Campaign structure is a vital element to the success of your paid search campaign. While there are hundreds of ways to structure your campaigns, it’s critical that you structure them to be consistent with your business objectives.
When auditing your Google AdWords account, you will want to determine that your account has a proper structure, that you separate out Search, Display, Shopping, and Video campaigns, and that you are not mixing brand/non-brand campaigns.
First, you want to make sure that your campaigns have naming conventions that make sense. This will make things easier when it comes to navigating the account, reporting, or if someone else takes over the mind. This is important because Google AdWords managers tend to work accounts differently, and you want your accounts to be structured in a way that is easy for Google and other human account managers to understand.
Secondly, verify that your campaign settings are correct and the campaigns are set to the appropriate type. Depending on your goals, your campaign should be using one of four campaign types:
- Search Network Only: to find customers that are looking for your product or service
- Call Only: to encourage people to call your business
- Display Network Only: helps build brand awareness via display or visual ads across several different websites to your potential customers
- Remarketing: to connect and re-engage with users that have previously interacted with your site
This is important because past experience shows that combining Search and Display campaigns together can result in lower performance across the board. You should never mix two campaign types, and each campaign should be a single Google AdWords campaign type.
Finally, you want to check that your brand and non-brand campaigns are separated. This is one of the easiest aspects to check because you can spot brand and non-brand ad groups based on the keywords and text ads that you created for them.
With branded campaigns, users that see these ads will be familiar with the brand and product already, which naturally means that they will be further down the conversion funnel.
The terms that you target within this campaign should be centered around your brand name, and they tend to have a much higher clickthrough rate and conversion rate than your non-branded terms.
Branded campaigns should include keywords of your brand and possible misspellings.
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Branded Campaigns are also necessary to:
- Prevent your competitors from outranking you for terms that are centered around your brand
- Help dominate the search engine results page and compliment your organic search efforts
Non-branded campaigns tend to bring in more search traffic, but the traffic tends the be further up the funnel, and the terms will be more competitive.
They are going to be particularly critical if you aren’t an established brand within your market.
The reason you want to check that your brand and non-brand campaigns are separate from your branded campaigns is that you will often see that non-brand campaigns have lower performance. This is natural because your competition is likely bidding on non-brand terms like categories and product types so costs are higher. At the same time, customers searching for non-brand terms are likely to further away from a purchasing decision, so competition is higher and Conversion Rates will be lower.
2. Check Ad Group & Keyword Themes
Ad groups should have logical names, just like your campaigns. They should also be laser-focused around your chosen keywords and audiences. Your ad group should closely match your keyword groups, ad text, and landing page.
Let’s say you have a company that sells electronics. If you are focusing on TVs, you should have an ad group for several different TV types: 4K TVs, Smart TVs, Curved TVs, etc.
As a best practice, your ad groups should also:
- Be relevant to the campaign it lives in
- Have 10 – 20 keywords per ad group
- Use 3-5 Exact Match keywords
- Use 3-5 Phrase Match keywords
- Use 2-3 Broad Match Modified keywords (these are used for gathering more data, especially when you first launch a campaign)
Now just as ad groups structure is essential, your keyword grouping within each ad group will be equally as important. This means that you should only group keywords together that fit into a common theme. This approach will make your Google AdWords campaigns more intuitive and easier for Google to search and display your ads.
Your keywords should be grouped in a manner that will ultimately match the associated ads developed for the ad group.
When auditing your keywords, you should do the following:
- Match the theme of the ad group it is assigned to
- Check for the use of the appropriate keyword match types:
- Broad match: blue jeans
- Modified broad match: +blue +jeans
- Phrase match: “blue jeans.”
- Exact match: [blue jeans]
- Use your search query report to identify new negative keywords
- Set your keyword specific max CPCs to an optimal level
- Identify keywords that have high clicks, impressions or spend, but no conversions
Looking at how your campaigns are structured and the keywords used in each of the campaigns is vital since your ads only appear based on what people are looking for. You should only use keywords that have high volume and low competition- this means lots of people are searching for your terms (volume) while not many of your competitors are bidding on the same terms (competition).
Another pro tip is to check the Search Queries tab in Google AdWords. If your account has been running for some time you will be able to look in this tab to find what people are searching for. This is great information to build out negative keyword lists and focus on keywords that are relevant and valuable for your business.
3. Evaluate Google Text Ad Copy
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Crafting PPC ad copy is an art. When performing your audit, you should look over your ads for a few key things:
- Do your ads overcome any common objections that your users have about your service or product?
- Are you using all of the space allotted to you?
- Google Ads provides you with two headlines that are up to 30 characters each, plus an 80 character description.
- Also, make sure that your display URL is formatted correctly. Your display URL should include your keyword, be concise, and provide a clear explanation to the user of what kind of page they will land on.
- Do your ads highlight what makes you stand out from your competitors?
- If applicable, are you using numbers, prices, or percentages within your ads?
- If you are running a sale, highlight the amount off or how much money the user is saving.
- Do your ads tap into a hot button issue the user has?
- Make sure to identify your users’ pain points and craft your ad around it.
- If you are a local business, are you emphasizing your location with your ads?
- Are your calls to action active, and do they create urgency?
- Use verbs such as “Call,” “Buy,” “Purchase,” “Join,” “Enroll,” or “Save.”
- Create a sense of urgency by using words like “Now,” “Today,” “While Supplies Last,” or “X Days Left.”
Note: You should also be A/B testing your ads regularly. Evaluate the data that you gain from high-performing ads and optimize based on the things that you are seeing do well.
Writing Google text ads that engage with your customers and drive Conversions is essential. Since you pay Google each time someone clicks on an ad, you need each click to be relevant to your product/services. Be sure to look at Google text ad copy from a technical aspect by using keywords and good landing pages to boost your Quality Score, and look at the text ads from the perspective of your customers to make sure they speak to your audience.
4. Look At Location Settings
Geographic targeting for your campaigns needs to be audited for accuracy and to ensure that you are targeting locations that your business services.
For example, if your company only services Dallas, TX, you shouldn’t have your PPC ads opted in to show nationwide. This will only incur unnecessary costs, and your budget will be depleted by users that won’t convert.
When auditing your location settings, there are three areas you want to focus on:
- Location targeting: You should ensure that each individual campaign is targeting locations that your business operates in. Location targeting can focus on cities, regions, states, countries, and the radius around a particular site.
- Location exclusions: Make sure that you are excluding ads from showing in locations that you can’t service.
- Location bid adjustments: After reviewing your performance data and identifying the locations that your campaigns perform best in, adjust your bids to be higher in these areas to maximize your conversions and revenue. You may also want to decrease your bidding in locations that you noticed are performing poorly.
Limiting the geographic locations that your Google AdWords campaigns appear is a great way to minimize wasted ad spend and ensure that your ads only appear to qualified leads. If you have a brick and mortar store, or your services are only available for a specific area then this is vital to your online marketing success.
5. Review The Quality Of Your Landing Pages
UX is going to be critical to any PPC campaign, as well as any channel of digital marketing. This is where your landing page comes into play. Your ultimate goal should be to drive users to your website or landing page and to serve up a landing page that allows them to convert quickly.
Your landing pages should match the tone and terminology of your PPC ads,
Once you complete the design of your landing page, you should be able to answer “yes” to all of the following questions:
- Is there a clear and concise headline and call-to-action button?
- If you have a form on your landing page, does it ask for the minimum amount of information possible?
- The more things you ask for on your forms, the higher your chances the user will bounce from the site.
- Is your landing page mobile friendly?
- Do I have several versions of the landing page to split test against?
Landing pages are the third part of a great Google AdWords campaign. Keywords get your ads found, text ad copy get clicks, and your landing pages need to close the deal. You should review your landing pages just like your text ads- meaning you should look at them like Google and your human readers see them. Make sure your landing pages have keywords similar to your ads, and ensure they are concise and engaging to boost conversions.
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After you complete your audit, you will more than likely have a list of a few things that need addressing. You should prioritize this list and put the things that will affect your most important KPIs first.
Once you have this all organized and begin implementation, you should see some improvement with your Google Ads account. Make performing an audit part of your overall PPC strategy and play it regularly to run a successful PPC campaign.