In the ever-evolving landscape of digital advertising, managing a Google Ads account is a bit like captaining a ship through uncharted waters. You can’t just set it and forget it; you need to regularly audit your PPC campaigns to ensure they’re sailing smoothly and in the right direction.
There’s a myriad of campaigns and ad types in Google. So, let’s narrow it down to three areas you can audit: Google’s Performance Max campaigns stand out as a powerful tool, demanding special attention in your audit. Then let’s hunt for wasted spend, and uncover the hidden gems known as negative keywords in Search and Shopping campaigns. And finally, let’s talk about spotting trends that can help you proactively manage your campaigns.
Performance Max: Unleash the Full Potential
Performance Max campaigns, Google’s latest offering, leverage machine learning to find the most valuable conversions across Google’s entire ecosystem, from Search and Display to YouTube and Discover. The result? A unified approach that maximizes your reach and optimizes your budget. However, this power comes with a catch – setup of these campaigns is key, as it’s the stage that gives us the most control.
Performance Max campaigns are designed to run autonomously, but they are not entirely hands-off, especially during the creation stage. When creating Performance Max campaigns, I try to check off all the boxes of areas I can control. For example, since Google gives us 20 images to use, I include the full 20 images. Anything less than the maximum available potentially inhibits your campaign’s performance.
Creatives play a pivotal role in the success of Performance Max campaigns. Evaluate the ad creatives for relevance and engagement. Are they tailored to your audience’s interests and preferences? Do they convey a compelling message? And are you using all available headlines and descriptions? Remember, these campaigns thrive on variety, so experiment with different ad formats and designs to keep your audience engaged.
When auditing a Performance Max campaign, I pretty much just look to see where (and how) many shortcuts were taken. Here are several things that I often see get overlooked:
- Audience Signals are often missing. Stop that! You need to use audience signals to feed Google’s mighty machine-learning algorithm and equip it with as much information as possible. Eliminate the human shortcuts so the AI can become nourished enough to take over the world. Who could say no?
- Also, double check whether Automatically Created Assets is on or off, found under the Settings tab of the campaign. We’ve seen better results with it OFF, plus you have control over the images and text that’s used in the ads.
- What about small details like picking the correct Call to Action (and not relying on ‘default’) or using a Display path? Are you adding all appropriate extensions like site extensions, callout extensions, call extensions, promotion extensions, or structured snippets?
- Are you adding your own videos instead of relying on the Google-created videos? With video builder built into the Google Ads Asset Library, creating decent videos is easy, and you can even add voice-over!
- Are you excluding your brand using the new Brand Exclusions (or old-school negative keyword lists)?
Spend the time to build your Performance Max campaigns with all the details, and you’ll have better results faster.
Hunting for Wasted Spend: Search Campaign Edition
While Performance Max campaigns have the spotlight as Google’s newest campaign offering, it’s crucial not to overlook your Search campaigns. When optimized correctly, these campaigns can be a goldmine, but they can also be a breeding ground for wasted spending if neglected.
One of the most common sources of wasted spend in Search campaigns is the lack of negative keywords. Without them, your ads might show up for irrelevant search queries that drain your budget. Conduct a thorough audit to identify irrelevant keywords, and add them as negative keywords. Regularly updating this list is essential to prevent wasted spend.
Review your campaign budget allocation to ensure that your top-performing campaigns receive the appropriate funding. It is common to find campaigns that perform exceptionally well but are limited by budget constraints. Shift the budget from underperforming campaigns to those that are delivering the best results to maximize your ROI.
The Quality Score is another aspect often overlooked in Search campaigns. A low Quality Score can result in higher CPCs and lower ad positions. Audit your keywords and landing pages to ensure they align with user intent, and make improvements where necessary to boost your Quality Scores. (Learn more about Quality Score and how it affects your Ad Rank.)
Spotting Trends: Your Account’s Crystal Ball
When auditing your Google Ads account, it’s not just about fixing issues; it’s also about spotting trends that can help you proactively manage your campaigns. Here’s how to harness the power of trend analysis:
1. Performance Over Time:
Chart the performance of your campaigns, ad groups, and keywords over time. Look for patterns such as seasonality, sudden drops in performance, or gradual declines. These trends can help you identify issues and opportunities.
2. Competitive Analysis:
Keep an eye on your competitors. Are there new players in the market? Are they running aggressive campaigns? Analyzing the competitive landscape can help you adapt your strategy and stay ahead in the game.
3. Device and Location Insights:
Segment your data by device and location to gain insights into user behavior. Are certain devices or locations performing better than others? Adjust your bidding and targeting strategies accordingly to optimize spend.
In conclusion, auditing your Google Ads account is a critical practice, serving as your guiding light in the complex world of digital advertising. Performance Max campaigns, Search campaigns, and trend analysis all play pivotal roles in a comprehensive PPC audit. Regular audits are the cornerstone of staying competitive, optimizing your return on investment, and steering your Google Ads efforts toward success. So, get started on your audit today to harness the full potential of your Google Ads account!