I have been asked on numerous occasions to audit an Adwords campaign to “see if it is being managed properly.”  Here is a checklist of some simple things you should be looking for when quickly auditing an account.

  1. Conversion Tracking

I have come across too many accounts where advertisers are spending thousands of dollars on Adwords without any sort of tracking.  Without having some sort of conversion tracking (Adwords) or goal tracking (Google Analytics) there is no way to measure the success of your Adwords campaign. The easiest way to see if an account has conversion tracking setup is to look in the conversions section under the tools menu in Adwords.

  1. Campaign Architecture

Usually a sign of poor campaign architecture is the lack of multiple campaigns setup within the client’s account. Of course there are exceptions to this concept, but an account with only one campaign is usually a red flag for the clients we work with. Make sure ad groups are tightly themed and that branded keywords are always placed in their own campaign so you manage budgets efficiently for branded and generic terms.

  1. Keyword Match Type

A common occurrence I see when looking at keyword match type is accounts strictly running broad match keywords.  I see how this can happen since the default match-type when you add a keyword is broad.  This can be very dangerous as Google will most likely match your ads to irrelevant search queries which in the end can waste spend.  If you are running all broad match keywords you should also be running the exact, phrase & modified broad match of that keyword as well.  This will give you more control in bidding and keep your traffic relevant.

  1. Ad Copy Testing

You are only required to have one ad copy per ad group to get your ads running but this is also very detrimental to your Click-Through Rate (CTR), which impacts Quality score, which impacts your Cost-Per- Click (CPC).  Too often people will run a single ad copy per ad group and not test ad copy to maximize CTR.  At a minimum you should always have two sets of copy for lower traffic campaigns and up to four for high traffic campaigns.  The key is to be able reach statistical significance in a reasonable time frame (2 – 4 weeks).

  1. Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are simple features that can be implemented for almost any client.  The three main ones to look for in an audit are site-links, call extension & location extension.  Ninety-nine percent of the time one of these extensions will make sense for an advertiser.  Not having any of these is a red flag warning.  I think site-links are the most impactful because they give advertisers additional ad space and links to internal pages.  It is essentially additional ad space for free, so why not take it?

  1. Network Settings

When discussing network settings in an Adwords account it is important to check if a campaign is running search and display in the same campaign.  Running both search and display is a default setting in Adwords, and as a result many advertisers are not aware that they are opting into both. When this happens, display will usually end up eating away about ninety percent of your budget, which leads to lower quality traffic. Bottom line, always separate out your search and display campaigns.

  1. Budgeting

If you are ever auditing an Adwords account and the first thing you see on the campaign dashboard is “limited by budget” this is a sure sign that you are either missing out on additional traffic or you are paying too much for each click.  Either increase your campaign budget or look for keywords that you are bidding too high on that are eating up your budget.  At the end of the day you would rather get two clicks for $1 spent than one click for $1 spent even if that means sitting in a lower ad position.

  1. Mobile Bid Adjustments

Ever since Google introduced Enhanced campaigns you can no longer run mobile specific campaigns.  Now you are automatically targeting mobile devices when you create a campaign so make sure when looking at an account that mobile bid adjustments have been made.  This can be found under the campaign settings tab in both the Adwords UI and Adwords Editor.  Mobile and desktop devices will never perform the same so you always need to make the proper bid adjustments.  If you don’t want to target mobile devices the workaround is to set a -100% bid adjustment.

  1. Negative Keywords

If any campaign has phrase, modified broad or broad match keywords and doesn’t have a negative keyword list to accompany it then something is wrong.  In order to minimize irrelevant traffic it is crucial have a negative keyword list to minimize wasted spend. The quickest way to see this is to run a search query analysis under the keywords tab and look at all the poor queries that are triggering your ads.

  10. Keyword Level Bidding

When looking at keyword level bids, and “Max CPC’s” are set to the “default” ad group level bid this is a sign that there is a lack of bid control and any sort of bidding strategy going on.  You always want to make sure keyword bids are set at the keyword level.  No matter how tightly grouped your ad groups are no two keywords will perform the same.  Make sure you have a stepped approach when setting keyword level bids, especially when you are bidding on multiple match types for the same keyword.