What Is a Google Ads Account Audit?
A Google Ads account audit is a comprehensive review of your account to identify areas of wasted spend, inefficiencies, and opportunities for improvement. It can be used for both internal and client accounts to benchmark performance and ensure that the account is set up for success.
As a Google Ads Specialist, I always audit new client accounts prior to taking over. Although Google advertising can be extremely effective, there’s definitely a method to getting the most out of your Google Ads spend.
Why You Need a Google Ads Account Audit
One of the main goals of an audit is to identify wasted spend. Conducting an audit can help you identify areas of your account where you may be overspending or spending on ineffective campaigns, keywords, or ad groups.
A Google Ads audit can also help pinpoint areas of your account that may be underperforming or are not well aligned with your business goals. Common examples of these inefficiencies are poorly structured campaigns or ineffective targeting.
What Should Be Included In A Google Ads Audit?
The specific components of a Google Ads audit will depend on the purpose of the audit and whether it is an internal audit or an audit for a client account. However, generally, a Google Ads audit should include:
- Account-level findings: This includes an overview of the account’s overall performance, budget, and conversion data.
- Campaign-level findings: This includes a detailed analysis of each campaign’s performance, targeting, and budget allocation.
- Ad group-level findings: This includes a detailed analysis of each ad group’s performance, keywords, and ad copy.
How to Audit a Google Ads Account
When it comes to auditing a Google Ads account, there are several key steps that you should follow to ensure a comprehensive and effective review.
In this section, we will go into more detail on each step of the audit process and provide examples to help illustrate the concepts:
Step 1: Establish a benchmark.
Before you begin your audit, it’s crucial to establish a benchmark of the account’s current performance and select a date range that will provide enough data for you to effectively analyse. Three months is often sufficient, but you may want to select a wider range if you need more data, or if the business is seasonal and you need a whole year’s view.
Establishing a benchmark is crucial for several reasons:
- It allows you to understand the account’s current performance and helps identify trends and patterns, which can inform your analysis and optimisation recommendations.
- It helps you identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement
- It provides a baseline for you to compare the account’s performance against over time.
Step 2: Review business goals and PPC objectives.
It’s essential to understand what the business is trying to achieve with Google Ads so you can identify the most useful metrics to focus on. Are they looking to drive sales? Focus on metrics such as conversion rate and return on investment (ROI). Is the goal to drive brand awareness? Focus on impressions and clicks.
Step 3: Review conversion tracking.
Verify that the client is tracking conversions, and that the conversion tracking code has been properly installed on the website. Without proper conversion tracking, it’s impossible to understand the account’s performance in terms of ROI or how well the campaigns are meeting the client’s goals.
Key points to consider when reviewing conversion tracking are:
- Has the client properly linked their Google Ads account with their Google Analytics account? This will allow you to see the conversion data in both platforms, and verify that the data matches up (there will be discrepancies between the platforms, but they should not exceed 10-20%). If the data is completely off, it could indicate an issue with the tracking code or the linking process.
- What are the client’s main conversion actions? For example, a main conversion action for an e-commerce website would be a purchase, while a secondary action could be adding an item to a cart. By understanding the client’s main conversion actions, you can ensure that they are being tracked and optimised for.
- Are conversions using appropriate attribution models? Attribution models are used to determine which conversions should be attributed to specific clicks. It’s important to ensure that the client is using an appropriate attribution model that aligns with their business goals. For example, if the client’s goal is to drive sales, a data-driven attribution model may be more appropriate.
Step 4: Review account structure.
By reviewing the account structure, you can identify any issues with the organisation of the account, such as poorly structured campaigns or ad groups, or irrelevant keywords. This will help you make recommendations to improve the account’s performance and optimise the structure for better results.
- Check if the account is organised in a logical manner, with campaigns and ad groups split up into logical buckets. For example, if the client is an e-commerce business, it may make sense to organise campaigns by product category. This will make it easier to analyse performance and make optimizations. It will also drastically improve Quality Score due to better match and intent rates between keywords and ads.
- Review the structure of the keywords, make sure that the keywords are relevant to the ad groups and campaigns, and that they are properly organised. Make sure that irrelevant keywords are added to a negative keyword list, and that the account is not using too many low-quality score keywords. As a general rule of thumb you do not want to have more than 10 keywords per ad group.
- It’s important to ensure that the client’s display and search campaigns are separated. This will make it easier to allocate campaign specific budgets to each network, to analyse performance and make optimizations specific to each campaign type.
- While a clean and organised account structure is important for Google Ad success, you want to make sure that the account is not too segmented for no reason. For example, breaking out campaigns by device type just for the sake of it might actually hinder performance; the more data Google has available when optimising, the better campaigns will perform.
Step 5: Review settings.
Check the settings at an account, campaign and ad group level to make sure they align with the client’s goals. For example, if the client’s goal is to increase revenue, you should check that their campaigns are set to maximise conversion value rather than clicks. Don’t forget to check that the location targeting is set according to your client’s goals and targeting preferences as well.
Step 6: Review competitiveness and budget allocation.
Check if there are any bottlenecks in terms of low budget or low impression share. You can easily identify these by pulling in 2 x metrics into your campaign dashboard: Search Impression Share (limited by budget) and Searchn Impression Share. Search Impression Share (limited by budget) will give you an indication how often your ads didn’t show because yoru budget was too low. If the client’s campaigns are not reaching their full potential due to budget constraints, you may need to recommend increasing their budget, or pausing money wasting keywords.
Step 7: Review keywords.
Identifying those keywords that are draining the client’s budget without producing results is one of the easiest ways to clean up wasted spend. Reviewing the search terms report can also help identify converting terms that should be added as keywords, as well as irrelevant terms that can be added as negative keywords.
Step 8: Review Ads.
Check the quality score to evaluate if changes need to be made to the ad copy to improve relevance, such as including long-tail keywords. Check that ad groups are structured effectively. Is there a logical structure to the ad groups and keywords? Ideally, at least two ads should be running per ad group with ad extensions effectively utilised for each.
Step 9: Review landing pages.
Are they relevant to your ads, providing the same product or offer included in the ad copy? The page should meet search intent, add value and hone in on the client’s unique selling point. This is also a good time to evaluate if there’s room for conversion rate or UX optimisation.
Step 10: Takeaways and implementation.
After completing the audit, compile a list of takeaways and action items that you can implement to improve the account’s performance. Organising action items by persons responsible such as ‘Web Developer’, ‘Client’, ‘Google Ads Specialist’ is an effective way to ensure all aspects get addressed.
A Google Ads account audit is an essential step in ensuring the success of your PPC campaigns. As a Google Ads specialist, this is how I successfully identify areas of wasted spend, inefficiencies, and opportunities for improvement. The process facilitates data-driven decisions, ensures you’re utilising the full capabilities of your account, and creates a clear pathway to achieving your business goals.
If you’re looking for an audit or need a trusted consultant for your client’s account, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me today!
Free Google Ads Audit Checklist
To guide you through the process, I’ve created a Google Ads audit checklist, free for you to download <<here>>.