10 Easy Steps: How to do a PPC Audit

Chris Gregory
Published Jul 08, 2019 by Chris Gregory in PPC
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A pay-per-click advertising campaign, similar to just about any other digital marketing strategy, isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it activity.

You likely started your PPC campaign with certain goals in mind and, if they aren’t being met, it’s important to figure out why. Or, if your PPC efforts are meeting those goals, a PPC audit can help show you how you can up the ante and actually exceed your original targets.

Here are 10 easy steps to follow with your PPC audit to ensure you’re maximizing your ROI:

Easy steps to do SEO Audit

Step 1: Review Your Goals and Strategies

Companies set up Google Ads campaigns for numerous reasons and can use multiple tactics and strategies to reach those goals. So, before you begin your actual audit, choose a campaign and refresh your memory about how your campaign was built and why. In other words, remember the context. Before you move on, take a step back to determine if your goals have changed. If so, this is important to address first. If not, then it’s time for step two.

Step 2: Set the Audited Campaign’s Date Range for 30 Days

Pick the “change history” link found on your navigation bar’s left side. This will provide insight into what’s been happening in the campaign (but be careful not to undo any recent changes!). This will allow you to review your account’s activity along with changes made and who made them. When accounts are properly managed, you’ll see frequent activity periods listed in chronological order. 

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Step 3: Review Conversion Tracking

Next, use the tools icon in the upper, right-hand corner to select conversions in your dashboard’s management section. This data is important to review in your PPC audit because, without accurate conversion data, you can’t know your cost-per-lead or your cost-per-acquisition.

Make sure your conversion tracking is accurately set up and properly configured. As part of this step, ensure that all conversions are being tracked appropriately and make sure that all landing pages have contact forms, phone numbers and any other relevant conversion necessities. Also ensure correct tracking scripts are embedded.

When initially setting up goals, it’s ideal to work with your PPC team for proper attribution on any shared ones. So, during your audit, it may make sense to meet with them again to discuss how everything is working on their end.

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Step 4: Audit Network Settings

This step is crucial because using the right settings allows you to accurately collect data and performance metrics and calculate your cost-per-lead. So, within your campaign, select the settings link and then click Networks to expand it. Opt out of these networks and make sure both boxes are unchecked.

Tips include:

  • Separate display campaigns from search campaigns; this allows you to manage costs and behavior more appropriately.
  • Test the search partners option, measuring it at the cost-per-lead level; this allows you to determine if it’s performing as well as your managed campaigns.
  • Focus ad dollar spend on searches that appear directly on the Google platform; this helps you to use accurate data.
  • Set up a separate Display campaign if you’re interested in having ads appear on the Display Network.

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Step 5: Review Targeting Next

To address this step, select the settings link within your campaign and then click Locations to expand it. Are Targeted Locations geographically accurate? When you expand location options, make sure:

  • Under Target, the middle option is selected: People in your targeted locations.
  • Under Exclude, the top option is selected: People in, or who show interest in, your excluded locations.

This step can help to protect your budget from clicks outside of your targeted areas, keeping ad spend as concentrated as possible on clicks more likely to convert. The options we’re recommending will give you greater control over who sees your ad and make your spending more effective.

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Step 6: Focus on Campaign Structure and Relevance

Expand the ad groups in your campaign. Then, under an ad group, click the keywords link to review the keywords list for similarity. Under Ads and extensions, review ad copy. Is it accurate? Are the right keywords used? Is everything spelled correctly?

Every campaign build should have a well-defined ad group with keyword segmentation that accurately reflects what you sell and do. Your ad groups should be appropriately aligned and optimized in a way to facilitate your targeted cost-per-lead goals.

Check to make sure no sub-standard keyword groups exist and that each ad group has a corresponding landing page. In each page, do your root keywords appear in your subhead? Body copy?

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Step 7: Review Your Extensions

Under the campaign you’re auditing, select the ads and extensions link. Then, choose the extensions tab. Although extensions used to be optional, more or less, they’re a must-have today if you want your ad to rank well. Review options in this category and enable a core set.

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Step 8: Optimize for Position

Check to see your campaign’s average position by expanding the ad groups. Is the average position showing select columns? If not, choose modify columns and then click performance and select the checkbox “Avg. pos.” and apply. Now, segment by device to see position across device and then choose to segment by device. Then review your average position by device.

Google Ads sample image 10Making mistakes in this area can be costly, so carefully determine your click-through-rate and conversion sweet spot. If your ad isn’t appearing in the first couple spots, it’s probably not being seen or interacted with on mobile. Specifics may vary more on desktop. You can manage your ad’s position by device within the Google Ads control panel, so optimize strategically.

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Step 9: Review Your Negative Keyword Lists

To view negative keywords as a list, select the tools icon and then the negative list link in the menu. This will provide you with all of your lists that can be applied to campaigns. To look at a list by campaign, select your campaign and then the keywords/negative keywords from navigation. These are important to have to help prevent unwanted clicks. If you don’t have negative keywords in place, this can be quite costly, no matter the size of your PPC budget.

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Step 10: Take Advantage of Built-in Rules

Taking advantage of automation options available for Google Ads can help you lower your click costs and improve your overall production. You can use automation scripts, as just one example, to manage bid costs and ad position by hour. If you aren’t using them you’re spending more than you need to at the cost-per-lead level. To check your automation scripts, use the tools icon within your campaign and then select rules beneath the management heading. Select scripts to see your list.

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Next Steps

You can find more information about PPC audits here. After reviewing the information and auditing your site, you’ll likely have a punch list of items to fix or improve upon — and that’s perfectly normal. It then makes sense to prioritize your list, putting what can be most costly and harmful to your PPC campaigns at the top. Then, work your way through your list, reaching out for help when you need to and marking your calendar with dates for regular PPC audits. If you’ve got multiple campaigns, you’ll likely need to check more often than if you have only one or two.

Written by Chris Gregory

Chris Gregory
Chris Gregory is the founder and a managing partner of DAGMAR Marketing, a local SEO company based in Jacksonville, Florida. The agency’s work was recently recognized in Search Engine Land’s international search marketing competition, garnering the Best Local SEO Initiative award.

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