How to do a Quick PPC Audit

Understanding how to audit your PPC campaigns is critical to seeing continued success within Google Ads. In this lesson, we’ll show you how to quickly perform a PPC audit so that you’ll know which areas of your campaigns need to be optimized.

15 minutes

Key points you can
learn in this lesson.

Analyze Data on Google Ads

Learn how to analyze data directly in the Google Ads platform.

Using Reporting Tools

Understand how to use Google Ads built-in reporting tools to pull insights from the data.

Prioritizing Campaigns

Discover how to prioritize which campaigns to optimize before other campaigns.

Our key metrics increased. More importantly, we implemented a lot of new tactics and test scenarios, which will boost our company’s future prospects.
Dave McCue
Digital Marketing Manager at Allstate

Lesson Preview

In this lesson, you will learn how to properly assess your paid search account, what signs to pay attention to, and how to use reports and tools built into the Google Ads platform to perform a quick audit.

Why is this important?

Whether you just launched your Google Ads campaigns or are looking for a different way to improve your existing campaigns, it is crucial to be analyzing the data and conversion tracking on a consistent basis. The world of paid search moves fast and the quicker you identify a trend, the faster you can make adjustments that could save your account valuable ad spend. 

What you’ll need:

  • A live Google Ads Account
  • Active campaigns with a noticeable amount of impression and click data. At least 100 clicks is a good starting point.


The Process:

Step 1: Getting Started

  1. When analyzing your account, it helps to know what you’re looking for. 
    • Are you checking in on a campaign that you just launched or interested in how that recent change to a campaign is doing? If yes, we should have our timeframe set to ‘Last 7 Days’.
    • For those campaigns, that have been running for longer we are more interested in larger date ranges such as ‘Last 30 Days’ or ‘All Time’. This depends on what your objective is for this audit. There is no wrong answer as we are just trying to get a large enough sample size to identify trends.
  2. Select Your Date Range
    • Once you have chosen the date range you want to analyze, adjust your time frame inside the Google Ads account. For this exercise, select ‘Last 30 Days’. Now select ‘Compare’ at the bottom of the timeframe selection window (shown below). 
    • Have the compare date range selected to ‘Previous Period’ for the exercise
  3. Select your columns
    • Choosing the correct columns will help provide a clear picture of what is going on within your account.
      • Here are the base-level columns I would have enabled at all times:
        • Clicks or Interactions
        • Impressions
        • Click-Through Rate (CTR) or Interaction Rate
        • Cost
        • Avg. CPC
        • Conversions
        • Conversion Rate
        • Cost/Conversion
      • To select or edit your columns click on ‘ Columns’ from view (Campaign, Ad Group, Keyword, Ads, etc.)
      • Select the desired attributes you want to add as columns, by checking the check-box
      • We’re now ready to dive into the data!

Step 2: How to Audit Paid Search Campaigns

Once your columns and date range are set to the desired preferences, we can now start assessing the health of the account. 

  1. Start at the ‘Campaign’ level to get a high-level overview. 
  2. Sort the data by ‘Cost’. To do this, select the ‘Cost’ column.
    • The reason we sort by ‘Cost’ is that is usually a good idea to start with the campaigns that you are spending the most in and dive deeper into the data.
    • To compare the time data across your time period, Select the ‘<>’ symbols underneath the respective column. 
  3. Now that we know what is spending the most, we can start to look at the other columns to paint a clearer picture of what is going on within the account. Some good questions to ask yourself when observing the data are:
    • Are those high spending campaigns driving conversions? 
      • If yes, what are the conversion rate and cost/conversion? 
      • To benchmark what would be a solid conversion rate, here at Directive, we aim for an 8-10% conversion rate to start and improve from there.
        • If your conversion rates are less than this, make a note to dive into your ads and landing pages to look for opportunities to improve the overall ad experience.
      • Identifying what an ideal cost/conversion will depend on your industry, product/service, etc. If you don’t know at this time, we’d recommend gathering data and having an internal goal discussion with your team.
        • If we don’t know at what cost you’re willing to acquire new business, it makes optimizations difficult as you won’t know what to optimize towards.
        • If your cost/conversion is high (depends on internal benchmarks) make a note to dive into what keywords have higher cost/conversion than other keywords.
      • If your campaigns are generating conversions, have a high conversion rate, and have a low cost/conversion, great! Make a note to dive into the performance of these particular campaigns as there are still valuable insights you can learn and actions you can take to improve those campaigns.
        • Constant learning and improvement is key to any successful paid search campaign.
      • If your campaigns have not generated any conversions or very few, it is time to dive deeper or revisit your overall campaign strategy & campaign assets (keywords, ads, landing pages, bids, etc.) 

4. You identified a campaign that has high-cost and low-conversions. Click into the campaign and performing the same step above, at the ad-group level. The same methodology exists, you are looking for which ad group is being the most inefficient in terms of cost/conversion.

5. Once you identify which ‘Ad Group’ is the most inefficient. Click into it and dive into the keyword performance. 

6. At the keyword-level, you first want to check the ‘Status’ of the keyword. The ‘Status’ will tell you whether you’re eligible to show up for that keyword or if something is causing you not to show up. By clicking on the status you can get a detailed breakdown. 

-You”ll want to address these ASAP to ensure you’re not missing out on potential impressions.   

7. If your keywords are showing on the SERPs, we can dive into the search term reports. 

    • The search term reports show every search term that people have used that correspond with your keyword targeting to trigger ads. The Search Terms Report is a valuable tool that gives you first-hand insight into what people are actually searching for based on your target keywords. 
    • How can you leverage this data? By seeing exactly what users are searching for, you can potentially uncover new search phrases that you can add to an existing campaign or identify search queries that you want to exclude your ads from showing up for due to it being irrelevant. If you find irrelevant search terms, you can select ‘Add as negative keyword’ to exclude that term from your campaign or ad group. 
    • Sort by ‘Cost’ and compare it to conversion volume when analyzing the data before you determine it is a candidate to be added as a new keyword or excluded as a negative keyword.
      • If the search term is high-cost and low conversions, consider if the term is relevant to your business. If it isn’t, add it as a negative keyword. 
      • If the search term is generating conversions, has a strong CTR(ideally 5-7%), strong conversion rate (ideally 8-10%), a low-cost/conversions, and is a relevant query, add it as a new keyword. 

8. Repeat step 2, for each campaign you’d like to audit and optimize. 

Step 3: Utilize Google Ads Built-In Features

The Google Ads platform has a number of features/tools built-in that can help unlock additional insights during your audit. 

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