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PPC Audit: Your Step-by-Step Guide

By Lani Sodunke
27 March 2024

Meeting your marketing objectives and staying on top of your advertising campaigns require continuous monitoring and optimization. Conducting regular PPC campaign audits helps you uncover issues, make adjustments and maximize your return on investment (ROI).

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of conducting a comprehensive PPC audit. We’ll also help you create a comprehensive report to communicate your findings. 

What Is a PPC Audit?

A PPC audit evaluates PPC campaign performance, identifies issues, and suggests improvements to enhance a campaign’s effectiveness. 

When conducting a PPC audit, thoroughly analyzing the campaign structure is crucial. Check how your ad groups are organized and make sure they make sense and match your business goals. A PPC audit should identify areas that need adjustment, eliminate wasteful spending, and optimize campaign settings for improved results.

Why Should You Conduct a PPC Audit

Through PPC audits, you can evaluate the health of your advertising efforts. Let’s go over a few reasons why it is important to conduct a PPC audit:

  • Performance Enhancement: A PPC audit helps uncover issues in your campaign. Use this information to fine-tune ad copy, keywords, and targeting for better results. You can make informed data-driven decisions and implement changes to optimize your campaign’s performance.
  • Cost Efficiency: A PPC audit can help improve targeting and budget allocation, ensuring more effective use of advertising funds.
  • Competitive Edge: Uncover what your competitors are doing and what strategies work to proactively adjust your campaigns. Conducting a PPC audit reveals the keywords your competitor focuses on and assesses your ad’s effectiveness in comparison.
  • Maximizing ROI: A key PPC audit goal is to eliminate wasted spend and maximize your return on investment (ROI). By analyzing campaign performance, you can optimize conversions and refocus your budget to high-performing keywords or ads. 
  • Uncovering New Opportunities: When conducting a PPC audit, thoroughly analyze your campaign data and performance metrics. This examination helps you identify new opportunities to ensure you are getting the most out of your budget.

Step-by-Step Checklist to Run a PPC Audit 

A PPC audit is an indispensable part of your entire PPC activity. If this is your first time doing a PPC audit, having a checklist handy goes a long way in running a successful audit.

Below are the essential steps you need to follow when auditing your PPC campaign:

1. Set Goals

The first step to running any successful audit is clearly defining your goals. What are you trying to achieve with your PPC campaign? Is it lead generation? If yes, you should set your goals towards KPIs like conversions, click-through rates, or cost per acquisition. 

By properly defining your goals, you can tailor your audit to the areas that will most impact achieving those goals.

2. Determine a Date Range

Different seasons or periods may have varying consumer behavior and market dynamics. You’ll need more than a month’s worth of data to assess and understand the impact of your adjustments.

Setting a date range of about three months or more allows you to identify how your campaigns perform. You can compare data from different periods, make informed decisions about campaign adjustments, and tailor your PPC strategy accordingly.

3. Review Campaign Structure

Reviewing your campaign structure helps evaluate how well the campaign targets your intended audience. You need to check if you are using the right keywords, if ad groups are tightly themed, and if ads are relevant to the search terms or queries. Get the best out of your campaigns by adjusting these metrics appropriately.

A well-organized campaign structure is key to targeting and ad relevance, enhancing click-through rates and Quality Scores.

4. Check Targeting Settings

Checking targeting settings involves reviewing and assessing how well the PPC campaigns align with the intended audience. You could have the most beautiful ad design, but you will only achieve your set outcome if you target your PPC ads correctly. Some key aspects to consider when checking targeting settings in a PPC audit include:

  • Device: Device targeting enables your ad campaign to be visible on whatever device you set it to. A recent article by Tech Jury says that about 60% of mobile phone users click on a PPC ad at least once per week. If the audit shows that a majority of ads appear on mobile devices, you need to make sure the site is mobile-friendly. Or you should consider adjusting the targeting to focus on desktop users.
  • Geographic Targeting: Geographic targeting refers to specifying locations where your ads should appear. Targeting can range from broad to specific. For instance, if a business only serves customers in New York City, but their ads appear nationwide, this could be more efficient. The audit should recommend location targeting for only New York City to improve relevance and reduce wasted spend.
  • Timing: If a restaurant gets most of its orders during the evening, the audit should flag daytime ads as an issue. If you run a campaign from your Google Ads account, you can improve it using Google’s Ad Schedule to toggle date and time settings.
  • Placement Targeting: Placement targeting is where your ads will appear on the internet. If your ads appear on irrelevant websites, a PPC audit can help you identify these errors. You can then choose better websites or block specific categories that align with your requirements.

5. Conversion Settings

The traffic from running a PPC campaign has over 50% conversion compared to organic advertising. If you’re not tracking your conversions properly, there is no way you can get the best out of your ad campaigns. You need to monitor and prioritize the actions that contribute the most to your business goals.

Depending on your campaign objective, these actions could be sales, sign-ups, or other specific goals. By focusing on conversions during a PPC audit, you can understand your campaign performance and identify areas for improvement.

6. Review Your Ad Copy

Search engines use Quality Scores to determine the relevance and quality of your ads. High-quality, relevant ad copy can lead to higher Quality Scores, resulting in lower CPC and better ad positioning. Reviewing your ad copy can positively impact these scores and ensure the messaging aligns with customer needs. 

You can refresh your designs and update other content such as meta description, title, and landing page. Ideally, you should conduct A/B testing or have a couple of ad options for each ad group. You can enhance your PPC campaign’s effectiveness by constantly reviewing, testing, and optimizing ad copy. This leads to higher conversion rates, better engagement, and more effective use of your advertising budget.

7. Keyword Performance Review and Update

Regular keyword performance reviews are about more than just immediate improvements. They are also about ensuring the long-term success of your PPC campaigns. The process starts with gathering data on impressions, click-through rates, conversion rates, cost per click (CPC), and overall ROI for each keyword. 

While auditing, look for patterns and trends and identify which keywords are performing well or falling behind. Optimize high-performing keywords for better results. Adjust or remove underperforming keywords to improve campaign efficiency. A thorough review can:

8. Optimize Ad Spend: Reviewing keyword performance helps identify which keywords yield high returns and which are underperforming. You can optimize your ad spend by re-assigning the budget from poor-performing keywords to those that bring in more traffic and conversions. 

For example, if you’re running an e-commerce site and discover that “women’s running shoe sale” has a high conversion rate. You can allocate more budget to this keyword or use similar variations to increase traffic and conversions.

9. Identify Negative Keywords: Negative keywords are terms for which you don’t want your ads to appear. Adding these to your campaign can reduce irrelevant traffic, decrease wasted spend, and improve campaign relevancy.

Reviewing and updating your keywords is essential to maintaining strong campaign performance over time.

10. Check Your Quality Score

Quality Score provides you with information on your ad quality versus other advertisers. It measures the relevance and quality of your keywords, ads, and landing pages compared to other advertisers. 

Understanding which campaigns, ad groups, or keywords have low-quality scores will help you make informed budget decisions. Investing more in high-performing keywords and improving or pausing low-performing ones can optimize your overall campaign effectiveness.

Combining your bid amount and Quality Score influences the position of your ad in search results. Higher scores may result in favorable ad placements without needing higher bids. Your ads can appear more prominently, leading to increased click-through rates (CTR) and better overall campaign performance.

11. Analyze Your Campaign KPIs

Understand how your target audience responds to your ads by analyzing your campaign KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Some of the KPIs you should focus on include:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Conversion Rate
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
  • Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)
  • Impression 

Analyzing these KPIs helps identify potential bottlenecks and efficiently allocate budget in your ad campaign. 

12. Check and Analyze Ad Extensions

Using ad extensions in search campaigns significantly improves your ads’ visibility and click-through rates (CTR). Your ads offers potential customers more reasons to choose your advertisement over competitors.

During a PPC audit, review all ad extensions to ensure they are:

  • Relevant: Make sure extensions are closely related to the ad content and the landing pages they link to.
  • Up-to-date: Confirm that all information is current, especially for time-sensitive offers or contact details.
  • Optimized: Check that the wording and imagery used in extensions are compelling and aligned with your ad goals.
  • Diverse: Use a variety of ad extensions to provide users with multiple ways to interact with your ad.

 Types of Ad Extensions:

  • Site-link Extensions: Links underneath your ad point users to the most relevant content on your website.
  • Call Extensions: Adds a phone number or call button to your ad, making it easy for users to contact you directly.
  • Location Extensions: Ensures your phone number and address are visible on your ad.
  • Structured Snippets: Highlight your products or services by selecting a predefined header (like “Brands” or “Services”) and listing items.
  • App Extensions: Encourages users to download your app with a link that leads directly to the app’s download page in the app store.

In summary, regularly check and test different extensions and configurations to find what works best. Also, look at the performance data for each extension type. Metrics like CTR, conversion rate, and cost per conversion can indicate how an extension impacts your ad’s performance.

13. Competitor Analysis

Understanding what your competitors do regarding their PPC campaigns is more than about keeping up. It’s about finding opportunities to stand out.

Analyzing your competitor’s content can spark new ideas and reveal their strategies. Look at which keywords they are targeting, their ad copy, and their landing page experience. 

If you run an ad on Meta, you can check out your competitors’ efforts using the Meta Ads Library. For Google Ad campaigns use Google Ads Transparency Center. Semrush AdClarity makes it possible to analyze all your competitor data in one dashboard across various channels.

By examining your competitors’ ads, you could spot a gap they’ve missed, and you can jump right in. You can also learn from their mistakes, saving you time and resources. Analyzing competitor ads goes a long way in discovering opportunities for improvement.

14. Check for Outdated Scripts or Rules

Sometimes, we set up scripts or rules to automate bids, pause ads, or adjust budgets based on specific criteria. But as we expand our campaigns, these once-helpful automations can become outdated.

Just imagine a script still pausing your holiday ads from last year. Or a rule adjusting bids based on outdated conversion data. These can unintentionally hurt your campaign’s performance.

While leveraging scripts and rules can help automate tasks, checking and updating them ensures your ads will run smoothly.

15. Bid Management and ROI Measurement

Are you bidding too high on low-converting keywords? Or too low on high-value ones? Finding the right balance can significantly boost your campaign’s efficiency.

Effective bid management helps strike the right balance between maintaining visibility in search results and controlling advertising costs. Keeping track of your bid amounts will help determine if you can lower or increase your bid amount.

ROI measurement is about understanding the value you get from your PPC efforts. You are not just tracking clicks and impressions. You should examine how those clicks translate into tangible outcomes, like sales or leads.

A successful PPC campaign audit ensures you allocate your resources to the most profitable areas.

The Best PPC Audit Tools

Running a manual PPC audit is time-consuming. Using the right PPC audit tool can make your campaigns more effective and less time-consuming. But choosing the best one can be tricky if you aren’t sure what to look out for.

How do you choose the right PPC audit tool for your marketing needs? We’ve compiled a list of what to remember and examples of the best PPC audit tools to help simplify your audit process.

  • Comprehensive Feature Coverage: Look for tools that report on all aspects of PPC campaigns. You need to be able to access keyword analysis, ad copy evaluation, bid management, and conversion tracking. A tool that provides a comprehensive view of your campaign’s performance can offer more insights and actionable recommendations.
  • Consider Integration Capabilities: Integration enhances your audit’s effectiveness, efficiency, and scalability. A PPC audit tool should seamlessly integrate with other platforms you are already using. This integration helps to save time spent on manual data entry and gives more time for analyzing and optimization.
  • Customization and Scalability: The ability to customize reports and scale features based on your business and needs is important. As your campaigns grow, the tool should accommodate increased data volume and provide more advanced features.

Some of the best PPC Audit Tools on the market include:

Selecting a PPC audit tool that aligns with your campaign goals is vital.

Communicate Your Findings – How to Build a PPC Audit Report

Once you have completed your PPC audit, the next thing is to summarize your findings in a clear and concise report. A well-structured report helps communicate your audit results and recommendations effectively.

So, please grab a cup of coffee, and let’s craft a PPC report that looks great and packs a punch with valuable data.

Automated PPC Reporting and Monitoring tool.

1. Include the Most Important KPIs

Your cost per click (CPC), return on ad spend, and click-through rate (CTR) gives a comprehensive overview of how your campaign generates conversions. 

Include only the most critical KPIs or metrics in your PPC report and keep it simple for your clients or stakeholders. These metrics translate the campaign’s performance into understandable and actionable information, even for non-marketers. 

A well-structured PPC report with KPIs can demonstrate the value and impact of the campaign to clients or upper management. It also provides historical data to predict trends, set realistic goals, and develop strategies.

2. Tell a Story with Your Data

Stories can evoke emotions and create a stronger connection with an audience – be it clients, team members, or management. It provides the context behind the numbers, and insights behind changes or specific strategies were more effective.

PPC reports can contain complex data like click-through rates, conversion rates, acquisition costs, etc. A narrative approach, using visuals such as bars, images, and charts, makes the data clear and more understandable.

Using stories, you can also emphasize how the reported metrics affect the business’s bottom line and goals.

3. Consider Your Audience

An effective PPC report should bridge the gap between data and decision-making. Consider considering your audience to make sure the report is relevant, understandable, and useful for decision-making.

Different audiences have varied levels of understanding and interest in PPC metrics. For instance, a marketing team might be interested in detailed performance metrics like CTR, conversions, and cost per acquisition. However, C-level executives prefer a broader overview of ROI (Return on Investment) and overall impact on business goals. Tailoring your report to each audience ensures it is relevant and easily understood.

When creating your report, take into account your audience to properly prioritize and highlight the most relevant metrics.

4. Use PPC Reporting Tools to Simplify Process

PPC campaigns often draw data from multiple platforms such as Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, Instagram Ads and more. Gathering this data manually without reporting tools is time-consuming and prone to errors. Using PPC reporting tools can significantly streamline the process of creating PPC reports. Reporting tools come in all shapes and sizes; this article helps to demystify reporting tool selection and pricing.

5. Provide Recommendations

Make your audits and campaign reports more valuable. Providing actionable insights and recommendations can highlight new opportunities for expansion and decision-making. 

Recommendations help translate complex data into actionable tactics. You can guide stakeholders on how to allocate budgets, adjust bids, refine targeting, or optimize landing pages for better performance.

Your PPC report becomes a strategic tool for future growth by including data-driven recommendations.

Tip – Use a PPC Audit Dashboard for Continuous Monitoring

Using a PPC audit dashboard makes detecting any changes made and their impact on campaign performance fast. Monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time will provide insights into PPC channels which yield the best results. 

Automating your PPC reporting tasks with a tool like Swydo significantly streamlines your data collection and reporting process. It eliminates the need for manual data entry and compilation, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors. You’ll gain a comprehensive view of your marketing performance across platforms, including social media and search engines.

You can visualize your data through charts, graphs, and tables, and collaborate with team members to align campaign objectives. You can quickly identify trend issues, track campaign performance, and make data-driven decisions in one dashboard.

Improve the success of your PPC audits and campaigns by creating a more efficient and teamwork-focused setting.

The Bottom Line

Conducting a PPC audit and creating a comprehensive report will help you get the most out of your PPC campaigns. An audit should enable you to:

  • Optimize budget allocation
  • Identify underperforming areas
  • Boost campaign efficiency
  • Improve ROI tracking and accountability

Running a PPC audit takes a reasonable amount of time and effort. By implementing this guide, you will have the tools to evaluate every aspect of your PPC activities correctly. 

Are you ready to unlock your PPC campaigns’ full potential and maximize returns in one dashboard?Get started by customizing a free PPC report now!