In this blog post, you’ll find a complete checklist for conducting a PPC audit. More importantly, this checklist is tried and tested – we use it ourselves, and it works well. Every time we go through these steps to revise our PPC campaigns, there’s always something to improve.
If you conduct a PPC audit regularly, following this step-by-step guide, I’m sure you’ll notice results as well. The main improvement, of course, is maximizing clicks and conversions while keeping your ad costs down.
Let’s see how to get there!
What is a PPC audit?
A PPC audit is when you review and analyze your PPC campaigns to estimate their performance and make changes to improve the results. Usually a PPC audit includes updating campaign settings, working with keywords and ad group structure, analyzing crucial metrics, and so on.
Sometimes you might need to do a PPC audit when you start working with a new brand and want to assess what was done before. But more often, you just need to analyze the ad campaigns you or your team are running. This allows you to adjust your strategy in time and make your ads more efficient.
PPC audit checklist for a quick start
- Check the crucial metrics
- CPC (cost per click)
- CTR (click-through rate)
- CPA (cost per acquisition)
- ROAS (return on advertising spend)
- Conversion rate
- Use a PPC dashboard for tracking
- Analyze and update keywords
- Check quality scores
- Identify poorly performing keywords
- Pause seasonal keywords
- Add new keywords to your current list
- Update your negative keyword list
- Analyze competitors’ keywords
- Check the impression share of your keywords
- Update ad group structure
- Align the structure with your current proposition
- Limit the number of keywords per group
- Include highly relevant keywords in each group
- Check targeting settings
- Revisit your personas
- Revise geotargeting
- Review and edit content
- Revise and update copy
- Check customer reviews
- Analyze competitors’ ad copy
- Perform A/B testing
- Revisit and refresh landing pages
- Revise your bidding strategy
- Test automated vs manual bidding
- Check for ways to reduce CPC
- Use a channel-specific bidding strategy
- Use multiple bidding tiers
- Revise your mobile bids
- Do period-over-period analysis
- Compare results to the previous periods
- Define the factors of high/low performance
Now, let’s explore each of these to-do items in more detail and see how to perform a PPC audit that drives results.
How to do a PPC audit?
As you can see from the checklist above, a PPC audit typically consists of several parts. The most important ones are analyzing metrics, revising keywords and ad group structure. Updating content, campaign settings, and bidding strategy are also essential.
In the sections below, we walk you through the main checkpoints and give useful tips. After this, you will know how to conduct a PPC audit and make your campaigns successful.
1. Start by checking the crucial metrics
There are plenty of metrics to track, depending on your campaign goals and focus. For some campaigns, you might be after impressions, but most of the time the goal is maximizing conversions and, ultimately, ROAS.
Here are the most important metrics to track:
- CPC (cost per click) – what you pay when a user clicks your ad.
- CTR (click-through rate) – the proportion of impressions that convert to clicks.
- CPA (cost per acquisition) – how much you pay to acquire one conversion.
- ROAS (return on advertising spend) – revenue generated compared to your ad spend.
- Conversion rate – how many conversions you get compared to the number of clicks. Don’t forget to make sure that conversions are properly tracked.
You should analyze your numbers and look at the metrics as a whole to see the full picture. For example, if you have a high CTR – it’s not necessarily such good news if the conversion rate is low. This means that your ad seems relevant to the audience, but they don’t find what they are looking for on your landing page.
You can use such findings to fix what’s not working.
2. Use a PPC audit dashboard for continuous monitoring
Tracking the core metrics should be an ongoing activity. So, there’s no need to wait for a comprehensive PPC audit for this. If you always keep an eye on your campaigns’ performance, it’s easier to make adjustments on the go and swiftly react to any changes. Reports in your Google Analytics and Google Ads account might seem an obvious place to start. But when you work with multiple pay-per-click channels, it’s often more convenient to gather all data in one place for a cross-channel report.
If you are more comfortable working with spreadsheets, you can create an automated self-updating PPC report in Google Sheets or Excel. However, we recommend tracking PPC metrics with a dashboard as visualized data is easier to analyze and share.
You can easily build a dashboard using a template. For example, it will only take several minutes to create a version of the dashboard below with your Google Ads data.
Grab these free PPC templates:
To use any of these templates, select the report you need and go to the Readmy tab in the menu on the left. For more details on using templates, check the Build a PPC dashboard in minutes section.
3. Analyze and update keywords
Keywords are the backbone of your PPC campaign. When you perform a PPC audit, keyword research is probably the part that will take most of your time. Well-optimized keywords can significantly improve performance, while leaving them unoptimized can lead to wasting your ad budget to no avail.
- Check quality scores. This score shows how relevant your ad is for users compared to other ads they see. Ideally, the quality score for your keywords should be from 7 to 10. A higher quality score brings you more relevant and converting leads. It’s better to pause keywords with lower scores.
- Identify poorly performing keywords. By analyzing impressions, clicks, and conversions, you can spot underperforming keywords. Our recommendation is to pause them as well – they cost you money, but bring little results. Instead, focus on high-performing keywords.
- Pause seasonal keywords. It’s better to pause keywords connected to specific holidays if they are not relevant right now (for example, Christmas keywords in summer).
- Add new keywords to your current list. Analyze competitors’ keywords, take another look at your product, and see what else might be added. For example, you can get some insights from the Google Ads search terms report. Expanding the list of your keywords will help you improve results.
- Don’t shun long-tail queries. This search query type is actively used by people and can bring you highly relevant traffic. For best results, consider using a mix of different keyword match types (broad match/exact match) to make the most of the algorithms.
- Update your negative keyword list. These are keywords that you don’t want to trigger displaying your ad. If you see that some keywords bring high CTR but poor engagement – it’s better to add them to the negative list. This will help you optimize your budget.
- Check the impression share of your keywords. If the impression share is low, then, someone gets more traffic for this keyword and more conversions, so you will need to make adjustments.
These steps will improve your ads’ performance on the search network.
4. Update ad group structure
A PPC account audit wouldn’t be complete without revisiting ad groups. It’s important to ensure they have a proper structure with clear categories and subcategories, and highly relevant keywords. Checking ad extensions is also helpful.
- Align the ad group structure with your current proposition. Take another look at your offering – maybe something changed, the focus shifted to another product or audience segment? Make sure your ad groups align with current goals.
- Limit the number of keywords per group. Try to keep the number of keywords to about 15-20 per group. This will improve the focus and allow you to create more tailored ad copy.
- Include highly relevant keywords in each group. Your ad groups should not be too broad. Add only keywords that are directly related to each other. If something feels like a bit of a stretch, it’s better to create a separate ad group.
5. Check targeting settings
- Revisit your personas. Double-check your audience characteristics and reread your brand’s target persona description. This might give you some additional insights. Check what’s trending for your audience, what hot topics you could use to catch your prospects where they are now. A remarketing campaign can also be a good idea to revive your audience’s interest.
- Focus on geotargeting. Check what geographical areas have the highest conversion rate and increase your bid for those locations. Alternatively, you can run multiple campaigns, each targeting a specific geo-segment. Such a focused approach to location targeting can significantly enhance performance.
6. Review and edit content
And, of course, compelling, relevant, and engaging content is of the utmost importance.
- Revise and update copy. Make sure that copy is not outdated, include new relevant keywords to help searchers find you, and check CTAs. And, of course, this applies not only to text ads, but to copy in all your ads, as well as landing pages.
- Check customer reviews. See what your customers are saying – maybe this will give you more insight into their motivations and use cases. This information can then be incorporated into ad copy to create more relevant content.
- Analyze competitors’ ad copy. Check what your competitors are doing and, consequently, what your customers are looking at when making a choice between you and them.
- Perform A/B testing. Refresh designs, if possible, and update messages. Ideally, you should have a couple of ad options for each ad group. Don’t forget to check the results of the A/B testing later and then switch to the winning option.
- Revisit and refresh landing pages. This is one of the crucial areas for every ecommerce company, and it requires close attention. Make sure your landing pages are aligned with the ad groups and your customers can find exactly what they are looking for. Low relevance can affect your ad rank.
When conducting a PPC audit, additionally pay attention to traffic behaviour metrics on a landing page. In GA4, you can see engagement rate, engaged sessions, and average engagement time. Also, leverage user behavior analytics tools, like Microsoft Clarity (it’s free). Here, you can filter ad traffic and see how much time users spent on a page. You can also check the average scroll depth, heatmaps, and recorded sessions showing user activity. Behaviour metrics will help you understand deeper what campaigns, ad groups, and keywords drive the most interested audience.
Performance Marketing Expert at Coupler.io
7. Revise your bidding strategy
When reviewing your bidding strategy, make sure that the biggest chunks of your ad budget go to the best-performing ad groups. Likewise, the best-performing parameter should be prioritized within ad groups.
- Test automated and manual bidding. You can experiment with switching between these two types to see which one drives better results. Typically, manual bidding gives you more control and flexibility compared to automated bidding. And, eventually, this can help you greatly optimize your budget. However, some advertisers gain better results with automated bidding. So testing both approaches can be quite useful.
- Use a channel-specific bidding strategy. Take into account differences between the channels – one-size-fits-all is not the best strategy. Some channels might be more relevant than others and should be prioritized. Also, some channels might generate a lot of traffic but translate into low-quality leads. Such things should be spotted and addressed.
- Use multiple bidding tiers. You can set your ad bids differently depending on the time and the day of the week. For example, if you know that your customers are more likely to be active on Friday evening rather than on Monday morning, you can adjust accordingly.
An optimal approach would be to list all the changes and ideas you want to try out and test bid adjustments incrementally.
8. Do period-over-period analysis
Finally, check how your results compare to the same metrics and outcomes for the previous month, quarter, and year. If your campaigns perform better, that’s a good sign. If not, you might learn something helpful from analyzing previous results.
Either way, it’s a good idea to define factors contributing both to high and low campaign performance. This will allow you to understand how to improve further. If you perform a PPC audit regularly, you will have relevant historical data already collected and ready for analysis.
How to prepare a PPC audit report?
If you want to present your findings and adjustments made to your team, clients, or stakeholders, you might need to prepare a PPC audit report. What information you should include, depends on the audience.
- If you are going to present your results to C-level, they are likely to be more interested in things like budget optimization, return on investment, and so on. So it’s better to focus on metrics such as ROAS, cost-per-click, and cost-per-acquisition. A high-level presentation will be enough, so there’s no need to overload it with too many details.
- If your target audience is digital marketing professionals, they might be interested in nitty-gritties – what your approach to PPC management is, how your PPC strategy changed, and what improvements translated into the most significant results.
PRO TIP: Use a PPC audit template and build a PPC dashboard in minutes
To perform a PPC audit thoroughly, we recommend using two instruments:
- A PPC audit checklist template that we provided at the beginning of this article.
- A live PPC dashboard for continuous monitoring – you’ll find the templates for such dashboards below.
Why do you need a PPC dashboard to conduct a PPC audit?
The answer is simple: to save time and effort. Tracking metrics is one of the most important parts of an audit. When you use automated live dashboards, you always have access to the latest metrics in a visualized format. As a result, your PPC data is basically always ready for analysis – you don’t need to gather or update it when you need to conduct a PPC audit. It’s also quite convenient to analyze it directly in the dashboard and share it with the stakeholders without giving them access to your accounts. Apart from this, dashboards are pretty convenient for day-to-day conversion tracking.
Of course, you can also check your metrics in your PPC channel apps or GA4, but you won’t have much customization in this case. What we offer you instead is to use these free templates to get your PPC dashboard in Looker Studio. It will take just a few minutes to visualize your data automatically – and then you will be able to use everything Looker Studio has to offer to tweak and customize your dashboard.
Google Ads PPC dashboard – a free template
This is an automated template powered by Coupler.io – a data analytics and automation platform that can help you gather, blend, and analyze your ad and marketing data.
Coupler.io can collect your ad data automatically on a schedule and send it to data viz tools (Looker Studio, Power BI, Tableau), spreadsheets (Google Sheets, Excel), or databases (BigQuery). It allows you to pull data from 70+ business apps, including Google Ads, Instagram Ads, Microsoft Ads, GA4, YouTube, Mailchimp, and many others.
Using this dashboard template is very easy. You will only need to connect your Looker Studio and Google Ads accounts to Coupler.io. All the settings are already pre-selected, so the relevant data will be extracted and visualized automatically in a matter of minutes. Once this is done, you will be able to further edit the dashboard in Looker Studio – add or remove blocks, change style, and so on.
This dashboard is interactive. Scroll down to see more metrics.
Grab this free template and get a dashboard with your data in minutes.
See how to use this dashboard for free.
Facebook Ads PPC dashboard – a free template
Just like in our previous example, this live PPC dashboard is built with the help of Coupler.io and is available for free. If you prefer building visualizations in PowerBI or Tableau, you can also use Coupler.io to send data to these tools and create a dashboard on your own.
This dashboard is interactive. Scroll down to see more metrics.
See how to use this dashboard for free.
LinkedIn Ads PPC dashboard – a free template
This automated dashboard allows you to monitor key metrics and gain valuable insights from your data. With this pre-built template, your LinkedIn Ads dashboard will be ready in minutes. It’s a valuable tool both for day-to-day monitoring and for scheduled PPC audits.
See how to use this dashboard for free.
A dashboard example for a cross-channel PPC campaign audit
In the previous section, we gave you templates for building live dashboards for separate PPC channels. However, you might also want to have a comprehensive dashboard showing you all the key metrics for a cross-channel PPC campaign. A dashboard like this can be a useful PPC audit tool.
In the example below, you can see a live dashboard created in Looker Studio with the help of Coupler.io. The dashboard automatically pulls fresh data from Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Facebook Ads. You can also add some other sources to such a visualization. For example, you can use Coupler.io to connect Microsoft Ads, Instagram Ads, etc.
View the interactive version of the PPC Ad Group Performance dashboard in Looker Studio.
In addition to the data automation solution, Coupler.io also provides data analytics services. Our team can help you with custom data visualizations, business analytics, setting up data infrastructure, and with tackling any other data-related tasks.
If you want to discuss your case or just use this cross-channel dashboard as a template, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to help.
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- Easily track and improve your business metrics by creating live dashboards on your own or with the help of our experts.
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Ensure regular PPC audits to maximize results
Many action points on our checklist can generate improved results relatively quickly. However, it’s important to understand that a PPC audit is a long-term investment. When it’s performed regularly and consistently, it brings the most noticeable results with time. Updating account structure and ensuring ad relevance, keeping your keywords and ad copy fresh… All these steps are very helpful for ensuring the best outcome and boosting your ad performance. If you are curious to learn more, check out our guide on PPC reporting.
We hope our checklist and step-by-step guide help you conduct a PPC audit that makes a difference!Back to Blog