ppc audit

What is a PPC Audit? 10 Step PPC Audit Guide [+Free Checklist]

If you’re here, it’s because you’re probably well aware that pay-per-click advertising (PPC) can be an extremely powerful tool when it comes to driving traffic to your website. And if you’re an account manager, you’ll know that there are only a few things more frustrating than wasted ad spend.

As a marketing agency in the ever-developing digital landscape, staying on top of your campaigns in order to ensure optimisation across ad accounts is no longer an option – it’s a must. But what’s the most efficient way to do so?

Frequent – and comprehensive – PPC (pay-per-click) audits! A PPC audit is a powerful tool that allows you to analyse every nook and cranny of your campaign, thereby helping you identify any issues that might be negatively affecting your overall campaign performance.

By assessing both the long and short term performance of your paid advertising strategy on a regular basis, you’ll learn how you compare to the competition, uncover whether your strategy is actually working and get to know your audience better.

This article will share 10 key areas that should be routinely audited in order to avoid wasted ad spend and improve the overall efficiency of your campaigns.

ppc audit

What is a PPC Audit?

As your campaign management to-do list grows exponentially longer, so does the tendency to start embracing a set-it-and-forget-it attitude.

We get it. A successful paid research campaign often involves juggling countless moving parts at the same time and can quickly begin to feel like a Herculean task.

Regular and effective PPC audits, however, eliminate a significant part of this stress. And the truth is that the most successful PPC campaigns require frequent improvement, testing and refinement.

In a nutshell, a PPC audit is a detailed look into your PPC account in order to analyse its strengths, weaknesses and structure. Some of the crucial components an audit will analyse include your campaign’s account structure, keywords, ad and landing page copy, bidding and tracking.

Why is Conducting a PPC Audit Important?

Conducting a PPC audit is a necessary and crucial aspect of any PPC campaign. It is essential to comb through every crevice of your account on a regular basis to ensure your budget is being spent in all the right places.

Here are 4 key benefits of auditing your PPC account:

  • Identify performance issues: A PPC audit makes it a lot easier to uncover all the major (or minor!) flaws in your campaign strategy that could be hindering its success. By comprehensively reviewing your account, you’ll be able to determine what these are – and get a better return on both the time and money you are investing.
  • See how you compare to your competition: Auditing your PPC account(s) will reveal crucial insights into your campaign’s performance and help you compare it to that of your competitors.
  • Uncover how your strategy performs over time: By analysing your strategy on a regular basis, you’ll better understand how it’s performing over a specific period of time and work out how to improve it.
  • Get to know your audience: Perhaps needless to say is that the key to any successful campaign depends on how your audience interacts with it. A PPC audit will allow you to understand your clients on a deeper level, so that you can tailor your ads to target their precise needs and habits.

When Should You Do a PPC Audit?

In order to keep up with the competition, experts recommend conducting a PPC audit at least once every six months to ensure all of your accounts are optimised to their full potential. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that, in order to gain the most insights, there needs to be enough data to analyse.

Essentially, what this means is that an audit should not be conducted within three months of making any drastic changes to an account, as any less won’t be enough time to accurately measure results. Working out a date range that works for your business is, therefore, a crucial step when it comes to auditing. Once this is established, you’ll begin to uncover whether your strategies are actually working.

How to Do a PPC Audit in 10 Easy Steps

If you’ve never done a PPC audit before and are feeling slightly intimidated by the prospect, don’t fret! We’ve created a simple, ten step checklist that outlines how to go about conducting your first audit – keep reading to find out how.

Step #1: Gather Data from a Specified Date Range

When conducting a PPC audit, it’s crucial to determine what date range you’ll be looking at. As discussed, it’s important to choose a range that will provide you with enough data to really analyse your campaign.

If you select a period shorter than three months, for instance, you probably won’t be able to establish whether the changes you’ve implemented have actually taken effect, for better or for worse.

If you’re new to PPC auditing, a three month date range is a good place to start. This will provide you with a fuller scope of your campaign. It’s important to note that every agency is different though, and with time, you’ll be able to establish whether you should slightly extend or minimise your data set.

Step #2: Verify if Google Analytics is Set Up

The second item that will need ticking off on your PPC audit checklist? Making sure you’ve verified whether your Google Analytics account and Google Ads account are correctly linked at property level.

To do so, open up Google Analytics and click on Acquisition → Google Ads → Campaign. Once here, you’ll be shown a complete overview of all of your active campaigns. Once your accounts are linked correctly, the data in front of you should be identical to what you see when you open Google Ads.

Step #3: Analyse Your Campaign Settings

The first step to conducting a successful PPC audit is to analyse your current campaign settings and account structure. Every setting should be meticulously checked to ensure it is optimised.

This might include how your ad groups are segmented, how your budget is being distributed, or your existing bidding strategy. All these elements should be tested, expanded and tweaked in order to ensure your campaigns are reaching their maximum potential.

Step #4: Determine if Your Budget is Utilised Efficiently

Your PPC budget, as you well know, should be used carefully and effectively. How much money is your business pouring down the drain by paying for clicks that ultimately don’t convert?

If your campaign is running on a limited budget, you might have to make quite a few alterations to make sure it is being allocated wisely. One way to do this is to focus solely on relevant, exact match keywords in order to reduce CPAs, for instance. Other solutions might be to target a smaller area to improve relevance and increase the chance of conversions, or to lower your bids.

If you’re working with a larger budget, on the other hand, make sure you’re focusing on diversifying your traffic sources by increasing non-branded campaign spend. When it comes to new campaigns, ensure you’re utilising numerous match types to increase conversions and uncover keyword opportunities.

Step #5: Check Network Settings

Make sure you’ve checked your network settings to ensure that your campaigns aren’t running on both the display network and the search network at the same time.

Both mediums are equally important and require individual approaches that are in line with the specific targets of each channel. Avoiding running your campaigns on both networks simultaneously means maximising optimisation!

Step #6: Check if Tracking is Enabled and Evaluate Conversion Rates

A data-driven marketing strategy is the key to any successful campaign, but what happens when the data being collected isn’t necessarily useful?

If your campaign is generating low conversion rates, high conversion rates with little sales, or identical click-through rates, the issue might be that your tracking hasn’t been enabled properly and needs to be re-synced. Conversion tracking reveals insightful data about ad performance and audience behaviours after clicking on an ad, and should be a priority during any PPC audit. Make sure each account has a functioning conversion tracking code and is linked up to Google Analytics. Only by doing so will you get the full picture.

Step #7: Assess Your Quality Score

It goes without saying that an ad should be as relevant as possible to maximise its placement in a search query. What’s the point in coming up with and developing great ads if nobody is seeing them?

Quality score is the score Google assigns to your ad in order to calculate its ranking based on a number of factors, such as keyword selection, relevance and ad copy. Assessing and monitoring your quality score is essential if you’re looking to improve your campaign’s ranking and can be done by selecting keywords that are relevant to ad copy, optimising landing pages and increasing CPC bids.

Step #8: Analyse Your Bidding Strategy

There are countless bidding strategies out there, each tailored to the goals, needs and targets of different kinds of campaigns. Determining which strategy works for your business is crucial, and will depend on whether you are looking to focus on conversions, views, impressions, clicks or all of the above!

The first step is to take a deep dive into your company’s data. When it comes to your bidding portfolio, location, time and device are all important factors to consider. How is performance differing across areas, and what needs readjusting? Answering this question in your PPC audit will make it clear to you if and which adjustments are necessary.

ppc audit

Step #9: Ensure You’re Using the Right Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are critical to your visibility, easy to use, free and offer browsers more information about your product – what’s not to love? They can help promote ad relevance, help you reach your targets and make your ad copy really outshine the competition. Extensions also have a significant impact on Ad Rank, a value used to calculate your ad position.

Google offers automated, built-in extensions that are easy to set up, but there’s endless options out there. Before you choose your extensions, however, make sure you’ve determined exactly what conversions you are trying to achieve.

Step #10: Analyse Location and Device Targeting

If you’re familiar with managing a PPC campaign, you’ll know that location and device targeting are crucial when it comes to prioritising your ad budget.

Make sure your settings are correct and cover the areas your business operates in – you don’t want to waste resources on locations that are irrelevant! You can also look at geo-reports in order to understand which locations are performing best, so you really know which areas to focus on.

When it comes to device targeting, it’s critical that you understand how and why user habits change, so you can accurately update your PPC strategy.

Free PPC Audit Checklist

  • Step #1: Gather Data from a Specified Date Range
  • Step #2: Verify if Google Analytics is Set Up
  • Step #3: Analyse Your Campaign Settings
  • Step #4: Determine if Your Budget is Utilised Efficiently
  • Step #5: Check Network Settings
  • Step #6: Check if Tracking is Enabled and Evaluate Conversion Rates
  • Step #7: Assess Your Quality Score
  • Step #8: Analyse Your Bidding Strategy
  • Step #9: Ensure You’re Using the Right Ad Extensions
  • Step #10: Analyse Location and Device Targeting

What Comes After a PPC Audit?

So you’ve conducted your first PPC audit. What comes next?

After collecting data, PPC account managers should analyse it as thoroughly as possible in order to draw conclusions so that they can plan the next steps. One of the most important steps is to make a clear-cut priority list. Your audit will have revealed a number of key areas for improvement. Establish what these are and list those that require urgent attention.

As tempting as it can be, don’t make the mistake of making too many changes too fast, as major restructuring might actually cause panic. As we’ve established, auditing is an ongoing process and should become a fairly regular part of your agency’s routine.

ppc audit

Optimise Your PPC Account With the Help of Acuto

At Acuto, we believe that every agency deserves to unlock the full potential of effective PPC account management.

We create custom automation scripts for businesses, so that they can spend less time on monotonous tasks and more time on the stuff that really matters.

We do this for just about any web app, including Google Ads, Google Sheets, Meta for Developers, Authorias and more. By working closely with your team, we develop automation solutions that are tailored specifically to your business.

Acuto can help you launch promotion campaigns with automation scripts that save you time, labour and money. We can automate your ad bidding with custom scripts that keep up with the competition, customise your ads based on external factors and create specialised feeds for your agency.

So why work with us? We’re a team of developers and data engineers with extensive backgrounds in digital marketing and paid media. This enables us to create powerful automation scripts that get the job done, so you don’t have to.

Ready to automate your business? Book a meeting with an expert!

Key Takeaways

Regular and thorough PPC audits are key to helping improve the performance of your ad campaigns. By assessing both the long and short term performance of your paid advertising strategy on a regular basis, you’ll learn how you compare to the competition, uncover whether your strategy is actually working and get to know your audience better.

Ultimately, a PPC audit is a great way to make sure nothing is slipping past you, even when you have a dozen tasks to juggle, and a powerful way to make sure you’re catching minor issues before they turn into major ones.

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