What Is a PPC Audit?

When you first launched paid advertising, your conversions went from zero to 100, but now, it feels as though the engine is barely starting. It happens all too often, but it's usually the minor tweaks that can kickstart the improvements. How can you identify changes to make to your campaign? Well, a PPC audit is the best place to start!

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Much like any segment of digital marketing, PPC is a complex element comprising many layers. A PPC audit will deconstruct your campaigns piece-by-piece, analyse them in fine detail, and determine areas for improvement and how you can optimise your pay per click to boost your return on investment.


Why You Need a Pay Per Click Audit.

With the prominence of paid ads now ruling at the top of Google's search engine results page, ad space is prime real estate that your competition should NOT be renting.

PPC audits are necessary for pinpointing inefficiencies that might be causing you to waste ad spend and preventing you from ruling over your competition, dominating ad space, and receiving more clicks than you could only dream of.

A comprehensive audit will tell you;

  • what isn't working
  • what your ads are missing and opportunities you should maximise
  • why your results have declined
  • what you are wasting time and money on
  • why your ad spend has skyrocketed

Audits provides you with a no-nonsense data-led approach to driving conversions to their maximum potential. Regardless of your experience or how powerful your paid performance already is, there is always room for growth.

Benefits of Auditing a PPC Campaign:

  1. Discover any performance issues
  2. Determine competitor's strengths and capitalise on their weak spots
  3. Identify areas for improvement to increase your visibility on ad space
  4. Learn how your current strategy performs
  5. Learn more about your audience and their likes or needs
  6. Create a better user experience for the audience

How Often Should Do a PPC Audit?

As with any audit, whether that be a broad digital marketing audit or a specific SEO audit, don't wait until your PPC is failing before carrying out an audit.

To push your PPC to its maximum power, you need to stay ahead of the curve. You need to identify and rectify minor concerns before they become problematic or unresolvable, so don't wait for your results to languish before you carry out an audit.

If there are no obvious pain points with your PPC, it's still best to have an audit every six months to a year as a minimum and apply this rule to all segments of your digital marketing efforts.

Use regular auditing as a vital injection of energy into your paid ads rather than as a discovery method for serious issues.

Signs it's time to audit your paid ads!

However, just in case you have left it a little too late, here are some tell tale signs that your current PPC strategy is deteriorating and an audit could be beneficial:

  1. Click-through-rate has dropped
  2. Your ad spend spiralled out of control
  3. Failing to generate sales, or they have plateaued
  4. You are losing high volumes of paid traffic
  5. Failing to meet goal conversions
  6. Your ads are no longer appearing in SERPs
  7. Your impression share has decreased
  8. You have noticed the sudden rise of a competitor

How to Conduct a PPC Audit.

Conducting a PPC audit on a new or existing account and optimising them based on your findings ensures maximum efficiency and reward of ad accounts.

Our guide will walk you through the essential steps for conducting a PPC audit and nurturing your paid ad campaigns.

But, before you get into the nitty-gritty, have a quick look over the following:

  • Google Analytics access - ensure Analytics and conversion goals have been linked to your Google Ads account correctly
  • Conversion tracking - gather a list of conversion actions first and be sure of what conversions you want to track
  • Date range - Choose how far back you want to analyse; the longer the date range the better. Ideally, you should observe at least three months of data, but a year is preferable
  • KPIs - determine the key metrics that you want to measure in your audit

We Have Delivered PPC Audits for:

Essential Elements of Completing a PPC Audit.

So, shall we get to the bones of what it takes to complete a PPC audit?

This comprehensive guide outlines the different account areas for you to analyse and review in an audit, and propel your paid ad campaigns to success!

  1. Google Analytics

    Before you get into the nitty-gritty of your pay per click audit, you should ensure your PPC account is linked to Google Analytics.

    Google Analytics is the holy grail for digital marketing, it will allow you to monitor all customer activity and behaviour on your website following an ad click or impression.

  2. Campaign Structure

    The first thing you should assess in a PPC audit is campaign structure. Is the naming structure simple, clear and does it make sense? A sensible naming structure makes your job a lot easier down the line. Each should have a unique name that clearly explains what kind of ad groups are within the campaign. Numbering your campaigns 1 to 20 will make it tricky to identify which campaigns you need.

  3. Ad Groups

    Now that you have organised the campaigns methodically, it's time to review the ad groups.

    Some things to consider for your ad groups; are you using ad groups as a subcategory for general product categories, for example? Have you used a maximum of 20 keywords within each ad group? Is your ad group niche? If the ad group is broad, you might encounter difficulties matching the ad copywriting with the terms.

  4. Keywords

    Choosing your keywords are vital for a fruitful ROI. If mostly broad match terms have been associated with the account, there is scope to increase the ROI by adding phrase and exact match terms. If broad match terms are needed for a specific reason, a negative keyword strategy must be in place to eradicate irrelevant traffic. You can also use search term reports to discover high-reaching keywords and determine if they still need to be added to the account structure to increase traffic or conversions.

  5. Quality Score

    Quality score is one of the most important aspects of running a PPC campaign. The quality score determines your ad's placement, and the only way to improve your ad placement is to also improve your quality score.

    Factors such as click-through rate and ad relevance help calculate your quality score; the more relevant your ad is, the more likely you are to receive clicks.

    If you see that your quality score is low during your PPC audit, improving this should be at the top of your priority list if you want to improve your ad's overall performance. If your quality score is good, it's happy days; you can continue your current strategies to keep your rating.

  6. Ad Copy and Design

    Many people are so consumed with keyword selection and bidding that they forget to pay attention to the front end of the ad, but this has one of the biggest impacts on the click-through rate. You must ensure ads are grammatically correct, contain no spelling mistakes and contain content that excites or intrigues the audience. You should also ensure that all text on the ad is factually correct. For example, are you advertising a promotional price that is no longer valid? Is the messaging in sync with the information on your website? While this kind of error might not affect CTR, it will harm your conversion rate.

  7. Bid Strategy

    Your bid strategy should mirror your campaign goals. You can use manual cost per click (CPC) or automatic CPC to target clicks, CPA bidding to heighten conversions or manual CPM to focus on impressions.

    Also, when running a PPC campaign, you'll want to keep track of your bid amounts and monitor this to see how much you are spending.

    If you see the budgets creeping up with little to show for it, you could end up losing money or just breaking even, but that's not preferable; you should be making a profit.

    If your CPC is £10 for a £15 product, your profit margin is minor. If you reassess your bidding strategy and spending, you might find a method of lowering your bid amounts while allowing more clicks.

  8. Remarketing

    Firstly, see if your remarketing campaigns are activated. If yes, you should start checking the specific audiences, if cookie codes are in the website coding, are they set up with the correct lengths and is there an assigned audience for each abandonment level.

  9. Tracking

    Checking tracking implementation on a PPC account should be one of your first steps of preparing for an audit.

    Before starting an audit, you should refine a list of conversion goals. Having this final list of goals means you can resolve any errors with the existing implementation.

    Check the Google Ads tracking code is active on the website and assess any conversion actions to ensure they're relevant.

  10. IP Exclusions

    So, you're reviewing your ads while you're at work, but you or a colleague accidentally clicks... What does that do? Well, it's detrimental to your clicks and impressions. To ensure you're not wasting precious clicks and budget, you can exclude your office's IP address. Excluding your office's IP means your ads won't appear when you search for your search terms, so you won't be wasting impressions or clicks on your office. If you want to view your ads through the eyes of the audience, you can use the ad preview tool.

  11. Location Targeting

    Location analysis provides valuable insights for your PPC audit.

    When running a paid campaign, your ads might appear in different counties or cities, especially if you have a presence selling products or services nationwide.

    Location analysis allows you to see where your ads best perform, the different cities where your ad appears and how it looks to the audience in those cities. This can be useful for assessing where you are likely to gain business and helps you to decide where to increase ad spend if certain cities are driving better results.

    Location analysis can also prevent wasting budget. If you notice your ads keep appearing in a city where your services are not available, clicks from this region can waste your assigned budget. If you spot this mistake, you can rectify it and allocate your ad spend in areas that will yield sales.

Should You Perform Your Own Pay Per Click Audit?

A PPC audit can typically be carried out in-house or outsourced to a professional agency, the best options depends on what you are looking to achieve from your audit.

If you notice a particular issue with your campaigns, use the steps above to dig around your account and identify the areas that are impacting performance. However, if you need a comprehensive deep dive into your accounts, we'd say leave it to the pros!

Having a fresh set of eyes on a campaign removes any bias that account managers might have, therefore it's easier for external sources to be brutal about what simply isn't working. An outsourced professional will also have more experience in the world of auditing and will be better equipped to fully unpack your campaigns and accounts to identify the problem areas.