PPC accounts often change hands. The original owner creates an account and manages it in their own unique way, arranging things with their own . However, when someone new takes over, they realize they’ve got their work cut out for them. There’s a massive gap between the old manager’s way of doing things and yours. And you can fix that easily when you know how to do a PPC audit.

Knowing how to do a PPC audit is key to sorting out messes when you take on an existing Google Ads account. Fail to do so and you run the risk of navigating through an existing account without full understanding of its historical background, and why it’s been organized the way it is.

Why and How to Do a PPC Audit

PPC audits are processes that every digital advertiser needs to personally master and perform on a regular basis too. 

They need to be completed using a series of steps and performed periodically to refresh and optimize campaigns. You wouldn’t believe what flies under the radar when you least expect it. There are benefits to doing PPC audits.

When you know how to do a PPC audit, it’s your chance to revisit some elements of your campaign and find out what still works and what doesn’t.

Here’s an 8-point checklist that can help you with how to do a PPC audit.

#1 Properly Tracked Conversions

Failing to track conversions is one of the biggest mistakes a PPC manager can make. In the absence of this type of data, it would be impossible to understand if your hard work has paid off! Be sure that your newly acquired account doesn’t fall victim to not having its conversions tracked. 

If conversions are registered in the account, be very vigilant for these signs that show the tracking has been set up improperly:

  • Click counts and conversion counts aren’t identical: Your conversion tracking code might have been added to a landing page rather than the order confirmation page.
  • Conversion rates are really high despite low sales numbers: Conversion tracking might be measuring visits to product pages or home pages rather than order confirmation.
  • Suspiciously low conversion count: It suggests that you’re missing conversions too. This could mean the former account manager having neglected to track phone call conversions or add tracking codes to new landing pages.

If there are no conversions registered on the account, implementing and generating conversion tracking codes should be your first priority.

#2 Targeting Settings Review

Setting a campaign targeting settings takes five minutes tops. Be careful though. A small misstep in this section can profoundly affect the impact on your account performance. Dig into all of your newly acquired campaigns to review the previous owner’s targeting settings. Your job is to make sure they all make sense for the business.

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Key items to look out for include:

  • Mobile bid adjustments: This is how you make sure your ads show up on mobile devices. Make sure bid modifiers are high enough to score you visibility for a mobile search. Segment your performance by device to assess the effectiveness of existing mobile bids. This is especially worth prioritizing considering the growth of mobile searches in recent years.
  • Network settings: The audit or optimization process that you’ll follow is dependent on the network that you’re targeting.
  • Target locations: Check and make sure your company services the regions that your account has opted into. Review your geo-reports while you’re at it too. You might find that one area performs better or worse and you can fine-tune the account to prioritize that particular location.

#3 Ad Group Relevance Assessment

Ad groups shouldn’t contain more than 15-20 keywords. That’s the general rule of thumb. Scan this newly-inherited account of yours to find ad groups that hold more than 20 keywords. These groups will likely require the most clean-up. 

Realistically speaking, ad groups’ keyword numbers won’t impact performance. But you have to remember that you’re serving the same set of ads for every keyword in a given ad group.

If the account has a huge list of keywords, it likely includes various themes. And that means you’re going to be forced to write generic ad copy.

So what should your goal be?

Your goal is to populate each ad group with a list of super-granular keywords that all share the same semantic theme. Afterward, you can create hyper-specific ads for each ad group that are truly effective of what the searcher is looking for. 

Going forward, it’s important to put your ad groups under quality control. Always move terms that aren’t a good fit into more appropriate groups or new ad groups entirely.

#4 Number of Ads Enabled Per Ad Group

The previous account manager wasn’t testing ad variations if you notice the account only has one active ad in each ad group. This severely limits account optimization. 

On the other hand, having multiple active ads per ad group can also be damaging. It’s likely that the previous manager was obsessed with testing and perhaps had dreamt up one too many ad creatives and tried to test them all at once, or never bothered to end any test they’d made. That’s two mistakes.

What’s the ideal number of ads per ad group then?

Shoot for 2-3 ad variations per ad group. That’s a very manageable number of ads to test. After identifying your winning, pause the losing ads and try testing new variations again.

#5 Ad Extensions

Does the new account not have any ad extensions? You’d better remedy that quickly.

Extensions aren’t optional. They’re a must for creating competitive ad copies. Confirm that the running extensions are appropriate fits for the business.

Image Credit: Max Census

For instance, if you’re using call extensions, make sure your company’s phone lines are staffed to handle any incoming call volumes. If there’s no one around to answer 24/7, schedule the extensions to only appear during business hours.

Also, if your ads are for an e-commerce company with no brick-and-mortar store, do away with the location extensions, so you don’t appear on Google Maps and confuse your customers.

Finally, check and make sure your site links, structured snippets, and callouts represent your offerings adequately while not being overly repetitive.

#6 Keyword Match Type Settings

A Google Ads account that’s well-managed includes keywords set to a variety of match types. Each match type serves a unique purpose. For instance, broad match is perfect for keyword research, and exact match ensures that you’re only connecting to the most highly-qualified searchers.

Image Credit: Neil Patel

One of the most dangerous and yet common account mistakes is running every keyword on the same match type.

This is commonly present in broad match because that’s Google’s default. It’s true that broad-match keywords yield lots of traffic, but most of their impressions are from people searching terms that are hardly related to the business. It results in disastrous click-throughs and conversion rates, eventually plummering Quality Scores. (And you wouldn’t want that).

So take time to dive deeper into the match type settings and try to understand the previous PPC manager’s strategy. Make sure it’s implemented correctly.

#7 Quality Assess Negative Keyword Lists

Your best defense against clicks and impressions from unqualified searchers are negative keywords. If the old PPC manager wasn’t using negatives, then it’s pretty obvious what you need to do now. You need to proactively set negatives through some guesswork, but with an active account.

Image Credit: AdEspresso

You can check query reports to understand terms that have been triggering your ads, and be on the lookout for terms that you wouldn’t want to continue showing for. Set them as negatives.

But what if the former account manager added negatives already?

It’s still wise to review the list. Confirm that all the negative terms are genuinely good fits for the business, and aren’t blocking impressions for any of your keywords. In addition, check your negative keywords’ match type settings as well to make sure they’re operating as anticipated.

#8 Create Your Plan of Action

Now that the groundwork has been laid down nicely and efficiently, it’s time to whip that Google Ads account further into shape. Now’s your chance to start optimizing. Because now that it’s clean, the fun can well and truly begin.

Do You Want a Shortcut?

If you don’t have the time to take care of your own ads in-house, look into delegating the task to experienced PPC service providers like Sagad, where you can get the latest PPC maneuvers and more.

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