PPC

PPC Account Audit Guide: 2021 Checklist for Audits

This post was written by: Rachael DiNicola & Tracy McDonald

The goal of a PPC account audit is to use Google’s best practices to identify quick wins in a new ad account. It’s also a good idea to audit your accounts at least once a year since multiple people are generally making changes in an account, new campaigns are launched, and human error will always be present.

Running the audit on your own accounts helps in 3 ways:

  • Refamiliarize yourself with your account
  • Touch base on current experiments to determine what should be tested next
  • Catch any setting inconsistencies that may have unintentionally been made

PPC Account Audit Checklist

Before you get started, access the handy checklist we created for you below:

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How to Perform a PPC Account Audit

It’s crucial to run through the fundamentals of a good account structure based on best practices! A thorough PPC account audit can be broken down into 10 key categories.

#1 Account Structure

Campaigns should be structured similarly to the website (products, services, LOB, etc.) and campaign naming conventions should be consistent across the account to easily identify and report on campaigns.

  • If there are multiple products on-site, are they in separate campaigns?
  • If there is a separate section for commercial and residential, are they in separate campaigns?
  • Are there different types of objectives on the site like lead forms vs. sales?
  • Are PLA (shopping campaigns) delivering ads in the shopping section of Google’s SERPs for significantly cheaper clicks than search ads?
  • Are campaign names consistent across the account?

#2 Targeting Options

Campaigns should not be driving any traffic (Impressions) to non-targeted locations.

  • Are you targeting the right locations?
  • Are your ads showing outside of your targeted locations?
  • How is your geotargeting set (people in or regular in or search for?)

#3 KPIs, Goals, and Tracking

The number one goal of any advertising campaign is return. So if you aren’t tracking the results of your campaigns, how can you tell they’ve been successful? This is where goal tracking comes in – arguably the most important element of any campaign setup.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the ultimate goal of your campaigns and how you track if your campaigns are effective and efficient. Each advertising channel and campaign can have multiple KPIs like Engagement for compelling Paid Social campaigns or Form Fills for B2B search campaigns.

  • Have you outlined your KPIs by campaign to ensure Google Ads conversion tag or Bing UET tag is set up correctly on your landing pages?

No matter what the KPI is, it should be tracked and attributed to ad interactions to ensure campaigns are optimized for ROI, however that is defined for you.

It’s crucial to have one source of truth for conversion tracking across all traffic channels.

With that said, be sure to set up your goals in both Google Ads and Google Analytics (or Adobe Analytics or your preferred analytics platform).

  • Are the conversions that are being tracked in Google Ads also set up in Google Analytics the same way?
  • This will help benchmark total conversion volume and help ID when something breaks because one platform will report significantly different conversion numbers.
    • I.e. Are your form fills for Google Ads and Google Analytics firing on the same form, on the same pages, at the same time? The difference in how many conversions register between a click-to-submit and landing page load can be significant!

Conversion Tracking:

  • Is Google Analytics on the homepage?
  • Is it on a deeper page on the site?
  • Using Google Tag Assistant, check if the logo is blue to determine if the tag is implemented correctly.

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Level up your PPC conversion tracking skills, learn how to use GTM Preview Mode to debug your implementation.

#4 Bids & Budgets

In order to test a bidding strategy based on conversions like Target CPA, Target ROAS, and Enhanced CPC, conversions must be set up in the account. Therefore, if the client does not have any conversions set up, they should not be using those bidding strategies. There are bidding strategies like Maximize Clicks and Target Position that may be tested without conversions being set up, so there should always be at least 1 other strategy running in an account at any time!

  • Is at least one campaign using an automated bidding strategy?
  • Do all campaigns use at least minor device bid modifiers if not broken out by device entirely (+/-100%)?

Campaigns should have budgets set to capture at least 10 clicks per day, otherwise, there won’t be enough traffic to generate conversions within that campaign. If budgets are set too low, the campaigns will under-serve and under-perform. If budgets cannot be raised, then a campaign restructure and keyword prioritization should be completed.

  • Do all keywords have appropriate bids set based on the allocated budgets?
  • Are campaign budgets set appropriate to the avg. CPCs?
  • Are any campaigns limited by budget?

Check out the following blog posts to set yourself up for success:

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#5 Keyword Structure

Campaigns should drive traffic to landing pages that are thematically relevant to the campaign’s goal, so there should be a variety of landing pages across different campaigns.

  • Are all campaigns driving traffic to relevant pages?

Negative keywords send traffic to the correct ad group or campaign, which may be separated by match type in order to manage bids and budgets more efficiently. Negative keywords of varying types help drive traffic to the correct campaigns, optimizing ad delivery.

  • Are there negative keywords of different match types across multiple campaigns?

A variety of match types helps capture specific intent keywords using exact match as well as conduct keyword research that may lead to keyword expansions using modified broad match. Accounts that only focus on one match type are missing optimization opportunities.

  • Are there multiple different match types being used in the account?
  • If smart bidding is enabled, are all match types combined in one ad group? Check out Seer’s POV on match type segmentation.
  • Are any search terms appearing in more than one campaign with the same targeting setup?
  • Are any search terms appearing in multiple campaigns?

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#6 Ad Copy

Go through your ads and ensure that they follow ad copy best practices. In order to focus on the highest priority ads that may not be following best practices, you can start with the lowest-CTR or poor-quality score ads. Ad copy best practices include:

  • The keyword appears at least once
  • Ad copy is customized to fit the ad group theme
  • There is always a clear CTA in the ad copy

Standard Text Ads (STAs) are deprecated and can no longer be updated or created new. If you have standard text ads live in an ad group, it’s fine to keep them live as long as they are performing well.

However, Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) should always run in those ad groups to continue testing to determine when/if the STAs are no longer efficient.

  • Do you still have STAs live? If so, are they performing well?
  • Are there any ad groups with only 1 live Ad?
  • Do you have any RSAs live?
    • Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) allow you to create flexible ads that adapt to device widths, giving you more room to share your message with potential customers. Running these side by side with your Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) can help improve performance and allow you to show for a larger number of search terms.

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#7 Extensions

Ad extensions provide more information to users and expand the amount of real estate your ad will take up on the SERP.

  • Do you have ad extensions implemented in your account (sitelink, callout, call, structured snippet, promo, etc.)?

Expanded sitelinks take up more real estate and provide more information for the user to read and click. All sitelinks should include ad copy in the expanded sitelink sections.

  • Do all sitelinks have expanded sitelink text filled in (descriptions)?

Dynamic sitelinks auto-generate based on the content on your landing page and website. This helps drive traffic to other parts of your landing pages and website based on content that Google is catering to the user, their interests, and their likelihood to convert. Having these turned on is a good thing!

  • Are dynamic sitelinks turned on? (There should be impressions if so)

#8 Landing Pages

Go through your landing pages and check to see if they are following best practices. Landing page best practices include the following:

  • Keyword at the top of the page in the H1 (main heading)
  • Clear CTA on-page, generally near the top
  • Privacy policy near the CTA, or at least visibly on the page
  • The page is not misleading based on the keywords that sent traffic to it. (If the keyword is “TV”, the LP should be about TVs, not Radios)

Ensure your landing pages are created with your audience in mind to maximize campaign ROI. Dive into our UX Checklist for landing pages for design tips.

#9 Remarketing

Although marketers may argue on the correct number of remarketing audiences to have running, there are 3 classic remarketing audiences that everyone will agree are vital to create for any campaign.

  • Converters: Users that have completed a goal on your site
    • E.g. filled out a form, purchased something, downloaded an ebook, etc.
  • Non-Converters: Users that have never completed a goal on your site.
  • Abandoners: Users that have started to complete a goal on your site, but for whatever reason, have not completed the goal.

These audiences can be set up in both Google Analytics and Google Ads to provide deeper insight into how certain groups of Users interact with your campaigns and which group of Users finds each campaign and content the most helpful.

  • Are your remarketing campaigns targeting the right audiences?
    • Generally, remarketing campaigns should exclude Converters since they have already completed the goal on-site unless you have a campaign specifically for encouraging repeat purchases or conversions!
    • To audit remarketing campaigns, check what the goal of the campaigns is (encourage first-time conversion, encourage second-time conversion,  increase CLV, etc.) and match the remarketing audience to the goal.
  • Are there any new audiences that have been created since this campaign was launched that could be added as a targeted audience?

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  • Do you have Affinity and In-Market audiences applied to your campaigns in Observation mode?
    • When Google is offering you free information about your audience, take advantage of it! Adding Affinity and In-Market audiences to your campaigns in observation mode gives you insight to your audience’s search and browse behavior online, which can help you personalize your ad copy, increase the relevancy of your landing pages, and better understand the intent of your audience’s query.
    • Bonus: Once you have performance data for Affinity and In-Market audiences, you can apply bid modifiers to refine your audience targeting and optimize your campaign performance.
    • E.g.  If the /Lifestyles & Hobbies/Shutterbugs audience has the worst CVR for your Live Music & Event Venue Ticket Sales campaign, then you may see drastically improved performance by excluding that audience from your targeting.

Read more about Google Ads audience targeting and how to analyze performance.

#10 Content & Display

Display and text ads have vastly different CPAs, CTRs, and CPCs and therefore should be separated into different ad groups in order to adjust bids and budgets appropriately. Otherwise, either type of ad could eat the majority of the budget without focusing on allocating budget based on actual performance metrics.

  • Is the display ad copy appropriate for display and not just a mirror of text ads?.
  • Do your ad groups that contain display ads contain other ad types in it?

You Did It!

Let us know how your audit goes or if you have any questions in the comments below or on Twitter (@SeerInteractive)!

💡 ICYMI, get your copy of our PPC account audit checklist here.

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