How to Audit Your Ecommerce Store PPC Accounts

An audit of your ecommerce store’s PPC account is probably most similar to a visit to the dentist: it’s something you should probably do twice a year (though you’ll only do it once), it’s generally an unpleasant experience and, worse yet, you may even discover you’re paying for it (literally and figuratively) through negligence.

The good news? If you’ve come across this blog post already, you’ve made some excellent first steps toward starting to audit your PPC campaign. In the paragraphs below, we’re going to break down what to inspect at each level of your PPC account and create a flowchart experience to make sure your campaign is running as perfectly as possible.

Account audits should happen at least once a year – a virtual cleaning across your marketing campaign.

Before we begin, let’s cover some of the broadest questions:

What? A PPC account audit. You’ll be inspecting your online store’s AdWords (and maybe Bing) account to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Not only will you want to ensure your ads are running correctly, but you’ll also want to find any opportunities for growth.

When? Well, if you’re reading this, probably right now. Account audits should happen at least once a year – a virtual cleaning across your marketing campaign.

Where? The primary work will be completed in your AdWords account; however, there will be some onsite changes and updates. You’ll also need to have a CSV document to keep the data you’re gleaning organized and functional.

Who? You! And your coworkers/family/friends. Ideally, hiring a 3rd party to inspect your account is the best option. Certified experts will be able to break down the highs and lows within your account efficiently, but they can be expensive. It’s important to have help – or at least a healthy level of cognitive dissonance – so that you can view the account without blinders in order to critique the account to executable goals.

How? You’ll want to tackle your account audit by dividing it into three key areas of interest: campaign, ad group, ad & keyword level.

Campaign account structure should be intuitive to an outsider, with campaigns partitioned neatly and clearly.

Campaign Structure

Campaign account structure should be intuitive to an outsider, with campaigns partitioned neatly and clearly. Any campaigns using the default “Campaign #1” naming structure should be renamed to what type of campaign it is – display/remarketing/google shopping/search – and the brands/stores/keyword bidding type in use. “Search – Shoes” or “Google Shopping – All Products” are enough.

Check your set-and-forget settings. The settings I am referring to here are those you originally put in place when the campaign or account were created.

  1. What is the credit card on file? Is it close to expiring? Do you have a new business card to use to earn better points/rewards?
  2. Are you meeting your daily ad spend/budget? (Data will tell you later to raise or lower your budget if that’s the case).
  3. What is your location targeting? Is it set to the entire globe or just the United States?
  4. What are your mobile device settings? Are you using mobile bid adjustments?

Ad Group Structure

Auditing your ad groups will comprise the bulk of your time, as there are so many places for opportunity. Even more so than your campaigns, your ad groups should be specific to certain product lines or landing pages within your website. Your PPC ads should be geared toward driving qualified traffic to your site, and specialized ad groups will help silo customers to where they need to be.
  1. Each ad group should have two to three ads running at a time. No more, no less. By having this number of ads, your account can rotate the ads evenly, eventually favoring the ad which is most effective. Any fewer and your account won’t be able to A/B test itself. Additionally, more ads would clutter and dilute this testing. If you feel that your ad copy is original enough that you’d like a new ad, make a new ad group and split them into two.

  2. Each ad group should target around 20 different keywords. To many of you, this may sound like too many – or too few – but we recommend using this number as a baseline. The 20 keywords represent different match types as well. For example, consider +winter +jackets, “winter jackets”, and [winter jackets] as three different keywords. This takes up one tenth of the allotted space already, so you can see why it’s important to have narrowly focused ad groups.

Each campaign should have ad extensions, no exceptions.

  1. Check your ad extensions for consistency and clarity. Each campaign should have ad extensions, no exceptions. If an ad group does not, that is perfectly fine, as the campaign extension will still be eligible to run, however you may be able to provide great specificity with ad group extensions. Sitelink extensions – the most common – could contain new CTAs and remove pain points by directing a customer to an even more direct query page. Call out and location extensions are especially useful for brick and mortars.

Ad & Keyword Auditing

These two sections of your account audit are entwined because of how symbiotic and codependent they are. Information gleaned from an ad could inform your keyword changes, and data from keywords should affect your future ad text.
  1. Check for errors in the ads themselves by exporting the data into a CSV. Taking the information out of the AdWords interface and putting it excel will help clear up the clutter, and make it easier to see if there are issues. This is high-level analytics – we’re looking for misspelled words, display URLs that could be optimized and final URLs that are out of date.

The biggest areas of focus should be those which have the most effect the campaign you’re working with.

  1. What are you inferring from the keyword data? The biggest areas of focus should be those which have the most effect the campaign you’re working with. If the campaign’s goal is to bring in new traffic, look at the impression and CTR rates. If conversions are what you’re interested in, look at cost and conversions.

  2. Keyword phrase match. Are they meeting your goals? Too often are ad groups comprised of nothing but broad-match keywords, added haphazardly without rhyme or reason. Follow up by reading our blog on Google AdWords match type differences to get a better understanding of how to leverage match types most effectively.

We hope these tips help you get started on auditing your AdWords account. Try to take a step back and see what’s working and what’s not working – and give your account the TLC it deserves!

Feel free to reach out to us in the comments below with any questions or comments!