Seven signs that indicate a need for a PPC or Google AdWords account audit

Some advertisers could be tempted to leave their PPC or Google AdWords account on autopilot after creating an ad and setting its bid prices.

However, leaving an account on autopilot could be disastrous for a campaign. An advertiser that takes their eyes off bid strategy and keyword performance might find a hole in their budget, as well as experience a drastic limit to the amount of website visitors.

So, what signs should you look for when trying to figure out the right time to audit a PPC or Google AdWords account?

Read along and we will share the top seven signs that we believe indicate a need for an audit.

1. Drastic drop in conversions

Conversion tracking is essential when running a PPC campaign. This key piece of data gives advertisers an insight into how successful an ad is and is a great barometer for determining the effectiveness of a campaign’s: bid strategy, keywords, and ad groups.

A campaign will deliver a specific number of conversions after a period of weeks or months, and an advertiser could use this baseline number to extrapolate future account performance.

This extrapolated number is a guesstimate of future performance – so you should not take this figure as a gospel truth. But, a dramatic decrease in conversions may be the first sign that you need to log into your PPC account and carry out an audit.

A variety of factors may cause a crash in conversions or an explosion in profitability. Some of these factors are beyond the scope of this post.

Nevertheless, we can speculate on two potential causes of a sudden change in conversions.

The first reason relates to keyword performance; increased competition might cause some keywords to become expensive over time. Conversations might drop because other advertisers might be more effective in their keyword targeting than you and they could attract more clicks on their ads because of this.

Adverting is a competitive activity and rival advertisers typically target the same keywords as you. Bid strategy, keyword relevancy, and landing page quality score generally influence the performance of an ad. Advertisers do well to keep track of the analytics of a site and its associated ads. This leads us to the second possible cause of a drop in conversions.

A fault with your conversion-tracking link/software.

Only 29% of Google Ads accounts track conversions accurately.

It is vital for site owners to ensure that conversion goals are set up correctly.

If you or your web developers make any changes to your website, you might need to ensure that these changes have not had any adverse affects on your conversion tracking.

2.     Poor keyword performance

The second indicator for a PPC account audit is keyword performance. At the beginning of a campaign, an advertiser might bid “broad match” on a wide range of keywords to capture a sizeable audience to grow an Ad group. Paying for irrelevant keywords at the beginning of a campaign is not unusual.

However, months down the line after campaign maturity, some keywords become obsolete and the advertiser should transfer the non-relevant keywords onto a list of negative keywords. When an advertiser establishes an audience, the keyword strategy might then shift onto phrase match for specific top performing keywords.

The strategy of moving from broad match to phrase match to exact match could be an effective sequence for figuring out the best messaging for your audience.

We suggest that advertisers stay on top of keyword performance and move non-relevant keywords onto a list of potential negative keywords. Not managing your keyword list might result in a huge waste of money.

To avoid excessive payment of irrelevant keywords, keep a tight rein on your keyword list and eliminate nonperformers as soon as possible. Embrace the growth of your negative keywords list so that you stop your ads from appearing on irrelevant search queries.

A study by Search Engine Journal showed that the average Google Ads account wastes 76% of its budget on the wrong search terms, so you definitely need to optimise keyword performance.

3.  Expensive Bid strategies

Choosing the wrong bid strategy can lead to inefficient budget management. One question that you can ask yourself is:

Is my ad set up on automated bidding?

Pay attention to your bid strategy because you may be using the wrong tactics for your campaign. For example, an ad might run on ‘Maximise Clicks’ when it might be more beneficial to ‘Target CPA’ instead.

Avoid incorrect bid strategies by writing a clear description of the outcomes that you want from your ads before launching your campaign.

Choosing a manual CPC bid with a predetermined calculation of the maximum amount to pay for a click might be the best strategy for an advertiser that wants to focus on getting clicks. Moreover, CPA bids might be the way to go for an advertiser that is looking for conversions.

An advertisers’ bid strategy could start aggressive – high bid prices that then reduce as a campaign matures. Alternatively, a bid strategy could be conservative – low bid prices that increase as a campaign matures.

It is up to the advertiser to calculate how much they are willing to pay for a click or a sale. So sit down and calculate the maximum cost per conversion that you can afford and bid accordingly.

Another question to weigh up:

Is your daily budget stopping your ads from showing up to the right amount of people?

Search engines will stop displaying your ads once you hit your budget limit for the day, so consider looking into your daily budget as a possible source for poor campaign performance.

In addition to your daily budget, consider ads scheduling.

4. Poor Ad Scheduling

This is the fourth sign that a PPC account might need auditing.

Does your ad schedule display ads at times when users are highly unlikely to make conversions?

You might be surprised to read that novice advertisers constrain their campaign performance by scheduling their ads to appear on nonpeak search times thus lessen their visibility. Advertisers should gather data on their peak hours to display ads for optimised performance.

Pay attention to your query performance report and think about the best hours to run your ads. It might be beneficial to keep your ads running continuously at the start of the campaign to gain an understanding of the hours people click on your ad the most. Displaying ads at the wrong time might lead to reduced visibility and non-optimal campaign performance.

Pausing a campaign because of a lack on immediate result, or setting an end date that does not allow for campaign maturity might be another cause of poor conversions. Keep your expectations realistic, be patient, and gather as much data as possible.

This takes us to our next indicator for a PPC account audit…

5. Incoherent campaign structures

Well-organised PPC campaign structures make it easier to keep an eye on how things are going and will result in a more optimised account. An organised advertiser with an account that has a tidy structure could easily spot ineffective ads in an ad group.

Here is a general overview of well-structured PPC account:

  • Account
  • Campaigns
  • Ad Groups
  • Keywords
  • Ads

A PPC account with Google can have a maximium of 10,000 campaigns per account, 20,000 ad groups per campaign, and 20, 000 ad group targeting items per ad group. So, if your account has a large number of ad groups with several keywords in them, try splitting them into smaller groups that are more manageable. And if you have time, implement a Single Keyword Ad Group strategy (SKAG) – this can boost click-through rates by 28%  

6.     Low Quality Score

A sixth indicator of a PPC account audit relates to low quality scores. Ads that lead users to relevant unique landing pages generally help reinforce campaign performance. Smart marketers audit the relevancy of landing pages to maximise the possibility of conversions occurring.

So inspect the content on your pages and make sure that you are linking the right ads to the right pages. Click on this link to find out what Google looks rates websites that appear on their search results.

7.     Dwindling click-through rates

The final indicator for a PPC account audit is shrinking click-through rates.

Weakened click-through rates might be the result of a change in the market place. As mentioned previously, keywords might become obsolete, your product or service might be out of season, or there could be a change in consumers taste. These factors are out of your control but are important points to reflect on.

We always recommend testing multiple variations of an ad in each ad group to see which one leads to the highest amount of clicks to your website. Utilise ad extensions such as sitelinks, callout extensions, and price extension. These extensions make it easier for a user to take action and can result in an increase in click-through rates for you

So there you have it… our top seven signs that indicate that a PPC or Google AdWords account needs auditing.

Once audited, we recommend that you keep a tab on your account to be on guard against possible future issues. If there are, you can put them right before they turn into a nightmare.

Feel free to contact us at andrew@thebigscream.com for a consultation or PPC account audit.

References