Paid Search Audit
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How to conduct a paid search audit that could double ROI

When was the last time you audited your Google AdWords account?

If it’s been over six months. Boy, oh boy, you should take a look.  But beware of the advice you’ll get on the web. A lot of articles will give you tons of dull, generic tips on how to conduct a paid search audit for AdWords.

They’ll tell you to play around with your campaign settings or a dozen other things.

They’re wrong.

Because one of two things is the issue.

  1. Most of the metrics you look at are superficial.
  2. You’re getting overwhelmed by data on things that have a low impact.

There are plenty of vanity metrics that look awesome but actually waste your time.

What you should focus on are the most important metrics: conversions and net profit.

Here’s why…

You could have a great cost per acquisition, but the quality of leads you get are terrible. That’s why you should follow things all the way through.

To get a proper PPC audit report, find which keywords are wasting spend because of poor targeting. Pinpoint the waste to redirect it to the right places.

I remember when I used to take private piano lessons as a kid. One time, I thought I had mastered a song. When I finally performed it for my teacher, he pointed out tons of things I was doing wrong that I could improve on. It’s kind of like that for your Google AdWords campaign.

You could overlook mistakes in your campaigns because you don’t know what you don’t know.

Based on our findings, we’ve returned at least 367% to accounts we’ve helped over a couple months. This was through our audit and our unique strategy at our agency.

Here’s a challenge to you…

For the next 60 days, focus on these things in your paid search audit:

What to actually look for in a PPC audit

Paid Search Audit

The main thing you want to look for in your Google AdWords account are places where you are targeting too loosely.

You should narrow the targeting so specific search terms, ads, and landing pages correlate. This focus helps with the relevancy of everything. For example, let’s look at the difference between people who search “pool services” versus “pool cleaning.”

Both seem to be similar keywords. But you’ll find that you need to have specifically tailored ads and landing pages for both terms since the search intent is different.

Pool services could mean a variety of services like chlorination or water replacement.

Pool cleaning is more focused on cleaning.

When users search for a keyword you pay for, you’re screwed if they don’t get a tailored experience.

If the ad and landing page don’t fit exactly with the search term, they are likely to click away.

It is in your power to fix this by creating specific ads and landing pages that correlate. Otherwise, you’re needlessly wasting money on a poor user experience you could better control.

1. Look for budget spent on bad keywords

Did you know that 9% of keywords in an AdWords account on average make up all the conversions? Did you know that useless keywords can use up to 61% of your budget?

Why does this happen?

Most keywords don’t convert because the budget gets wasted on keywords that aren’t relevant.

This is usually due to a shotgun approach of just using a massive amount of keywords in a campaign. Rather than unloading a ton of keywords and praying for the best, you need to have a more focused approach.

The solution is simple:

Find worthless keywords that you have run in the last 6 months that you’ve paid for but have never converted. 6 months is a good amount of time to get a reliable amount of data.

To do this, go to All Campaigns, click the Keywords tab, click the Details dropdown, and click “Search Terms All.” You can export the data in Excel and sort by terms with zero conversions.

In our free AdWords audit, we do everything for you.

Most people use broad and phrase match types. These convert at a higher CPA. Use these match types as keyword research and add winning keywords as exact match type.

Make sure you add more negative keywords so that you aren’t paying for related words you don’t want. We have a free big daddy negative keyword list to give you some ideas.

If a keyword has more than 50 clicks, no conversions, and has run for over 6 months, it should be turned off.

2. Set up great tracking

Make sure you have proper tracking setup.

How do you know if you’re returning a profit or losing money for keywords?

Setting up tracking doesn’t have to be complicated.

It’s as easy as placing the code Google ads gives you on the page of your site. Google walks you through how to set it up. Or you can just hand it to your developer and they can do it in a couple minutes.

3. Tighten up your landing pages

Even to this day, people ignore the most basic principles for Google AdWords ads. The most outrageous is when an ad points to a website’s homepage, which happens often when we’re doing audits. A homepage is a bad place to send people to because they get bombarded with distractions. Also, they can go places you don’t want them to. They will feel confused and will probably leave because it isn’t congruent with the ad.

What you want is one thing: a conversion to occur. Thus, you need a dedicated landing page tailored to the user’s intent to push them to one outcome. Get specific. Focus down on one theme for similar keywords and find out what the search intent of the user is. Create a specific landing page and ad that match these things exactly.

When everything is congruent, people are less likely to leave. This is because it’s a great user experience and they found what they’re looking for.

Make sure the technical side of the landing page is flawless too. The page should be mobile-responsive, no-index so organic searchers don’t accidentally find it, and have working conversion tracking.

4. Make sure you’re properly using ad extensions

Are you using ad extensions?

Ad extensions can improve average CTR by up to 20%.

There is no extra cost to adding these. It is more important than ever because Google now factors CTR from ad extensions into how they rank ads.

Just like how you write your ad copy, make sure to test and tweak your ad extensions. Every word has to earn its way on there.

The Sitelinks, Location, and Call Out extensions are the best extensions for increasing your chances of bettering your rank.

But don’t just add extensions. Make sure they’re relevant, accurate, and have proper conversion tracking.

5. Have highly targeted ad groups

Subtle differences in keyword searches can result in a different search intent.

Not to mention, ad groups get messier as you add more ads so it is important to start off organized.

  1. Try to keep your ad groups to around three keywords per Ad Group to keep things organized.
  1. Keep it simple by testing only two different ads in an ad group.

The difference between the ads could be as simple as a single different word or call to action.

Google Adwords PPC Audit Checklist

Our PPC company has helped hundreds of businesses achieve increased ROI. Below, is an Adwords Audit template you can reference to see what you can do better.

1. Check your keywords

  • Are there any keywords that have never converted that you’ve run for over 6 months?
  • How can you improve the quality score on your best keywords?
  • Are you constantly adding negative keywords so you don’t pay for keywords you don’t want? For example, add “dogs” as a negative for ad groups about “cats” and vice versa.
  • Are you continually and systematically reducing CPA and improving lead quality?
  • Are you finding and testing new keywords constantly?
  • Have you limited the keywords in your ad groups to small, tight-knit themes?
  • Are you using rules (i.e. statistical rigor) in your testing or just winging it?
  • Have you made sure you eliminated all keyword overlap?
  • Have you made sure you are never bidding against yourself?

2. Check your landing pages

  • Is your landing page completely correlated with the keyword, ad, and search intent?
  • Is your landing page mobile friendly?
  • Are you testing variations every month?
  • Do you have specific landing pages for a set of specific, related keywords?

3. Ads

  • Have you created complete alignment between keywords, ad copy, and landing pages?
  • Are you testing only 2 different ads in each ad group?
  • Is the grammar and spelling for all your ads correct?
  • Did you set the ads to optimize for conversions? Google wants to optimize for clicks because they make more money but what gets the most clicks isn’t always what gets the most sales.
  • Are you leveraging regular display?
  • Are you testing new offers at least once a quarter?

4. Tracking & Testing

  • Is AdWords integrated properly with Google Analytics?
  • Are you running high-impact tests or testing trivial stuff like capitalization?
  • Are you tracking all relevant conversions and calls with Google Analytics goals?
  • Can you easily identify poor-performing keywords that should be paused?
  • Did you triple check that conversions are firing correctly?
  • Are you checking tracking at least once a quarter to make sure things don’t break?

5. Campaigns

  • Are your campaigns so relevant and targeted that you’re getting 5-10% conversion rates?
  • Are you monitoring spend daily so you aren’t spending too much or too little?
  • Do you know what’s considered a good lead? Have you talked with your client to make sure?
  • Are you allocating budget to the campaigns that matter most to your client?
  • Do you use data to drive strategy or wait for what the client tells you?
  • Do you connect with your client, boss, and/or sales team at least once a month to gauge the quality of your leads?
  • Can you quantify how individual campaigns, groups, and keywords drive business?
  • Can you drill down to dimensions like time of day or are you still at a high level only?
  • Are you using demographic data in your analysis or treating everything the same?
  • Are you finding and testing new ad formats at least once a quarter?


Many CMO’s struggle to perform because they aren’t doing a proper paid search audit.

You don’t have to be pressured like the other guys. With a few easy fixes, you can get much better results.

To recap:

  • Make sure you narrow targeting for specific keywords, ads, and landing pages.
  • Find and end low-performing keywords.
  • Get a congruent ad and landing page.
  • Set up proper tracking.
  • Set up ad extensions.

I know you can be under a lot of pressure to perform, so let us do things for you. Get a free ppc account audit from us.

Why are we giving away this free ppc audit that has a $4000 value? Because we are so confident that you will be floored by the AdWords audit report results. We’re willing to do this for the chance to earn a customer.

We’re Google AdWords certified partners and one thing we do that no one else does is turn the data on its side.

Other audits out there will give you generic directions, like “increase your quality scores.” But we’ll identify specific subsections of wasteful keywords.

We take the metrics that AdWords gives us and relate it back to what’s most important. These include metrics like sales conversions and net profit.

We dive deep into how your quality score affects things like CPA. We identify specific, underperforming subsections and figure out how to fix this waste.

We do all the work so you can sit back and relax.

About the writer
William Chou
William Chou
William Chou has years of experience in the world of corporate digital marketing. He is proficient in SEO, paid media, email marketing, and copywriting.

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