Google Ads Audit Guide

5 Minutes

Jun 2, 2020

At Rely Digital, we conduct regular audits of our own accounts to ensure our hard work is giving us the results we want. Even if you are a part of an in-house team, there are plenty of reasons to give your paid advertising program a regularly scheduled audit. Some of the benefits:

  • It ensures that you are not wasting your advertising dollars on results that aren’t serving your business.
  • Helps identify whether your Google Ads program has plateaued.
  • Gives you a better understanding as to where your conversions are coming from and what your audience is responding to.

Continuous testing and optimization is the key of any high performing ads account. But the goal of this audit is to understand the key elements of an ad account through a new lens. You could record your findings in our Google Ads Audit Template to help keep track of your audits over time. We’ll start by focusing on 6 key areas:

1.  Determining Where to Start

If you’re assessing campaigns that you’re unfamiliar with or reviewing for the first time - begin your audit by taking stock of how many campaigns you have in each channel: Search, Display, Video and Shopping campaigns. Next, a pulse-check on your spend distribution will help identify the most urgent need. Which campaign is the current top spender, and is that campaign also your top performer? If not, you may want to rethink how you allocate your budget or optimize your top spending campaigns to reflect the level of expected performance.

2.  Campaign Deep-Dive

Let’s begin by diving deeper into your highest spending campaign. Make note of your current Campaign Settings, including location targeting, tracking templates, IP exclusions, bid strategy, device bids to ensure everything is in place. If your networks include the Display Network - you’ll want to review the display performance by using campaign segments.

While Google recommends targeting “People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations”, this may not necessarily make sense depending on the needs of your client.

Reviewing your campaign settings allows you to also find any optimizations that have been made in the past that should be revisited (ie, did someone once think it was a good idea to exclude all mobile traffic?). In addition, make note of which bid strategies have been implemented on each campaign. Is the selected strategy aligned with the goals of the campaign? In our Google Ads Audit Template, we provided a list of areas we typically look at in a campaign deep dive.

3.  Conversion Audit

In nearly all cases, conversions are typically your most important metric. Start by reviewing the number of conversions in your conversion settings. Ensure that the relevant conversions are correctly implemented and active. Next, if you’re analyzing a new set of campaigns - take a look at your conversions over an extended period of time.  Are your conversions cyclical, seasonal or sporadic? Do you see a conversion drop off somewhere? Use this as a clue to dive deeper in a specific period. Look into the change history for hints as to what caused your campaigns to dip or potentially take off.

4.  Ad Groups & Keywords

Once we have a better understanding of the big picture, evaluate your keywords. First, review what people are searching in your search term query report. Is there a pattern?  You might want to create a new ad group and create more relevant ads that speak to that message. Are there search terms that don't relate to your business? You may want to begin adding that to your negative keyword list and avoid paying for that click again.

Next, review your negative keyword list. Has it been updated recently and if so how frequently does it get updated? Have negative keywords been assigned on an ad group, campaign, or account level? It’s important to keep a healthy list of negative keywords. This helps reduce the amount of junk traffic, so your ad dollars can be spent more efficiently.

Finally, review both the status of your keywords along with their bids. Are they mostly eligible and showing? If not, this might point to a larger problem where you are not targeting the correct keywords your potential customers are using.

5.  Ads & Ad Extensions

Your ad groups are groups of ads for specific groups of keywords. Make a note of how many expanded versus responsive ads are currently in rotation. The general rule is 2 expanded text ads to 1 responsive ad. If this isn’t the structure, was there a reason the team deviated? Compare the click-through-rate (CTR) of each type of ad. Do you have a clear winner? In addition, review the number of active ads by ad group for each campaign:

The last part of your ads are ad extensions. How many do you have? Is the information up to date? How do your ad extensions perform? This is an area that is often overlooked but when optimized can provide impactful results.

6.  Optimization Routines

Phew - we are almost done. For an unfamiliar account, review the change history to get a better sense of the current optimization routine. This is where you’ll see all the changes made to your ads account. When was the last time changes were made to your ads account? Do you have a schedule in place for regular monitoring? Due to the competitive nature of online advertising, a healthy account requires frequent and routined optimizations.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, this quick audit should give you a solid idea of what type of work your Google Ads account would need. If you want a more extensive ad program audit across google and social channels, book an audit with us here. We’re happy to provide a detailed report with a comprehensive plan for optimization.