Are your AdWords campaigns over-budget and underperforming? Is your cost per click too high and are your conversions too low? Then maybe it is time for an AdWords Audit.
An AdWords Audit enables business owners and marketers to review their ad campaigns in order to identify areas that need improvement.
Our 5-Step AdWords Audit will take you through the most important stages of this process. From account structure to analytics, we will provide you with the necessary tools to optimise those underperforming campaigns.
Step One: The Foundations
Date Range – A key feature for PPC analysis is the date range tool. By clicking the drop down box in the top right hand corner you can view data from your chosen date range, whether that is daily, weekly, monthly, or a custom time period of your choosing.
In order to understand how your campaign is performing compared to, say, this time last month, you can choose to compare two date ranges.
To do this simply make sure the ‘compare’ box, beneath the list of date ranges is turned on. With date range comparison turned on you can proceed to analyse your campaigns with greater effciency, identifying key trends in campaign performance, such as clicks, click through rate and conversions.
Settings – Correctly calibrated campaign settings are essential to a good campaign. For example, have you chosen the correct campaign type for your product or service?
Campaign types determine where and in what form your ads appear, and can be key to the success or failure of a campaign.
Generally speaking, your search and display campaigns should be separated, but there is no accepted best practise here, and your campaigns should always be based on research, campaign and business objectives.
Picking a campaign subtype also requires a little thought. Make sure you check all features, rather than standard, as this will enable you to schedule ads at different times, or to target different geographical locations. This can be particularly important if you are a business wishing to attract local customers.
Ad Extensions – Ad extensions provide extra pieces of information in your ad, such as location, sitelinks and call extensions, which can be vital in turning an impression into a conversion.
Location extensions place your business address in the ad, and can inform users of the distance from their current location.
Sitelink extensions enable you to display up to up four different locations on your website. This can be used to provide links that you think your customers are most likely to be interested in.
Finally, the call extension feature allows your customers to contact you directly by inserting your phone number, or a call button, in your ad.
Step Two: Key Performance Indicator
In order to run an effective PPC Audit, you will need to identify your KPIs (key performance indicators). Here we run through four of the most important metrics: Click Through Rate (CTR), Quality Score (QS), Cost per Conversion (CPC) and Conversion Rate (CVR).
Click Through Rate – This is the ratio of ad clicks to impressions, and is the simplest way of measuring your ad’s effectiveness.
The average CTR for competitive industries is 2%, and 5% for less competitive industries.
Accordingly, anything over that number and you can be relatively confident that your ad is not a problem, anything lower than that and it may be worth rewriting your copy, or revising your target audience.
Quality Score – Quality score is Google’s estimation of the quality and relevance of your ads and landing pages. This score directly affects the price you pay for your ads, and also their ranking in Google so it’s an important metric to monitor.
Google provides a QS of 1-10 for each keyword in your account, 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest.
Your QS is determined by a number of factors, but the most important are CTR, landing page quality, and the relevance of your ad text.
Google’s QS benchmark is ‘5’, anything below that means you’re likely to pay more per click, anything above that and your clicks could be discounted by as much as 50%.
Cost per Conversion – Cost per conversion, or cost per acquisition, is the price your or your business paid to attain a conversion. Precisely what that conversion is will depend on the nature of your campaign, it could be be a download, a purchase, a sign up or simply a click.
Your cost per conversion is calculated by dividing the cost of your campaign by the number of conversions. The CPC can be lowered by increasing your quality score. As a general rule, the higher your quality score, the lower the CPC.
Conversion Rate – This is where you can really judge the efficacy of your PPC campaigns. Conversion rate is the average number of conversions (leads, sales, visitors, call etc), per ad click. In order to monitor your conversion rate, you are going to need to install conversion tracking on your website.
Estimates on what constitutes an ‘average’ conversion rate vary according to industry and product. Industries such as telecoms tend to have very high conversion rates, while travel industry rates are typically low.
Determining what constitutes ‘average’ for your business may entail a little research, and the ongoing monitoring of your accounts. Once you have established a mean, you will than be able to judge what is and isn’t working in your campaign, according to the ebb and flow of your CVR.
Step Three: Account Structure
In Google AdWords account structure has three related components: campaigns, ad groups and ads.
Correct account organisation allows you to optimise your campaign more effectively, to target your audience with more sophistication, and to monitor the performance of your ads with greater ease.
Campaigns – Your AdWords structure should almost always correspond to the structure of your website. For example, if you are a clothes retailer, you will want to create individual campaigns for each category of clothes you sell – trousers, shirts, dresses and so on.
Make sure you get your account structure right at the campaign level. If you don’t, then you will find it hard to optimise your ads further down the line.
Google provides you with a number of options when you initially set up your campaign, and getting these right can be the difference between success and failure. The default campaign structure is designed to suit most needs as it displays ads on Google Search Network and Google Display Network across all devices.
Elsewhere, the category Search and Display Networks (Mobile Devices), displays your ads exclusively on mobile and tablets, and may be beneficial for companies catering to people on the go.
Ad Groups– Following the example of the clothes retailer, at ad group level, you will want to have your products organised into different types.
For example, for a ‘trousers’ campaign, you might want to create ad groups for jeans, chinos, and joggers.
Your ad groups also need to be created with keywords in mind. The keywords you choose are going to be the link between your product, the ad group, the ad text, and the search query, so make sure you have your keyword research close at hand throughout.
Ads – There are a few things to keep in mind when reviewing your ads – character limit, relevance and landing page.
The ad headlines have two lines, 30 characters each, while the description is one line of up to 80 characters. Google will notify when you overstep the mark, but it may be worth checking the ad text to be sure.
Make sure you follow the thread of your keywords through to the ad text. If you are advertising ‘ladies pajamas’, then that is the key phrase your entire ad text needs to built around.
Be wary of keyword stuffing. It’s quite enough to have your keywords either in the headline or the description, it doesn’t need to be in both.
Getting the landing page right is particularly important. If your ad for ladies pajamas takes the user to a general women’s clothing page then that potential customer is likely to bounce right away from your site.
Make sure all of your landing pages link directly to the product or service advertised. If no such page exists, then it may be worth creating one, such is the importance of landing pages in PPC.
Finally, for testing, you should consider running 3-4 ads within an ad group. This will not only enable you to determine which ad variant performs the best within that ad group, but it should also inform the creation of your ads in future.
Step Four: Keywords
Keyword match types determine which search queries trigger your ad. Optimising your keywords is a key component of PPC management. When done correctly, it can boost conversions and cut the cost of your campaigns.
There are four types of keyword matches – broad match, modified broad match, phrase match and exact match. Read on to determine which type best suits your campaign.
Broad Match – Broad match is the default match type. It is capable of reaching the largest audience, but it’s reach can lack focus, and it can have a relatively high CPC.
A broad match ad will appear when a search query includes a word in your key phrase. In the ‘ladies pajamas’ ad, for example, a search for ‘silk pajamas’, or ‘ladies nightwear’ could trigger your ad.
The problem with the broad match type is its lack of focus. When we’re advertising ‘ladies pajamas’ under this type, our ads could equally be triggered for ‘ladies shoes’ or ‘mens pajamas’, which include a word in our key phrase, but aren’t likely to result in conversions.
Broad Match Modifier – The broad match modifier type triggers your ad for queries that include your keyword, or close variations of it.
The advantage of this match type over regular ‘broad match’ is that it enables you to appear for modifications of your keywords, meaning your ads can be targeted at a more focused audience.
By adding ‘+’ in front of a keyword, you ensure that any search includes that term.
Adding a ‘+’ before both ‘ladies’ and ‘pajamas’, means your ads can be triggered by searches such as ‘buy ladies pajamas’, or ‘ladies large pajamas’, but not ‘buy men’s pajamas’, or ‘mens large pajamas’.
Phrase Match – Phrase match triggers your ads when users search for your exact keyword phrase, with additional words before or after the keyphrase.
The problems encountered in the broad match type are here resolved, as your keyword can no longer be diluted by the addition of unrelated terms.
While this generally leads to greater focus in your campaigns, phrase match can be slightly inflexible. Unlike broad match modifier, phrase match ads will not trigger if a word is included in between your keywords.
For example, while ‘ladies pajamas sale’, and ‘silk floral ladies pajamas’ ads would trigger, ‘ladies small pajamas’ would not. Phrase match can be great to target and hone in on the search terms you know your customers to be using, and can lead to increased CTR. However, it is by nature quite restrictive, and may not be the match type for your business if you want to cast your net wide.
Exact Match – Exact match displays your ads to users who search for your exact keyword, or close variants of it. Enter your keyword into [ ] brackets to use this match type.
Unlike any of the aforementioned match types, exact match will only trigger when someone searches for the exact terms, without any other words or phrases before or after it. As such, exact match should generally only be used to target phrases you know from either experience or research are likely to convert.
One way to do this is to monitor the relevant phrases people have triggered your ads with in broad match, phrase match and broad match modifier, and add these to your exact match campaign.
Negative Keywords – Identifying negative keywords allows you to prevent your ads being triggered by users you know are not going to be interested in your product or service.
For example, if you provide enterprise level IT security to businesses, you may want to add negative keywords for consumer focused searches such as ‘free anti virus software’.
To do this you can either search in the AdWords keyword planner for keywords which you wish to add to your negative keywords list, or you can look within your account to see which search queries have triggered your ads.
If you see any which you deem irrelevant you can simply add these to the negative keywords tab.
You will find the queries for which you have been found under campaign>keywords>search terms, while negative keywords can be found under campaign>keywords>negative keywords.
Step Five: Features
Conversion Tracking – It is imperative that you have conversion tracking running on your AdWords account. This enables you to track a user’s actions after they have clicked on your ad.
If you’re serious about optimising your AdWords account, then you need to have conversion tracking in place. Only then will you able to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, and calculate your ROI accurately.
In order to utilise conversion tracking you need to tell AdWords what a conversion means to you, whether that is a phone call, a website sign up, or an app download.
The actual implementation of conversion tracking can be a little tricky depending on your level of technical know how.
If you’re au fait with the fundamentals of coding then you should be able to this yourself by following this guide. If not, we suggest contacting your developer and asking him or her to implement AdWords conversion tracking on your site.
Remarketing – Remarketing is one of the most useful features available on AdWords, enabling you to display ads to people who have previously visited your website, as they browse elsewhere online.
The nature of your business or service will determine how you want to use remarketing.
Owners of e-commerce websites may want to utilise ‘dynamic remarketing’, this allows you to target people with products that they have previously viewed, but not bought, on your website.
Businesses looking to boost brand awareness meanwhile, or to influence future purchasing decisions, are more likely to implement ‘standard remarketing’, which simply displays your chosen ads as users browse online.
Dynamic Search Campaigns – Dynamic search campaigns are automatically generated by Google according to the content on your website, and allow you to target searches independent of keywords
Dynamic search campaigns are generally calibrated according to the categories on your website.
For example, a clothes retailer could have dynamic search ads set up for each category of clothes on his or her site: shoes, shirts, dresses and so on. A user then searching for ‘men’s shoes’ will potentially be targeted with one of your dynamic search ads, without the need for any keywords at all.
This ad type is particularly effective for people with lots of content on their site, such as retailers.
A dynamic search ad campaign will save you a lot of time, and allow you, through the use of categories, to focus your budget on the products you want to sell at that particular time.
You can also rest assured that the ads themselves will be relevant, as Google pull information from the user’s search and include it in the ad text.
Thank you for reading our 5-Step AdWords Audit.
If you’ve followed this checklist through to the end then your AdWords account should be in much healthier shape than when we began. Now you should be able to sit back and watch while your click through and conversion rates edge closer to the types of numbers you deserve to see.
Long term AdWords success will require long term commitment and optimisation, however. But as long as you maintain your accounts on a day to day basis, consult this checklist when necessary and optimise where appropriate, then you will be on the road to sustained Google AdWords success.
If you decide that you would like assistance with managing your AdWords accounts, then please check out our industry leading AdWords Management Services.