AdWords Auditing Made Easy: A 6-Step Approach

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 24 Nov 2016 by Paul Hogg
Google | Hints & Tips | Paid Search (PPC)

Digital mess – we’re all guilty of it. It’s easy to move a bunch of files and folders into another folder labelled ‘Sort Later’ or ‘Stuff’ (my ‘Stuff’ folder has been with me since 2009!). While we may know our way around our mess, when someone else comes to use our computer it may be confusing where everything is.

This is also true when it comes to AdWords accounts.

Back in the early days of SocialB, we developed a simple audit process to help make clearing this mess up simple and easy. Over time, we have adapted this process to fit the latest AdWords developments. Today, we use a 6-step approach to auditing any new AdWords accounts

So, let’s take a look at it:

Step 1: Goals

Tracking goals is one of the most important elements of digital marketing (read why). Any accounts that don’t already have conversion tracking in place will need it adding on Google analytics, and imported into AdWords.

So our first, and most important step are to check that the goals are properly set up and have values assigned to them (assuming we have this information) both in Analytics and AdWords.

Step 2: Account Structure

Depending on the type of business – an AdWords account structure should normally reflect the website’s structure. For example, if a company sells products online, each campaign should represent a product category, with each ad group focusing on promoting a product. If, however, a company is service-based, then each campaign may represent an area (such as London, UK), while each ad group will focus on promoting each service in that area.

This step is highly dependent on the way the business is set up, both online and off. As long as the account makes sense, and isn’t just lumped into 1 campaign or ad group, then this step generally doesn’t take long.

Step 3: Location Targeting

Now that the structure of the account has been assessed, we look at location targeting. Many businesses sell to just the country they reside in, whereas some (particularly service-based) businesses tend to focus on specific areas.

During this step, we double-check where their target audience resides, then ensure the location targeting is in keeping.

Step 4: Keywords

Once the account is logically structured and each ad group has a clear focus within its campaign, the next thing to focus on is the keywords. Each ad group should generally contain about 15-20 relevant keywords. If goals had been set up properly prior to taking over the account then they will prove useful in determining the value of each keyword. If any keywords show a high cost with minimal to no conversions, we will make a strategic decision on whether to pause these keywords or adjust the user journey of people searching on these terms.

Negative keywords and search terms are also useful to look at in order to gauge where the account is and what work has been done up until then, while quality score and average position will give a good indication as to the quality of the advert, landing page and budgets.

Step 5: Adverts

When we’re done looking through the ad group’s keywords, we check the adverts. CTR, session duration, pages/session, bounce rate and (especially) conversions are all good indicators as to an advert’s performance. During this step, check that the advert’s copy is relevant to the landing page and contains the keyword(s) the advert was designed to rank for. Each ad group should contain at least 4 adverts (depending on the estimated search volume of the ad group).

Step 6: Advert Extensions

Ad extensions are one of those things so many users are unaware of that can make a huge impact on click-through rate, conversions, and even ad ranking. If an account does use extensions, during this step we check all of these extensions’ accuracy and look at what the ad group could also be using (e.g. callout extensions).

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