Knowing the current situation before investing significant time and money is critical.
Some benefits that can result from a Google Ads audit include:
- Finding areas of spend waste.
- Identifying new opportunities to expand.
- Enhancing ongoing management processes.
- Gaining audience insights that can be applied to the account as well as other marketing channels.
- Validation of assumptions.
Step 1: Review Goals
Before diving into the Google Ads account, the first step of the audit is reviewing business and account goals to ensure you understand what it is you’re looking to achieve.
There can be multiple conversion goals.
Understanding this will set the tone for the audit and what you’re looking to uncover.
Some questions to ask related to goals:
- What are your conversion goals for the company?
- What are the conversion goals in Google Ads?
- Have your goals changed?
- Can you track performance beyond ads (for leads, sales, or traffic)?
- Has your target audience or set of personas changed?
When you’re clear on what you want your Google Ads account to accomplish, you can dig into the actual components of the campaign.
Step 2: Review Account Structure
Having the right account structure can positively impact the amount of time required for managing campaigns and yield better data for decision making.
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.
Step 3: Account & Campaign Settings
More often than not, you can quickly review campaign settings and move on.
Prior to making performance-based updates, here are specific items to review:
- Is the geographic targeting appropriate and accurate? Do you see any countries or regions in the “locations” tab that you don’t want to target?
- Is device targeting appropriate?
- Are you sure you have the advanced location settings configured exactly as you want for your audience?
- Are the bid strategy, budget, and ad delivery methods as you desire?
- Are you using dynamic search ads (and if so, are you aware of that and using them for the right reasons)?
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.”
You could have the best-organised groups of keywords that Google Ads has ever seen, but have them perform miserably if your ads and landing pages are an afterthought.
The aspects of ad groups to consider in the audit are:
- Do my ad groups have approximately 10 keywords or less?
- Do the ad groups align with each other and complement rather than compete?
- Are the ad group level max CPCs set at an optimal level?
- Are my best ad groups receiving enough of the budget?
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.
When looking 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 preidentified goals 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.
Aspects of keywords to audit:
- Are negative keywords in use?
- Does the search query report show any keywords that are off-topic for the subject matter and conversion goals?
- Are there terms that have zero conversions yet have high impressions, clicks, and/or spend?
- Are there keywords that have low-quality scores?
- Are there keywords that have a status of “no” for showing right now? If so, are there any negative matches or other conflicts when you want them to be running?
- Are the keyword specific max CPCs set at an optimal level?
- Are there any terms that are out of line with expected or desired CPC, CTR, conversion, or conversion rate targets?
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.
The audit can expose these issues.
Audit ads including:
- Two ad variations in each ad group.
- Use of dynamic keyword insertion and performance against a static headline.
- Use of calls to action in ad headlines and effectiveness.
- Are there ads with mid- to low-quality scores?
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 analyse 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:
- Is there a good headline and clear call to action on the page?
- Do the forms work?
- Is there a dedicated call tracking number?
- Does the form submit to a thank you message or page that contains the conversion tracking code?
- Are the quality scores of ads linking to each respective landing page mid to high?
- Does it make sense to add more landing pages or condense into less based on the performance of ads and pages?
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.
Organise 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.
KAU Media Group are offering comprehensive audits that cover the aforementioned topics and more. These come free of charge and highlight areas for improvements, areas for expansion and an overall summary.