How to audit your Google Ads account like a pro

Brad Geddes is no stranger to paid search. And as one of the co-founders of Adalysis, he’s had his fair share of audits.

In an SMX Advanced session, it provides a framework for reviewing your own accounts or performing reviews on client proposals. Let’s dive in.

Why conduct an audit?

Here are some reasons why you should conduct a Google Ads audit:

  • Someone is dissatisfied with the performance. Your conversions have gone down and spending has gone up. Something went wrong.
  • The account owner wants to make sure they are following best practices and nothing is wrong.
  • The account holder is satisfied with what they are getting, but they want more.
  • The agency does an audit as part of a bid and they need to know what the products are, how they’re selling, what their funnel is, and if any part of that funnel is being ignored.

Ask the right questions

When conducting an account audit, you need to know several pieces of information. Geddes addresses some of the questions you need to ask yourself or the client.

  • What is the goal of your Google Ads account?
  • What do you want from it?
  • What is a successful account for you?

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Account Summary


  • How big is the account? Is it two campaigns or 30?
  • What is the advertising expenditure?
  • Are there search and display campaigns or just search campaigns?

aspiration level

Is the account manager new? Do you need to educate this person?

If they’re a professional, you can address them differently than if they’ve only been at Google Ads for a few months.

What are you Not See?

What is not tracked or only used in certain campaigns? The most common conversions not tracked are:

  • phone calls.
  • Downloads.
  • mailto links.

Use Google’s conversion action sets and stitch together different conversions and apply different activities to different campaigns, Geddes said. This allows you to use engagement goals for the top of the funnel and CPA goals for the bottom of the funnel.

Account settings

If you’re happy with the conversions or know what needs to be fixed, look at the campaign settings. What you’re looking for is consistency in the setup process.

Some things to look for:

  • Are all campaigns targeting the same locations?
  • Do they create ads by device?
  • Do they use bid adjustments?
  • How do you bid?

Who manages the account

Is someone actively managing the account? Sometimes an account spends millions of dollars a month, and if there have been five changes in the last 30 days, chances are no one is managing it.

In other cases, there may be a large number of changes, but everything is taken care of by the API, meaning nobody overlooks the data. And sometimes someone really cares about the account, actively manages it, and you’ll see a lot of changes and what’s being worked on.

This should give you an idea of ​​how active management is and what is being used to make changes. Is it an API, third-party scripts, a human, or something else?

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When you have completed the basic audit, look at the trends. Instead of looking at monthly trends, look year-over-year. Consider how last March compares to this year instead of looking at February versus March.

Ask the customer if they can provide some periods of time when they were happy with the account for reference. This allows you to look at date ranges, compare the visual data, and analyze if search volume has decreased significantly.

If search volume went down, did someone remove keywords? Is the proportion of possible impressions increasing?

Quality score issues can be present as well as extension issues. Has a new landing page started?

Knowing these factors can help you get to the bottom of what happened and narrow down areas of change.

Look at the big picture

With a traditional audit, you don’t have time to look at every detail. Instead, look at what the problem areas are, Geddes said.

Percentage of possible impressions

  • How often are these ads showing or not showing?
  • Are you losing impression share due to budget?
  • What about Ad Ranks?
  • If the impression share is high and the customer is still not satisfied, can you add new targeting with a different ad or keywords?

When it comes to budget:

  • Can you manipulate the budget to get more?
  • If you took another campaign’s budget, would you get more?

Budget manipulation is probably the easiest way to get extra conversions, Geddes said.

Check out the trends and time frames in which things have changed:

  • Is it an Ad Rank issue? If so, you should look into Quality Score.
  • Is it ad relevance? Is it a landing page issue?
  • Does the landing page match the keywords in the account?
  • Did they launch a new website or page that caused the experience to be compromised?

Talk to the customer and find out what happened.


Which keywords does the customer use? What is their orientation?

View match type usage and trends.

  • What is their conversion rate by match type?
  • Do you have a lot of broad match keywords with conversions, but no exact match?
  • Does someone go through the query report and add these keywords to the account?

Duplicate search terms also occur. Therefore, Geddes suggests that adding a negative keyword to the underperforming ad group can often lead to an increase in conversions. Controlled duplicates can often lead to additional conversions.

Keyword conflicts can also occur when you block your own keywords. However, Google doesn’t look at match types, campaign blacklists, or contact center blacklists, so you may be blocking keywords that don’t even show up in Google. Microsoft does this, so you can use that to find Google conflicts, Geddes said.

Ad Group Sizes

Geddes uses a simple pivot table to look at ad group sizes.

  • How many keywords are there per ad group and how many search terms are there per ad group?
  • How are the ad groups managed?
  • Do the ad groups need to be broken down further?

First, look at the ad groups with the highest spend. Are there a large number of them? RSAs don’t cover everything, so Geddes suggests continuing to use a granular ad group organization — even with the new ad formats.

RSA performance and pinning

When you get a picture of how this client manages RSAs, you want to know what their overall asset structure is.

  • What is your general pinning usage?
  • Are they all a bit stuck?
  • Nothing pinned?
  • What are your ad strengths?
  • What is this asset performance breakdown?
  • Are these RSAs unique and do they work well?
  • How does the customer think about it?

If you look at the overall asset report, you can see how many different views an asset is in:

  • Is it on purpose?
  • Did multiple people create the pins?
  • Are they consistent?

Geddes reminds us that pinning doesn’t affect conversion rate or CTR. You’re probably seeing lower ad strength because you control the message.

But once you have an idea of ​​how ad groups are split up and how they’re performing, you also need to know who to look out for.

The competition analysis

Auction insights show you who you are competing with.

  • What is the overlap rate?
  • How do different people address these search terms?
  • Are we a match?
  • Do all ads look the same?
  • How do we stand out from this crowd?
  • Who are your top competitors?

And then by watching how their ads are selling against you, you can create your own selling strategy.

Once you’ve done that, you can still run ad tests, just like before. You might have some ad groups with multiple ad types, and some ad groups consisting of only RSAs. So when you run RSA ad tests, you can run them by topic, such as: B. RSA one for discounts, RSA two for prices, etc.

Geddes notes that customers love insight. Testing multiple ad groups is a great way to let clients know they can increase clicks, conversions, or other metrics by using X.

Bidding Methods

Much more can be done than Geddes discussed, but you have limited time to complete the audit. The big methods to look at are:

  • How do you bid.
  • How do they use bid modifiers?
  • Target CPA is common but might not be the best option as it doesn’t use device modifiers to adjust the bid.


How are audiences used across the account? Geddes says audiences are so useful and there are so many reports and bid adjustments that can be used for audiences with different types of automated bids.

Google doesn’t use audience modifiers to change bids. You use the audience modifiers to say, “You want to show your ads to this audience, more or less this audience.” So, use your bid modifier in an ad-serving manner.

What if someone has zero audiences or zero search audiences or maybe has some display audiences for remarketing? This is often a place for improving accounts. Learn more about audiences and how to create custom audiences

Presentation of the audit to the customer

Some audits can be 10 pages or even 100 pages.

However, it is important to remember that not every customer reading the audit has your PPC knowledge level. They just want to know what to do. So focus on the important highlights and recommendations.

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About the author

Nicole Farley is a contributing editor for Search Engine Land and covers everything PPC. In addition to being a Marine Corps veteran, she has an extensive background in digital marketing, an MBA and a love of true crime, podcasts, travel and snacking.

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