How to do a PPC Audit in 10 Easy Steps

In the dynamic digital marketing realm, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a powerful tool for businesses seeking targeted visibility and rapid results. However, to ensure ongoing success, it’s crucial to conduct regular PPC audits. This guide unveils a comprehensive 10-step approach for businesses and clients eager to optimize their PPC campaigns and maximize return on investment.

What is a PPC Audit? 

A PPC Audit or Pay-Per-Click audit is a comprehensive review and analysis of a company’s PPC advertising campaigns. PPC is a digital marketing model where advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked. Platforms like Google Ads and Bing Ads allow businesses to bid for ad placement in search engine results and other online spaces.

The primary goal of a PPC audit is to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of a company’s paid advertising efforts. This process involves thoroughly examining various elements within PPC campaigns to ensure they are aligned with business objectives and deliver a positive return on investment (ROI).

Step 1: Review Campaign Objectives

Before delving into the intricacies of your PPC campaigns, aligning your objectives with overarching business goals is paramount. Understanding the big picture ensures that your PPC strategy is a synergistic component of your broader marketing efforts.

Here is how you can do it: 

Create a Strategic Alignment Matrix:

Create a matrix that aligns each campaign objective with specific business goals. In this process, carefully examine the alignment between the campaign objectives and the broader business goals. Identify discrepancies or misalignments and make necessary adjustments to ensure the objectives seamlessly integrate into the overall business strategy. This alignment contributes to a more cohesive and unified approach, ensuring that every aspect of the campaign is strategically synchronized with the business’s overarching goals.

Benchmark Key Metrics:

Set benchmarks for key performance indicators (KPIs) that are directly tied to your campaign objectives. These benchmarks serve as reference points, providing a standard against which you can measure the success and effectiveness of your campaigns. Implement a regular practice of comparing the actual performance metrics with these established benchmarks. 

This ongoing comparison is instrumental in gauging the success of your campaigns, allowing for continuous optimization based on real-time data. By consistently evaluating performance against benchmarks, you can identify areas of improvement, refine strategies, and ensure that your campaigns are consistently aligned with your objectives for optimal results.

Tip: While tools can assist in data gathering, manually assess how well your PPC objectives align with your business goals. Automated processes may miss nuanced connections that are crucial for strategic alignment.

Step 2: Assess Target Audience

Every successful PPC campaign starts with a deep understanding of your target audience. Evaluate whether your current targeting aligns with your audience’s characteristics. Tailoring your approach to your audience’s preferences and behaviors can significantly enhance campaign performance.

What can you do? Start with: 

Conduct Persona Workshops:

Collaborate with your team to develop detailed buyer personas. These personas are comprehensive representations of your target audience, encompassing key demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics.

Once you have crafted these detailed buyer personas, refine your targeting parameters accordingly. Tailor your approach to align with the nuances and preferences identified within these personas. 

Creating targeted personas enhances the relevance of your campaigns to your audience, fostering a deeper connection and resonance with the individuals you aim to reach. By integrating buyer personas into your targeting parameters, you create a more personalized and effective marketing strategy that addresses your target audience’s specific needs and preferences.

Let’s look at an example:

For instance, HubSpot may have distinct buyer personas such as “Marketing Manager Mary” and “Sales Director David.” These personas are based on basic demographic information and delve into the individual’s goals, challenges, pain points, preferred communication channels, and decision-making processes.

In the context of PPC advertising, HubSpot tailors its ad content, keywords, and targeting parameters to align with the characteristics and behaviors of these personas. For “Marketing Manager Mary,” the focus might be on solutions that streamline marketing workflows and enhance lead generation. Meanwhile, “Sales Director David” may be targeted with ads emphasizing CRM integration and sales performance analytics.

Utilize Social Listening Tools:

Utilize social listening tools to gain real-time insights into audience sentiments and preferences. Adapt your targeting criteria in response to emerging social trends and valuable feedback gathered from various platforms. This proactive approach ensures that your marketing strategy remains attuned to the dynamic shifts in audience behavior, enhancing the relevance and effectiveness of your campaigns.

Tip: Don’t rely solely on automated audience insights. Engage in direct customer feedback and use social listening tools to gather qualitative data. These insights can provide a more holistic view of your target audience.

Step 3: Keyword Analysis

Keywords are the backbone of PPC campaigns. Scrutinize your keyword strategy, identifying high-performing keywords while eliminating the underperformers. A precise and well-researched keyword strategy ensures your ads reach the right audience at the right time.

Optimize Your Ad Groups:

When optimizing your ad groups, start by conducting a thorough review to identify weaknesses using a PPC audit spreadsheet. To enhance the organization and effectiveness of your campaigns, consider reorganizing keywords. This includes the following: 

  • Theming ad groups tightly
  • Maintaining 5-10 keywords per group
  • Deleting low-volume keywords
  • Adjusting match types based on goals and budget.

Refine Negative Keywords:

Continuously refine your negative keywords by regularly updating lists to filter out irrelevant traffic. Proactively enhance this process by utilizing search term reports to identify and incorporate new negative keywords. This strategic approach ensures a more precise targeting strategy, minimizing ad spending on irrelevant audiences and optimizing the overall efficiency of your campaigns.

Within your Google Ads search terms report, you’ll find metrics detailing the specific search terms that trigger your ads and the corresponding performance metrics for those searches. This report provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of your ad targeting and allows for informed adjustments to optimize your campaign performance.

To see this report, go to “Campaigns“> “Insights and reports“> “Search terms.”

Tip: While keyword tools can identify trends, conduct manual searches to understand the context in which your keywords appear. This hands-on approach helps in refining your keyword strategy with a nuanced understanding of user intent.

Step 4: Ad Copy Evaluation

Compelling ad copy is the gateway to click-throughs and conversions. Analyze the effectiveness of your ad copy, ensuring it resonates with your target audience and aligns with your brand messaging. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ad variations to optimize performance.

Actionable Tips:

Implement A/B Testing:

  • Set up A/B tests for different ad variations.
  • Analyze performance metrics to identify high-performing ad copies.
  • Iterate and refine based on test results.

Incorporate Emotional Triggers:

  • Infuse ad copy with emotional triggers relevant to your audience.
  • Conduct surveys or customer interviews to understand emotional touchpoints.

Tip: Humanize your ad copy by incorporating authentic language and addressing pain points. A manual review allows you to infuse creativity and empathy into your messaging, fostering a deeper connection with your audience.

Step 5: Landing Page Review

A seamless transition from ad to landing page is crucial for conversion success. Evaluate the relevance of your landing pages to ad content and optimize the design and user experience. A well-optimized landing page can significantly impact conversion rates.

Actionable Tips:

Implement Multivariate Testing:

Implement multivariate testing by systematically examining various landing page elements, including headlines, images, and calls-to-action (CTAs). Utilize multivariate testing tools to assess and identify the most effective combinations of these elements for optimal user engagement and conversion rates. 

Optimize Page Load Speed:

Secondly, Prioritize the optimization of page load speed to ensure a seamless and efficient user experience. Regularly assess and enhance page load speed, utilizing tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights to identify and address potential bottlenecks, fostering a website environment that encourages user interaction and satisfaction.

Tip: User experience is subjective. Conduct manual usability testing to identify potential friction points on your landing pages. This hands-on approach can uncover issues that automated tools might overlook.

Step 6: Budget and Bidding Strategy

Efficient budget allocation and bidding strategies are pivotal for a successful PPC campaign. Review your budget across campaigns and assess the effectiveness of your bidding strategy. Adjustments based on performance data can lead to a more favorable return on investment.

Here is how to do it: 

Dynamic Budget Allocation:

Implement a dynamic budget allocation strategy that responds to campaign performance. By dynamically allocating your budget, you can prioritize high-performing campaigns, maximize Return on Investment (ROI), and ensure resources are directed towards initiatives that yield optimal results.

Manual Bid Adjustments:

Exercise manual bid adjustments to refine your bidding strategy. Regularly review and adjust bids manually, taking into account real-time market conditions. Fine-tune your bids based on competitor activity and evolving industry trends. This hands-on approach ensures that your bids remain competitive and responsive to the dynamic nature of the market, contributing to the overall success of your PPC campaigns.

Step 7: Ad Extensions Check

Ad extensions can enhance the visibility and performance of your ads. Verify their use and effectiveness, and consider implementing new extensions to boost your campaign’s overall impact.

What to do?

Evaluate Extension Relevance:

  • Manually review the relevance of existing extensions to ad content.
  • Remove or update extensions that don’t align with current promotions or offerings.

Test New Extensions:

  • Experiment with new ad extensions to enhance ad visibility.
  • Monitor performance metrics to identify the impact of different extension types.

Step 8: Device and Location Targeting

Analyze your campaign’s performance across different devices and locations. Tailor your targeting settings based on performance data to ensure you’re reaching your audience effectively.

Device-Specific Ad Customization:

Engage in device-specific ad customization by tailoring ad content to align with user behavior on specific devices. Additionally, optimize landing pages to ensure mobile responsiveness, ultimately enhancing the overall user experience. 

Geo-targeting Refinement:

For geo-targeting, conduct manual assessments of campaign performance across different locations. Responsively adjust geo-targeting settings based on regional trends and user engagement to optimize campaign effectiveness in various geographic areas. This meticulous approach ensures that both ad content and targeting settings are strategically aligned with user preferences and regional dynamics.

Step 9: Conversion Tracking

Accurate conversion tracking is the linchpin of PPC success. Confirm its proper implementation and leverage conversion data for actionable insights. Adjustments made based on this data can significantly improve your campaign’s overall effectiveness.

Cross-Validate Conversions:

  • Manually cross-reference conversion data from different tracking sources.
  • Ensure consistency to eliminate discrepancies and enhance data accuracy.

Implement Multi-Touch Attribution:

  • Explore multi-touch attribution models to understand the complete customer journey.
  • Attribute conversions to various touchpoints for a more comprehensive analysis.

Step 10: Performance Analysis and Reporting

Generate comprehensive performance reports and analyze key metrics such as Click-Through Rate (CTR), Cost Per Click (CPC), Conversion Rate, and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Summarize your findings and outline actionable items for optimization.

You will benefit from doing the following:

Visualize Data Trends:

  • Utilize data visualization tools to identify trends and patterns in performance data.
  • Create visual reports for quick and insightful analysis.

Iterative Optimization Plan:

  • Develop a quarterly optimization plan based on performance insights.
  • Implement iterative changes to continually refine and enhance campaign performance.


Regular PPC audits are the keys to unlocking the full potential of your advertising efforts. By following this 10-step guide, businesses can ensure their PPC campaigns remain finely tuned and aligned with their overarching goals. Continuous improvement and adaptation are the cornerstones of sustained success in the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing. Implementing these steps, with a thoughtful blend of automation and manual assessment, will not only optimize your current campaigns but also lay the foundation for future triumphs in the dynamic world of PPC advertising.

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