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In this article, we will examine what’s involved with performing an audit of your Google Ads accounts, and this should be a task everyone regularly conducts, so as to determine the effectiveness of their advertising program. Unless you know which Google Ads are performing well and which ones aren’t, how will you make any intelligent decisions about your future marketing campaigns? Without further ado, let’s dive right into the whole process to see what’s involved in auditing your Google Ads accounts, and why each step should be undertaken.

What is a Google Ads Audit?

A Google Ads account audit is simply all those procedures which are used to evaluate how effectively your Google Ads are performing. It will often turn up issues that call for your attention, and once you’ve identified those issues you can take whatever steps are necessary to improve your account performance. There are a number of automated tools and services which can be used to help with the conduct of your audit and which will provide a generic grade for your account. However, these automated services will not generally be aware of your target audience, the desired outcomes from your PPC efforts, or your actual marketing goals. 


In order to make your audit as meaningful as possible, you should first identify what you intend to review and you should know why that’s important for your account. Then you should go ahead and review each item in your audit account and document the results. Throughout the process, you should make extensive notes and highlight items which need to be re-evaluated after your audit has been concluded.


You shouldn’t bother to make changes while the audit is in progress, because this is more of a fact-finding session which will deliver information that can be used to develop an action plan later on. It makes no sense to conduct an audit that has no end in sight because objectives are being altered all throughout the process.

How to perform a Google Ads audit 

Here’s a step-by-step guideline for how your Google Ads account audits should be conducted:


  • Review your goals – your first step should be to review all your business account goals so that you have a clear understanding of your focus and what your objectives really are. For instance, you may have multiple goals regarding conversions, and it will be important for you to understand what you’re seeking from these. As you’re considering your goals, think about what your conversion objectives are, what kind of conversion goals you have in your Ads, whether there has been any change in your goals, how it is that you will track performance of sales, leads, or traffic, and whether or not your target audience is still the same.
  • Evaluate your account structure – if you have the right structure for your business accounts, it will be easier to manage your campaigns and you’ll obtain better data on which to base your decisions. Some possibilities for structuring your accounts are around your target audience, your product lines, your service lines, subject matter, or around local business objectives. When you consider your account structure, think about whether your marketing campaigns provide useful rollup reporting for the Ad Groups which they contain. Also consider the ease of comparison for your campaigns, and how easy it is to balance budgets across campaigns.
  • Review campaigns and account settings – for the most part, this should be a quick step and then you can move on to other things, although you may have to come back and make adjustments when the audit has been concluded. Some of the things you should be checking relative to settings are whether or not your geo-targeting is appropriate, whether device targeting is being used, whether advanced location settings are appropriate for your target audience, and whether your budget, bid strategy, and ad delivery approach are still appropriate.
  • Review Ad Groups – the things you want to evaluate with your Ad Groups start with whether or not each of them has 10 keywords or less, and whether your Ad Groups complement each other rather than compete with each other. Then you need to make sure that your best performing Ad Groups are receiving an appropriate level of budgeting.
  • Review your keywords – sometimes too much attention is paid to keywords, and you get lost in the details rather than keeping the big picture in mind. Evaluate your keywords within the context of each campaign, in order to see what their actual performance is. When you’re conducting large campaigns, it’s better to evaluate patterns rather than specific keywords. You should be looking for keywords that have low-quality scores, for those which are not in sync with expected conversion targets, and whether there are any keywords that are not really on-topic for your subject matter or your conversion goals. Consider whether there are opportunities to simplify or add negative keywords in your Ads. You should also evaluate whether some Ad Groups have too many or too few keywords, and make notes on how this should be adjusted.
  • Review Ads – you should be periodically testing your Ads, perhaps using an A/B approach, so that you know which is more effective. When reviewing your Ads, evaluate the effectiveness of calls to action, identify those Ads which have low-quality scores, review those which have multiple variations within an Ad Group, and check the performance of dynamic keyword insertion compared to static headlines.
  • Landing pages – even though landing pages are external to your Ads, they can have a huge impact, so you should include them in your account audit. Make sure your landing pages have clear terminology, clear calls to action, and that they provide an overall positive user experience. This means you’ll need to have a good headline, your forms should all be fully functional, and that the quality scores of Ads linked to each landing page are what you expected.


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What are your goals? 


Have a clear understanding of what your specific goals are, or you’ll never know if you’ve achieved anything worthwhile. When you see that you’re consistently falling short of those goals, it’s a pretty clear indication that something needs to be changed in your marketing approach.


How are you tracking success?


You should have some clearly defined process for measuring success in your advertising campaigns. For example: What’s the value of each lead you’ve gotten through your Ads, and how much have you spent on phone calls, form submissions, subscribers, etc. All this adds up to receiving a solid ROI for your market spend, and this will ultimately be the bottom line on your campaign initiatives.


Review your search terms report 


This is a great way to determine which search terms are relevant and which ones are irrelevant. Depending on how much data you have in your account (hopefully 6-12 months minimum), you should consider adding all search terms that did not result in a conversion to be added in as negative keywords. If it’s not converting, you don’t really need it.


Are you utilizing an ad schedule?


There are some benefits to using an ad schedule, such as placing your ads higher during busier periods of the week, and increasing your ad bids during those specific time frames when the most conversions occur. Consider whether using an ad schedule would be advantageous for your business, and would provide you with a good return on investment. Precise scheduling can result in greater numbers of conversions, so it’s something you should think about.


Which devices perform better from a conversion standpoint?


You need to be aware of which device types provide better performance in terms of your campaign goals or your conversion rate. When you discover that desktop devices are your best performers, you should emphasize that aspect of your marketing, and if mobile phones or tablets are your top performers, your focus should be around them instead. 


Which pages on site are resulting in the most leads?


There are likely to be certain pages on your website that garner the lion’s share of attention from users, and which ultimately results in obtaining the greatest number of leads. That could be due to compelling content, or particularly appealing video or images, but whatever is attracting your target audience to a specific page needs to be identified and used as effectively as possible elsewhere.


Do you have any ad copy that stands out as a winner?


Some ad copy achieves the level of a perennial good performer, and maybe even has an evergreen value which you can continue using indefinitely. When you do have such high-performance copy, you need to be aware of it, so you can keep it before the public eye, and so you can perhaps mimic it in other content which you develop. 


Is your Google Analytics account linked to your Google Ads campaign?


Analytics can provide you with a wealth of information about how your Ads are performing, so it just makes good sense to have the two synchronized. With Analytics coupled to your Google Ads, you’ll have a better understanding of how visitors are using your website, and that can be essential for gaining insights into user behavior and what they find appealing on your site. To link Analytics to your Google Ads, you only have to install a small piece of tracking code on each website page, and the information will start pouring in.


Have you built audiences in your Google Analytics account so you can remarket to users who haven’t converted? 


Remarketing can be an essential tactic in your overall marketing effort because it specifically targets those users who have visited your site, but who failed to convert. Before just letting these individuals go, you should make the effort to try and convert them, since you already know they had some level of interest in your brand or its products. Of course, the only way that remarketing can be effective is after you have already compiled a list of these visitors to your site using Google Analytics.


Have you linked your CRM to your Google Ads? 


Bringing the full power of a CRM to bear on your marketing efforts can add a whole new level of effectiveness to your marketing, and can result in greater brand loyalty, along with more conversions. A good CRM system can improve your efficiency as well as your customer retention, and it can provide a much higher level of customer satisfaction because it tracks every single interaction you have with a customer. You’ll also be able to enjoy better forecasting and reporting when you link your CRM system with your Google Ads.


Which zip codes/cities/states perform best?


You should use the ’80-20 Rule’ for determining which geographic areas are your best performers, which means you should identify the 20% of those areas which are generating 80% of your conversions or sales. That will give you some very valuable information about where more of your efforts should be concentrated, and where you should allocate more resources.


Does it make sense for you to use any automated rules or scripts?


As mentioned above, there are a number of automated tools, services, rules, and scripts you might include in your Ad campaigns, but you need to first decide whether it makes sense to do so in your circumstances. Be advised that it’s very possible any automated tools will lack the context of our brand’s operation, so results may not be strongly applicable. On the other hand, some rules-based automation you can customize to your operation can be a huge time-saver and can ultimately yield worthwhile results. 


Using this guideline 


In laying out this guideline, a number of questions have been posed which should help you evaluate the effectiveness of your Google Ads accounts, for the purpose of conducting a performance audit on them. It is critical that you know how well your Ads are performing, or you’ll never be able to make appropriate adjustments which increase their effectiveness. That being the case, following the procedures identified above should be a good starting point for you to measure how well your Google Ads accounts are doing, and whether or not you should make changes to increase your ROI.


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