How To Audit Your Google Adwords Account?
An Google Adwords account with low quality score reflects primarily the result of a disconnection between the advertiser’ keywords used, the ad groups created, the ad text inserted, and the landing page content. If your CPA is high and your CTR is low so conversion strategy is not bringing you more business.
Many advertisers still believe that once a PPC campaign is set up and running, the job was finished. This is a misleading understanding of PPC campaigns, which may also include additional steps, like Google Adwords account audit and retargeting. This article is intended to provide you with some pertinent insights, on how you avoid overpaying and even can boost your ROI, just by auditing your Google Adwords account regularly.
Ultimately, auditing steps should be set to (a) find out how your ads perform when compared to other AdWords’ advertisers with a similar budget, (b) map what changes you need to make to improve your overall performance, (c) define the kind of results you can expect after implementing suitable changes.
# 1 – Structural Features
(a) Review the Opportunities section
The Opportunities section should be your start point! There, you will find some suggestions, automatically generated by Google’s algorithm, which can help you to improve the features of your account.
Image credit: Google Ads
(b) Optimize Google Ads’ defaults settings
Make sure your campaign settings are adjusted to represent your particular interests. Default settings might not fit your needs since essential resources (e.g. your conversion rates) are not set by default at your dashboard.
Image credit: Google Ads
(c) Turn on Conversion Tracking to monitor your conversions
Consultants have reported that nearly 40% of Google Ads accounts have not set up Conversion Tracking. This information is a kind of unexpected statistics, which we still found in 2019. And can surely explain why so many advertisers fail to make Google Ads profitable. Such accounts are poorly monitoring ads performance by using CTR variable.
If the primary subject is getting conversions, so the optimization variable must be conversions rather than click-through rate. This premise is based on the fact it is possible to maximize the number of clicks per ad without increasing conversion rates, substantially. In other words, although your target audience needs to click on your ad to complete an action, the number of clicks depends on many factors (e.g. bad clicks, bot clicks, competitor’s clicks, poor landing page experience, lacking marketing triggers on sales pages) that decrease conversions.
Turn on Conversion Tracking if you have at least 15 conversions a month. That is so easy to use as placing a code on a page you want to monitor on your website. This AdWords’s native tool allows you to track your conversions by the type of conversion (purchases, newsletter sign-ups, etc) and per device (i.e. mobiles, tablets, and PCs). Just like this, you will be able to estimate your ROI per campaign.
ROI = The Estimated Value Of Your Conversions/ Cost Of Your Ads
You should set up your account so that variables like conversions and cost per conversion data appear in your report columns. You have the option to either track conversions using Google Analytics or use the native Google Ads code mentioned above.
(d) Use automatic bid tools with caution
An Google Adwords account offers different types of automated bid strategies, designed to increase site visits (Maximize Clicks), raise your visibility on SERPs (Target Impression Share), get more conversion value at the target return-on-ad-spend, and increase conversions (Target CPA Bidding and Enhanced CPC).
Target ROAS = Conv. Value x 100/Cost
All of these bid strategies require you to enable Conversion Tracking first, and a minimum of 15 conversions over a 30-day period. It is because they use your conversion data to estimate their bids. The more historical data your account has, the better these algorithms perform. With regard to the two strategies designed to increase your conversions, we have that:
Enhanced CPC (ECPC) adjusts the max CPC that you manually set so that you win more auctions. Or to put in other words, this option will automatically adjust your max bid for clicks that are likely to lead to a sale (or another kind of conversion). Note that if your specified max bid is lower than the minimum bid to qualify for that auction, Google’s algorithm will raise your max bid. However, it also lowers your bid for situations that seem less likely to lead to a conversion.
Conversion Optimizer (now called Target CPA Bidding), in turn, requires you to set a target CPA, instead of a max CPC. CPA is the average amount you would like to pay for a conversion. Google says that Target CPA’ algorithm also sets higher CPC bids for more valuable clicks and vice versa. And that it works to find the optimal CPC bid for your ad each time it is eligible to appear. At the end of the day, CPA bids lead to conversions that may cost more or less than your target.
Although these strategies automate the process of settings bids for each auction, which may be very time-consuming for users, many marketers rather prefer manual bidding. The main advantage of manual bidding is the total control you get over your monthly budget. It also does not preclude the possibility of testing different bids manually, to find out where your best ad spot is. Without eCPC, for example, you can build an excel sheet with all the scenarios that you intend to bid, aiming to improve your profit margin.
Both, eCPC and Target CPA Bidding, stats that conversions are expected to increase at the expense of your costs. Although both algorithms set lower bids in other situations, just like a compensation mechanism, there is a certain degree of uncertainty about the final costs, since we do not know how much these algorithms weighs the bids in each situation. Some marketers prefer to use a third-party bid management software or hire a PPC agency to do this kind of work.
Google says that one of their goals is to keep the average CPC below the max CPC you set as well as the average CPA similar to the target CPA you set, respectively. But recall that any mean refers to a distribution of values whose variance (dispersion) may be large or not. It means to say that is not enough to analyze performance just by looking at the average values of CPC or CPA (then check out how broad their histograms are).
Some advertisers report good results by using these tools! The bottom line is: In the event of an increase in your CPC (or in your CPA), is it sustainable for your business? Can your profit margins sustain that hit? Can you absorb an increase in costs without raising prices in your store? Newbies, newer or small businesses are likely more sensitive to. For that, we suggest you that use Enhanced CPC and Target CPA Bidding with caution.
(e) Manage your Google Adwords account on a daily basis
Since your Google Adwords account are producing new data every day, we suggest that you analyze your account on a daily basis. Visit your Change History chart, where the number of changes in ad, bid, budget, and conversion is shown over time. If you feel unmotivated to manage your account regularly, then outsource this work. Skilled professionals can drive high-performance results.
Image credit: Google Adwords account
Even if you rely on Google’s algorithm to find the ratio to serve ads and use dynamic tools, PPC advertising requires continuous improvement over time. Otherwise, you may risk burning yourself if you are overpaying ads for getting poor performance clicks and/ or conversions.
# 2 – Keywords Optimization
(f) Eliminate keywords with zero conversions
For most Google Ads accounts, the majority of keywords chosen by advertisers do not produce clicks or sales. Despite that, these fruitless keywords often spend between 30 – 60% of the total ad costs. To save your budget, please, follow the steps below:
- Go to AdWords > Keywords tab > Click on the Details drop-down menu to select Search Terms All
- Then, export your historical data into an Excel file
- Open this file and filter all keywords with zero conversions observed along the months
- Sum up the costs column of filtered data, to see how much you are paying for keywords that have not converted in your campaigns
- Exclude all of them from your account now
(g) Remove less relevant keywords, if possible
Less relevant keywords lead your ads to be shown up for less relevant searches, and consequently, generate less relevant clicks that are not likely to convert. Similarly, low-quality scores are rarely shown but they make you pay more for clicks.
In some cases, they may not be even eligible to show your ads, as when (a) there is low search volume, (b) low-quality scores keywords, and (c) there are few page matches in Display Network content. Therefore, check for keywords whose status appears as “no”, and consider removing them. Mining your search terms reports to add a more relevant keyword, instead.
(h) Add negative keywords
Add negative keywords to your Google Adwords account, in order to prevent your ads from bad clicks, irrelevant search terms, visitors that are not looking to buy at all, etc. The latter refers to the scenarios (a), (b), or (c) mentioned above. Bad clicks, in turn, refer to ones that do not fit or agree exactly to what web users were looking for.
Let’s consider the case in which you use the keyword Cheap alone in your Ad Copy, but the headline of your sales page is Cheap Only In The First Two Months. The person who clicked on this ad was probably expecting for something that is “Cheap Always”. The disappointment’s degree that she/he feels may lead this person to leave your page without taking action, you gonna pay for a click whose cost could be avoided. This is a bad click!
Image credit: Negative Keywords
That is why you should focus on keywords that will bring you more conversions, and not merely bid on keywords that clearly increase the number of clicks (but that may not convert in the context of your campaign). Verify if the search query report shows any keywords that are off-topic for the subject matter and conversion goals.
Keywords like cheap and free are often used as triggers in Marketing, but we recommend you to use them with caution in paid advertising. Do not them in your Google Adwords account.
Universal negative keywords that you should consider adding to any campaign
- No charge
- No cost
(i) Set individual bids for keywords
In your Google Adwords account, do not set a unique, default max bid value for an ad group! Optimize individual bids for every keyword added. The more you adjust your max CPC on a keyword level, the more you can lower your average CPC. Verify if there are any keywords out of line with expected or desired CPC, CTR, or CPA.
# 3 – Landing page user’s experience
(j) Is your landing page experience status set to below average?
Google categorizes the keyword’s landing page experience perceived by visitors as above average, on average, or below average. Although your website is something external to your Adwords account, Google may penalize you for poor user’ experience. The category of your landing page strongly influences your Ad Rank, and thus, your CPC in the ad auction. As a result, your ads may show less often (or not at all).
Needless to say that many advertisers focus on the keywords optimization step to furnish their PPC campaigns, but work comparatively less to design SEO-optimized landing pages, mainly in terms of keywords. Landing pages should also contain marketing elements. Otherwise, you might be hurting your chances of making conversions. Every part of your sales funnel (PPC ad + landing page + CTA) should be carefully designed.
Truth be told, nearly 90% of the Google Adwords accounts I have audited had a poor landing page strategy. In fact, 52% of the Google Adwords accounts were pointing their pay-per-click traffic to their homepage. And, of the 48% with a dedicated landing page, less than 15% were conducting landing page tests! (Source: Neil Patel)
Go through the requirements below to see if you are covering the most obvious aspects:
Google’ basic requirements
- Is your landing page clear and well-organized?
- Is the content of your landing page really useful to your customers?
- Is your site fast loaded, easy to navigate (e.g. intuitive navigation) and fully working?
- Has your landing page keywords closely related to what potential customers are searching for?
Make your offer look great
- Is your headline high compelling and clear enough about your offer?
- Is your offer relevant (i.e. something useful and/or desired) for your audience?
- Is your offer (i.e. products or services) features well presented by an image or video?
- Is your page content and design congruent to your ad content (including the promises you made)?
Submission form/ Call to action
- Do the form work? Is it visible? Is the CTA button noticeable?
- The headline above the submission form is a clear call to action (CTA)?
- The number of fields of the form is appropriate for your offer (and without “optional” fields)?
- Does the form submit to a thank you message or page that contains the conversion tracking code?
- Do you provide a contact form, at least?
- Does the page layout look like professionally designed?
- Are you using non-anonymous (authentic) testimonials?
- Set their names, photo, job title, and place of business, if possible
- Are you using any relevant trust icon? Avoid “old school” claims like “Risk-Free” icons
- Do the visual queues page design fit the theme?
- Do you use visual queues to highlight key areas?
- Is there harmony between colors, fonts & images?
- Is the landing page content visually well organized?
- The supporting imagery does not compete with your CTA?
- The features, products use, etc do not break the page theme?
- Does the page design guide the visitor’ eyes to high priority sections?