How to Complete PPC Audit

If you have the experience of taking over a PPC account owned by someone else before, then you know how tricky it is to gather your bearings in what used to be someone else’s account. Someone has a tough job ahead of them if that’s the case. Here’s how to complete a PPC audit in 7 easy steps.

Most of the time, the original owner of that PPC account creates that account and manages it in their own way. And when someone new takes over (you), they’ve got a really tough job right ahead of them. Aside from navigating the existing account without understanding an account’s background, you also need to understand if you’re going to organize it.

So what’s the best way to overcome this gap?

Knowing how to complete a PPC audit is the best place to start, and you can learn to do that here in 8 easy steps — with ethical PPC tactics too.

How to Complete a PPC Audit

Knowing how to complete a PPC audit is important for maintaining and optimizing your Google Ads accounts. This is why professional digital marketing companies recommend and always do PPC audits every 6 months or every time people start managing a new account.

People do it to make sure every account is optimized to its absolute potential.

Step #1: Track your conversions

If you don’t track conversions, it’s one of the largest mistakes a PPC account handler can make. Because without conversion tracking data, it would be impossible to understand if all of your hard work is actually paying off. 

It’s one of the very first tasks completed after an account has been set up. Only 58% of 2,000 accounts studied had at least one conversion registered.

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Image Credit: Wordstream

Be sure that your newly acquired account doesn’t fall in the group. If the account has registered conversions, be watchful for some tell-tale signs that conversion tracking has been set-up improperly:

  • Conversion rates are high despite low sales numbers: Your conversion tracking might be measuring visits to a product page or homepage rather than order confirmations.
  • Identical click count & conversion count: You either have the best products in the world, or your conversion tracking code was added to your landing pages instead of the thank you or order confirmation page.
  • Conversion count is low: That is suspicious. It suggests that you’re missing conversions. The previous manager probably neglected to track some phone call conversions or forgot to add tracking codes to all these new landing pages.

Of course, if there are no conversions registered in the account, implementing and generating conversion tracking codes are your first priority.

Step #2: Reviewing targeting settings

Setting up campaign targeting settings takes 5 minutes tops. One small misstep in this section can have profound impacts on your PPC account performance. For each of your newly-acquired campaigns, always review the previous manager’s targeting settings and make sure they make sense for the business.

Some key items to check in on are:

  • Mobile bid adjustments: If you want to show on mobile devices, make sure your bid modifiers are high enough to score you visibility for mobile searches. Segment your performance by device to assess the effectiveness of your existing mobile bids. It’s good to prioritize this, because searches on mobile devices are growing.
  • Network settings: Your audit and optimization process will depend on the network that you’re targeting.
  • Target locations: Check and make sure that your company services the regions that your account has opted into. Take it one step further and review the geo-reports. You might find that a particular area performs better or poorer, and you can fine-tune accounts to prioritize that location.

Step #3: Assess your ad group relevancy

General rule of thumb: ad groups should not contain more than 15-20 keywords. For keywords, this is a good jumping off point. So scan your freshly inherited account in search of ad groups that hold more than 20 keywords. For the most part, these will be the groups that require the most clean-up.

last adwords account structure guide

Image Credit: WordStream

So why does the size of a keyword ad group matter so much?

Well, if your keyword list is huge, it will likely include various themes. That means you’ll be forced to write generic ad copy. Instead, the goal is to populate each ad group with a list of very granular keywords that share semantic themes. Afterward, you can create hyper-specific ads for each ad group that reflects what the searchers are looking for.

Quality-assess them regularly and move terms that aren’t a good fit into new ad groups.

Step #4: Check ads enabled per ad group

What if the PPC account you inherit only has one active ad in each ad group? That’s an indication that the previous PPC account manager was not testing ad variations. It severely limits account optimization. On the other hand, having multiple ads active per ad group can be detrimental.

The ideal number is 2-3 ad variations per ad group. This is a manageable number of ads that you can run tests on. After identifying the winning ad, pause the losing ad and try again by testing a new variation.

Step #5 Get into ad extensions

If that new PPC account doesn’t have any ad extensions set up, then get to adding some. Extensions are a must have, especially nowadays, if you want to create competitive ad copy.

Google has also announced that extensions do officially impact ad rank, which is why advertisers have seen more incentive to implement them. 


Image Credit: Aducation

Before you go ahead and add the extensions, you first need to confirm that the ad extensions that are running are proper fits for the business itself. Take for instance, if you’re using call extensions, make sure a business’ phone lines are manned accordingly to handle the incoming call volume. 

It’s convenient that you can schedule extensions, as well, to appear only during your office hours.

And lastly, check to make sure that your site links, call-outs, and structured snippets truly represent your offerings and aren’t overly repetitive. Don’t forget about our automated extensions either! 

You can see the performance of any automated extensions that Google provides alongside your ads from the Automated Extensions Report in the Ad Extensions section of Google Ads.

Step #6: Reviewing keyword match type settings

A PPC provider that runs a Google Ads account includes keywords that are set to a variety of keyword match types. Each match type serves a unique purpose.

One of the most common PPC account faux-pas is running every keyword underneath the same match type. This is very common with broad match, since it is Google’s default. Although, the good part is that broad-match keywords provide plenty of traffic. 

Lots of impressions come from people searching terms that are loosely related to the business. It results in horrible click-throughs and conversion rates and poor Quality Scores.


Image Credit: Kick Ads

If you’ve taken over an account that’s already using mixed match types, it doesn’t mean you should let the setting off the hook. When you’re learning how to complete a PPC audit, take some time to dive in and break down the previous manager’s strategy. Make sure it’s implemented correctly.

Step #7: Assess your negative keyword lists’ quality

Negative keywords are a great defense against clicks and impressions from unqualified searchers. If the previous account manager didn’t use negatives, then you know what to do. You can always proactively set negatives by completing some guesswork. Head to your query reports and try to understand exactly which terms trigger your ads.

If the PPC account already has negatives, make sure to review the list. Confirm that every negative term is genuinely a good fit for the business and aren’t blocking impressions for any keywords. Also, check your negative keywords’ match type settings to make sure they’re working as planned.

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