The Ultimate Guide To The 8-Step PPC Audit Checklist

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We are now at the height of the digital marketing era, and more customers are spending their time online finding brands worth their money. 

With this, businesses are embracing the wonders of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to bring more visitors to their websites. Because the more users you attract, the more conversions and revenue you’ll generate.

But things just don’t happen like you expect them to. Your campaign doesn’t meet the marketing objectives you set and the results you want are nowhere to be found. Do you throw in the towel, or get back on your feet through a PPC audit?

Chances are, your PPC account could be better. You may have missed something along the way that hurt the overall ad performance. This is why an account audit will help you find the root cause of your problems.

Learn about structured steps in PPC audits to avoid overcomplicating things. Let’s get started!

Getting Started: What Is A PPC Audit?

Google ad dashboard

A pay-per-click (PPC) audit focuses on assessing the cost, performance and returns of your ad campaigns, individual ads and ad groups. It is recommended that you should conduct an audit every six months to ensure that every account is optimised for better ROI.

Remember that launching a successful ad on the Internet requires effort and commitment. You can’t just leave it out there and hope for the best. This is why the PPC audit was established to help businesses identify areas of improvement and rethink a campaign structure.

Why Is A PPC Audit Important?

people reading about the importance of PPC audit illustration

What truly makes a PPC audit important and why should you conduct them on a routine basis? Here are some of the most common benefits that come with it:

Prevents Wasteful Spending

Unfortunately, lots of businesses that invested their hard-earned money in ad campaigns brought no valuable results. They did not take the time to evaluate how a campaign is performing, flushing their resources down the drain.

This is where a PPC audit comes into play. It helps you make sure that everything is working just fine so you prevent significant losses. 

Helps You Learn About Your Audience

One of the benefits of conducting a PPC audit is that it helps you understand how your target audience interacts with your ads. What do they like about your advertisements? Having this information guides you in improving your campaign and providing a much better experience for your potential leads.

Refines Your Campaign

If you want to make sure that your goals are being met, adjusting your PPC campaign through an audit is essential. Things may constantly change without prior notice, so making refinements along the way with the data you have in hand can make a huge difference.

You can think of strategy revisions that will maximise your ROI. Your target audience will be led to the right sales funnels, become loyal customers and advocate for your brand in the long run.

The PPC Audit Checklist: A Step-By-Step Guide

PPC audit checklist

Don’t fret if you’ve never done a PPC audit before! To help you analyse the whole thing, try setting aside a day or so to make it as productive and efficient as much as possible. 

Moreover, before getting started, make sure that you have access to the following:

  • Google Ads ID number – To sync a client’s account to your My Client Centre (MCC) account, know their Google Ads ID first. 
  • Google Analytics – This platform allows you to verify if the Google Analytics page has been linked to your Google Ads account. It is also used to check if conversion goals have been established correctly. 
  • Conversion Tracking – Before conducting an audit, list down your conversion actions. You should know what your client wants to keep track of so you know exactly what to report.

Check out this step-by-step guide below:

Step # 1: Review Conversion Tracking Settings

Google search console performance board

Thanks to conversion tracking, you get access to valuable insights on overall ad performance and customer actions right after clicking your ad. They might have made a purchase, signed up for an account or downloaded your app.

Without tracking them, you are hurting your PPC campaigns. This is why the very first thing you have to do in a PPC audit is to confirm that you’re tracking things right. 

Double-check everything. Keep in mind that you might not record your conversions if conversion settings weren’t properly installed when you set up your account. For example, if there are inactive statuses, debug them with Google’s Tag Assistant.

You can also remove legacy tags if your conversion figures seem unrealistically high despite low sales numbers. And if there are little to no conversions for an account, make sure it has a tracking code and link everything to Google Analytics.

Step # 2: Double-Check Targeting Settings

It only takes a few minutes to set up your campaign targeting settings. However, a simple mistake can significantly affect your account performance if you’re not careful. 

Let’s say you’re helping a client optimise their ad performance. What you need to do is immediately review their targeting settings to make sure it aligns with their business goals.

Here are some of the things you have to check:

Mobile Bid Adjustments

Do you want your ads to be displayed on mobile devices? If yes, your bid modifiers should be high enough for increased visibility in mobile searches. 

Try dividing the ad performance by device to check if your existing mobile bids are effectively working. However, if your business isn’t still mobile ad-ready, it’s best to set the bids to -100% until your mobile ads and landing pages are polished.

Target Locations

Review if you’re targeting the regions you intend to provide services to. Once done, go over your geo-reports. If you observe that a certain area has a great performance compared to others, adjust the account to prioritise the location.

Step # 3: Take A Look At The Account Structure

The account structure refers to the organisation of your ads, keywords and campaigns. Take a closer look at this checklist when you proceed to this step:

Campaign Names

When it comes to establishing a campaign name, you want to ensure that it follows a logical naming convention. This will give you easier reporting and better transparency, among other things.

Make sure that the campaign name comprehensively describes the theme type, your product or service and your location. For instance, if your search campaign wants to promote furniture, then this is how your campaign name should appear:

Search – Branded – Furniture – Singapore

Take note that you can edit the existing campaign name in case you need to make changes. Don’t create a new campaign since it will reset the quality score!

Ad Groups

An ad group should never contain 15-20 keywords. So, when you start conducting a PPC audit, scan the account and focus on ad groups that exceed the limit. 

In addition, you need to categorise ad group names with relevant keywords. This will make your life a lot easier, especially when you’re a PPC account manager.

Campaign Theme

Every campaign should be separated by a specific theme including match type, generic campaigns and branded campaigns. Depending on the selected goals and themes, the budget you have to set aside as well as the expected results may vary.

For example, branded keyword-only campaigns are one of the foundations of your PPC strategy. They prevent competitors from outperforming you, boost brand awareness and drive valuable results.

On the other hand, non-branded keyword-only campaigns are important in growing your traffic. They help you widen your reach and diversify the source of traffic to your platform. 

Step # 4: Check Your Keywords And Search Terms

Keyword research illustration
Search Research Subject Terms Vocabulary

During your PPC audit, don’t forget to check your positive and negative keywords. These are the things you should look out for:

  • Your primary keywords must fit into the descriptions, ad copies, paths and display URLs.
  • Aim for keyword quality scores of six or higher. If they have a low score, this is your sign to update your keyword list and revise generic ad copies.
  • List down negative keywords to avoid irrelevant search results that can increase your cost per click (CPC). You may also combine keyword match types to prevent appearing in unwanted search results.
  • Set 5 to 10 keywords only.
  • Don’t avoid long-tail keywords. Even though they look like lengthy sentences, they are more personalised. They can help you generate more leads!

After evaluating your keywords, the next thing you need to do is review your search term. In this way, you’ll know where your traffic is coming from. Once you have the data, decide whether you have to recalibrate to optimise your account or add more negative keywords.

Step # 5: Study Your Ad Content

One of the non-metric factors you want to keep track of in your PPC campaign is the ad content itself. Does your content encourage your target audience to engage with your ad the way you want them to?

First things first—you have to check if your ad targets a specific group of people who are likely to interact with your brand. Without a target audience in mind, driving efficient results will take you a long time.

After that, make sure that your ad discusses the benefits of using your products or services. When a lead is converted to a paying customer, what would they get out of choosing your business over a direct competitor? What’s in it for them?

You must also revise your call to action (CTA) for increased conversion rates. It needs to be compelling, concise and action-oriented.

Most importantly, reread the Google Ad policies to ensure you’re not violating the rules regarding restricted content.

Step # 6: Optimise ad extensions

ad extensions explanation

Using ad extensions provides more information to users who are planning to make a purchase. What’s more, they won’t increase your ad spend because they are free to use.

Fortunately, you can remove or optimise the extensions with low performance since Google allows you to review everything in one tab. Depending on your goals, you can also add manual tabs and adjust the automated ones.

Here are the most recommended ad extensions you should try:

  • Snippets – Write an interesting but concise description. Think of it as a quick preview of your offerings for potential leads and customers.
  • Sitelinks – This includes sales landing pages, pricing pages, testimonials and contact forms, to name a few.
  • Lead Form – If you want to increase your subscribers on the mailing list, it’s best to include a lead form extension. Try offering discounts, vouchers and other incentives.
  • Locations – Adding a location extension is recommended for businesses that want to increase foot traffic on their physical stores. 
  • Phone Call Extensions – When users see a phone number under your ad, you can still convert them to paying customers through a call. 

It’s also important to note that you don’t have to use every ad extension. These extensions are mainly used to help you meet your goals and promote ad relevance. Let’s say you run an e-commerce store. Adding a location extension is futile because your focus is the growth of your online presence.

Step # 7: Know Your Bids

Always keep track of your bid amounts when you launch a PPC campaign. This number determines how much money you’re spending to get more clicks and conversions. 

This is why reviewing your bidding strategy is crucial in meeting your goals and calculating the overall ad spend. 

Here are the following bid strategies you can try if you want to reevaluate:

  • vCPM (cost per thousand viewable impressions) for brand awareness
  • Smart bidding for direct actions and conversions
  • CPV (cost per view) or CPM (cost per thousand impressions) bidding for more views in video ads

Step # 8: Calculate Your ROI And ROAS

ROI and ROAS calculation

If you truly want to know if your ad campaign produces good results, calculating the return on investment (ROI) and return on ad spend (ROAS) may do the trick. 

Here’s a helpful formula for easy calculation:

ROI = 100 ((Revenue – Expenses)/Expenses)

Keep in mind that the expenses should include tech costs, ad spend, labour and every cent you spent in relation to your ads. You need to at least aim for a 25-50% ROI.

Meanwhile, ROAS evaluates ad performance and determines how much revenue you generate for each ad dollar. The ideal ROAS ratio is 2.87:1. This is how you calculate it:

ROAS = Ad spend revenue/Ad spend

Knowing these numbers also helps you audit your wasted spending.

Final Thoughts

Complacency has no room in PPC campaigns. Because no matter how much money and time you invest in your ads, if you leave everything to chance, things would go nowhere. The results you’re aiming for won’t just magically appear even if you put in the highest bid amount in Google Ads. 

However, through a PPC audit, creating a new game plan becomes easier and more efficient. You know what to improve on your campaign, learn about your target audience and discover performance issues, to name a few. 

PPC audits may seem time-consuming, but they will teach you a lot of things as a digital marketer. But if you need more help, our ad analysts and strategists can help you with PPC management and SEM services.

Just give us a call, and we’re more than happy to talk and figure things out together. 


What should I look for in a PPC audit?

When conducting a PPC audit, here are the things you should look for:

1. Conversion tracking settings
2. Targeting settings
3. Account structure
4. Keywords and search terms
5. Ad content
6. Bid strategy

Why is a PPC audit important?

PPC audits are important because they help you maximise your ROI, reconsider ad strategies, make you more analytical and prevent wasteful spending. 

How much does a PPC audit cost?

Prices for PPC audits usually range from US$1,000 to US$2,500 or more. However, there are lots of free PPC audits you can take advantage of online. 

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About Roots Digital

Roots Digital is an award-winning digital marketing agency and SEO agency headquartered in Singapore, specialising in eCommerce Marketing and lead generation.

Some of our core digital marketing services include SEO servicesSEM services, Google Ads management servicesGoogle Analytics services and more.

Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in working with us. Connect with us via our service enquiry form. You may schedule a call for more information and to know more about our digital marketing services.

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Picture of Ian Ong
Ian Ong
Marketing Director @ Roots Digital, a digital marketing agency in Singapore. Aka the guy responsible for growing the digital marketing agency.
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