Earlier this week I hosted a webinar extolling the virtues of conducting a PPC audit. We had a lot of feedback and follow up questions, which we really appreciated. A lot of you asked about the checklist I use when auditing an account, so I’ve decided to offer it up here for everyone to borrow. I hope it helps you in your PPC endeavors. In the words of Oprah when she last came into the Hanapin office, “You get an audit checklist! You get an audit checklist! You all get audit checklists!”

Here are the follow up questions we had from the webinar: 

  • Q: Can you provide the audit checklist you mentioned?

A: I sure can! I’ve attached a copy of it below. For those who didn’t watch the webinar, the slides are still available here. This checklist is something I built as a quick guide to remind me all the things to check in an account. It’s not exhaustive so if I’ve missed anything, let me know and I’ll update the checklist for others in the future. I normally just print out a copy for each time I audit an account and go down it, ticking off boxes with a pen. Hope this helps you out!

PPC Audit Checklist

To download your own copy, click here: Hanapin-Audit-Checklist

  • Q: How long does it generally take to complete a thorough audit?

A: It normally depends on how much feedback I’ll be giving. For my own account, auditing for the purpose of improving results, it might take a couple of hours to run down a checklist of things to look over. However, if I’m making a comprehensive report for a client or my boss, you’re looking at maybe a day to pull screenshots, write up recommendations and project impact.

  • Q: How do you prioritize action items after completing an audit?

A: First and foremost you need to look at your goals: Are you after more leads, or is reducing your CPA the most critical thing you can do? If CPA is the most important, look at improving your ads with an eye on conversion rate, conducting bid adjustments, running SQRs and adding negatives and tweaking your budgets. If you need more leads, look at your keyword research, ads, and anything you can do to optimize your adCenter campaigns too. Of course, if there are any immediate red flags, such as all your ads have been disapproved, get to those right away.

It really comes down to what the key aim of your audit is. I like to have a particular purpose in mind each time I audit, whether it be finding mistakes in the account, looking for growth opportunities, or looking for optimization recommendations. I pick my process from there.

  • Q: If your account is running in the “green” (within 5% of goal), is there a set time frame where you should automatically plan to audit?

A: There’s no set time frame, but I would recommend you do a full audit of your accounts once every couple of months, or whenever performance shifts dramatically for a few days. For healthy accounts I would advise you to think about doing smaller audits that might help to generate some extra optimizations and expansion ideas. Perhaps spend 15 minutes reviewing all your settings one week, your ad texts the next, etc. This will vary with the amount of time you have to work on your paid search.

  • Q: With regards to the Lin/Rodnitzky ratio. CPA is cost-per-acquisition right? So an acquisition is a conversion? I’m confused about the formula, because surely to have a CPA you need to have conversions, so how does ‘CPA of all search queries’ vary from ‘CPA from queries with 1+ conversion’? Is the numerator the CPA of queries that only have 1 conversion, and the denominator the CPA of those which only have more than 1?

A: Firstly, for those of you unfamiliar with the Lin/Rodnitzky ratio, it is essentially a quick calculation you can do to see the efficiency of your account. What you need to do is take the CPA of all search queries and divide it by the CPA of all your search queries with at least 1+ conversion. A score of under 1.5 tells me the account is too conservative or brand heavy and a score of greater than 2 suggests too aggressive of a strategy.

Lin Rodnitzky Ratio

I can see why saying ‘CPA of all search queries’ might have been confusing – it means your total CPA, including costs from queries with a conversion and costs from queries with no conversions. So if my account has 100 unique queries, 50 of them have 1 conversion each at a cost of $50 total, and the other 50 have no conversion for an equal cost of $50 total, my L/R ratio tells me:

CPA of all queries with 1+ conversion = $50/50conversion = $1 CPA

CPA of all search queries = $100/50 conversions = $2 CPA

My L/R ratio would therefore be = $2/$1 = 2 which would tell me I’m being a little aggressive, but still staying close enough to my sweet spot.

Another person asked how much weight we give to the L/R ratio when auditing. In all honesty, we use it just as another metric to help diagnose issues. We don’t try and force each account into the perfect 1.5-2 sweet spot, but we do calculate the L/R ratio of the account so we can judge whether we should be being more aggressive or conservative.

Once again, thanks for reading! If you have any thoughts on the checklist or any issues with the Q&A answers, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.