The Definitive Google AdWords Audit GuideJan 5, 2019 - Marcel Odena
To appear in top positions in Google with Google Ads (AdWords) may seem easy at first, it may seem that you have to simply add several keywords, write an ad in whatever way “et voilà”. And certainly, the Google Ads platform is designed so that it can be made that easy, when starting the creation of the campaign a kind of assistant will guide you through the creation process.
Now, between you and me, let’s be honest, no campaign made in this way can succeed in the long run. The lack of a global strategy in campaigns will make an isolated campaign that we do to be as a “flower that does not make summer” (Catalan proverb). And doing the campaign like this will make us waste money, the ranking of our ad on Google will not be as good as it could be, etc.
Once, someone told me:” Campaigning in Google Ads is like playing chess, you learn to play in an afternoon, it takes a lifetime to master the game“.
If we audited a Google Ads account, we would find many things, it depends on the expertise of the Google Ads technician who has done it and the time he had to dedicate to the account. Here’s how to make an audit of a Google Ads account by identifying several checkpoints that you should review in a Google Ads account .
1. Audit of the ads part
The ads are the visible part when they appear in the Google search engine, therefore, we have to make sure they are made following good practices, specifically:
1.1 Number of ads: It is recommended that there be 3 ads for each ad group, with relatively different texts.
1.2 Content of the ads: are all the available lines used at the time of writing the ad? Currently the system allows you to enter several lines “description” and several “titles” and it is advisable to write them. It is usual that due to ignorance or laziness, they are left empty.
And on the other hand, does the ad text “fit” with the keywords that have been set up in that ad group? Google values the relevance of the ad for the search that the user does, and that usually means making the ad relevant for the keywords that we configure.
1.3 DKI (Dynamic Keyword Insertion): Are there ads created with the Keyword Insertion technique? It is recommended that they exist, they tend to improve the Click Through Rate (CTR).
1.4 Ad Extensions: Are all possible ad extensions set (obviously making sense for the advertiser)? The answer to this question is usually no, it is usual that either there are missing extensions to be configured or that the configuration can be improved. Over the years Google has been introducing new extensions, there are currently many, even so there are some very recommendable:
- Location extension: to show the address of your company in the ad.
- Call extension: to show your business phone in the ad.
- Sitelink Extensions: to show links to different pages of interest on your website.
- Callout extensions: to show small pieces of text (25 characters) that complement the ad.
2. Landing pages audit
When the user clicks on the ad, they are directed to a destination page. There is much to review on this topic:
2.1 Landing content: Is the content of the landing page adequate for the search performed by the user? The landing page responds to what the user is looking for. For some keywords, I am sure that it is, but it is very usual that for many other keywords the landing is not relevant.
The same with the call to action in the landing. Is it natural to ask the user to do what we want him to do for the search he has done? If the user has done a search “top of the funnel”, a search that could solve “wikipedia” for us to understand, it makes sense that in our landing we do not respond to what you are looking for and we invite you to request a demo of our product? Probably not. Surely we can do better.
2.2 Adaptation of the landing page to mobile: Is the landing page well suited to be viewed from a mobile? If there is a form, can it be filled out easily? Does the page load fast?
3. Keywords Audit
The keywords in a Google Ads account (AdWords) allow us to indicate to Google when we want to show our ads and when we do not want to show them (negative keywords). They are a fundamental part to create good campaigns in Google Ads:
3.1 Global vision of keywords: Have you made a good analysis of all the possible keywords to configure? And has priority been given to those that are more important than those that are not, to be taken into account when assigning budgets to campaigns and bids? What are the “golden keywords”? Are we “spoiling” them? How do we approach the long tail?
In Google Ads for each campaign a daily budget is assigned ( you can also define shared budgets between campaigns, but let’s simplify it). If the campaigns are not well structured in ad groups with the appropriate keywords what usually happens is that the “bad keywords” eat part of the budget of the “golden keywords”, so we do not get the most out of the campaign.
3.2 General negatives keywords: Has a list of negative keywords been configured? There is a series of general negative keywords that it is advisable to configure them from the beginning. For example, when someone searches for something that has a keyword of ours but also adds the term “wikipedia” to the search, do we want to leave? If we do it, will this click be a mishap for a search with the “golden keywords”? In this case, it is better to add “wikipedia” as a negative keyword. And like this example, there are dozens more.
3.3 Negatives keywords related to the business: it is usual that the user looks for a product or service that looks like the one we offer but it is not what we can offer, or we know that we are not competitive enough and we are not going to get the sale. In many cases the user adds a keyword in the search that denotes that he wants a “subtype” of product (or variant) that we do not offer. In these cases, would not it be better to add a negative keyword if we have nothing to offer? If we had a huge budget for Google Ads we could afford to show the ad, but if the budget is limited as is usually the case, better not waste clicks on these searches.
When an audit of a Google Ads account that has been working for a while is being made, in other words, it has received hundreds of clicks, the search terms can be analyzed to identify:
- Negative keywords to add, to avoid receiving more clicks like those received with those searches.
- Add keywords and/or improve keyword concordance.
3.4 Concordance of the Keywords: Are the concordances of the keywords well used? It is very usual that there are missing keywords in phrase match, exact match, or maybe the board match is not used correctly, etc.
All this has a lot to do with the structuring of campaigns and ad groups. Structuring campaigns in Google Adwords is fundamental.
4. Audit of the General Configuration of the Campaign
If the campaign has been created in “next-next” mode, there may be many aspects of the campaign configuration that can be improved. Here we explain several important aspects:
4.1 Bid method: Are we clear about which method to bid? Is there a conversion history to be able to configure the Enhanced CPC or bid to CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)?
4.2 Geographic region: Is it well configured? Do we want to bid in all cities equally? Or are there some that we have to increase the bid because there is more competition? Has a multiplier or bid attenuation been applied?
4.3 Language: Are we segmenting the users with all the languages in which the user’s computer or mobile phone can be configured?
4.4 Time schedule: Do we advertise from Monday to Sunday at all hours? And this in all the campaigns? It would be great, but do we have enough budget to “hold the pull”? Or do we have to dose resources and appear on Google only from Monday to Friday during business hours? Or make a mix according to each campaign?
4.5 Bids according to device: Do we want to make sure we rank well on the mobile? What is the average position of our ads for each campaign? Does it need to increase or decrease the bid on any device?
4.6 Tracking Leads template: Do we take advantage of this functionality? this function allows us to add to the URL of the ads the 5 tracking UTMs . This will allow us to later have control over the origin of the leads. A “killer function” is that you can insert the keyword with which we have shown the ad, and the user has clicked on the ad, as a parameter of the URL, for example in the “utm_term” field, so that if the lead enters we can know with what keyword we have captured it.
5. Conversion Configuration Audit
Do we measure all the actions that the user can perform that are valuable to us? If the user calls, if he completes a contact form, asks for a demo, if an ebook is downloaded, if he subscribes to the blog, etc., are we measuring it? And are we measuring it properly?
To do this well we must first configure the conversions properly in Google Ads and then configure that the conversion pixels are loaded correctly when we have the certainty that the user has made the value action; “Thank you for …” page is typically used.
To configure all this it is highly recommended to do it with the Google Tag Manager tool.
6. Remarketing Lists Audit
Have remarketing lists been set? And are they being used to increase the bid in certain search campaigns?
Have you done remarketing campaigns (display)? Does the remarketing list make sense with the ads and landing we show?
A good remarketing strategy will help a lot to get the most out of our Google Ads campaigns.
If you have reached this point of the article, I congratulate you and thank you for your interest, and I suppose you have realized the reason for that phrase from before, that:
- “Making campaigns in Google Ads is like playing chess, you learn to play in an afternoon, it takes a lifetime to master the game”.
Make campaigns in Google Ads that work, that take advantage of the economic investment that we allocate and generate quality leads for your company requires expertise, knowledge, experience and dedicate the appropriate time to configure each small aspect. And later it requires dedication to go review the performance and make adjustments.