AdWords Audit – 4 Critical Areas to Consider

AdWords Audit – 4 Critical Areas to Consider pixelwork

AdWords Audit – 4 Critical Areas to Consider

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Hen/Stag AdWords audits are a great way to improve your business and check the health of your account, but there are some aspects of an audit that are easily overlooked or underexplored.

Auditing an account Google AdWords to a prospective client is a proven sales tactic when hoping to win a service sale. By reviewing accounts, unsolved opportunities can be found, while issues with campaign structure, setup, and optimizations can be addressed. Many agencies have checklists and/or specific areas they review when auditing accounts. However, as AdWords becomes more complex and new features are released, traditional auditing is not enough.

In this article, I will address areas that are often neglected or not given enough attention when auditing AdWords accounts. Some areas are more technical than others. Too often, our preconceived notions don't allow us to see accounts differently. Understand and be open to how accounts are set up as you conduct your audits.

Below are four common problems that occur when auditing AdWords accounts:


1.- Not understanding conversion tracking

One of the first items to review is how conversion tracking is set up. After all, conversion metrics tend to tell more about the customer's goals. Along with making sure the conversion pixel fires correctly, An audit will evaluate the different types of conversion and how they are being carried out. A good place to start is the “Conversions” section within the “Tools” tab. You can see how conversions are categorized.

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It is imperative to see the actual web pages where conversions are occurring. Often the URL will include some variation of “thank you” or “confirmation.” For example, or When the URL contains this form of confirmation, it is easy to determine that the conversions are legitimate. But as more sites become responsive and use IFrames, they may not include a separate confirmation URL.

If you saw a URL in the web pages section that didn't appear to be a confirmation page, your first thought might have been that it was a page view conversion. For example, the URL contains the registration form and is not the confirmation page. So, conversions may be inflated because the pixel is shooting on the form, giving an inaccurate representation of performance. Although this scenario still happens, there tends to be another explanation.

Some sites do not have confirmation pages. Whether through an IFrame or site syntax, when a form submission or purchase occurs, the URL resolves to itself. Although appears to contain the registration form, it is actually the conversion as well. This is where platforms like Google Tag Manager or Google Analytics come into play. These platforms have the ability to track button clicks as conversions and display this data in AdWords.

If you see that it looks like a conversion page, It is essential to investigate how monitoring is carried out. It could be that the button is conversion. Instead of telling the prospect that conversions are inflated, you've done your research to find out how conversions are set up.


2.- Focus too much on efficiency without considering volume

A few years ago, I analyzed account efficiency versus volume in an attempt to find the sweet spot. I wanted to see what the ideal balance was to achieve account goals but also increase conversion volume. It goes without saying that, in many cases, you need to sacrifice efficiency or volume to improve the other. For example, if you want to boost high-level keywords that are more expensive in an effort to capture additional traffic, your ROI will likely decrease. This concept is important to understand when you audit accounts.

Audits seek to uncover wasted expenses. There is nothing wrong with this philosophy. However, we know that many factors come into play when analyzing an account's performance. As an example, a keyword that has had 100 clicks with a conversion on the last click may initially seem ineffective, but upon further analysis we may find that:

  • The keyword is helping in the overall conversion funnel.
  • Only 20 clicks have come from mobile, including the click that resulted in the conversion.
  • The landing page does not match the title and description of the ad.

Unless you conduct a thorough investigation, your audit will not reveal these findings. The days of doing automated audits with all-in-one tools through Excel or other tools are gone. Although these tools still provide valuable data, they only scratch the surface. They only serve to review efficiency very briefly when there are many variables to consider.


3.- Do not take cell phones into account

I think we're in the seventh or eighth “year of mobile,” but judging by many AdWords accounts, you wouldn't know it. I constantly see accounts that have negative bid modifiers -100% on mobile, don't have mobile ads, or don't make data-driven decisions. Often the accounts I audit see more mobile traffic than desktop and tablet traffic.

In many cases, there is an absence of a mobile strategy. The audit should highlight recommendations that will help the client to have a more effective mobile presence and lead to better conversion rates.

Now that advertisers are once again able to create mobile-specific campaigns, it's worth discussing whether separating it is worth it. Because mobile bid modifiers can be set at the campaign and ad group levels and advertisers can use IF statements to write mobile-specific ads, device-specific campaigns aren't as necessary as they once were. My rule of thumb is to test a mobile-specific campaign if about 70% of the impressions come from mobile devices.

There are still benefits to creating mobile-specific campaigns, including the ability to:

  • Set keyword level bids at the mobile level instead of using a bid modifier.
  • Write mobile ads without using IF statements or ad customizers.
  • Write mobile-specific ad extensions without having to check the preferred mobile option.

I'm amazed that mobile isn't taken more seriously, but an audit should reveal useful information that points in the right direction.


4.- Not running a cross search term report

Continuing the theme of drilling down, cross search term reporting indicates which queries are triggering ads across various ad groups. Let's look at a scenario where I have two ad groups around “coffee tables” and “oval coffee tables.”


Ad Group Keyword
Coffee Tables +coffee +tables
oval coffee tables +oval +coffee tables


Each of the keywords is on modified broad match. Therefore, a search for “oval coffee tables” could trigger an ad in any of the ad groups. The solution would be to add “oval” as a negative keyword in the “coffee tables” ad group. By doing this, We deliberately tell Google which ad group we want it to show our ad.

It is one thing to say that the account structure is good, but another to prove it. If the cross search terms report shows that few queries trigger ads in the wrong ad groups, your structure is healthy. Conversely, if many of the same queries trigger ads in multiple ad groups, there's a problem with targeting and organization.


Adwords audits offer great insight into account performance, but most don't address the most important account concerns. It is more important to discuss why efficiency and volume fluctuate rather than making an absolute statement like, “If we reduce x expenses, our ROI will increase.” Although the tactical aspect has its merits, audits should lead to strategy discussions.