The Essential Guide to Auditing Your Google Ads Account

Posted on: May 21, 2024

Paid Media

Nathan Sureshkumar

Rings

Digital marketing is a quickly evolving world, especially within PPC. Google Ads remains one of the biggest players for attracting traffic, engaging with your target audience and generating conversions. That’s why, having spent plenty of time regularly auditing Google Ads accounts, I’ve come to believe it is the quickest and best way to maximise your campaign performance. 

Our PPC audits take a deep dive into your campaigns to make sure every pound you spend is worthwhile, helping you stay ahead of the competition and keep you on track to achieving your business goals.

Understanding Google Ads Auditing

What is a Google Ads Audit?

A Google Ads audit is a review of your existing ad campaigns in greater depth than you’d usually do – identifying what works and what doesn’t to make sure they’re running at peak efficiency. Auditing plays an important role in determining any wasteful ad spend, discovering hidden opportunities and refining your targeting and bidding strategies to better meet your marketing goals.

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Objectives of Google Ads Auditing

  • Cost-efficiency - Making sure that every click helps you reach your campaign goals without overpaying for them.
  • Performance Improvements - Looking for ways to tweak and optimise your campaigns to get more conversions, improve your conversion rates, and increase your click-through rates (CTR), all while lowering your cost per acquisition (CPA).
  • Strategy Adjustments - Ensuring your campaigns are still aligned with your overall business objectives.
Photo of lady carrying many shopping bags

Step-by-Step Auditing Process

Auditing your Google Ads account can seem daunting and time-consuming if done without a clear protocol. That’s why we’ll break it down into manageable steps that’ll make it easier for you to carry out an audit efficiently and effectively. Now let's delve into each step and examine each area in more detail.

  1. Campaign Structure Review:

Starting with the big picture—your overall account structure— this is vital. A well-organised campaign structure is fundamental to PPC success. It not only enhances your ability to manage campaigns more easily, but you can also analyse performance data effectively without being overwhelmed trying to navigate your account.

  • Organisational Logic - Check whether the campaigns and ad groups are structured logically according to your products, services, location or any other categories. 
  • Naming Conventions - Make sure that your campaigns and ad groups are easily identified and distinguishable from each other in their content and objectives.
  • Segmentation - Ensure your campaigns are properly segmented, for example by target location, target audience, or product type. This makes your ads more targeted, improving ad relevance and overall campaign performance.
  1. Keywords and Targeting Options Audit:

Next, let’s look at the backbone of your campaigns—keywords. An effective audit isn’t complete without reviewing your chosen keywords and how they’re being targeted:

  • Keyword Effectiveness - Check if your target keywords are reaching the right target audience. Identify high-performing keywords to optimise and low-performing ones to pause or modify.
  • Match Types - Make sure to use the most appropriate match type as this also plays a crucial impact on the type of traffic you are driving to see your ads. Relying heavily on Broad Match can often lead to your ads showing up for a lot of irrelevant search terms resulting in an increase in wasted ad spend. On the other hand, sticking too strictly to Exact Match could limit your reach. You have to find a balance. This could mean starting off with Exact Match and then over time expanding with Phrase and Broad Match.
A Google ads campaign using a good mix of exact match, broad match and phrase match
  • Search Query Reviews - Besides choosing the right keywords and match types, make sure your ads aren’t showing for irrelevant search terms and wasting ad spend.
  • Negative Keywords - This ties into my previous point. Regularly update your negative keywords to prevent wasted ad spend and improve your campaign relevancy.
  1. Ads and Ad Extensions (Assets) Evaluation:

Now this is what everyone sees and what you’d consider the ‘front-end’ of your campaigns along with ad extensions that complement them. Both these components directly influence your campaign results. Evaluating your ads and the extensions used can provide insights into where you can improve:

  • Ad Copy Relevance - Check if your ad copy is relevant to your target keywords and the content on the landing page. It should be engaging enough to achieve high click-through rates (CTRs). Use the ad strength indicator to measure the relevance and diversity of your ad combinations. Continuously test different ad variations to see what resonates best with your audience.
Ad strength message in Google Ads
  • CTR and Quality Scores - Review and optimise the CTR of each of your ads. A poor CTR causes a low quality score which in turn leads to a higher cost-per-click (CPC) and lowers your ad position, limiting your visibility.
  • Ad Extensions - Review the performance of your ad extensions. Are they enhancing your ads effectively? Assets such as callouts, sitelinks, and structured snippets should add value and increase engagement to your ads.
  1. Budget and Bidding Strategies Analysis:

A well-managed budget and carefully adjusted bids and bidding strategies are essential to the success of your campaigns. Effective management of these factors ensures you are maximising your return on investment. My approach to assessing and optimising these important factors includes:

  • Budget Allocation - Check if the budget is appropriately allocated based on the performance and importance of each campaign.
  • Bidding Strategies - Analyse the effectiveness of your bidding strategies. Are they helping you achieve your advertising goals while being cost-efficient? Consider whether automated bidding strategies such as maximise clicks,  target CPA (Cost per Acquisition) or target ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) are being utilised effectively and not restricting performance.
Google Ads bidding strategies
  1. Performance Metrics and Analytics:

Lastly, but most importantly, evaluating the success of your campaigns relies pretty much on monitoring and understanding the key performance metrics. These metrics provide important insights into your performance and guidance in your strategic decision-making.

  • Key Metrics - Focus on metrics that provide valuable insights into your campaigns’ efficiency and effectiveness, such as CTR, conversion rate, CPA, and ROAS.
  • Google Analytics Integration - It’s helpful to look beyond Google Ads. By examining Google Analytics, you can take your campaign analysis to the next level by diving into how users interact with your website post-click, which you can’t see in Google Ads. This offers deeper insights into the user journey. Review metrics like bounce rate, pages per session, and average session duration to gauge the quality of traffic driven by your ads.
Young woman holding credit card and smartphone sitting on floor at home doing online banking transaction

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them:

It’s easy to miss important details or misinterpret data. Here are some common mistakes we often come across and how to avoid them:

  • Ignoring Mobile Performance - In our mobile-first world, overlooking how your ads perform on mobile devices could mean you're literally leaving money on the table. Regularly check that your ads and landing pages are fully optimised for mobile users as this can dramatically improve your campaign's effectiveness. You can leverage Google Analytics here to see which devices your website traffic is coming from and compare the engagement time between devices.
Table showing high % of mobile users vs desktop and tablet
  • Neglecting Conversion Tracking - Failing to properly set up or maintain conversion tracking is a critical error that can mislead your understanding of a campaign’s true success. Regularly check that conversion tracking is correctly implemented and functioning as it should. Accurate conversion tracking is indispensable as it feeds precise data back to the Google Algorithm Gods, enabling better-automated decision-making as well as providing you with an accurate representation of how well you're on the path to reaching your advertising goals.
  • Failing to Use Competitive Insights - Within Google Ads, you can find competitive insights like auction insights, and not using these could leave you trailing behind your competitors. Adapt your campaigns according to these insights to retain a competitive position in your industry.
Auction insights in Google Ads
  • Overcomplicating Campaigns - Trying to cover every possible angle can lead to overly complex campaign structures. While well-intentioned, this often does more harm than good, making campaigns difficult to manage and optimise. Sometimes less is more.

Leveraging Audit Findings to Enhance Campaigns

Great, now you’ve got the hardest part of the audit out of the way! To fully complete the audit, the only thing that remains is to take action on what you’ve found to make meaningful improvements to your campaigns. Here’s how you can implement your audit findings into effective, actionable changes:

  • Implement Strategic Changes - Begin with the changes that will have the most immediate impact. This could mean reallocating your budget towards high-performing campaigns or pausing ads or keywords that aren’t doing as well as you had expected. Continue to work through your optimisations and allow for the data to be collected to see the impact of your changes before making further optimisations. Patience is key here. As frustrating as it may be, you can’t rush this process.
  • Refine Targeting and Bidding - With the audit, you now have the ability to identify areas to refine your targeting. This might include adjusting the keywords, ad copy or target location settings to better reach your target audience.
  • Update Ad Copy and Assets - Refresh your ads based on what you’ve identified that better resonates with your customers. Test new ad copy and visuals to enhance CTRs.
usability testing

Auditing your Google Ads campaigns can be incredibly beneficial, not just for immediate improvements but for long-term success as well. Whilst a single audit can provide you with immediate quick fixes, to truly maximise your campaign performance, you should consider auditing your ads on a regular basis. 

By examining every aspect of your account, you can uncover inefficiencies and identify opportunities to improve your strategy and ensure that your campaigns are not only cost-effective but also reaching your advertising goals. These kinds of audits help keep your campaigns healthy and provide valuable insights that can significantly boost your performance over time.

Now I know auditing your Google Ads may sound overwhelming and time-consuming, that is where we come in. We offer thorough PPC Audits to help craft optimised PPC strategies for your business and drive tangible results.

If this sounds like something you want to benefit from then please contact us today to see how we can help you. Let us handle the complexities of Google Ads so you can focus on your business!

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Nathan Sureshkumar

PPC Account Executive

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