Anatomy of an Adwords Audit

Auditing an Adwords account is a significant undertaking. No two accounts are exactly the same, just like no two businesses are identical. But there's still a process that we can work through to make sure all of our clients are taking full advantage of all the tools Adwords offers it's advertisers.

Account Structure

The choices you make when arranging your account are critical to its performance. Not just because a well organized account is easier to manage but more importantly having the structure regimented allows for highly specific keyword targeting, which becomes increasingly beneficial as CPC climbs higher and higher.      

The following are some of the main components we will evaluate:

  • Are ad groups compartmentalized in a strategic manner that allows for maximum specificity in keyword targeting?
  • Whenever feasible are ad groups limited to a single keyword per ad?
  • Are display ads being explored as a remarketing option, segregated from search campaigns?
  • Are unique niches properly represented by independent campaigns?
  • Is geographic targeting organized at the campaign level and budgeted in a strategy appropriate for each given region?

Keyword Strategy

Keeping tabs on the return each of your keywords provides is essential to running polished campaigns and competing in hyper competitive spaces.

  • Are all keywords admissible under google policies and not under review?  (Easily organize by keyword status under the keywords tab for the entire account)
  • Have keywords with shallow average position rankings been considered for removal?– Or if your interests remain to increase ad positions have you thoroughly adjusted bids and worked to optimize quality scores for these given ads?
  • Have you reviewed keywords with a high CPC and considered whether they generate enough revenue to justify the CPC?
  • Have you reviewed keywords which spend a large portion of your daily budget and correlated this to their conversion value? – do they justify taking up that much of the ad spend? Could they be separated into their own campaigns so there is a controlled daily spend just for that keyword?
  • Are the cost per conversion and the value per conversion numbers understood in a way to analyze if conversions are generating enough value to warrant the budget they consume?
  • Ultimately is the total conversion value in relation to the total cost overall adequate considering the business goals for ROI?

Keyword Match Types

Many account we audit have done significant work on their match typing, but we may still find opportunities. Generally speaking we’re looking for anything that’s ‘Broad Match’ and depending on what we find we’ll make recommendations to move those Broad Matches to ‘Broad Match Modified’, ‘Phrase Match’ and ‘Exact Match’ SKAG’s (single-keyword Ad Groups).

Longtail Keywords

Longtail Keywords are a great way to find inexpensive, highly targeted clicks in Adwords. Five+ word phrases indicate high purchasing intent. While they may not deliver a lot of traffic they’ll be relatively inexpensive to bid for and are likely to deliver high quality leads.

Conversion Tracking Implementation

There is nothing more important to a successful paid media campaign then effective conversion tracking. Depending on your source some estimates claim as high as 40% of all Adwords advertisers are using incorrectly implemented conversion tracking. Adding to the complexity there is more than one way to set it up.

During our audit we’ll develop an understanding of how conversion tracking is implemented in your Adwords and Google Analytics accounts and if they’re configured correctly. Conversion tracking and reporting is a bedrock of future optimization decisions. With correct implementation decision making becomes clear and analytical. Without it we’re flying blind.

Use & Historical Performance of Ad Extensions

Initial test searches will illuminate current familiarity with Ad Extensions and the positive impact they can have on CTR and overall account performance. If we have some solid historical data to work with we’ll be looking for testing opportunities--i.e. the historically worst performing ad extensions by CTR and conversion rate, and proposing suggestions for new trial tests.

Quality Score Audit

No other factor has more implication on the performance of your advertising account than Quality Score (note both Bing Ads and Facebook Ads have their own version of quality score with equal importance). Understanding the quality score of the account as a whole, and at the Ad Group and Keyword level is an instrumental part of our analysis.

Ad Copy Review

Ad copy is intimately related to quality score. In excellent campaigns, Ad Groups, keywords and Ad copy are all tightly focused and closely related. During our analysis we’ll look for places where this has been done well, and any opportunities to tighten up and focus account structure and ad copy to ensure maximum CTR, maximum QS, maximum ad position, maximum impression share with minimum possible CPC. Let us not forget--Adwords is an auction!

Ad Testing

For each ad group it may be optimal to have at least two separate ads rotating at all times.  The best way to evaluate how copy and ad extensions are performing is A B testing.  We will look for opportunities where this may be a benefit.

Campaign Settings

The campaign settings can be easily ignored during an audit, however every setting should be checked to ensure it is optimized.

Analyze Budget

This is going to be a big focus for us with every account. We aim to ensure you are using your budget effectively. If your campaign says it is limited by budget, we need to look for opportunities. You can optimize your ad schedule, target a smaller area, lower your bids, change the keyword match type to exact or phrase match, change the delivery method from accelerated to standard and add negative keywords to avoid a depleted budget.

Examine Bid Adjustments

Our analysis will include an examination of any bid modifiers used in relation to location, device and timing. I tend to bid adjust location and device targeting as well as ad scheduling based on three months worth of data.

Review Device Targeting

You should make sure that you are targeting the devices you need to. You should have mobile ads specifically created for mobile devices so they are optimized to show on these devices.

Language Targeting

We’ve seen excellent results from other clients by targeting specific languages.

Ensure Ad Rotation and PPC Goals Align

You should ensure your ad rotation settings (within the advanced settings of the settings tab) reflect your PPC goals. You can choose from ‘optimize for clicks’ (the default setting), ‘optimize for conversions’, ‘rotate evenly’ and ‘rotate indefinitely’. Very often we choose the option to ‘rotate indefinitely’ in favor of using other ad testing optimization tools such as Adalysis.

Automation Use & Opportunities

In large accounts with significant spend the use of automation tools are essential to maintain peak account performance. Part of our analysis will include understanding any automation tools (i.e. Adwords scripts) that have been used in the past, and recommendations for tools we think will be a good fit moving forward.

Auditing Vector Tools

We use numerous tools to audit the performance of an Adwords account and it’s relationship to competitors. The combination of insights leads to a more comprehensive picture of historical account performance and possible opportunities for optimization. Many of these tools will be recommended for your ongoing use, regardless of our future relationship. Some of the tools will require access to the Adwords account, followed by a period of time to collect data before the resulting recommendation can be made.

  • Wordstream Adwords Performance Grader
  • Tenscores Quality Score Optimizer
  • Adwords Improvement Engine
  • Adalysis Ad Testing
  • SpyFu Historical Competitive PPC Advertising Analytics
  • SEMrush Competitive Analysis

Google Analytics Audit

A web analytics tools is essential to effective paid media optimization. From Adwords and Bing Ads we’ll be able to understand CTR and CPC, but only Google Analytics can tell us how that traffic is responding to the content on your site. For historical traffic analysis we’ll look at key measures including:

  • Bounce Rate
  • Time on Site
  • Pages Visited

Additionally we’ll be looking for other best practices within the Analytics account, as they relate to connecting all accounts together effectively, understanding the relationship between different acquisition channels, and creating automation for reporting that keeps all business stakeholders tightly tuned into advertising performance. Points that will be reviewed include:

  • Conversion Tracking Implementation
  • Adword Account Connection
  • Webmaster Tools Connection
  • Shortcut Reports
  • Automated Daily Report Set Up
  • Multi-Channel Funnels