Man sitting at desk looking at laptop. Google Adwords logo imposed on the left side corresponding to blog article about "How to Audit an AdWords Campaign"

How to Audit An AdWords Campaign

A strong paid search campaign can help your nonprofit reach new audiences and awareness, drive qualified leads for those searching for related keywords and ensure you’re top-of-mind as folks navigate their daily digital lives. Whether you’ve been managing a search campaign for a while or are just getting started, there are a lot of things you can do to help maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your campaigns. As you navigate optimizing your paid search campaigns, here’s how to audit an AdWords campaign to help improve your performance:


Check Spend + Pacing


Unlike Facebook, TikTok or even YouTube, Google Search campaigns do not have lifetime budgets—meaning you set daily budgets at the campaign level. With this, there’s opportunity for your ads to underspend and overspend, so checking on campaign pacing is an important step to ensure you stay on track with your media budget. Consider creating a budget pacing document and updating throughout the week as you optimize your campaign—allowing you to make changes to the daily budgets so your campaign stays on track. 


Pro Tip: If your campaign is continuing to underspend, it could be a sign that you need to make changes to your campaign (e.g. adding in new keywords, updating ad copy, etc.)—more on that below. 


Check Your Ad’s Strength


With Google’s sunsetting of Expanded Text (ET) ads last summer, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) are the name of the game. This shift brought better creative intelligence around ad strength—allowing you to see your ad strength in real time as you adjust headlines and descriptions for your RSAs. When going to audit your AdWords campaign, test out new variations that align with your nonprofit and ad group’s keywords to improve your ad strength—leading to stronger click-through-rates and more traffic to your landing pages.


Pro Tip: If you are running any competitor campaigns, it’s likely your ad strength will show as “poor,” a totally normal symptom of running competitor keywords that can’t be included in headline or description variations. 


Check CPC + CTR


As you’re auditing the keywords in your ad groups, check to see how your cost-per-click (CPC) and click-through-rates (CTR) are doing. If you’re noticing high CPCs with certain keywords, do they have a strong CTR and/or are they leading to conversion actions? Depending on the industry, seasonality, and other factors, a high CPC may be normal due to competition. If CTR is low and no conversions are coming from these keywords, consider pausing them or putting a CPC cap on them—limiting the max bid on the keywords. 


Pro Tip: Consider creating an automated rule to pause underperforming keywords (e.g. those with a quality score under 3) to help keep your keywords relevant as you continue optimizing your account.


Check the Search Terms Report


A useful tool in paid search to implement in your next AdWords campaign audit is the Search Terms Report. This shows what people searched for to get your ads served to them. For example, if your keyword is “cancer walk 5k,” a search term someone used for the ad to serve could be, “upcoming charity cancer walk near me.” By seeing what folks are typing into the search bar, you’re able to better understand your keyword performance and also find new keywords to add to your targeting. 


Pro Tip: If you notice a lot of irrelevant search terms showing up in the Search Term Report, consider updating the match types of your target keywords (e.g. from Broad Match to Phrase Match) to help combat those errant searches.  


Use Keyword Planner


If you’re noticing that search volume is down and are looking for additional ways to get your ads in front of relevant audiences, consider using Google’s Keyword Planner tool. This allows you to see keywords similar to the ones you’re already targeting, and get insights into search interest, trends, and CPCs for keyword ideas. You’re able to save keyword lists and even directly add new keywords you find into your ad groups through the tool. 


Pro Tip: You can add your website or specific landing page URL to get keyword ideas based on the content of that page, which can help narrow down keywords that best fit your messaging and organizational positioning.


Audit Your Assets + Create New Ones


Google Assets used to be called Extensions, and there are a variety of different assets you can use when you’re working on how to audit an AdWords campaign that will help improve your ad campaigns’ performance and improve CTR. If you have this set up, it’s good to check performance regularly and see if any assets are underperforming or if there are opportunities to add new assets to specific campaigns and help boost your campaign. 


Pro Tip: If you haven’t created any assets yet, we recommend starting with the new Business Logo and Business Name assets, which can help add to your nonprofit’s brand presence in the Search results. 


Double Check Policy Manager


Google’s automated emails usually do a great job at alerting you if any of your ads flag for policy violations, but we recommend you check the Policy Manager as you make updates and optimizations to your account. The Policy Manager can flag ads and assets for different reasons, so it’s good to check for any policy flags and adjust as needed.


Pro Tip: If you have any paused ads, Google’s policy review can flag those as well. If the ads are outdated and won’t be enabled again, you are able to remove them to prevent further flagging. Note, you will still be able to see historic performance of these ads once the ads are removed.


See What Google Recommends


Google has a handy recommendations tab you can access through your Google Ads account. These recommendations vary from keyword match type recommendations and adding new assets to the account, to changing the bid strategy and updating ad copy for stronger ad strength. Depending on your organization’s goals, not all of these recommendations will be applicable, but it’s good to check and see what Google recommends to help improve your overall campaign performance. 


Pro Tip: If you apply any of Google’s recommendations, keep a log of these changes so you can review performance from the date of the change and track the impact made by these—and any other—changes you make to the account.


Learn More on How to Audit an Adwords Campaign


Leveraging paid search campaigns can be an effective way to help reach your organization’s and marketing KPIs. By regularly auditing and optimizing your paid advertising campaigns, you’ll be able to make real-time changes to help improve performance, learn what messaging and keywords best resonate with your audience and work to scale your efforts to meet your goals. 


If you’re looking to plan your next paid search campaign and want to take it to the next level, or need more help learning how to audit an AdWords campaign, Media Cause is here to help. Learn more about our advertising services. 



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