Audit Your Google Ads: How to Spend Less and Earn More
If you are operating and managing your own Google Ads it can be difficult to know exactly where to begin. For many small businesses that do marketing in-house, you can typically start by having a consultation with the Google Ads team once you get your account set-up. Unfortunately, the problem is that there is often a lot that you can be doing for your Ads (which involves spending less and earning more) that Google may not tell you because this gets into more advanced practices.
This article isn’t intended to knock the professionals on the Google team by any means, I myself have found them to be very helpful in the past; however, I do want to give you some independent fixes that could be getting you better results without increasing your bids all the time. The strategy is key with Google Ads, and when you get over the learning curve of managing yourself, there is a lot you can improve for your individual business.
Tips to Auditing Your Google Ads for Success
Google Ads almost always works when you know how to effectively monitor your campaigns, keeping in mind that you also need to have solid business development and branding in place before you can be successful. The goal with Ads is profit, so increasing your conversions and sales on your website. In order to be successful, your strategy really needs to be tailored to your individual business, but there are some tweaks anyone can make to have a successful go at it! Here are some tips on auditing your Ads, so that you can spend less and get more conversions with your advertisements.
1. Data Analysis is Key for Determining Spending
This sounds like a pretty basic point, but I want to start a general here and then get more specific in subsequent sections. Let me be clear, data-driven decisions are the best choices when you are determining how to spend on Ads. If you can look at your analytics and determine what is acting as a successful keyword and driving traffic on your site, then that is a smart budget adjustment. The problem is that general budget increases to get your ad on page one of a search, won’t necessarily do anything if people were not hoping to find your company/industry in the first place. Look at data for what is performing well, and don’t put as much money (or attention) into what is not.
A quick word about profit & advertising costs. If you know you are making a profit while spending money on your ads, then you DO want to increase the amount you are funneling into it—this is just best practice in advertising (the whole spend money to make money theory). If you are getting a good ROI on your Ads campaigns, keep it yet. One of my favorite quotes about advertising came from Henry Ford:
“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”
The issue arises when you are funneling a bunch of money into Google Ads and are not seeing results. Also, remember that it may not just be Ads you need to look at. If you feel like you audit, look at analytics, and keep a close eye on your campaigns and you still aren’t seeing the results you should be, it may have to do with your website, brand image, reviews, or other relevant business issues. Ads works when all of those things are in place.
Bottom line. Look at your data and analytics regularly and often. You may have a learning curve at first, but in the end, you will be able to make the kind of corrections that save money and see a far better ROI once you get the hang of it!
2. Incorrect Audience Targeting
One of the errors that can lead to excessive spending without seeing the kind of conversions you want is targeting your brand’s audience incorrectly.
You could be:
- Targeting the wrong location
- Bidding at the wrong time of day or days of the week
- Targeting the wrong kind of devices
- Advertising on the wrong networks
Look into demographics about your audience (for example, where you sell your products) and data on what days/times or devices perform best to make these kinds of adjustments.
3. Errors in Keyword Targeting
There are a lot of mistakes made (and solutions for them) with keyword targeting. In fact, poor keyword targeting is one of the most significant problems for high-paying and underperforming Ads accounts. The biggest mistakes often fall in one of two categories: (1) targeting over-inclusive keywords or (2) targeting non-converting keywords. I’m going to break-down some solutions for each category:
Error #1: Targeting Over-Inclusive Keywords
Unfortunately, Google Ads is not one of the places where casting your net wide is a good thing. You do want to have enough keywords and keyword combinations to make sure you rank in relevant searches, but using “overly-broad” keywords is not likely to get you anywhere. In fact, it is likely to just get you a lot of junk.
For example, I was helping a small business with their Ads recently, and a Chicago-Based photography and video company had “Chicago” and “Video” as keyword options. They wound up getting a lot of traffic for people just looking for videos of Chicago—not traffic looking for a videographer in Chicago. In a PPC campaign, this is no good. I had to go into their Google Ads and did two different things to troubleshoot this junk traffic (and PPC over-spending):
- Add negative keywords to their campaign. If you do some research it is pretty easy to find negative keywords you should be using in your specific industry. Google Ads support can also give you a list of recommendations. This will help you to decide what keywords you don’t want to target and therefore not have PPC losses on words that are not driving traffic.
- Analyze their search terms report closely. If you analyze your search terms report you can learn a lot of valuable information to make adjustments. For example, you can find out what search queries ultimately lead people to your page (through them clicking on the ad). It will also allow you to figure out which are performing poorly and will need to be added to your negative keyword list.
Doing both of these things can really help you to eliminate over-inclusive keywords and make sure the clicks you are getting are the most accurate possible, which will in turn save you money and boost conversions.
Error #2: Non-Converting Keywords
The second largest problem is using keywords that are non-converting. What this means is that you need to look at what keywords are performing well and which are not and make a decision about which to add to your negative keyword list. By looking at performance data (i.e, conversions) you can figure out which keywords are more relevant and valuable to your advertisement.
Here are some steps you can take to figure out what keywords are not working well and build your own analysis:
Step 1: Export a keyword report,
Step 2: Add the data into a spreadsheet & create a pivot table to determine which keywords are not performing well and what might be able to cut costs.
Step 3: Cut costs by “pausing” non-converting keywords.
There are many things you can do to audit your Google Ads, and the things I’ve mentioned in this post are just a starting point. As I mentioned, data analysis is really key here—you want to make sure you are checking your Ads performance regularly and doing what you can to make adjustments so that you stay within your budget! Learn about more ideas for an audit here.
Do you know of any helpful Google Ads audit tricks? Let us know in the comments section below!
Amanda DiSilvestro is the Editor-in-chief for Plan, Write, GO. She has been writing about all things digital marketing, both as a ghostwriter, guest writer, and blog manager, for over 10 years. Check out her blogging services to learn more!
Amanda DiSilvestro is the Editor-in-chief for Plan, Write, GO. She has been writing about all things digital marketing, both as a ghostwriter, guest writer, and blog manager, for over 10 years.