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Paid Search (PPC)

How to conduct a PPC audit in 6 easy steps

Regardless of the size, structure and strategy of your PPC account, this guide should help to improve your campaigns' performance.

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GA dashboard

Take a look at a few tricks that help make PPC audits feel like a breeze.

1. Tracking

One of the most crucial aspects of any PPC campaign is having a defined way to measure its performance. This sounds obvious, but it’s important to check that you’re tracking right conversions such as sales and leads in your account and the data closely matches up to what is shown in Google Analytics.
Consider the purpose of your campaigns and note down how you’re measuring them. For example, if you’re aiming to drive traffic to your service pages and generate online enquiries, then you’ll want to keep an eye on the costs of acquiring that traffic and how many enquiries it generated.

cost conversions data column
First, make sure your Google Ads and Google Analytics are properly linked. Then check that you have clearly defined conversion goals in Analytics and have imported meaningful goals into Google Ads. Once the goals have been set up they should be imported into Google Ads – but only those that demonstrate customer intent. This could include form completions, phone calls and sales transactions. These goals will then be visible in ‘conversions’ under the ‘tools’ section in the Google Ads interface.
The conversion data that you will accrue will be extremely valuable when it comes to optimising your campaigns.

2. Campaign settings

Spend a few moments looking at each of your campaign’s settings, ensuring that everything is as it should be. I would advise that you pay attention to the networks you are advertising on, the locations and languages you’re targeting, and the bidding strategy that you’ve adopted. Explore every aspect of these sections and review and refine.
Let’s talk a little bit more about location targeting. Assuming you selected a relevant geographic when you first launched your campaign, we can take our location targeting to the next level by analysing some data.
user location cost per conversion
By exporting the ‘user location’ report (Reports > Predefined reports > Locations > User locations) and selecting the largest date range possible, we can sort the data by performance and find segments that perform very well and very poor. You could use this information to adjust bids for certain regions or even exclude the poor performing areas altogether.

3. Keywords

Keywords are the bread and butter of PPC advertising, so give them a bit of TLC. Adjusting bids, match types and even the keywords themselves are all ways to drastically improve performance.
Get all of your enabled keywords in front of you, select a large date range, and sort them by clicks or cost – this will give you a priority list to work through. Then choose a performance metric, like conversion rate or return on ad spend, and optimise your keywords based on that data. If you find that some of your keywords are costing you with little return, try reducing their bids or excluding them altogether. 
Don’t forget to keep your negative keywords up-to-date, too. It’s a good idea to run through your search terms report frequently and identify any irrelevant search terms you’re appearing for.

4. Quality scores

Each of your keywords has a quality score metric which is further broken down into:

  • Expected click-through rate
  • Ad relevance
  • Landing page experience

Get the keywords which cost a lot, or generate plenty of traffic, and pull out the three metrics listed above.improve quality score metrics
Improve ad relevance by including target keywords in the ad copy (headlines, descriptions, paths, etc), and explore using a variety of ad extensions which provide relevant and useful information to your target audience.
Expected click-through rate is a tricky one to improve, but there are a few things to try. Increasing your bids to appear higher in the SERP will encourage better click-throughs. You could also improve the engagement of your ads by offering great USPs, deals and offers. 
Landing page experience is the hardest to improve. On a keyword by keyword basis, Google will crawl the landing page and assess how relevant, useful, and original it is. Try to include keywords in the content of the landing page, and improve the general health of your site. 

5. Ads + extensions

Another important component of your campaigns is your ads. They are literally the front of your complex bidding strategy: your cherry picked keywords, your customised ad schedules. If your ads don’t communicate why you’re awesome, then they need to be replaced with better ones.good ad versus bad ad
Make sure that each of your ad groups consists of at least 3 extended text ads, and use as many characters as possible – three 30 character titles, and two 90 character descriptions for each ad. Try to include keywords in the ads too, as it will make them much more relevant.
Don’t forget to use ad extensions and experiment with them. Extensions are brilliant at providing additional information, but they also help you take up more ‘digital retail space’. The more extensions you have on your ads, the bigger they are in the results page. This means that your target audience will be much more likely to click you vs your competitors.

6. Landing pages

Take into consideration the user’s ‘post-click’ experience. For every ad that you have in your account, put yourself in the user’s shoes and walk through the experience. Is the landing page actually relevant? Does it provide me with what I’m looking for (based on my search query)? Does the page take a little too long to load? Does the website look trustworthy?
Better yet, make absolutely sure that none of your adverts are responding 404 error codes or something similar. There’s nothing worse than spending money on ads which are fundamentally broken.

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