PPC Account Audit Survival Guide: Part 1

By Stephanie White | @stephanieppcpro | Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

 

There are many reasons why you might want to perform a PPC account audit. You could be taking over an account from another agency, previous manager, or colleague or perhaps you just want to make sure your account set-up is optimal for your company goals. Part 1 of your Audit Survival Guide focuses on features that can be found in the AdWords interface.

 

Over the years Google Adwords has made a lot of changes: adding new features, retiring old ones, creating new types of campaigns or simply renaming metrics or campaigns. So regardless of if you inherited an account from another manager or just haven’t had time to even look at your campaign recently, there is never a better time than the present to audit your account settings.

 

Whenever first beginning an audit, it can be overwhelming figuring out where to start. So, I often start from the beginning, as if I were setting up this campaign for the very first time.

 

ACCOUNT LEVEL SETTINGS

AccountSettings1

 

 

Campaign Names:

 

First, when you are looking at the campaign naming structure, you should be able to identify the setting for each campaign without having to dig in deeper. PPC Hero Chadd Powell recently wrote a post on this very topic. If you don’t use a clear naming structure, it’s highly advisable to start creating a naming convention that would make sense to almost anyone who looks at your account.

 

Next, start reviewing the Settings tab with All Campaigns selected. This gives you an overall view of some of the major settings that are driving your campaigns’ performance.

 

AccountSettings2

 

Language:

 

Are you targeting people who speak Spanish with ad copy that is in English? If so, those seeing your ad might not be able to read it, and this might negatively affect your performance. In the example below, we have ads in English and also bilingual ads in English and Spanish. It is highly recommended that you deliver an ad in the same language someone is using in when they search online.

AccountSettings3

 

Networks:

 

Are your networks targeting both Search and Display? The common practice is to separate these networks out because performance can be completely different. Display is often more effective at brand awareness and this network does not have a problem spending. Combining the two networks in a single campaign can often result in the Display network dominating budget usage.

 

Does your network include Search and Search Partners? We have found these networks can behave differently too. There are times when we see a good volume of conversions at a lower CPA, but other times they just spend drive up costs without converting. View performance under Campaigns > Segment > Network with Search Partners and measure your performance to determine if it is worth keeping.

 

As you can see in the example below, the Display network CPA is $135.34 compared to the Search Network CPA of $41.62. Considering Display is a branding play, but you might want to check your Multi-Funnel Attribution report to give additional insight into long-term performance..

 

AccountSettings4

 

Ad Schedule:

 

Is your campaign set to run all hours? Should you create a custom Day parting schedule? This can be a great option for small business or account with limited budgets. This can also be incorporated into a strategy for businesses with high call volume that does not want to advertise on evenings and weekends when the office is closed.

 

You can check your performance by hour by selecting Campaigns > Dimensions > View Time > Hour of the Day. It is a good idea to select a good time frame, but keep in mind any seasonal trends your account might have.

 

AccountSettings5

 

Conversion Tracking:

 

Does the account have conversion tracking? If not, this is highly advisable to ensure your campaign is being optimized to encourage the desired conversion. It is also a required to verify that you’re tracking the correct conversion.

 

For example, you might want to use Analytics to measure newsletter signups, but this might not be a good for measuring your account performance. Another thing we see all the time is the conversion code was installed incorrectly and is reporting false conversions.

 

Maybe the conversion actions are just not identified clearly. This would be a great time to figure out what type of conversion ‘Other’ means as shown in this example below. Another action shows Tag Inactive which tells you there’s an element of your conversion tracking that is not properly reporting.

 

Check your conversions under Tools > Conversions. You can also identify what pages are driving conversions by selecting Webpages under the Conversions Actions.

 

AccountSettings6

 

Location Adjustments

 

Do you have any settings enabled that might affect performance? Are you advertising in the entire US and Canada when you only ship to customers in the US? Are you only targeting specific states- if so, do you know the reason why?

 

Another common oversight is when someone isolates a location in one campaign, but neglects to exclude it from a similar campaign. Oftentimes, we will see campaigns showing to searchers in foreign countries, but the business does not do any business overseas.

 

Check your user locations under Campaigns > Dimensions > User Locations. If you see other countries here that you do not want to appear in you can either exclude the locations or change your targeting under advance settings.

 

AccountSettings7

 

Device Settings

 

A integral step in your audit should be the checking of your device settings. Are your device settings correct? Are you utilizing bid modifiers, and if so, are they set too low or too high? What is your average mobile device position? Any position below 3 is likely to go unseen, at which point your impressions are a bit of a waste. Focus on the campaigns that actually perform for mobile and ensure that they stay above that cutoff rank.

 

Bid Strategies

Lastly, be sure to review any active bid strategies. The pre-established settings need to make sense for your business goals. Perhaps you have some conversions, enough to enable Enhanced conversion optimizer, but not enough to do CPA Bidding. Read more about the flexible bidding strategies to determine which ones are right for you.

 

Conclusion of Part 1

Auditing accounts can be tedious and time consuming, but the benefits to your cost savings are more than worth the investment. In this post, we covered some of the ways to audit your Account Settings, next time we will cover how to audit campaigns, adgroups and keywords. Until then, are there settings you commonly review that we have yet to cover? Share your learnings with our PPC Hero team and readers like yourself!