The 30-Minute AdWords Audit

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Following on from a round up of things to do if you’re using Google AdWords for the first time, this post details how we’d go about conducting a quick audit of an existing AdWords account to discover some key performance indicators and fine tune a few things.

This is a good overview of things to look out for if you’re running your own AdWords campaign and have that nagging feeling you might be spending budget on extraneous things.

Let’s get to it.

1. Are all Destination URLs working?

There are some very basic questions in this quick audit, and here’s the first. Do your advertisement URLs actually work? Without a working URL there is a tiny chance any visitors you have actually land on any of your pages containing the content they’re seeking. If your ads have worked previously and your website hasn’t changed then you may be okay, if you’re unsure it’s best to check.

There are a a few ways to check this, including

  • Click on each Ad from within the Ads section of AdWords
  • Export Destination URLs from AdWords and use a tool such as Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider to check header statuses for URLs in List mode

2. Is the Display Network turned on?

This is one of the most obvious places AdWords campaigns are found to be lacking in efficiency. Most advertisers use AdWords because of its ability to target keywords with ads in search results. The Display Network is a huge number of websites that feature ads from AdWords campaigns based on a range of other targeting methods.

If you’re not sure what the Display Network is just reading this article, then you probably need to find a way to turn it off.

Unless, of course, it’s performing well. There are two good indicators of whether the Display Network is sending “quality traffic” to your website.

  • Is it leading to Conversions?
  • Is it sending repeat visitors?

If you’re not sure, or don’t know how to find out, then it’s worth spending some time finding out more about Google Analytics and setting up AdWords Conversion Tracking.

3. Are Broad Match keywords running wild?
This is another campaign inefficiency that could has been know to cause minor panic, where you may think “So I’m actually paying for keywords I don’t want to advertise for?”

We advocate only using Phrase Match with new advertisers to target budget where it’s most likely to perform. Broad Match can result in your ad appearing for an large number of unrelated keywords, especially when your bids are high.

To check this, firstly take a deep breath, then go to the Keywords tab and click on Keyword Details > All.

You can cut back on keyword inefficiencies by adding negative keywords, using new keywords and switching from Broad to Phrase or Exact Match.

4. Ad Extensions: are you using them all?

Ad Extensions offer you the chance to gain additional space on the search results page, which often increases the number of people clicking through to your website or calling your phones.

There are an increasing number of Ad Extensions which address different types of searches people may make — there are extensions for Ecommerce Shopping, Locations, Phone Numbers, Mobile Apps, Google+ as well as ‘Sitelinks’, which allows you to link to different pages on your website in addition to the main link in your ad.

5. Targeting — Desktop, Mobile or all?

The number of searches carried out with mobile devices is rapidly increasing. Displaying your ads on mobile devices may be a great way to have people find out about your services, or it may not. By looking at information on Google Analytics comparing how people using mobile devices use your website you can decide whether or not you should be targeting Mobile, Desktop, or all types of device.

You can also drill-down further into more specific types of device you wish to target.

6. Geographic & Location Targeting

This brief audit list is in no particular order — everything mentioned should be looked at. But in every one of these items lies a potentially headsmacking moment. Check your campaign Geo-targeting to ensure you are at least serving ads to the correct country, in the right language. If radius-targeting is being used, make sure it targets an accurate range surrounding your location.


Half an hour is enough time to get an overall view of a small to medium-sized AdWords account, but to make progressive changes then you need to really delve into the detail and implement a properly thought-out strategy.

Confused about AdWords? Get in touch!


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