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A beginner’s guide to conducting a Google Ads audit

Jason Roy

Google Ads management requires regular reviews and audits. Without analyzing the data and reviewing information on a regular basis, you cannot expect the account to be profitable.

A comprehensive Google Ads audit has many benefits, for example:

  • It can help you identify low-performing ads and keywords that are costing you money.
  • You can also gain valuable insights into your audience’s behavior and how they engage with your ads, landing page content, and products.
  • You can also use the information on consumer insights in other areas of your business — marketing and messaging.
  • It may increase profitability.

The benefits are clear, but what do you do when conducting an audit, and how exactly do you do it?

Here is a beginner’s guide on conducting a comprehensive Google Ads audit.

1. Start with your marketing goals

Before you start the Google Ads auditing process, it is crucial that you revisit your marketing goals. Going back to the drawing board and reviewing your business, marketing, and conversion goals can help you understand what exactly it is that you want to achieve.

After all, Google Ads is just one of the many tools that will help you achieve your marketing and business goals.

Reviewing those marketing goals will also help clarify what it is that you need to record as conversions — the desired action that you want your target audience to take?

Is it filling a sign-up form or leaving a text message or buying a product on your website?

Ideally, you should divide your business and marketing goals into two categories: short-term goals and long-term goals. Second, it is also a good idea to think ahead and forecast if some of these goals are expected to change in the near future. In that case, you will have to plan another such review.

Lastly, do not forget the existence and importance of supplementary goals.

Sometimes, lead generation — for example, capturing leads through a submission form — may not be your ultimate goal. But it can be the first step, i.e., to capture leads, nurture them, and make them a bigger offer once they are more qualified.

Such a strategy will likely require a very different Google Ads campaign. Therefore, it is important to review your business and marketing goals before you start the auditing process.

2. Review the Google Ads account structure

Arguably one of the most important aspects of a successful Google Ads campaign is the structure of the Google Ads account. The way you organize campaigns, ad groups, and ads can have a dramatic effect on the performance of your ads, conversions, and the cost per click (CPC).

Apart from the obvious effect on various KPIs, having a sound and logical campaign structure may also significantly reduce the time and effort required to manage an account.

Based on the way the Google Ads account is set up, you may need to make changes, move ad groups to different campaigns, create new campaigns and/or ad groups, and more.

It is important to remember that there is no one correct way to structure a Google Ads account. The right structure depends on your website, the different products and services you offer, and how those product lines are connected to each other.

One tip is to take a look at your website navigation and structure. The way your website is structured gives you a good glimpse into how your Google Ads campaigns and ad groups should be structured.

Just remember that what works for someone else may not work for you at all.

3. Review the important campaign settings

Based on the data and information that your Google Ads account has gathered so far, you might want to make some changes at the campaign level.

Some of these changes may include:

  • Geographical targeting
  • Device targeting
  • Ad delivery schedule
  • Bidding strategies

For instance, analyze your Google Ads account data and identify campaigns that perform the best in certain geographical locations and territories. Based on that information, you can decide to stop showing your ads in certain locations altogether or make necessary bid adjustments by using bid modifiers.

4. Auditing ad groups

Auditing ad groups can be very overwhelming — especially if you have many ad groups running at the same time. So here are a few things that you should look into:

  • Thematically structured. The ad groups must be thematically categorized. Each theme should have a separate ad group; this leads to the best possible performance. For example, adjustable desk chairs and black office chairs represent two different themes and consumer preferences. There should be two different ad groups for both these products.
  • Ads and keywords. Based on the budget the ad group has, it should have an appropriate amount of ads and keywords. Too many keywords will spread it too thin, and too few keywords will not give you accurate data. See if your account has the right balance.
  • Budget allocation. Most importantly, double-check if the budget is being allocated correctly among different ad groups. High-performing ad groups should have a relatively higher budget than low-performing ad groups for the best possible results and lowest cost per conversion.

5. Keyword analysis and optimization

Positive keywords. Negative keywords. Broad match. Broad modified. Exact keyword, Phrase keywords. 

This part can be overwhelming. 

However, keywords are arguably the most important part of any Google Ads campaign. If your keywords trigger ads for irrelevant search queries, you will find it tough to stay profitable.

First, make sure to evaluate the three most important factors in a keyword:

  • The potential search volume
  • The estimated CPC of the keyword
  • The commercial intent of the keyword for your business

Pick the best ones and invest more time and money on them. Keep an eye out for keywords with lots of impressions and clicks without any meaningful number of conversions. Depending on how much data those keywords have acquired, make a decision to either remove those keywords or leave them on for a few more days.

Just like with ad groups, reallocate your budget. It is important that high-performing keywords get a higher budget than low-performing keywords.

Review the average cost per click (avg. CPC) for each keyword and see if any of them exceed the maximum CPC you can afford to stay profitable.

6. Reviewing negative keywords

Here’s a tip. 

Never underestimate the importance of negative keywords. These negative keywords can be the difference between a profitable campaign and an unprofitable campaign.

For each positive keyword in your account, you should have at least one negative keyword. So the ratio should be at least 1:1. When auditing the Google Ads account, make sure to remember this.

Ideally, however, you should aim for a ratio of 2:1 in favor of negative keywords. In other words, for each positive keyword, you should have two negative keywords.

Such a comprehensive negative keyword list will help you minimize your cost per click and cost per conversion while increasing the profitability of your Google Ads account.

Use keyword research tools, such as Soovle, Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and Ubersuggest, to identify potential negative keywords. Moreover, use the search term report in Google Ads to identify even more negative keywords.

Repeat this process on a regular basis and keep adding more negative keywords to ensure your ads only trigger for highly relevant search queries.


Conducting an audit of a Google Ads account can be a challenging task. However, with the right strategy and clear directions, you can make it easier and straightforward.

The above-mentioned tips will help you conduct a comprehensive Google Ads audit.

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