Save Time, Save Money with our Google Ads Audit Checklist

By Anna Perez, on May 12, 2020

When was the last time you audited your Google Ads campaigns to make sure you’re getting the most out of your ad spend?

If it’s been a while, don’t worry! You’re definitely not alone. In fact, many advertisers don’t realize the importance of doing a detailed review of their account every so often.

You might be asking, “What’s the benefit?” Well, if you know what things to look for, within 15 minutes you’ll be able to make simple yet powerful adjustments that will significantly improve your Google Ads performance.

Then, once the low-hanging fruit are taken care of, you can implement some of the more advanced best practices that are time-tested to help take your conversions to the next level.

Let us guide you through this process, which we utilize ourselves for each of our clients. At the very end you’ll also find our handy Audit Checklist for you to add to your tool kit.

“…within 15 minutes you’ll be able to make simple yet powerful adjustments that will significantly improve your Google Ads performance.”

The key areas you’ll want to spend time auditing are:

Account Level
  • Connection
  • Conversion
  • Attribution
  • Account Structure
  • Naming Convention
Campaign Level
  • Budget allocation
  • Bid Strategy
  • Bid Modifiers
Keyword Level
  • Quality Score
  • Negative Keywords
Ad Level
  • Ad Copy
  • Ad Extensions
  • Audience Targeting

Starting from the top, you should first confirm if Google Analytics has a connection with Google Ads. You may not want to use goals from Analytics, but you can add audiences and review KPIs, like bounce rate.

Oftentimes we’ve seen that there are many duplicated conversion actions. Sometimes this occurs with transactions from Google Analytics as well as transactions from a Google Ads pixel, duplicating the data.

Additionally, the current attribution model is something that we consider important to look at when you are auditing a Google Ads account. Remember that changing attribution models doesn’t change actual account performance, just your perception of it, based on changes to which touch point gets credited with a full or partial conversion.

Switching to a new attribution model might sound a little scary, but don’t worry. You can simply go to the attribution models page to view what the various models say about your data, without actually making a change to your default reporting. For example, when viewing the last-click model, “branded” performance numbers are likely to receive a significant boost.

Regarding the account’s structure, we recommend having separate campaigns for branded versus non-branded terms/keywords.

Branded paid search terms help you land high quality scores fast, while also defending your brand against competitors. The quality or relevance score is made up of a few key factors, including landing page experience, expected CTR, and ad relevance.

At the campaign level, we like to keep consistency in the naming convention. The structure we use generally follows: Location-Language-Type-Category-Classification

An example campaign name would then be:


Budget allocation across existing campaigns is another big thing to look for. Many times we see that campaigns with conversion rates higher than 5% are losing impression share due to budget constraints, while other campaigns are not limited with lower conversion rates. If there isn’t a valid reason behind it, we recommend to allocate more budget on the well-performing campaigns that are budget constrained.

Google Ads also offers several bid strategies that are tailored to different types of campaigns. Depending on which networks your campaign is targeting, and whether you want to focus on getting clicks, impressions, conversions, or views, you can determine which strategy is best for you.

See the different bid strategy options below:

  • Target cost per acquisition (CPA): If you want to optimize for conversions, you can use Target CPA to help increase conversions while targeting a specific cost per acquisition (CPA). 

  • Target return on ad spend (ROAS): If you want to optimize for conversion value, you can use Target ROAS to help increase conversion value while targeting a specific return on ad spend (ROAS). 

  • Maximize Conversions: If you want to optimize for conversions, but just want to spend your entire budget instead of targeting a specific CPA, you can use Maximize Conversions. 

  • Maximize Conversion Value: If you want to optimize for conversion value, but just want to spend your entire budget instead of targeting a specific ROAS, you can use Maximize Conversion Value. 

  • Enhanced cost per click (ECPC): If you want to automatically adjust your manual bids to try to maximize conversions, you can use ECPC. It’s an optional feature you can use with Manual CPC bidding.

Bid modifiers allow you to adjust bids for a specific criteria without changing the targeting of your campaign or ad group.

When adjusting bids, we want to equalize device-level performance relative to the total aggregate performance. Here’s what that calculation actually looks like:

Device Bid Adjustment Ratio = Total full value CPA / Device full value CPA

Then, to get that number to a percentage:

Device Bid Adjustment Change = (Device bid adjustment ratio – 1) * 100

You can estimate your results with bid, budget and target simulators here.

Moving down to the keyword level, it’s important to review match types, as well as how you can improve your quality score. How many keywords are there with impressions for each quality score? Chart the quality scores for all keywords with impressions to understand the overall quality of the account.

Another signal of poor performance is when there is a lack of negative keywords. These prevent your ad from showing to people who search for or browse content related to those words. Effective paid search management means consistently expanding the keywords you’re bidding on while simultaneously refining the keywords you’re already bidding on to maximize relevance and, as a result, ROI.

At the ad-level, we recommend to double check that your ad copy is optimized for performance. This is done by ensuring the headlines match well with the keywords, if the ads include strong call-to-action, and if you added at least one Responsive Ad with your three Expanded Text Ads.

Additionally, you may maximize the performance and real estate of your ad texts by using ad extensions — including callouts, site links, call extensions. You can review all extensions here.

Finally, one of the most common mistakes we’ve seen is not using audience targeting across your campaigns. The two main benefits of this feature include the ability to optimize bids when certain groups of people are searching for your product or services, and reaching different audience segments with unique messaging that is customized and highly relevant to them specifically.

You can create any number of target audience segments or “personas” based on a combination of audience attributes, such as demographics, interests or affinities, and remarketing.

Below is our Google Ads Audit Checklist, which can also be downloaded here.

If you are still having doubts around which PPC best practices you can implement today, don’t worry we’ve got you covered. We are always offering free Google Ads audits for businesses like yours. Contact us now to get yours!

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Anna Perez | Senior SEM Manager

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