Why Is a PPC Audit Essential?

Why Is a PPC Audit Essential?
Article by Szabolcs Szecsei
Last Updated: May 16, 2024

For years, marketers argued that using search engine optimization (SEO) in tandem with pay-per-click (PPC) strategies is the best way to generate the most traffic and qualified leads, all while ensuring that your online presence keeps growing steadily.

And while pay-per-click strategies are great for generating more traffic to your site quickly, if you fail to optimize it, you might as well be throwing money out of the window. The question that naturally follows is: how can you get the most out of a PPC campaign?

We asked our marketing experts, and they told us that performing a PPC audit is the best route to take. Learn more about it below.

What Is a PPC Audit?

Similar to a brand audit, the main aim of a PPC audit is to thoroughly analyze the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns, so you can find out whether you’re performing well or lacking in specific areas. With a comprehensive PPC audit, you can:

  • Increase conversions
  • Save money
  • Optimize your campaigns
  • Increase your return on investment (ROI)
  • Tweak your current campaigns
  • Discover new advertising opportunities
  • Gain valuable insights

A PPC audit report evaluates the performance and structure of your paid advertising accounts on platforms like Facebook Ads, Microsoft Ads, and Google Ads. The audit checks how key account components are set up (like groups, ads, campaigns, and more).

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PPC Search Audit Checklist

Paid Search Audit Checklist

Auditing your ad campaigns doesn’t only include staring blankly at dashboards, looking at the data, and hoping for the best. Learning to optimize your paid campaigns is a strategy in itself. Below, we’ll discuss the key steps you’ll need to focus on.

Track Your Conversion Regularly and Properly

PPC conversion tracking is paramount in every PPC audit. Failing to keep a close eye on conversions is probably the single biggest mistake business owners and PPC managers can make. The lack of conversion data makes it impossible to understand and measure whether your input is paying off or not.

For instance, on average, Google Ads accounts waste 76% of their budget on search terms that won’t convert, while many fail to check their campaigns even monthly.

Avoiding these mistakes is essential. If your account tracks conversions, it’s also paramount to double-check whether the feature is running correctly or not. For instance, the following tell-tale signs may suggest an improper setup:

  • Identical conversion and click counts: If this is happening to you, then kudos, your products are truly amazing! Jokes aside, your conversion tracking code must have been added to your landing pages instead of your order confirmation/thank you page.
  • Low sales numbers but high conversion rates: Your conversion tracking might actually measure visits to your home page or product pages instead of order confirmations.
  • Low conversion numbers: In this case, you might be missing tracking codes to new landing pages or need the help of an expert PPC agency to set up phone call conversion tracking.

Review Your Settings on Campaign-Level

Your campaign targeting setup takes only a few minutes but make one mistake, and your account performance will suffer. If you are a business owner, reassess your current campaigns, and if you are a PPC expert, take your time and take a thorough look at all of your newly acquired campaigns to check the targeting settings of previous owners and check the following:

  • Basic network settings: Know that each ad platform will have different optimization/audit/setting processes. Make sure to adjust your objectives according to the network you’re targeting.
  • Target locations: Double-check that your company services those areas that the account is set up for. Also, take a closer look at your geo-reports to see which areas are performing well or poorly, and fine-tune the account to prioritize specific locations.
  • Adjustments to mobile bids: You probably want your ads to show on all devices. Remember, according to expert data, social ad spending generated a total of $170.3 billion in 2023. and experts expect this number to reach $205.4 billion by 2027. That said, you should ensure you have high enough bid modifiers to show on mobile searches. You can check this by segmenting your ad performance by device.
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Check Your Ad Groups

Generally, you don’t want more than 15 to 20 keywords in your ad groups, to help with auditing. You should scan your accounts to see whether there are ad groups that have more than 20 keywords and clean them up.

Why do keyword numbers matter? In fact, keyword count won’t hurt performance, but remember that you are serving the same ad set for every keyword in every group. Having a huge keyword list will most likely mean that you will end up writing a generic ad copy that won’t garner much attention.

Focus on more granular keywords with the same semantic theme. This will allow you to create specific ads for every group, truly reflecting search intent.

How Many Ads Are in Each Ad Group?

PPC managers often inherit accounts with only one active ad in each group. If this applies to you, consider testing out ad variations within the same group to optimize your account better. Conversely, having a myriad of active ads in each group can also be detrimental as testing them all at once can be daunting, and even worse, you may end up forgetting about ending the tests.

As such, aim for a sweet spot around three ad variations in every group. This is enough for seamless testing. Once you’ve found the best-performing ad, pause the others, and test new variants.

Assess Ad Assets

Ensure your Google Ads account includes ad assets; they're essential for competitive ad copy nowadays. Although most advertisers have implemented them since Google announced their impact on ad rank, it's crucial to confirm they're suitable for your business.

For example, if using call assets, ensure your phone lines can handle the volume. Adjust asset settings based on business hours and eliminate irrelevant assets, like location for e-commerce businesses. Review site links, callouts, and structured snippets for relevance. Monitor automated assets' performance and opt out of any negatively impacting ones.

Address Keyword Match Type Settings

Usually, you will see optimally set-up Google Ads accounts with keywords that are set to different match type variants. Each of these matches serves a specific purpose, with broad matches being excellent keyword research and exact matches helping you connect with qualified leads.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is running every keyword in the same match type. Usually, these will all be broad-match, and even though they will result in higher traffic, most impressions won’t be that relevant, resulting in poor conversion rates, low click-through rates, and overall, disastrous Quality Scores.

However, even if you see that the account has mixed types, that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for improvement. Take a closer look at the matches and try to figure out what’s implemented correctly and what isn’t.

Assess Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are specific keywords that prevent your ad from being shown by certain phrases or words. They are your best defense against unqualified leads and useless impressions. Rather than relying on guesswork it’s better to check your query reports to get a better idea of the terms that triggered your ads in the past. Take a list of the phrases and terms that you don’t want your ad to be triggered by and set those as negatives.

If you inherit an account with negatives, thoroughly review it and ensure that all negatives are good fits for the business and aren’t blocking any valuable impressions. Check your match type settings for negatives too to ensure they are operating as supposed to. Negatives set to exact matches often do practically nothing in this respect and can drastically impact the effectiveness of your negative keywords.

PPC Audit: It All Starts With a Plan

Regardless of whether you have inherited an account as a PPC manager or just finished setting up your ad platforms as a business owner, knowing how and why to perform a pay-per-click audit enables you to optimize your accounts and ads to get more out of your marketing efforts, ad budget, and products.

PPC Audit FAQs

Why should you perform PPC audits?

These audits ensure that your advertising accounts, ad groups, and ad sets are in good shape. First, you need to make sure that your account in any given platform is set perfectly. Then, you should assess your ad sets, groups, and keywords. See whether you are tracking conversions and check out your geo-reports and whether your ads are showing for all devices or not.

How many ad variations should I have?

Ideally, it’s preferred to run two or three ad variables, and always keep the best-performing ad. While it can be effective to constantly test different ad variants and continuously look for improvements in your ad campaigns, running too many tests in your ad groups can become overwhelming, eventually leading to you losing track of them.

Is PPC better than SEO?

For short-term traffic and conversion increases, PPC is the superior marketing strategy among the two. SEO, on the other hand, will always be a better long-term investment with higher ROI, and more “digital leverage” as you manage to build your visibility, backlink hierarchy, and content marketing prowess.

Typically, experts advise running both tactics together to maximize the potential of your website and make the best use of your traffic.

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