How To Audit Google AdWords Campaigns Before Launching

September 26, 2013


It’s tedious. It takes time. You’d rather quickly launch new campaigns to immediately generate data and analyze results. I get it – the anticipation is killing you!

That said, taking the time to thoroughly audit prior to launching will save you headaches, heart palpitations and not-so-fun conversations explaining why monthly budget depleted in two days.

This article provides a laundry list of boxes to check for new campaigns so that you can avoid this feeling:

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Audit Steps at the Campaign Level: 



Does your business operate in the U.S. & Canada? Then be sure to add Canada and audit geo-targeting because the default in Google is the U.S. Otherwise, you could miss out on relevant traffic.

Another example is if you want to target a campaign just to Pittsburgh metro and sell Pirates gear (because we are in the playoffs!!) then targeting to the U.S. might be too wide of a pool. This results in wasted dollars.

Targeting Method

Just when you thought that by auditing geographic locations that you were done with geo-targeting. Au contraire! Not only can you select exactly where ads serve, but you also can tell Google how to serve those ads. Keep in mind that depending on your industry, products and services the type of targeting will vary.

  • Option #1: Ads only serve to those physically in your geo-target. Example: if you target a campaign to California and somebody in Pennsylvania searches “california wineries,” ads will not serve.
  • Option #2: Ads serve to those who are both in your geo-target and searching  for/viewing pages about your target. Working off of the example above (mainly because I enjoy wineries), if you select this method and have a campaign targeted to California, that same person in Pennsylvania who searched “california wineries,” will see an ad. Why? Because the intent of the query aligns with the geo-targeting.
  • Option #3: Ads serve only to people searching for/viewing pages about your target. Last time with the wine example. With this method, a campaign targeted to California and a searcher in California who searched “wineries,” will not see an ad. Why not? Because the intent of the query does not align with the geo-targeting.


Do not target Search & Display Networks in one campaign. Double, triple and quadruple check that you’ve targeted the correct network. Each network has completely different advertising goals and budget will deplete in a much shorter amount of time than if you were to target the Search Network by itself.

Once you have enough data, you may consider opting out of Search Partners, but this isn’t an important decision for new campaigns.


Is your budget set to the correct amount? Remember that budgets are set at the daily level – so when setting a budget account for that to avoid budgeting one campaign for the entire month.

Mobile Bid Adjustment

Is your site responsive to mobile? Or, is it a poor experience and you don’t wish to spend any money serving on mobile devices? If that’s the case, set your mobile bid adjustment at -100%. Or, if your mobile performance is outstanding, then you may want to increase your mobile bid (up to 300%).

Exact and Phrase Matching

If you don’t opt out of this, the default setting in AdWords Editor allows Google to match queries that may include plurals, misspellings and other close variants to purchased keywords within your campaign. If your campaign only contains phrase or modified broad match keywords, this isn’t too much of an issue. However, if this setting applies to a campaign that only contains exact match keywords, it defeats the purpose. What’s the point of having a campaign with exact match keywords if they are going to match to other similar terms? Let exact match to its job and leave matching other queries up to phrase & modified broad.

Delivery Method

Two options – Standard or Accelerated delivery. Standard delivery serves ads evenly throughout the day. Accelerated serves ads as quickly as possible. I recommend Accelerated in branded campaigns to ensure that ads always serve when queried. Otherwise, Standard is the most effective, especially to guarantee that ads serve across all time zones. For example, if a campaign targeted to the U.S. depletes its’ budget by 7:00 EST because of accelerated delivery, you could miss out on important West Coast traffic by capping at 4:00 PST.

Ad Rotation

A few ad-serving options:

  • Optimize for clicks
  • Optimize for conversions
  • Rotate evenly for 90 days, then optimize
  • Rotate evenly indefinitely

In new campaigns, I recommend Rotate Evenly for 90 days, especially for a campaign that is an ad copy test.  Across all other campaigns, optimize for clicks and/or optimize conversions is effective when you have enough data.

Negative Keywords

A campaign without negative keywords is like…well, it’s just…bad. I couldn’t think of a good metaphor. Make sure that the appropriate negative keywords are applied across non-exact match campaigns. If  you have a blanket list of negative that apply across all campaigns, utilize the Shared Library to eliminate the tedious copy/paste in Editor or the UI.

Last on the checklist, which aren’t necessarily campaign-level settings include:

  • Spell check for everything. For you shortcut nerds: F7.
  • Ad copy should be keyword rich to help boost Quality Score
  • Don’t forget about ad extensions! Start with sitelinks and incorporate others where appropriate. If you are looking for a laundry list of Google ad extensions – look no further.

Again, these are the most important Campaign-level settings. Some require more data to get strategic, but before launching one, dozens or hundreds of campaigns, confirm that all of the settings are in check. Save yourself the preventable stress and less-than-ideal data.