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Step by Step AdWords Audit Part 1

An “AdWords Audit” sounds like an uncomfortable procedure…


It sounds like it should rank up there with prostate exams and root canals, but the adwords audit is nowhere near as awful – although just as vital!

Before any ongoing management efforts are really realised, an audit will identify (and correct) issues that have popped up.  By breaking it down into manageable steps, a thorough examination of your account will ensure the long-term health of your account.  In fact, this blog is broken down into two parts for your long term health too.  This is part 1, part 2 you can read right here.


Account Structure

Start from on high to get the best perspective.  Much like the 80/20 rule, start at the top and work down.  By looking at the structure of a campaign you’ll get some big clues to some potentially big problems.


  • Number of Ad Groups.  Matching the right ad to the right person means that you’ll need to have lots of ad groups in your campaigns. With just 1 ad group in a campaign, every person will see the same generic ad.  You can guarantee that your CTR is going to be far lower than it could be.  The finer tuned your ad groups are, the more specific your ads can be!



  • Number of Keywords per AdGroup.  You want fewer keywords in each adgroup.  If you’ve got more than 20 keywords in a group, split them into two ad groups.  This gives you a much tighter focus.  You’ll like the results!  (as you optimise your account you’ll ideally reduce this to a very small number of keywords per group)



  • Number of Ads per Group.  If you’ve just got one ad, you’re not testing.  Part of the beauty of Adwords is the ability to improve and get a better, if not the best performing ad.  The flip-side is that if you’ve got 8 ads, you’re making it hard to determine which is the clear winner.  2-3 ads per ad group is enough, if you’re incorporating mobile ads – set the cap at 4 total per ad group!


Google has removed the option of having an adgroup specifically targeting mobile users. So it’s decision time.  Dig into the data about your traffic and decide if you want mobile users to see your ads.  The mobile engagement data will tell you if the mobile version of your site is working (or effective).  If your mobile site isn’t working and you can fix it, do so.  If it isn’t fixable or is beyond your ability, use a bid modifier of -100% for mobile devices at the campaign level and exclude yourself from the mobile market.



You’ve really got 2 options here.  You can’t control the targeting of Googles different search networks.  You can simply turn Search Partners “on” or “off”.  Many find that Search Partners deliver poor results, and if there is no clear fix to address that, a wise option is to simply turn them off.  If you’ve got good results, think about an increase in your bids across both!


Average Ad Position

There are two fast ways to boost CTR quickly.  The first is with hyper persuasive ad copy (which far too few people possess), the second is by improving your ad position.  When you hop from the right side to one of the top 3 positions you see a big up tick in CTR.  To get this info you want the report in the dimensions tab called “Top vs Other”.  This report can be used at each level of your account from campaign to ad levels.


Check the approximate proportion of your ads in those top spots compared to the ‘other’ positions.  There’s no “perfect position” – it depends on your business – generally the top 3 pay off as they have as much as a 15x higher CTR than the right side (4 & lower).


Position 1-2 means you’re getting almost the maximum potential traffic.  Much lower (below position 6) means you can improve dramatically.  If you’re sitting between 3 – 5, you have big opportunities available with just a few tweaks needed!  The easiest way to increase position is to bid more to get to those spots, and if it gets you into the top 3 it’s almost always a profitable decision.  Quality Score is another factor, and if you can improve it with better copy and landing pages, you might get to the same position without changing your bids.


Just remember that you can’t be in the top 3 every time, all the time.  Consider 50% to be the minimum standard, anything over 80% is fantastic!



This is the end of Part 1 of conducting an AdWords Audit.  Part 2 continues with Landing Pages, Copy Testing & Match Types here.  Should auditing your adwords account appear like an insurmountable task, we can do it for you.



Read more on Adwords ongoing management here…






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