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Complete Google Ads Account Audit Checklist

Cole Furrh

Founder of InterTeam
& PPC Expert
January 6, 2023
-
5.75
min
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Overview

When we hear the word "audit," we don't tend to think of increased conversions, sales, or even ROI.

However, there's a reason companies seek marketing and ad professionals to audit their current running campaigns.

Neil Patel, in particular claims to have grown one client's company from 25 to 250 employees auditing Google Adwords.

In short, auditing allows you to discover what's not working and expand on what is. 

In this Google Adwords account audit checklist, we'll cover the following:

  • Determining your business goals
  • How you structure your account
  • Account settings to evaluate
  • Organizing ad groups
  • Keywords
  • Ads and ad extensions
  • Optimizing landing pages
  • What to do with your audit report

But first, let's start with what a Google Adwords account audit is, and why you need one.

What Is a Google Adwords Account Audit?

A Google Adwords account audit is the process of analyzing the success of your Google Adwords account.

An audit might (painfully) uncover hidden issues that must be remediated.

Once you've recognized these concerns, you can start to work on improving more general account health and performance.

Many automated auditing products and services produce outcomes that do not meet or are unrelated to your marketing objectives.

The last thing you want to do is begin an unending audit with shifting objectives.

For that reason, it's critical to complete the audit process by presenting a report and results that you and your team can use as a follow-up tool.

If you're new to the topic of Google Ads, you can learn about the different ad types here.

Why Do You Need a Google Adwords Account Audit?

Regular audits work well to fine-tune your campaigns. 

A Google Ads audit will help you detect areas of waste in your budget and identify new opportunities for growth.

The following is an outline for completing your own Google Ads account audit.

Going step-by-step through each topic below will reveal vital information along with significant methods to improve your ad campaigns.

In the end, a Google Ads audit is a powerful tool for maximizing PPC marketing ROI.

If you want to learn how to conduct an effective Google Ads campaign for lead generation, go here.

Identifying Your Ad Campaign Goals

Each account typically has various conversion objectives, so understand what they are and what performance outcomes you want.

Once you've decided what you want your Google Ads account to achieve, you can use them to dive into the specifics of your campaign.

Some goal-determining questions to ask include:

  • What are your company's conversion goals?
  • Can you measure success other than for advertisements (such as for leads, revenue, or traffic)?
  • What are your Google Ads conversion goals?

Google Ads Account Structure

Having the correct hierarchy reduces the amount of time spent managing campaigns. It also allows you to produce more relevant data.

There are several methods to organize your campaigns and ad groups, including: 

  • Persona targets
  • Logical business objectives
  • Product or service lines

The way you create your account determines your control over the finer elements of the budget, bid, ads, and administration.

Questions to ask about the structure of your account are:

  • Do the campaigns reflect several campaign-level segments?
  • Is it simple to compare them and balance budgets across them?

Account Settings to Watch for in Google Ads

Most of the time, you can evaluate your campaign settings quickly and move on.

However, you may need to return to these settings to make modifications depending on your audit evaluations.

For example, are you certain that the advanced location options for your audience are established correctly?

Is there any country or area in the "locations" tab that you don't want?

Are you utilizing dynamic search advertisements? If so, are you aware of it and applying it correctly?

Google Ads Audience Targeting Settings

Best Practices for Search and Display Networks Targeting

Make sure that none of your ads are targeting both the Search Network and the Display Network.

If they are, try splitting them up into different campaigns—search vs. display is an excellent place to start.

Device Targeting for Mobile vs. Desktop

Mobile data can vary dramatically between platforms. Advertisers and clients alike are often shocked by their mobile-to-desktop traffic ratio.

It's wise to separate campaign data by device and go through the campaign settings to make sure you're monitoring mobile performance.

Ad Group Targeting

You might have the most well-organized keyword groups that Google Ads has ever seen, but they won't convert searchers into buyers if your ads and landing pages are an afterthought.

In other words, we place too much emphasis on keywords and ad groups before considering the searcher's intent.

The focus must be on landing pages, ads, quality score, ad rank, and, ultimately, giving your advertising efforts the best possible chance to convert.

To help you strike a happy balance, it's a good practice to make sure each ad group includes 10 or fewer keywords.

Display Topics

Examine the ad groups that are producing the highest amount of impressions, cost, and clicks. Groups that have high marks in these categories should center around the same topics.

Even smaller groups can become disorganized and ineffective when they're not tightly focused on a single goal.

Keyword Targeting and Segmentation

When auditing keywords, the name of the game is "granular."

Keep focused on each campaign's unique topic. Ensure keywords are broken down into the appropriate ad groups. 

If your campaign runs across a broad range of topics, examine samples for patterns and flaws instead of evaluating each keyword individually.

A few key questions to help you are:

  • Are there any keywords with low quality scores?
  • Are there any keywords that are irrelevant to the subject matter or conversion goals?
  • Are they out of sync with CPC, CTR, conversion, or conversion rate targets?
  • Are there some keywords with no conversions but high impressions, clicks, and or spending?

Proper Number of Keywords in an Ad Group

Consider any ad groups with more than 20-30 keywords. Think about how you can divide them into smaller ad groups that are more focused on one topic.

This will assist you in creating relevant ads that direct more qualified visitors to your landing pages.

Choosing the Right Keyword Match Types

It can be challenging to choose the optimal match types for your keywords.

One of the first things to check for is the excessive use of broad-match keywords. Too broad, and you're losing out on the higher converting exact match keywords.

On the other hand, it's possible to have an overly restrictive phrase match for queries, which results in leaving out terms that would-be customers are searching for.

Adding Negative Keywords for Segmentation

Negative keywords protect your campaign from wasted clicks and unqualified or irrelevant traffic.

Here are a few guidelines for auditing your negative keywords:

  • Be sure that all your campaigns have negative keywords
  • Ensure that all negative keywords are formatted correctly
  • Negative keywords are properly managed to avoid redundancy and optimize work-flow
  • Check for flaws in negative keyword match types. Undesirable search traffic may not be blocked.

Creating High Quality Search Ad Copy Google Ads

Google Search Ads

Ads are typically either overly tested or left unchecked (especially if you have several accounts).

To efficiently test ads, set an even-numbered ad rotation so that each ad group has two ad versions.

Once you've determined the better-performing ad version, run it at more regular intervals.

Here are a few more strategies to audit your ads:

  • Ads should be audited for two ad versions within each ad group
  • Analyze the use of CTAs in headlines
  • Check for ads with poor-quality scores
  • Ensure the usage of dynamic keyword insertion and performance against static headlines

If you want to brush up on B2B-targeting Google Search ads, go here.

Google Ad Extensions

Google Ads can generate automated extensions for you, which you have no control over.

Each campaign should employ (at least) three different types of ad extensions:

  1. Sitelinks
  2. Structured snippets
  3. Callouts
  4. Promo Extensions

Landing Pages

Landing pages don't always come to mind when auditing ad quality scores. However, landing pages directly influence campaign results.

Clear CTAs, copy, design consistency, and enjoyable user experiences are all essential for optimizing conversion rates.

Consider the following:

  • Are headlines and CTAs clear and relevant?
  • Are the forms working properly?
  • Is a dedicated call tracking number available?
  • Are customers being directed to thank you messages with tracking codes?

Performance Reports and Conversions

First, be sure that you or your clients have conversion tracking set up. From there you'll be able to optimize accordingly. 

If you want to learn some of our techniques to optimize your Google Ads campaign, go here

Once you know which parts of your account require development or expansion, you'll be able to improve upon the existing status quo.

You'll need to keep notes of the audit as you go through the different phases. It will then have to be shared with others, either internally or outside your business.

Putting your audit on paper, in a PDF, or template format turns it into an action plan. In the future, this will allow you to prioritize and address every issue in a single round, or incorporate the action plan into longer-term activities.

Conclusion

We've attempted to give you some understanding of how to analyze each area of your campaign, along with some guiding questions to ask.

However, there's simply no straightforward cookie-cutter Google Adwords account audit checklist. Audits take time, attention, and creative problem-solving from experienced advertisers.

If you want to discuss auditing your current campaigns to bring in qualified leads, schedule a free call with us here.

Optimization Technique Case Studies

Want to read examples of our Google Ads Optimization process? Check out these case studies from Google Ads Projects we worked on.

FAQ: Google Adwords Account Audit

1. Why is conducting a Google Adwords account audit important for businesses?

  • Audits help uncover hidden issues, optimize account health, and improve performance, ultimately leading to increased conversions, sales, and ROI.
  • Neil Patel's success story of growing a client's company from 25 to 250 employees showcases the potential impact of auditing Google Adwords campaigns.

2. What are some key components covered in a Google Adwords account audit checklist?

  • The checklist typically includes determining business goals, structuring the account, evaluating account settings, organizing ad groups, analyzing keywords, optimizing ads and ad extensions, and improving landing pages.

3. How does identifying ad campaign goals contribute to the audit process?

  • Understanding conversion objectives allows businesses to align audit efforts with specific performance outcomes and tailor strategies accordingly.
  • Clear goals provide a benchmark for evaluating campaign success and guide decision-making throughout the audit.

4. What are some best practices for optimizing ad group targeting and keyword segmentation during an audit?

  • Ad group targeting should focus on delivering relevant ads and landing pages to match searcher intent.
  • Keyword segmentation involves granular analysis to ensure alignment with campaign objectives, relevance, and performance metrics.

5. How can businesses effectively utilize performance reports and conversion data in the audit process?

  • Conversion tracking ensures accurate measurement of campaign success and informs optimization efforts.
  • Analyzing performance reports allows businesses to identify areas for improvement and prioritize action items based on data-driven insights.

Want to see if paid ads would work for your business? Book a Free Marketing Strategy Call.

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