You know you should audit your account, right?  Whether it’s a new account you’ve just taken over or one you’ve been managing for years, a comprehensive, holistic analysis can always turn up new insights to help you push your PPC performance to new heights.

We’ve already written about the myriad benefits of a PPC audit (and what not to do).  We’ve held webinars and had Q & A sessions on them.  We showed you how to do rudimentary audits in minutes with Excel.  We even wrote the comprehensive Complete PPC Account Audit Guide to provide you with a roadmap to audit your accounts quickly and effectively.

That being said, a comprehensive account audit takes time and energy – both of which you may find in short supply right now (especially those of you in ecommerce during this busy holiday season).  Luckily, there are tools available to those of us who lack the opportunity to diagnose the many ways in which account performance could be improved.

Enter:  Wordstream’s AdWords Performance Grader

What Is It?

Quite simply, it’s an award-winning free tool developed by Wordstream that will help you quickly identify where improvements can be made in your AdWords campaigns.  You get an overall grade determined how many best practice benchmarks you hit after an examination of your account, as seen below:

Those safes won’t sell themselves, after all.

How Does It Work?

Basically, it measures your account along a certain set of criteria and compares your current performance to the projected performance you could have under their best-practice recommendations.  These factors are:

  • Wasted Spend – a calculation of negative keywords created in the last 90 days, point out potentially wasted spend based on irrelevant queries.
  • Quality Score – utilizing a method similar to Brad Geddes, you get an Impression-Weighted Average Quality Score, along with a recommended Quality Score.  This provides a quick diagnosis for any needed ad group/campaign breakouts.
  • Impression Share – provides a pie chart breaking down your overall impression share over the last 90 days, segmenting by Acquired Impression Share, Share Lost to Budget, and Share Lost to Ad Rank.
  • Click Through Rate – examines overall click through rate, as well as CTR versus average position graphs for your top 200 keywords.
  • Account Activity – examines overall account maintenance frequency, specifically looking at campaign/ad group/keyword additions, ad copy changes, and placement changes.  One drawback – it doesn’t appear to examine bids.  Thus, if you have some long-running tests that you’d prefer not to disrupt, your overall grade might be hurt.  Take this measurement with a grain of salt, but understand the intent behind it.
  • Long-Tail Keyword Optimization – examines the word length of your keyword stable.  Are you relying on overly broad terms and one-word matches?  Specificity in your keyword list can help qualify traffic and get you cheaper clicks.
  • Text Ad Optimization – a count of your active ads.  Given the size of your account, are you testing enough ad copy to find your most effective ads?  This can help you answer that question.
  • Landing Page Optimization – Another count of active landing pages.  This is less useful, as account size may not be indicative of how many landing pages you need (they recommended 200 for this particular account…  which is about twenty times as much as the amount of products on offer).  However, it does provide a handy breakdown of your best, worst, and most trafficked landing pages compared to your account baseline stats.
  • PPC Best Practices – A basic breakdown of account settings and general best practices, like Network Targeting, Geotargeting, Language Targeting, Conversion Tracking and the like to check if you’re following some of the basic tenets of PPC management.  While these settings can be contingent to your business needs, it’s still a good idea to check up on them every once in a while.
  • Here’s an example of the feedback you’ll find in the report:
An example of the feedback provided – this one is for Quality Score.

If you’re familiar with this tool, it’s important to note that one major feature has changed:  They’re no longer able to provide competitor information, even in aggregate.  This is due to a change in the AdWords API Terms and Conditions, so in order to remain compliant, this particular feature set was removed.  It was helpful to get an idea of how you compared to your competitors’ statistics, so one hopes that Google will relent in their stance on this particular issue.

That’s the basic rundown of this particular tool.  It’s not perfect:  some of the recommendations are outlandish depending on your business needs (I don’t need 200 landing pages, I can guarantee you that), and it no longer provides the useful competitive industry metrics due to the API Terms and Conditions change.  But, even if you have a different preferred method of auditing your account from time to time, the important thing is that you do it. If you don’t have one, then feel free to give this one a try – it’s free, after all.  More data is always a good thing when it comes to account analysis, so if you’re short on time and/or money, give it a shot.

Just finished an audit yourself?  Have any helpful tools, tips, or tricks to share?  Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading!