There are more blog posts on PPC audits and PPC audit checklists than there are floats in the Macy’s Day parade.  Often times what you need is to audit with a particular purpose in mind.  In certain circumstances, it helps to have a checklist for quick analysis of whether there are opportunities to grow an account.

Before we launch into the checklist, it helps to establish what the conditions for growth are in your PPC account.  It’s not difficult to just increase click volume in an account, it’s difficult to scale it profitably.  What that means is that you need to determine what the maximum CPA or minimum ROAS is that you will accept to bring in new conversions.

The reason this is so important is so that you can isolate which campaigns, ad groups, and keywords you want to target with specific actions.  For instance, let’s take an eCommerce account that currently has an ROAS of 4.5, but is comfortable growing as long as the marginal growth is at an ROAS of 3.5 or above.  That’s your threshold for evaluation.

Identifying ‘Settings’ Changes

1. Search Partners

Are all your campaigns currently running on Search Partners?  If not, are there campaigns that have an above average ROAS where you can increase traffic?

2.  Devices

Many advertisers have undoubtedly seen subpar performance metrics on mobile devices and/or just shut them off from the outset.  Are there strong performing campaigns where it’s worth experimenting with at least a -70% mobile bid modifier?

3. Geotargeting

Do you ship to Canada?  Are there campaigns where Canada isn’t being targeted? Consider duplicating campaigns with reduced bids or using a geographic modifier to target Canada with lower bids.

4. Languages

Many advertisers are still confused about the language settings in AdWords.  The language setting doesn’t reflect the language of your keywords/ads, but rather it’s the language setting on the consumer’s browser.  A recent Google study showed a 5.7% uplift in search traffic on US-targeted campaigns that added Spanish as a language.

5. Accelerated Ad Delivery

accelerated ads

In many cases this doesn’t make a difference (assuming you’re not hitting daily budgets), but for strong campaigns, make sure ad delivery is set to Accelerated. This way you can milk the most impressions out of your campaigns as possible.


Average Position & EMIS

6. Exact Match Impression Share Metrics

EMISThis metric might as well be called your “Campaign Opportunity Rating.”  I prefer exact match impression share (EMIS) to normal impression share.  EMIS is a more accurate gauge of the opportunity to show on the exact variations of keywords that you’re already actively bidding on.

If EMIS is below 90%, then you have opportunities to secure more traffic from that campaign.  In general, there shouldn’t be any gray areas on this.  If you want to show at all on a particular keyword, you should want to show all the time.

Remember, don’t just stop at the campaign level here.  Drill down to the ad group and keywords that have low EMIS and come up with a fix.

7.  Low Average Position

Do you have campaigns, ad groups, or keywords that are beating your performance thresholds and are in lower positions?  Then you have an easy opportunity for growth.  Create a Filter for keywords/ad groups that have an ROAS greater than your threshold and bid up the ones that are in lower positions.

Some advertisers prefer to only bid up keywords that are in position 2.5 or worse.  Realistically, anything with an average position of 1.6 or lower will likely secure more traffic with a higher bid and better position.

New Initiatives for PPC Growth

The previous sections of this PPC audit checklist have focused on expanding traffic from keywords and ad groups you already have built out.  The following are the areas you should consider to bring in net new traffic.

So let’s say you are maxed out on settings changes, your EMIS is 95%+, and all your keywords are in strong positions. What next?

8. New Keywords

Many folks managing mature PPC accounts unnecessarily box themselves into a mindset that they are already bidding on all the right keywords.  Don’t get me wrong, they’ll keep adding/building more long tail keywords off of their existing efforts.  However, adding the keyword [Waterford crystal bowl for gifts] isn’t going to bring in a ton of new traffic when you’re already bidding on +Waterford +crystal +bowl.

Instead, what I’m talking about here are brand new keywords.  Are you bidding on any competitor terms?  Retailers, have you definitively covered your entire product inventory?  B2B advertisers, have you thought about synonymous ways to describe your platform or service.

Also consider adding more general root keywords and/or additional broad match keywords (this marks the first time I’ve ever said that in a PPC blog post!) at lower bids to start.

9. Remarketing

Hopefully, this is a section you can skip over.  If for whatever reason you’re not remarketing to site visitors who haven’t already converted, get on it!

10. Display

Many performance-based PPC account managers might be skeptical about adding Display efforts to their account.  There’s good reason for that, but it should still be considered if growth is your goal.

Start out hyper-targeted and expand from there.  Either choose Managed Placements that are guaranteed to get you in front of a certain site’s audience, or layer some of Google’s other targeting methods.  Contextually target relevant consumers with Display Keywords AND overlay the most relevant topic or interest category targeting.


This quick 10 step PPC audit checklist is sure to find you some new opportunities in your account.  What else have you tried?