What ADM Looks for During a Google Ads Audit

A Google Ads account can be as complex as you need it to be—but as complexity increases, so do potential breakdowns. Periodically, it’s good to have an outside set of eyes audit your PPC practices to ensure you’re not missing out on paid search opportunities. 

ADM takes great care to help companies identify and resolve shortcomings in their Google Ads implementation and gives detailed strategy recommendations for how they can better reach the goals that matter to them. In this blog, we’ll lay out what makes for a thorough audit and what problems we typically encounter during them. Be sure to also read our pieces on Meta Ads Audits and Google Analytics Audits as well!

Why You Should Perform an SEM Audit

The purpose of a Google Ads audit is to have an experienced set of eyes look over your account to answer one fundamental question: Is your paid search strategy doing everything it can to help you reach your unique business goals? 

Because every business is different, and because Google Ads is so customizable, there is often room for additional testing and improvement that can help your ads reach their intended audience more effectively and efficiently. Customization for SEM programs is extremely important, and every audit should aim to find ways you can better customize your approach. 

What We Look for In a Google Ads Audit

To verify whether a prospective client’s advertising is currently hitting the mark, we look at every aspect of their current Google Ads strategy:

  • Campaign structure
  • General settings
  • Conversion settings 
  • Trending data: 30/60/90 lookback windows
  • Quality Scores 
  • Ad Copy Quality 
  • Search Term Reports 

We try to answer questions like:

  • How are the Search and Performance Max campaigns structured? 
  • Does this structure support their goals? 
  • Is it over-segmented or too consolidated? 
  • Does it prioritize the products or services that the client has expressed as priority? 
  • Are campaigns and ad groups properly labeled for seamless reporting? 

Then we look even more granularly into the campaigns to try to answer every company’s biggest question: Is the structure or keyword usage creating wasted spend? If the answer is yes, then we can dive even further in: 

  • Is the account suffering from poor query traffic?
  • Are they struggling against competition? 
  • Are they using appropriate keyword match types for their audience’s intent?
  • Is spend cannibalization occurring between campaigns?

Then finally we look at expansion opportunities: What is the company currently not doing that could be a huge opportunity? 

What Do We Base Our Evaluations On?

For audits, ADM uses a combination of industry standards and historical experience to contextualize the auditee’s performance. We reference industry benchmarks available on Wordstream and Search Engine Land to contextualize your brand’s performance. We also draw on internal case studies from our extensive work with eCommerce and healthcare clients to pair our recommendations with anticipated performance based on real-world scenarios. This approach helps validate recommendations and demonstrate proof of concept.

What Are the Most Common Google Ads Problems We Encounter in Audits?

Every audit is different, but when you do enough audits you start to see patterns. The most common problems we encounter are poorly-structured campaigns and improper match type utilization. 

SEM and Performance Max structure are usually the largest culprits in an underperforming account. How these campaigns are structured is the foundation of a strong SEM program, and if your structure is not set up to support multiple goals or prioritize the specific products, keywords, or segments, that matter to your brand, then you’ll not only miss out on opportunities but also have less control over your results 

Also, as Google increasingly pushes for widespread Broach match usage across Google Ads, we frequently find that SEM accounts are not implementing Broad match keywords in a responsible manner. As a result, costs can be hard to control: Without proper guardrails and segmentation, too many Broad match keywords can end up producing very narrow campaigns. 

Additionally, not enough marketers are evaluating match type performance across Exact, Phrase and Broad for their business after launching multiple match types in an ad group or campaign. At ADM, we believe there’s room for all match types and that each match type program should be customized to the client based on trending performance and proof of concept in a particular match type structure. 

Do We Approach Every SEM Audit the Same Way?

While the objectives for every audit remain the same, every Google Ads program is not—which means it would be a disservice not to tailor our PPC audits and the type of data analysis we perform are tailored to each business and its goals. For instance, with smaller or more basic accounts, we may analyze data across all non-brand searches to evaluate match type effectiveness or keyword relevance. Conversely, for larger accounts with diverse objectives, we’ll focus intensively on significant spending areas to uncover specific challenges within the account.

Our aim is to deliver valuable insights and identify pain points through our audits, and because each account is unique, we adjust our approach, recommendations, and presentations accordingly. This ensures that our audits are insightful and tailored to the individual needs of our clients.

What Should You Get Out of an SEM Audit?

Typically, a brand seeks out an audit when things aren’t working the way they should—or they think their Google Ads results could be better. Our goal is for prospective clients to walk away from an audit feeling validated in their struggles but hopeful for a solution. We are a solution-oriented agency and our goal is to light a better path for clients based on our unique audit approach. 

We have a great degree of expertise in SEM, and we hope to bring a level of depth and transparency to the audit process that leaves you confident in our takeaways and recommendations. While not every audit is the beginning of a partnership, an effective one should set the stage for an effective partnership between agency and client. If you’re interested in discussing a Google Ads audit with ADM, reach out to our team today.