ADWORDS AUDIT · 10-MINUTE READ · By Tina Arnoldi on February 21 2018.

Managing an AdWords account isn’t easy. It’s tough to stay current with Google’s changes while also responding to internal demands at your organization. Whether you recently inherited a poor performing account or are owning up to not having logged into AdWords in a while, the below steps will guide you in auditing your account, while also noting why these steps are important. Also you will see how to use 3 free and easy-to-use Supermetrics Google Sheets reporting templates for the audit: High Level PPC Report, Historical Quality Score Report and AdWords & Organic Keyword Performance Templates. If you have never used Supermetrics templates for Google Sheets, just follow this simple guide.

Task 1: Find out why your company uses AdWords if you do not already know why.

Rationale: If the response is “I don’t know”, pause your campaigns while you answer that question. The answer helps you know what to look for in the audit. For example, if it’s to reach prospects only in the United States, you’ll check for locations during your audit.

Task 2: Determine the budget and targeted locations for each campaign.

Rationale: If the monthly budget is $3,000, divide that by 30 days for the average month and set a daily budget of $100. (I have some tips in a previous post on what to do with accounts that over- or under-spend their budget) Next check the location for the correct cities, states, or countries. Do you want to only reach people who are physically located in your target area or include people who are interested in that area? If my campaign is targeted to people who travel to the United States, then I want people who show interest in the US. If it’s for people who are only in my location, then I choose the middle option below.

Task 3: Compare your campaign structure to the navigation of your website.

Rationale: When you’re new to AdWords, this is a good way to identify if your campaign structure makes sense. (We’ll break this down again for ad groups). A retailer with a single campaign for clothes that sends traffic to the homepage will probably receive clicks for men’s shirts, women’s dresses, and children’s shorts. In that setup, the site visitor then has to click through the site to get to the relevant page. A better experience for shoppers is separate campaigns for men, women, and children. View the below clip for a short overview about account organization.

Task 4: View the number of ad groups for each campaign

Rationale: It also helps to look at your website to see if ad groups are well organized. If you are a retailer with a campaign for men, you should have multiple ad groups in that campaign – such as one ad group for shirts and another group for pants. It’s rare that only one ad group will be enough in a campaign.

Task 5: Review the ads with a critical eye. Is it clear what a searcher is asked to do after clicking on the ad?

Rationale When I tell people to be critical, I don’t mean telling your writer that he or she did a lousy job! An ad can have a catchy message but not tell people what to do upon arriving on the site. Is the action to make a purchase, download a white paper, or fill out a form? If you’re not clear on what to ask, here are examples of CTAs to get you started. Lunametrics has a cheat sheet on their website to help you think of good action verbs to use in ads and we have some general tips for improving your ad copy in an earlier post.

Task 6: Does the landing page match the ad copy?

Rationale: Let’s go back to the retailer example. If your ad is for women’s spring dresses, does it go right to the page with dresses? Or, does it go to the home page, the women’s clothing page, or the women’s page for year-round dresses.

I’ve had clients who want website visitors to “discover all they have to offer”. I get it. We’re proud of what we do and want people to see it all! But remember that we’re also lazy when it comes to the online world. Just like we do not want to wait for a page to load, we also do not want to click through multiple options to find what we need. Is there a message match? An ad for women’s spring dresses should go directly to the section of the website that shows women’s spring dresses.

Task 7: Note which keyword types are used

Rationale: Keyword types are broad, broad match modifier, phrase, exact, and negative. Broad keyword types have a wide reach which helps with a product or service that’s very niche or difficult to describe. But it can cost a lot of money and bring in irrelevant clicks. You’ll identify this in your account because they are words or phrases without a symbol around them as seen below.

If you are in an account that has primarily broad match keywords, I recommend pausing them and using broad match modifier if the budget is not being spent to not be too broad. If your budget is being spent, use phrase match instead of broad because it is a tighter targeting method. To get an overview of how these words performed overtime, you can use the AdWords Historical Quality Score Reporting Template. (To learn more about keyword types, visit WordStream, AdHawk, and Search Engine Watch.).

After you have checked the quality score of your keywords, it is highly recommended to track how individual keywords are performing organically and in PPC campaigns. AdWords & Organic Keyword Performance Template is an easy way to do it: just choose the campaign and the time range together with the question you are seeking an answer to (from the drop-down menu) to see the relevant keywords and metrics in the table below.

Task 8: Review trends for your key metrics

Rationale: If an account was active for a while and recently turned over to you, use the High Level PPC Report template for a snapshot of performance. I used it for an account that it was given to me and not managed for most of the year.

Once I ran the report, I selected clicks, cost, CPC, and impressions as seen below which shows it was not performing well. Now I have a baseline so I can compare performance in a couple months.

There’s more to an account audit then only these steps, but this will get you started. Once you understand the goals of the account, look at the budget and location to see if that matches the plan internally. This is the quickest step to save some money and the above template will give you an overview of performance.

Next, compare your existing campaign and ad group structure to your website to determine if it is well organized. If that looks good, notice if your ads have a clear action step and lead to the right landing page. Audit your keywords and consider pausing some of the more expensive ones – at least temporarily – if you have a limited budget and they do not bring a return as well as trying different match types.

And watch for a follow up post on other areas to review in an AdWords audit which will come up soon!

About Tina Arnoldi


Tina Arnoldi is Analytics and AdWords Qualified and one of the few people in the United States recognized as a Google Developer Expert(GDE) for marketing. Her agency, 360 Internet Strategy, is also a Google Partner. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn

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