🔥 Join 14K+ subscribers

TPE #34: how to audit Google Ads accounts (updated)

Mar 20, 2023

Read time: 5 minutes

Welcome back to The PPC Edge! This is the updated version of a previous issue that we shared about how to audit Google Ads accounts. We’ve added new insights, as well as common errors and how to fix them. Enjoy!

A Google Ads audit is the best and fastest way to find out how to improve your performance.

However, most people don't know how to audit properly:

❌ They look at the wrong metrics
❌ They don't use a template and waste too much time
❌ They don't prepare well, and give wrong recommendations

(which results in an unhappy client).

Over the past 5 years, we have done hundreds of big and small account audits.

Audits can be extremely profitable, but can also take a lot of time when done without a clear system.

Therefore, we've created our own system. A 3-step templatized auditing process:

  1. Prepare: brief the client and ask a ton of questions
  2. Audit: check the account with a template/checklist
  3. Advise: give advice on how to improve results (with a clear action plan based on impact/complexity)


For every step in our action plan, we use templates and checklists. This helps to:

✅ Save time
✅ Get better results
✅ Never miss a growth opportunity
✅ Make your clients very happy with advanced advice
✅ Solidify your position as an authority in the Google Ads field

Let’s dive into our 3-step templatized auditing process, and how we use our templates and checklists!


1: Prepare: brief the client and ask a ton of questions

We love the saying: “well begun is half done”. The biggest mistake we see specialists make is that they start auditing right away. They ask no questions beforehand, which results in mediocre or even unwanted advice on how to improve results.

We always start off by sending our client a detailed briefing document with questions about:

  • Their business and goals
  • Their customers, competitors and market insights
  • Their products and services
  • Their marketing efforts
  • Their specific Google ads goals, KPIs, challenges etc.


You might notice that we only ask about Google Ads AFTER we understand their business, goals, customers, market and marketing efforts.

By asking the right questions, you set yourself up for success. You make a great first impression because you show your client you truly care. And you showcase your expertise (you’re willing to go beyond just Google Ads), which ultimately reinforces your position as the authority in your field.

Your clients will love you for it!

Quick bonus tip: always ask your client specifically WHY they requested an audit and what they’re hoping to get out of it. This will dramatically improve the quality of your output and how you frame your advice.

Moving on to the actual audit.


2: Audit: check the account with a template/checklist

Once you get the answers to your questions, it’s time to do the actual audit and dig up any growth opportunities you can find.

We use a template (that’s basically a big checklist) to quickly find out what’s working and what isn’t. We structure it based on 15 categories like goals & targets, performance insights, general (account) settings, connections, Search campaigns, Performance Max campaigns, bid management, budget, conversion tracking, audience data, remarketing, Google Merchant Center and more.

(go here if you want the full templates - check them out here)

And then we have another one, specifically for Google Shopping feeds (for ecom clients).

In all those categories, we have over 200 checks that we go through one by one.

We invested over 100 hours to create a document that fit all our needs. It looks like this:

Detailed explanation below


Line 1: predefined question that needs to be answered

We don’t randomly go through the account and hope we find something. We ask ourselves these questions over and over so we go through the account in a structured way.


Line 2: predefined column that ranks the impact of the check and fix

When you do an audit, you could find dozens of things to optimize. Not everything needs to be done right away. We rank the impact of the check and fix with high, mid or low, so it’s easier to sort our advice based on the eventual impact it will have on the results.


Line 3: predefined column that ranks the complexity of the check and fix

Another metric we’ve added to show how complex a certain check/fix is (ranked as complex, neutral or simple). This is very powerful when combined with impact: it allows us to rank our advice based on impact/complexity.


Line 4: give a score to a check (through the predefined drop-down menu)

When going through the checklist, we give scores to the checks (excellent, good, bad or n/a). It’s set to “to do” by default, so we know we still need to do this specific check.


Line 5: room for any notes on this specific finding

For example: “Google Ads purchase conversion tag not configured correctly”.


Line 6: room for any screenshots to back up findings

It’s extremely important to back advice up with data and screenshots of your findings. This helps prove a certain point, and takes any doubts away. That’s why we added some space to add the screenshots (which we can then easily integrate in our audit presentation deck template).

That's it for the audit itself. On to the final part: how to give the best advice.


3: Advise: give advice on how to improve results (with a clear action plan based on impact/complexity)

Then, once we finish the audit, we gather all of our learnings into an overview that we present to the client. Again, this is highly templatized to save a ton of time.

We start by listing everything that needs to be optimized. Then, we assign a score to priority (high, mid, low), impact (high, mid, low) and complexity (simple, neutral, complex). This helps us to determine what needs to be prioritized.

Generally speaking, we like to start off with a few quick wins (the low-hanging fruit) to get the momentum going. Then, we move on to more complex optimizations.

An example of what the optimizations could look like. Normally, this list will be much longer, of course.


The final step is to present the findings to the client. We always schedule a call/meeting because we think it’s important to have a proper debrief and give context to the advice we’re giving.

We take all our findings and put them into our audit presentation slides template. The screenshots that we took earlier during the audit come in really handy here. We personalize it by replacing the placeholder images with images of the client’s brand.

This is what it looks like:



This is how we structure the audit presentation:

  1. Quick introduction: we like to mention that we’re not here to take over an account but are merely giving advice on how to improve (this is important especially if other agencies are involved)
  2. Overview of today’s talking points (= everything we found while doing the audit)
  3. Short debrief of why they requested an audit and how the advice will be presented
  4. Start off with a few things that they’re doing well (this helps to create a positive, reinforcing environment)
  5. Give our initial thoughts: what do we see on an overall level
  6. Move on to the meat of the findings and advice
  7. Concluding thoughts: bringing it all together and summarizing what they need to do to improve performance


Bonus tips: 5 common errors and how to fix them:

Interestingly enough, most accounts we audit have the same errors. Look out for these errors:


1: Bad conversion tracking

Too many accounts still use Analytics imported goals. You can measure more with the Google Ads Tag. Also: most accounts aren’t measuring/steering on real business results (aka qualified leads, closed deals and profit). For lead gen: make sure offline conversions are imported. For ecom: make sure profit data is measured (for example with a tool like ProfitMetrics)


2: Bad (Search) campaign structure

Campaign structures are often too fragmented (too many campaigns) or too consolidated (not enough campaigns). Dive deep into the account structure to determine the ideal setup. Try to consolidate as much data as possible, while still isolating your best performing keywords/products.


3: Overpaying on CPCs

Most accounts aren’t using portfolio bid strategies. The advantages of using them: bundle data across campaigns and set a max CPC cap. That way, you can prevent huge CPC spikes. Unfortunately this isn’t available (yet) for Performance Max.


4: Improper use of Dynamic Search Ads

Most accounts are wasting a LOT of budget on improperly set up Dynamic Search Ads campaigns/ad groups. They have no idea they’re bleeding by targeting irrelevant, non-optimized pages. Exclude them and see how the profitability increases.


5: Not leveraging Microsoft Ads

A lot of advertisers aren’t leveraging Microsoft Ads - they simply don’t advertise on the platform. It’s really easy to get an additional 5-10% revenue by simply syncing your Google Ads account. Disclaimer: go through the settings of the sync and be cautious with sneaky, broad targeting by Microsoft Ads. Broad match keywords are all over the place, and network placements are pure crap (Syndicated Search Partners for example).


TLDR recap

So that’s it! This is how we audit accounts. Completely templatized to save time, give better advice and ultimately make our clients very happy:

  1. Prepare: brief the client and ask a ton of questions
  2. Audit: check the account with a template/checklist
  3. Advise: give advice on how to improve results (with a clear action plan based on impact/complexity)


We hope it was useful!

See you again next week.

Bob & Miles

p.s. want access to the exact same templates we use when we audit Google Ads accounts? Eliminate wasted ad spend and find new growth opportunities fast! Check out the templates here.

🔥 Black Friday Deals: Save Big on our most popular products!

  • Up to €1.000 off The PPC Hub
  • Save €546 on new Course Bundle
  • 50% off single products

Upgrade your Google Ads skills at a laughably low price!

Check out our Black Friday Deals here.

Receive 1 advanced Google Ads strategy every Monday morning

Subscribe to 'The PPC Edge' newsletter. Every Monday morning, you'll get 1 actionable tip to scale your campaigns to the next level and stay ahead of your competition.

Your information is safe with us. We will never sell it, for any reason.