The Ultimate PPC Audit Checklist

August 27, 2012
By Sarah Peduzzi

Regular visits to the dentist, eye doctor and physician are routine for many people. You visit when you’re well, and more often than not, you visit when you’re sick, need new glasses, or a dental cleaning. Well, you’re not the only one that needs a health checkup – your PPC campaigns need one when they are healthy AND when something seems wrong. They are integral to the continued success of a paid search campaign. PPC audits, much like a visit to the dentist for a cleaning, can find underlying or hidden issues that you can’t see on a daily basis. They can seem daunting, but if you go in with a game plan, you’ll actually have some fun. Below is my go-to checklist of questions for PPC audits.

Settings

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Are your campaigns running for both Search Network and Display Network?

  • Pro tip: Only have campaigns set for one or the other, never mixed.

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Is Enhanced CPC on? Is this the right method for the campaigns?

  • Pro tip: I prefer off and to control bids manually.

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What Ad Delivery Method is on? Is this still relevant?

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What Ad Rotation preference is on?

  • Pro Tip: I prefer “Rotate Evenly” since I am constantly testing ad copy.

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Are you segmenting by device?

  • For example, if you see in Analytics that mobile is converting well for a campaign, break it out into its own campaign to better control spend.

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Is Location Targeting correct?

  • I often see accounts that have targeting overlapping. For example, United States AND a specific city. This could have been done by mistake and the reason why you are pulling conversions in places that you might not offer a service or product.

Structure

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Are the campaigns and ad groups tightly themed?

  • Pro Tip: The better you group your campaigns and ad groups, the better the relevancy, the better the QS and the better your overall portfolio.

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Have you taken an in depth dive into your keywords?

  • What proportion of keywords are broad, modified broad, phrase and exact?
  • How is each type performing? Pro Tip: I look at CTR, Conversion and QS.
  • What can you change to increase performance? Pro Tip: I take a hard look at the keywords that are not performing and make the decision to pause, lower bids, or move to another ad group.

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Do you have a campaign just for branded terms?

  • Make sure brand keywords aren’t in the same campaigns or ad groups as non-brand keywords.

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Have you refreshed your negative list recently?

  • Pro Tip: I always make sure that my negative list on the ad group level is working. i.e., If I have one ad group for “White Chocolate Candy” and another for “Dark Chocolate Candy”, I make sure that the former has a negative broad for “dark” and the latter has a negative broad for “white”.
  • Is your campaign level negative list too extensive? Is it blocking potential traffic that can convert?

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Are you using your campaign budgets effectively?

  • Check to see if you are hitting your budget cap early in the day in well-converting campaigns. If so, consider raising it by adding more money or reallocating money from other not-so-hot campaigns.

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How many ads are running per ad group?

  • Pro Tip: I like to keep it at 2 ads per ad group, no more, no less.

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When was the last time you ran an ad copy test?

Deep Dive – Metrics to Compare

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Quality Score change over time – this is a great litmus test to see if there have been any drops in relevancy for your keywords, ads, landing page and entire user experience.

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Budget Share vs. Conversion Share – you can look at this from the campaign level, down to ad group and keyword level.

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Day Parting and Hour Parting – figure out your optimal and least optimal times of the day and days of the week and schedule your bids accordingly.

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ROI by Impression

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Landing Page metrics – This is where Google Analytics is absolutely needed. Check out metrics like time on page, bounce rate, interaction with page and the conversion path to optimize and improve the landing page.

  • This is the best place to start to find out if you need to test a new landing page, or simply test portions of the landing page already active.

This checklist is something I personally use, though I know many other PPC-ers have their own tips. But no matter how an audit is performed, or what metrics you prefer to look at, every PPC campaign needs one to ensure continued good health.

If you have a metric that you think should be on this list as well, comment below!

Thanks to Katie Saxon (@ksaxoninternet) and Mel (@Mel66) for their valuable input!