If you are the manager of a Google Ads account, then you’ve probably heard the term “PPC audit” being tossed around. This is an important task that PPC marketers should perform on a fairly routine basis, if possible. A PPC audit serves as a checkup for your campaigns and overall account to look for potential issues or opportunities that need to be explored further.
While you should always be monitoring your campaigns for noteworthy changes in performance, a PPC audit is a more detailed look. You can think of it like maintaining your car. Every time you drive, you’re monitoring the gauges on the dashboard. But, every so often, you need to lift up the hood, check the fluids and tighten a few nuts and bolts.
This discussion will look at how to best approach a PPC audit for your Google Ads account.
Scheduling Your Audit Frequency
Before getting into the specifics of your audit, you should first think about how often you want (and how often you need) to conduct an audit. Some PPC managers only conduct a thorough PPC audit once every six months, while others choose to audit once a month.
How frequently you decide to delve into your PPC accounts should be based on a few key factors:
The size of your PPC account. A large Google Ads account requires a lot more attention than a smaller one.
Your available time. If you don’t have a lot of time in your week, then committing to frequent audits is going to be a struggle.
The demands of clients or stakeholders. How often these individuals request reports may dictate how frequently you choose to audit the accounts.
It’s worth noting that whenever you are taking over a Google Ads account for a client, you absolutely must conduct a thorough audit. This will give you a clear picture of what’s going in the account and what areas need your most immediate attention.
Get All Of Your Data
If you’ve connected your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics, or another third-party data source, it is important that you pull from all of these different places. You don’t want to rely solely on your Google Ads data because you may have an incomplete picture. Particularly, you’ll lack the more detailed analytics of your website and conversions.
You can gather your different data sources into one excel sheet to make organization simpler and your audit more efficient. Just be sure that these different data sets are structured to “talk” to one another. For instance, you may have two data sources that attribute conversions differently, which can cause issues when bringing these sets together.
The Top-Down Approach
You want to identify and resolve the biggest problems first because the larger the issue the more potential risk/reward is at stake. For this reason, the best way to PPC audit is to start at the top and work your way down. Check at the account-level first, then move to the campaign-level, ad groups, and so on.
What To Look For In A PPC Audit
Ideally, you want to check everything in your PPC audit, from the biggest parts to the smallest details. This is especially true when you’re taking over a new account. However, if you’re trying to save on time or you are conducting audits on a frequent basis, then you can opt for a shorter PPC audit checklist.
Here are the must-check items during your audits.
Ad Copy: Check each individual message, make sure display URLs are optimized with the right keyword, look out for any disapproved ads, etc. Also, think about some fresh ideas for new ad copy that you can test.
Landing Pages: Every landing page needs to be relevant, load quickly and help encourage conversions. If you have landing pages that aren’t meeting these objectives, then it is an attention-worthy item on your list.
Keywords: Since keywords play such an important role in PPC marketing, it is crucial that you audit this ad component. Look at the terms themselves, your match types, average position, how much you’re bidding and the total number of keywords you’re targeting. When checking performance, be on the lookout for irrelevant words that are hurting performance and need to be added to your exclusion list.
Targeting: Even the best ads won’t draw clicks if they aren’t targeted correctly. Look at locations, time of day and day of week data and other details that help you understand how, when and where to best target your ads to reach the target audience.
Budget/Bidding: The key to successful PPC is maximizing your results while minimizing spend. Thus, you need to pay close attention to your budget, bidding strategy and other cost-related details during your PPC audit.
It’s important to log some benchmarks during your PPC audit. These benchmarks will help you the next time you conduct an audit. By referring to the benchmarks of the last audit you performed, you can see how your account performance has been positively or negatively influenced. This should be one of the first steps in your audit, as it may help clue you in to potential areas of continued concern.
Suggest Changes And Recommendations
The final step in your PPC audit is to suggest changes and recommendations. This is essentially to summarize your findings and what you and the client/company need to do to create stronger campaigns in the future. You want to clearly state what the problems are, why they are significant and what can be done to resolve the issues for the future.
You may want to revisit this section the next time you conduct an audit to see what your previous problems were and whether or not your latest changes solved the problem.
What is the best way to PPC audit your Google Ads account is really up to you and your unique needs. Every account is different. You may not need to audit your campaigns more than twice a year. You may also not have the time in your schedule to audit each month. It’s really about what you feel comfortable doing.
That said, audits are a crucial step in PPC marketing that should not be neglected for too long. It is important that you measure your campaigns for potential problems and benchmark your progress towards achieving your marketing and advertising goals.
The more effort you put in to ensuring that your campaigns are healthy and on-target, the more consistently you will see good performance on Google Ads.