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Google Ads Optimisation Checklist

As a PPC agency with experience managing millions of dollars in ad spend, we know that running successful ad campaigns requires constant optimization and testing. 

Conducting a thorough Google Ads audit is the first step in identifying areas for improvement and optimizing your campaigns for better results. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through a comprehensive Google Ads audit that covers everything from analyzing your account structure to evaluating your conversion tracking. 

By following these steps, you can optimize your campaigns and get the most out of your ad spend.

Table of Contents

Introduction

The first step in a comprehensive Google Ads audit is to review your account structure

Check that your campaigns, ad groups, and keywords are organized logically and efficiently. 

  • Review your ad groups to make sure they’re organized by theme or keyword. Graphic below is illustrates an organized structure
  • Each ad group should have a clear focus and contain relevant ads and keywords

1. Review Campaign Performance

Sort the campaigns by highest cost.

For eCommerce sites, I recommend reviewing 

  • CTR. This shows how likely a user is to engage with your ad
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) which is the Conv. Value/ Cost column
  • Revenue, which is the Conv. Value column 
  • Number of Sales. This is the “conversions” column
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), or how much it costs to acquire a customer. which is the Cost/Conv. column
 
For Lead Generation Campaigns, I recommend reviewing
  • CTR. This shows how likely a user is to engage with your ad
  • Leads. This is the “conversions” column
  • Cost Per Lead, which is the Cost/ Conv. column
 

Campaign Types:

  • Performance Max (Search, Shopping, Gmail, YouTube, Discovery)
  • Search
  • Shopping

2. Review Ad Group Performance

Sort the Ad Groups by highest ad spend. “Costs” column

For eCommerce sites, I recommend reviewing 

  • CTR. This shows how likely a user is to engage with your ad
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) which is the Conv. Value/ Cost column
  • Revenue, which is the Conv. Value column 
  • Number of Sales. This is the “conversions” column
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), or how much it costs to acquire a customer. which is the Cost/Conv. column
 
For Lead Generation Campaigns, I recommend reviewing
  • CTR. This shows how likely a user is to engage with your ad
  • Leads. This is the “conversions” column
  • Cost Per Lead, which is the Cost/ Conv. column

Auction Insights

Impression Share: The % shown is the number of impressions (ie. views on your ads) you received, versus how many you could have received.  

Overlap Rate: You can also see which competitors overlap with your ads the most on the “overlap rate” column. These are ones to look out for if they have similar offers.

3. Ads & Assets

Check the qualitative aspects of your ads.

Review Ad Strength & Quality

Review Ad Strength

For each ad – there will be an indication of the “ad strength”

Steps:

  • Hover mouse over and click “improve ad” 
  • Check URL, headlines, descriptions and extensions are up to date

Review Quality of Ads

View Ideas

Ad Headlines

  • Review your ad headlines to make sure they’re attention-grabbing and relevant to your target audience
  • Use your keywords in your ad headlines to improve relevancy and click-through rates (CTR).
  • Aim to maximise all 30 characters provided

Ad Descriptions

Steps:
  • Check that your ad descriptions are clear and concise
  • Include clear call-to-action wordings. 
  • Highlight the benefits of your product or service and differentiate yourself from your competitors. 
  • Include the main keyword once in your description main description
  • Try your best to maximise the 90 character limit

Ad Extensions

Review your ad extensions to make sure they’re relevant and up-to-date. 

Use extensions like 

  • Promotions
  • Prices
  • Calls
  • Callouts
  • Sitelinks
  • Structured snippets 

Call extension

Call extension simplifies the process for people to contact you promptly. Your phone number is displayed on desktop devices, allowing users to call your business directly with a single click on mobile devices. Additionally, your ad provides the option for users to visit your website by clicking on it.

Callouts

Structure Snippet

Review Assets Metrics

After reviewing the qualitative aspects of the ads and extensions, the will sit in the “assets” tab, you can click on that tab and sort it by impressions, cost or CTR to analyze performance.

Select “Table View”, Assets > Search

  • Review headlines that are high quality – so that you can pin them
  • Vice versa, review headlines that are low quality, so you can rewrite them
Select “Table View”, Associations > All

You can then review & filter performance of extensions. Depending on the extension, you can review performance by impressions, cost or CTR.

4. Landing Page

  • Conversion Rate

Check Your Landing Page

The next step in a comprehensive Google Ads audit is to review your landing pages to ensure they’re optimized for conversions. Here’s what to look for:

Page Speed

  • Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to identify areas for improvement.
  • Compress images and minify code to improve load times.
  • Consider using a content delivery network (CDN) to improve speed for users in different locations.

A fast loading page can improve user experience and reduce bounce rates, leading to higher Quality Scores and lower cost per click.

Mobile Optimisation

  • Ensure that your landing pages are mobile-friendly and easy to navigate on mobile devices.
  • Use responsive design to ensure your page layout adapts to different screen sizes.
  • Consider creating separate mobile landing pages for better performance.

With more and more users accessing the internet on their mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly landing page can improve user experience and increase conversions.

Relevance

  • Check that your landing pages are relevant to your ad copy and keywords.
  • Use the same language and messaging on your landing pages to improve relevancy and increase conversions.
  • Highlight the benefits of your product or service and differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Having a landing page that is relevant to your ad copy and keywords can improve user experience and increase the likelihood of a conversion.

Call-to-Action

  • Make sure your landing pages have a clear call-to-action that’s easy to find and encourages users to take the desired action, whether that’s filling out a form, making a purchase, or contacting you.
  • Use action-oriented language to encourage users to take the desired action.
  • Place your call-to-action above the fold so it’s visible without scrolling.

A clear call-to-action can help guide users towards the desired action and increase the likelihood of a conversion.

Trust Signals

  • Include trust signals such as customer reviews, testimonials, and security badges to build trust with users.
  • Highlight any awards or certifications your business has received.
  • Provide clear contact information and make it easy for users to get in touch with you.

Trust signals can help build credibility and trust with users, increasing the likelihood of a conversion.

5. Review Keywords & Quality Score

Check that your keywords are organized by theme and are relevant to your ad groups and campaigns. 

Use keyword match types to control when your ads appear for each keyword. Avoid using too many broad match keywords, as this can lead to irrelevant clicks and wasted ad spend.

Monitor Your Quality Score

For each keyword that you bid on, Google gives you a quality score

Aim for a Quality Score of 7 or higher. 

You can get a higher score by reviewing the individual elements:

  • Ad Relevance – Use ad copy that’s closely related to the keywords (Optimise your ad strength as shown in step 3)
  • Landing Page Experience – Check that your landing pages provide a good user experience and are relevant to your ad copy and keywords (Refer to Step 4 for landing page best practice)
  • Expected CTR – Use negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing for irrelevant searches, this will continue to refine your expected CTR. You can get ideas on what you’re bidding for on the Search Terms Report.

Search Terms Report

Review the search terms report and find negative keywords

6. Review Your Budgets

You can review overall budgets for each campaign under Settings > Campaign Settings

Click onto a campaign, and you can find the settings that will open up bidding types.

  • For eCommerce, select maximize conversion value — this aims maximises revenue 
  • For Lead Generation, select maximize conversions — this aims to maximize the number of leads 
 
For each bid type, you can select a target

 

Sidenote: New Campaigns

For new campaigns, I recommend maximizing clicks, just to get a large enough sample size to get a campaign started, but you can always limit the CPCs.

7. Locations

Steps to add your ideal locations
  1. Enter the locations
  2. Click the search button
  3. Target the locations
Types of Locations

By Countries

Advertise in entire countries or multiple countries if your products and services cater to large areas. This offers more ad exposure than targeting specific cities or regions.

By Regions, Cities or Postcodes

Use precise targeting if your business doesn’t cover all regions or cities, or if you prefer to focus on specific areas within a country. Depending on the country, you can target specific regions, cities, or postal codes.

By Radius from a selected location

Radius targeting shows your ads to customers within a chosen distance from your business instead of specific cities or regions. For example, you can set a minimum radius of 1 km around a particular location.

Audit Locations in Google Ads

  • Check CTR
  • Check ROAS
  • Check CPA

Select a campaign in Locations tab.

  • Check CTR
  • Check ROAS
  • Check CPA

8. Review Performance by Audiences

Age

Gender

9. Review Performance by Devices

10. Review Conversion Tracking

It’s also good to ensure tracking is accurate and up to date.

To make sure you’re tracking conversions correctly, you need to do a few things:

Review Your Conversion Goals

Navigate “Tools and settings” and click on “Conversions” under Measurement category.

Next, click on “New conversions action”.

Follow the prompt to complete action setup.

You need to make sure you’ve set up the right goals for your business. For example, if you’re trying to sell products on your website, your conversion goal might be to track how many people make a purchase.

In Google Ads, a conversion goal is a specific action you want your website visitors to take, such as making a purchase or filling out a form. Here are some common types of conversion goals you can track:

  1. Website purchases: This goal tracks when someone completes a purchase on your website, such as buying a product or service.
  2. Leads: This goal tracks when someone fills out a form on your website, such as a contact form or a request for more information.
  3. Phone calls: This goal tracks when someone clicks on a phone number on your website and makes a call to your business.
  4. App downloads: This goal tracks when someone downloads your app from the app store.
  5. Sign-ups: This goal tracks when someone signs up for a service or creates an account on your website.
  6. Pageviews: This goal tracks when someone views a specific page on your website, such as a thank-you page after a purchase or a confirmation page after submitting a form.
It’s important to check that goals chosen align with your business objectives and are relevant to the actions you want visitors to take on your website.

Check Your Tracking Code

You need to make sure the code on your website that tracks conversions is set up correctly. This code is usually added to the page on your website where the conversion happens, like the “Thank You” page that someone sees after making a purchase.

The tracking code is a small piece of code that needs to be added to your website so that Google Ads can track when people complete certain actions on your site, such as making a purchase or filling out a form.

Here’s how you can check if the tracking code is working properly:

  1. Go to the “Tools & Settings” menu in your Google Ads account and select “Conversions.”
  2. Find the conversion action you want to check and click on it.
  3. Click on the “Tag setup” tab.
  4. Check that the tag status says “Global site tag (gtag.js) installed” and that there are no errors listed.
  5. If there are errors, follow the instructions provided to fix them.
 

If the tag status says “no recent conversions,” it means that the tracking code has not detected any conversions in the last 7 days. This does not necessarily mean that the tracking code is not working, but you may want to check that the conversion action is set up correctly on your website.

Well, how do you check conversion actions?

  1. Click on the “Tools & Settings” icon in the top right corner of the screen.
  2. Under the “Measurement” section, click on “Conversions”.
  3. You should now see a list of your conversion actions. Click on the name of the conversion action you want to check.
  4. This will take you to the “Settings” page for that conversion action. 
  5. Here, you can see the conversion window (the time frame in which a conversion will be attributed to a click), the attribution model (how credit for the conversion is assigned to different clicks in the user’s journey), and the conversion value (the value assigned to each conversion).
 

Checking the tracking code regularly is important to ensure that you are accurately tracking the performance of your Google Ads campaigns and making informed decisions based on the data.

Evaluate Your Attribution Modeling

Attribution modeling is a fancy term for how you give credit to different marketing channels for the conversions they generate.

For example, if someone clicks on a Google ad and then makes a purchase, you want to make sure that Google gets credit for that sale. There are different ways to do this, and you need to make sure you’re using the right one for your business.

Google Ads offers a few different attribution models to choose from. These models determine how much credit each ad interaction should receive for a conversion. The most common attribution models are:

  • Last-click attribution: This model gives all the credit for a conversion to the last ad someone clicked on before completing the action.
  • First-click attribution: This model gives all the credit to the first ad someone clicked on before completing the action.
  • Linear attribution: This model gives equal credit to all the ads someone clicked on or interacted with before completing the action.
  • Time decay attribution: This model gives more credit to ads that were clicked on closer in time to the conversion.
  • Position-based attribution: This model gives more credit to the first and last ads someone clicked on before completing the action.

When checking your attribution modeling, you’ll want to make sure you’re using a model that aligns with your business goals and objectives.

You should also regularly review your attribution data to see which ads and interactions are driving the most conversions and adjust your ad strategy accordingly.

Consider Ad Testing

Ad testing helps you determine which ads are performing well and which ones need improvement. By testing different ad variations, you can improve your ad relevance, increase click-through rates, and ultimately drive more conversions.

Ad testing is important because it allows you to:

  • Improve ad performance: By testing different ad variations, you can identify which ads are performing well and which ones need improvement. You can then make changes to underperforming ads to improve their performance.
  • Optimize for conversions: Ad testing can help you optimize your ads for conversions by identifying which ad variations are driving the most conversions. You can then focus your budget on those ads to maximize your return on investment.
  • Stay competitive: Ad testing allows you to stay competitive by ensuring that your ads are as effective as possible. By testing different ad variations, you can stay ahead of your competitors and attract more clicks and conversions.

Here are some quick steps you can take:

  1. Go to the “Ads & Extensions” tab.
  2. Select the ad you want to test.
  3. Click on the “Ad Preview and Diagnosis” button.
  4. Enter the location and language of your target audience.
  5. Preview the ad to see how it looks.
  6. Check if the ad is running by going to the “Status” column.
  7. Check if the ad is approved by going to the “Approval Status” column.
  8. If the ad is not approved, check the reason for disapproval.
  9. If the ad is approved, click on the ad to make sure it goes to the correct landing page.

Repeat these steps for each ad you want to test.

Testing ads is an important part of auditing a Google Ads account as it helps ensure that your ads are running correctly and driving the desired results.

By testing your ads, you can identify any issues or errors that may be preventing your ads from performing at their best, and make the necessary adjustments to improve their effectiveness.

Conclusion

Conducting a thorough Google Ads audit is the first step in optimizing your ad campaigns and getting the most out of your ad spend.

By analyzing your account structure, reviewing your ad copy and landing pages, evaluating your bidding strategy, monitoring your Quality Score, assessing your conversion tracking, and testing your ads, you can optimize your campaigns for better results.

We recommend conducting a comprehensive Google Ads audit on a regular basis to stay on top of your campaign performance and maximize your ROI.

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