Heroview - New and Unusual PPC Auditing Techniques

Stuck in your old PPC auditing routine? Mix things up with our feedback from “British Sam” (Sam Owen of Hanapin Marketing) as he discusses new and unusual PPC auditing techniques in this week’s Heroview.


Welcome to today’s Heroview everyone, real-time interviews featuring #PPC experts from around the industry! As a reminder, we’ll have some time at the end to open the floor up for questions, so hang onto those until the end!  Today, British Sam Owen will talk about new and unusual techniques for effective PPC auditing.


PPC Hero: We are really excited to have you with us today British Sam! Thanks for joining PPC Hero!

Sam: Thanks for having me, always a pleasure to talk PPC.

PPC Hero: Let’s start with you giving us a little more info about your background auditing PPC accounts.

Sam: I’ve been auditing PPC accounts for just over 3 years now – first in-house for a consumer advice and price comparison… company and now @hanapin. I love seeing how other people manage their PPC accounts & finding out how I’ve messed up!

PPC Hero: Could you kick this all off by just telling us when or why you’d want to audit an account?

Sam: If you work on one account – about once a month for a big audit should suffice unless you get boatloads of traffic in an agency setting measure your accounts by success and audit the ones furthest from goal – any worse than15% from goal should be a red flag. Why audit = to step back and see trends and any errors you might miss normally.

PPC Hero: There’s so much to a PPC account.  Where do you start when you’re auditing?

Sam: KPIs KPIs KPIs! You don’t need to do a full audit every time you look at an account – start with where you can make the most effective changes! If CPA is great but leads are low or vice versa you will approach things differently!

PPC Hero: How do you find it’s best to break up an audit?  Is it a one man task, or can multiple people get involved?

Sam: 1 person = easier. More people = catch more issues. One effective technique is to bring in multiple people to do separate audits of the same account and then roundtable the findings – everyone comes back with different issues they’ve spotted!

PPC Hero: How far back do you look at your accounts?  Does old data have an expiration date?

Sam: Good question! The further back you go the less reliable the data gets. I look to have 100 clicks on a KW/across similar KWs before I make a judgment and I’ll generally do 45 days to 3 months data. Too far back and seasonality, on site changes, and the shape of the market are fluctuating too much to give you meaningful numbers to work with.

PPC Hero: In your experience what types of settings are often overlooked? Anything on that tab worth going over?


Sam: Hmm… check ad rotation after all of Google’s messing around with it lately. Once I had someone come to me complaining their 100 new campaigns were getting 0 impressions. Turned out they’d uploaded from Excel and dragged the dates down – so only one campaign was being launched per day. These stupid things can be the hardest to spot!

PPC Hero: When it comes to auditing an account’s structure, what are some guidelines you like to follow?

Sam: Some people have fixed rules they follow which is great – having everything perfectly segmented IS best practice, however, for me account structure needs to have two key features: Be manageable – 1000 campaigns for a part time PPC manager isn’t going to be effective. It also needs to reflect goals rather than structure for structures sake.

PPC Hero: How crucial are ads to the auditing process?  Any tips about wading through all of the ads/ad tests in an account?

Sam: In smaller or very segmented accounts make sure you pull all your ads into pivot tables in Excel so you can compare aggregated data for descr. lines, or display URL formats you are trying. Common issue = expired deals / wrong pricing!

PPC Hero: What about quality scores? When you’re going through an account, how much weight do you give to QS?

Sam: Once a month I like to download all account KWs and put the QS breakdown into a pivot table and check the shifts in breakdown – if QS is falling it can be a sign that an account needs an audit. On a new audit I’ll use low QS as an indicator that ads aren’t relevant or landing pages need revamping! FYI check out this video for more info on that QS download – http://www.ppchero.com/brad-geddes-presents-how-to-identify-google-adwords-quality-score-problems/

PPC Hero: And extensions? Which of those would you recommend or are there any common problems you find with them?

Sam: Click-to-call is one where I often find crazy CPAs as people just stop checking and have no means to track. Also, people get lazy with sitelinks – check for better pages to direct to and try and make them more relevant/compelling.

PPC Hero: How do you compare audits across engines? Are there any common pratfalls we should be aware of?

Sam: Error number 1 – what works on Google doesn’t always work on Bing. You have to treat them separately for bid prices best keywords and ad copy. Biggest issue with non-Google engines tends to be lack of conv. tracking making auditing hard.

PPC Hero: Do you have any good audit horror stories you’d like to share? Worst account of all time?

Sam: Worst account of all time spent $120k in 3 weeks, had about 100 sales so $1200 CPA and the target was about $20 CPA! They had set everything up running a ton of broad match keywords, upped bids through the roof and left it.

PPC Hero: How close is the relationship between auditing and action? Are some audits more interesting than practical?

Sam: Make a list of issues you encounter in your audit – bids too high, negative KWs needed, settings wrong and work through it! I would say there’s always something of practical value to take away even for things like Quality Score reviews.

PPC Hero: Last question: What’s something that you’ve been busted on by an audit in one of your accounts?


Sam: Geo-targeting was one – we had sales in one country massively spike without noticing for a month! Negative keywords is another one I’ve been told I messed up which I didn’t agree with – too little data to give up on certain phrases without hurting leads. I like getting feedback though – no one catches everything.

PPC Hero: Well, that’s all from us. Do you have anything else you’d like to add, or does anyone have any questions?

Sam: All the Excel stuff can be found on   – it’s tough to explain on Twitter! Thanks for tweeting with me!

Thanks for joining us today, Sam! We really appreciate you taking the time to drop some PPC knowledge on the Twitter-verse!