How to Conduct a Complete PPC Audit

Carrying out a PPC audit is essential for checking the health and success of your campaigns. In fact, you should carry out PPC audits on a regular basis (at least quarterly) to ensure your PPC ads are having the effect that you want them to. PPC advertising is highly effective. It can help you to increase brand awareness by 80% and get you a 200% ROI. However, PPC ads are only effective if you set them up and manage them in the right way. A PPC audit will help you to optimise your campaigns and keep them optimised over time.

What Is a PPC Audit and Why Do You Need One?

A PPC audit is an analysis of your paid marketing. The aim of carrying out a PPC audit is to find ways to improve your campaigns and maximise performance. It can include everything from checking that everything is working as it should be to determining whether you are using your budget effectively.

Why do you need a PPC audit? You might think that you’ve set up your PPC ads and they should be fine to continue running without your input. But a PPC audit is vital to check that everything is still working and you’re still getting the performance that you’re looking for. Many things can change that might affect how optimised your ads are, including your customers’ search intentions and your competitors’ activities. Technical issues can also arise, leading to your campaigns underperforming.

When to Carry Out an Audit

A PPC audit isn’t something that you want to do just once. Some recommend that you carry out a PPC audit every six months, however, we’d suggest doing so every quarter. You should also have a PPC audit conducted if you are handing over your account to a new marketing agency (or managing a new account if you’re a marketer). Another key indication that you need to carry out a PPC audit is if you have noticed significant performance issues and you need to get to the bottom of why things have changed.

Regular audits will allow you to stay on top of any issues and identify ways to improve. They will ensure you keep working on the performance of your PPC campaigns instead of letting them stagnate.

The Steps Involved in a PPC Audit

There are multiple steps involved in a PPC audit that will provide you with the information you need. Many of the steps can be fairly straightforward, although they can also be time-consuming. Follow these steps to complete a thorough PPC audit.

Check linking and tracking

Checking that your accounts are properly linked and that everything is being tracked properly is one of the basic steps you need to take. This will simply tell you that you’re getting the data that you need and everything is organised correctly. You should check that tracking codes are correctly installed on your site and that your Google Ads account is linked to your Analytics account. These actions will give you all of the essential data that you need to really drill down into how your PPC ads are performing. Check that your Analytics account is tracking goals and conversions so you can see the real impact of your ads.

Check your account structure

Your account structure should be set up in a way that makes sense for your website or business. You should have a naming structure for your campaigns and ad groups that follows a logical pattern. Think about easy access and clear information when naming everything so it’s easy to see what it all is and what it relates to. You can use different themes to split up campaigns and separate branded keywords from non-branded keywords too.

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Analyse your budget

How you’re using your budget is an important thing to check during your PPC audit. Firstly, you want to make sure that you’re using all of your allocated budget and that you’re using it effectively. You can optimise your budget by adjusting your campaign to match how much you have to spend. Even if your budget is low, you can still make the most of it by choosing the right setup for your campaign. Some of the actions that might help include choosing exact match keywords, lowering your bids, or targeting a smaller area.

Look at keywords and targeting

Using the right keywords is a must, so analyse your keywords to see which are performing well and which ones are underperforming. Keywords that are already performing well could be optimised even further (e.g. by looking at the matching search queries and expanding around performing ones), while underperforming keywords can be removed or added to negative keywords.

Targeting is also an important part of your campaign to analyse. You should look at how you can refine your targeting to improve the results you get. Consider using remarketing if you’re not already. Check your settings for locations, devices, and other targeting options.

Review your negative keywords

Make sure you check on your search query report and add negative keywords regularly to prevent showing your ads on irrelevant terms. Keeping your negative keyword list up to date will help you reduce spend on unqualified searchers. You can proactively set a negative keyword list by adding the terms that your ads should not be shown for by doing some research or by looking at the query reports.

Review your Optimization Score

Going through the Recommendations section is always a good idea to identify any opportunities for improvement. Make sure to carefully check and see if the suggestions align with your objectives and only opt in for those you think are worth implementing and that will help you improve the account’s performance.

Bid strategy

Assess your bidding strategy and think about how to optimise it as part of your PPC audit. Keep your goals in mind and optimise your strategy for whether you want to maximise conversions, clicks, or impressions.

Evaluate your ads

To evaluate how effective your PPC ads are, start by making sure that your ads have the right messaging and branding. Your ads should have a clear call to action and highlight your USP and should stand out from your competitors. Take time to check that any offers are still valid, that you’re using the right landing pages, and that you have optimised display URLs. The Ad Rank of your ads will help you to determine whether they are performing well so that you can work out if you need to change anything. Additionally, check the account for any relevant extensions that might be missing and would add to the messaging.

Get help with your audit

Carrying out a PPC audit can be time-consuming, so it’s useful if you can get some help. Distribute Digital is a Birmingham-based PPC agency that can help you with your PPC audits and optimising your PPC campaigns. Get in touch to find out how we can help you to improve your PPC efforts and fulfil your marketing goals.

Mihnea - Operations Director

Mihnea is an experienced marketing and operations director having managed the digital marketing strategy and execution across a number of channels for businesses of all sizes including global brands such as E.ON, Virgin Money, William Grant and Panasonic.

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