You might not look forward to running PPC audits, but they’ll help you spot problems before they get out of hand. That might mean identifying areas where you’re wasting money or discovering that you’ve been targeting the wrong groups all along.
While PPC audits themselves aren’t exactly a revelation, they’re an essential part of any search marketer’s strategy, and luckily, Google has rolled out some new additions to their Ads Editor and Reports to make the process easier.
New features allow brands to review ad strength, maximize conversions and set custom rules. Keep reading, and we’ll go over some key things to know before you get started.
What’s New and How Will it Impact PPC Auditing?
Google has added several updates to the Ads Editor, including Dark Mode, recommended daily budgets, and audience lists for Smart campaigns. More importantly, Google has updated the tool’s interface, adding a quick way to check your ad campaigns for errors that waste money and undermine your efforts.
Here are two major changes:
New Custom Rules Reveal Issues
Google’s editor now includes five new custom rules, which can be used to alert you if any of the following issues are impacting one of your campaigns:
- Video campaigns (excluding TrueView) aren’t reaching the target audience.
- Video discovery ad groups are targeting a specific keyword or topic (when they are designed for targeting audiences).
- No responsive search ads show up in a Search Network Campaign’s ad group.
- A TrueView campaign is set to target users in a YouTube search with TrueView in-stream ads.
- Video campaigns have set start and end dates, but are using an average daily budget.
View Multiple Accounts at a Time
If you run multiple accounts, you might also benefit from the new reporting feature that allows for cross-account analysis. Most e-commerce stores won’t have multiple accounts; this reporting feature is geared more toward companies like Key PPC.
The new feature gives brands the ability to view every account they manage from one central location.
If you use this service during an audit, you’ll be able to review PPC issues from multiple accounts in one place. Unfortunately, you can’t automatically combine findings from multiple accounts into a single report. For instance, you can’t create a single report that shows all TrueView campaigns using the wrong ad format across multiple accounts.
Before You Start Looking for Signs of (PPC) Trouble
Set Up Analytics
If you haven’t already linked your Google Ads account to your Analytics account, stop reading and go do it now. Combining the two tools allows you to run remarketing campaigns, track conversions, and collect audience insights from more sources.
What’s more, if you’re running PPC on multiple channels (think Shopping, YouTube, Search, etc.), Google Analytics will help you understand how they all come together.
Check on Conversion Tracking
Failing to track conversions is bad news for PPC marketers. Without conversion data, it’s impossible to know whether your campaigns are paying off.
According to Disruptive Advertising data, only 29% of 2000 audited accounts had effective conversion tracking in place, with the rest either having failed to set it up correctly or never putting it into effect at all.
Here are some conversion problems to look for:
- Conversion rates are extremely low. If money is coming in but the conversions don’t reflect that sales revenue, the code might be on the wrong page or set up incorrectly.
- CTRs and conversion rates are the same. This improbable correlation suggests that the conversion code was added to a landing page instead of checkout.
- You’re seeing high conversion rates but actual sales numbers are much less robust. This inconsistency likely means that your conversion tracking is set up on a product page instead of at confirmation of purchase.
Check Your Match Type Settings and Negative Keyword Lists
A well-run Google Ads account typically includes keywords you can set to a range of match types. A broad match works well for keyword research and SKAGs, while an exact match aims to capture searchers with a very specific intent.
If using broad match campaigns, failing to review and revise your negative keyword list can result in a ton of wasted ad spend.
Look through your report on search terms to identify and remove the keywords that don’t square with your campaign goals. Here are some examples:
- Irrelevant search terms
- Spammy keywords
- Keywords that don’t match the target search intent
- Competitor keywords
Review Ad Group Structure
Making sure that your ad groups are structured properly can save you a lot of trouble down the line, particularly if you’re trying to run a PPC audit.
Smaller, more focused ad groups have been shown to increase conversions. Furthermore, they’re are easier to track. Here are a few questions to consider as you review your campaigns:
- How many keywords are in each ad group?
- Do ad groups contain keywords for different products or services?
- How can you split up or streamline existing ad groups?
- Can you set up SKAGs?
An example of an organized ad group structure, courtesy of AdEspresso:
How Many Ads Are in Each Group?
According to Google, each ad group should contain 3-5 ads for best results. Alternatively, you can use Responsive Ads, which allow you to input 3-5 CTAs, headlines, and copy; Google’s algorithm will then mix and match your copy based on what it believes will deliver the best results for the given audience.
Check Your Targeting Settings
Setting your campaign targets takes minimal effort, but ticking the wrong box can mean disaster for your ad campaigns. Look at mobile bid adjustments, network settings, and target locations to make sure that your ads are set up to reach the right people.
How to Run a PPC Audit Using the Ads Editor
Here’s the thing: running a PPC audit from the Google Ads Editor is really just a matter of customizing a couple of settings. To set up audits, you’ll want to navigate to Account Level, then Custom Rules. There, you’ll find 27 built-in rules from Google, as well as the option to set up your own. The benefit here is that you can set rules to ensure you receive a notification any time you run into a specific issue (e.g. you set up a campaign with no ad group, or no search audience is available).Inside the editor, you’ll see your rules organized by campaign, account, and violations—making it easy to find problems that need fixing. Click To Tweet
Here’s how it looks in action:
You can also review campaign performance and make changes based on Google recommendations. As you can see in this example, marketers can review everything from keywords and audiences to extensions, with filters used to narrow in on specific metrics.
Run a PPC Audit From Your Reports
Unlike the Ads Editor, the Reports paint a clearer picture of the “why” behind your campaign performance. The key benefit of the reports is that they allow PPC marketers to review campaign structure against performance data, such as behavior and conversions. Start by checking the predefined reports, Campaign and Ad Group Details:
Keep in mind that auditing accounts with several moving parts (ahem, e-commerce brands) can be difficult. Often, Google PPC audits turn up more problems than most users can realistically deal with. And, many of the issues that will show up might not be such a big deal.
The important thing is to know which issues should be tackled first. If you’re looking for PPC red flags when reviewing a report, make sure you have some idea of what to look for. This is why we recommend reviewing conversion tracking, ad groups, and so on, before you even get started with the report feature.
Customize Campaign Reports to Fine Tune Your Auditing Strategy
As mentioned, reviewing all errors at once is a big headache, particularly if you’re running campaigns on multiple product lines on different channels.
While Google’s Campaign and Ad reports allow marketers to review PPC performance with minimal set-up, it’s worth spending some extra time building customized reports that help you focus on the more important aspects of your PPC strategy. Head over to the Google Report Editor, and you’ll find instructions that will walk you through the process of building a report with the drag-and-drop editor.
For example, if you’re using Smart Bidding strategies, you might try adding Target ROAS to the report. You can then filter out any results that are way higher or lower than your target bid. This way, you can track the results that matter most for your business and campaign goals.
Metrics to track:
- Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
- Cost per Conversion
- Conversion Volume
- Keyword Performance
Goals vary based on what you’re trying to accomplish, but we recommend building individual reports to track different goals. Here’s what Google recommends for managing campaigns based on specific objectives.
Now, The Real Work Begins
Google’s Ads Editor and custom reports make it easier to run DIY PPC audits that allow you to check up on your campaigns. You’ll still need to keep a close eye on your campaigns, with regular reviews of keyword performance, targeting info, and bidding strategies; no matter how well you plan, you’ll need to keep making adjustments as you go.
Now that you have an idea of what issues to look out for and how to spot the signs, it’s time to get your account updated and optimized for driving more conversions.
Key PPC works exclusively with e-commerce brands and as a result, our team knows what it takes to build a Google Ads strategy that converts. To learn how we can help with your next PPC audit and the strategic steps involved, get in touch.