By Bryan Gaynor

Rebuilding a Paid Search account is probably the easiest thing to do when starting with a new agency or taking over an existing account. Just build and optimize. Simple right?

However, what about all that strong history of quality scores, CTR and ad performance? Should this just be discarded? There is still a lot of quality data and insight to be taken from mistakes and successes of the past.

It is sometimes best, when starting with a new agency or a new client, to start out with a full account audit of performance and account structure. Maybe there were parts of the campaign that worked extremely well, others that killed performance. Maybe, just maybe, a simple restructure is the answer to account success.

Below are 10 tips that we use here at Aezy when conducting a Paid Search Audit.

Account Structure:

Every audit should start with a review of the account structure. Look at how campaigns, ad groups, and keywords are grouped. This will help determine if there is a logical structure in place across all campaigns.

It is essential that search network and display network campaigns are separated. The reason being that there are vast differences, in CTR and Conversion rates, between these two channels. Combining these channels can have an overall impact of Performance, Quality Score and CPC.

The final step is understand why different products, locations and/or other differences are separated. Is because of budget? the audience it is targeting? Or is it just a complete mess?

Unless there is a clear reason to why the account is laid out the way it is, you should plan on simplifying the entire thing. Focus on what is important to business goals and will provide the best ROI. This will save you (or your agency) a lot of time and money in the long term.

Track your users:

I highly recommend having conversion tracking set up in every PPC account. These include standard Adwords conversion tracking, Call tracking and setting up goals in analytics.

Whether you are tracking leads directly from your site or not. I still recommend tracking events on your site that could show intent to interact with your business in the future. Using this data, you can help define what people want from your brand and adjust your approach towards that. This can help save time and wasted spend.

Keyword Performance:

The next step in a successful audit is reviewing keywords and how they have performed. We pinpoint which keywords are driving the best quality traffic in terms of leads and intent.

Once you understand the keyword that are performing the best, it is important to dive deeper into the metrics. For example, Quality Score. This measures the quality of the overall user experience including relevance to the search term, the ad copy, and finally the landing page. It is important to note low quality score keywords, as over time they can lead to inflated Cost Per Click.

Even if keywords are performing well in terms of driving traffic, they just may not be worth it. Keywords that have a strong conversion rate, may still be expensive and not align with business goals and in some cases may need to be removed.

Ensure quality traffic

Using the right match type can help campaign performance and cost significantly. Too many times, I have come across a campaign and see an account full of broad match keywords.

Broad match keywords cast the biggest nets across search terms. It can match your keywords to search terms that are irrelevant or out of context. While they can drive significant CTR, they more often than not drive low quality traffic, driving up your Cost Per Goal. For example, if you sell coffee beans and target a broad keyword such as coffee beans. Someone searches for “coffee maker”. Your ad still may be triggered and clicked on, wasting spend and creating a frustrated visitor. Using Broad modified, phrase match and exact match keywords that drastically improve your traffic quality and cost per goal. In the same scenario, we would use phrase match and target “coffee beans”. This will only trigger your ad when someone includes “coffee beans” within their search term.

It is important to regularly review your negative keyword lists. Negative keywords are also critical in eliminating poor traffic and wasted spend. It is also important for brand safety. For example, if you are a food distributor that recently had a massive recall of product, you would want to exclude your brand from showing up around any terms that surround the incident.

Make them stay

Effective Landing pages are crucial in the success of a PPC campaign. Why you ask? We are in the age of what Google refers to as “ Zero Moment of Truth”. The reason people search for things is because they need questions answered and needs met immediately. Having a landing page that can do this clearly, improves the chances of creating leads, sales and ultimately loyalty.

While Google does not really care if you generate a lead or not (they get paid for the click), they do care about the user experience. By providing a relevant user experience to their search term, Google will reward advertisers with improved keyword quality scores.

This provides us with two metrics to base the effectiveness of landing pages: Conversion rates and Quality Scores. Great landing pages will excel at both.

Ad Group Structure:

A well structured ad group should be the right size. This should be the first thing to look at when reviewing ad groups. I recommend no more than 20 keywords per ad group. This helps us avoid what the industry refers to as “Keyword hoarding”. By this I mean, having a list of keywords that are irrelevant or no longer performing to KPI’s.

It is then important to review standard metrics such as CTR, CPCs, Conversion rates and Costs.

Finally, it is important that all the keywords and ad copy in each ad group are packaged into the right themes. Having this clear structure will aid with quality score and performance.

Write great ads:

Well written ads will drive higher CTR. It will also improve Quality Scores with greater relevancy.

Spend time reviewing what types of ads worked. Why they worked and why they didn’t. Test variations of headlines, ad copy and Call to actions. As David Ogilvy once said “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving”.

Settings & Targeting:

Many campaigns can have a great structure with tightly themed ad groups and high quality scores, but still have poor performance. Where we tend to find the source of this problem is in the settings. It could be simply that you are targeting the wrong people, at the wrong time, with the wrong message or product.

There are several areas to review in an Audit.

1. Is the campaign using ad extensions?
2. Are you using the correct bidding strategies for mobile?
3. Are you implementing any day-parting?
4. Are you using any bid modifiers for location, time or day?
5. Are you rotating your ads correctly?
6. Are you targeting the right location?

These are simple fixes that can be reviewed pretty quickly.

Spend Wisely:

It is important to have a strong handle on spending in your PPC account. Make sure to look at a couple of things.

1. The daily budget is aligned with business goals
2. The correct amount of budget is going to the right campaigns.

It is important to find a balance between meeting conversion goals and ensuring that spend is not being wasted.


This finding insights from all other steps in the audit. Take note of how campaigns can be adjusted to improve results.

For example, can you implement retargeting into your strategy to recapture previous visitors that did not convert? Should you test different landing pages, or ad copy or bidding strategies.
Perhaps there are keyword variations or a new keyword that you want to try.

Make sure to take note of these opportunities and periodically test and retest over time. This will provide a roadmap for you or your agency to follow and find the best ROI for your account.

Before you make any changes to your campaigns or start to hit the panic button, it is valuable to audit your account in depth. It could save a lot of time and energy by finding simple solutions to the complex problem that is PPC management.

Bryan Gaynor is Director of Campaign Management at Aezy, a Programmatic Advertising Agency in Spokane, WA. He has utilized and worked in the online advertising sector for 5 years and has lead marketing teams in Ireland, the UK and the USA.

Comments are closed.