How To Quickly Audit your Own Google Ads Keywords

Hey – you want to do a quick audit of your Google Ads account to check up on what your PPC consultant is doing? Here is a quick-hit start to an audit, that will help you tune up your Google AdWords. These steps are current as of July 2019; Google is constantly updating its reports so specific button wording may change over time. The principles, however, are timeless.

What’s in your keyword lists?

  1. Take a look in your list of keywords. Keywords can be at the account level, campaign level, and ad group level, so check all 3 of those.
  2. As you look through each level – choose “download csv” to download the keyword data. If you have MS Office installed, it will likely open in Excel. Choose open when you start to download, or open each one once it’s done
  3. Right-click on the tab of one .csv, and choose “Move or Copy,” you will then be able to move that tab by choosing an open file from the drop-down list. Pick one of the 3.
  4. Go to the other .csv (that’s still on its own), repeat the right-click-move step in c.
  5. Now you can toggle between the tabs and see the keyword lists. If the setup was done well, there might be a mix of a shorter list from the account level, and progressively longer in the campaign and ad group level
  6. If there is only one list of keywords (account level typically), what’s in there? Is it 10 keywords, and what do they have in common? “Keywords” is an inclusive term, and means the whole phrase, as well as single word instances.
  7. Is it a short list? Is it full of keywords with your company name (we call them Branded keywords) or product name, and, let’s say, really obvious-seeming keywords?
  8. Is it a longer list, with a mix of company/product keywords, and also keywords that seem possibly-relevant to your market segments?

Congratulations! You’ve basically done a keyword list audit. If you see a short list, and really obvious-seeming keywords, a good question to ask your agency, is “how did you get to this list?” It’s not impossible that they would have arrived there through a logical, data-driven process, and sometimes those lists do narrow over time, but it’s not typical. Usually, it’s a sign that the setup has been done to be as safe as possible, and to not take risks that spend your budget on testing.

Keyword lists should be relatively inclusive; you want your ads to show to the people that are most likely to convert, and it’s unlikely that you can capture all of them using a few keywords. You should also see different lists at the campaign and ad group levels as these are to be more targeted to create conversions using those assets and audience definitions.

Keyword lists should be relatively inclusive; you want your ads to show to the people that are most likely to convert, and it’s unlikely that you can capture all of them using a few keywords.

Testing is important, and a lack of it probably means that your campaigns aren’t going to be effective in the long run. As the algorithms and SERP structure change it’s essential to constantly refine your campaigns. Testing also costs money, and if your PPC consultant or agency can’t explain this to you and get you on board with testing you’re going to end up firing them for promising results they can’t deliver.

In PPC (and all online advertising, really) data should drive decisions. The only way to get usable, meaningful data is to gather it yourself from your own campaigns. Yes, there are basic and broad assumptions that can be made based on prior campaigns for similar products or services, but past a certain point you need to take your own results and modify your strategy based on your REAL results. A long list of relevant keywords usually means that there is a level of analysis and refactoring happening behind-the-scenes.

Lastly, you should see a mix of short and long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords usually have less traffic, but provide a more focused search intent than short-tail. Think “buy new car” versus “buy new car good fuel efficiency”; a longer search shows more intent and is likely farther along in the sales cycle. You want to appear at multiple points in this journey, so short AND long-tail keywords should be a part of the campaign.

Online advertising is a place where you need to experiment. That means, you want to have an open and inclusive approach to keyword research, and keyword management inside your Google AdWords PPC account. That means more than a handful of obvious keywords. An audit, or a step in an audit, does not give conclusions, it’s about asking better questions. Better questions are asked by smarter people so make sure you fill out the form below and download our PPC Glossary today and get you some ebook learnin’. And if you don’t like the answers you get, then make sure you contact us!

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