10 tips to conduct a swift SEA audit

Boost your online advertising by rectifying these common mistakes


If you work with Google AdWords on a regular basis, it is very likely a prospect or a collegue asked you to do some sort of SEA audit of an existing account. Often people do some online advertising themselves to no avail before seeking the help of a professional. First thing they ask is why they’ve been spending a bunch of money with little or no return. Here are 10 very common mistakes you stumble upon in poor performing Google AdWords accounts.

1. Campaigns are set up for the search and display network

By default, a new campaign in Google AdWords is set up for both the search network and the display network. This is by far the most common mistake made by newbies. Displaying ads in the two networks will lead to a lot of impressions of your ad without any decent targeting. Create separate campaigns for each network. It will give you more leverage while optimising.

2. No decent location targeting

Another default setting with every new campaign is that the campaign will be targeted to the whole country. Although this is not a mistake in itself, in most cases this is way to big a region to obtain decent results. Google AdWords allows you to pinpoint specific regions, cities or even very small radius targeting to the place of your choice. This is even more important when working with limited budgets because a small area can help to you spend a little amount of money in an effective way.

3. No ad scheduling

Google AdWords will display your ads around the clock, 7 days a week unless you specify some kind of ad planning. Again: it can make sense for certain advertisers to display their ads 24/7 but the majority of advertisers probably wants to reach for their prospects during specific hours of the day. Ad scheduling allows you to allocate your budget in a more efficient way: if you notice after a while your ads receive less conversions during certain hours of the day or on specific days of the week, you can choose to lower your bids during these moments or even choose not to display your ads at all.

4. Watch for extreme low clickthrough rates

The three previous points come together in the fourth problem: campaigns with low clickthrough rates (CTR). If you see a CTR of less than 1 procent, you can be certain something is not set up the way it should be. There are several opinions of a benchmark CTR but you should at least aim for a percentage of 3% to 5%.

5. Ad extensions are underused or not used at all

Not using ad extensions is almost a form of guilty negligence. Not all extensions are useful for any kind of advertiser (like app downloads) but sitelinks, callouts, structured snippets and call extensions are no-brainers. You can offer a lot of extra interesting stuff and you pay exactly the same amount for a click.

6. Were optimisations executed on a regular basis?

Take a look in the Change History to see what kind of changes were made at what time. You can go two years back and it allows you to backtrack the activity in the account. If you see nothing was changed for months, you can be sure there has never been any kind of follow-up.

7. No conversions set or no link with Google Analytics

Online advertising is only useful when you strive to obtain pre-determined targets. Look under the Conversion menu to see if conversions are set up in Google AdWords and/or a Google Analytics account is linked (if goals are set up in the latter).

8. Is there a logical structure in the set up of campaigns / ad groups / keywords

Rollling out a Google AdWords campaign with all keywords stuffed in one campaign and one ad group is a recipe for disaster. The rule of thumb here is to mimic the navigational structure of the website you lead the prospect to. A well-thought set-up can be a huge timesaver afterwards when you have to identify good performing campaigns / ad groups / keywords from poor performing ones. It will allow you too to attribute budgets in a more efficient way. Don’t forget to give your campaigns and ad groups comprehensible and descriptive names instead of the default ‘Campaign #1’ and ‘Ad Group #1’.

9. The use of single large keywords match type

If you spot a lot of plain single keywords, an alarm has to go off. Keywords set up in large match type are often to vague or blurry to target a specific audience. If you decide to use large keywords, do so in combination with a +modifier since this narrows down your targeting dramatically. Even better is to use “match phrase” or [exact] match keywords.

10. No negative keywords added

Perhaps even more important than good keywords is the use of negative keywords: the keywords you want your ad not to show for. Negative keywords can be added either on the campaign level or ad group level. You can also add a whole list of negative keywords in the shared library and attribute the list to specific campaigns.

Posted on August 17, 2018 by , last modified on August 17, 2018

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