January is the traditional time to take stock of your life, assess what’s missing, and set new goals. Chances are, your PPC account could use the January treatment. The holidays are over, you’re back from vacation, and your AdWords account is probably as messy as your kitchen, or as bloated as … never mind. The point is, it’s time for a PPC audit – you need to benchmark where you’re at so you know where to focus your efforts in the new year.
Two years ago, we created the AdWords Performance Grader to help advertisers audit and analyze their Google AdWords accounts. It’s basically the fastest, easiest, and by far the cheapest (you can’t get cheaper than free) way to audit your PPC account. You link the tool up to your AdWords account through a 100% secure OAuth connection (one-time, read-only access), and the AdWords Grader does a quick audit that assesses your overall account performance based on your industry, then breaks your account down to show how you’re doing in key areas like Quality Score, click-through rate, keyword optimization, and best practices compliance.
We recently passed a pretty big milestone: The AdWords Performance Grader has been used to audit AdWords accounts representing over $3 billion in collective advertising spend. That’s an incredible amount of insight and analysis that we’ve offered to advertisers around the world, all for free.
Now, we’ve taken all that rich data and used it to improve the Grader. The newly relaunched AdWords Grader Plus includes new features and functionality that make it even more valuable to busy marketers and small businesses. The improvements include:
- Performance Tracker: This feature automatically tracks and analyzes your account every 30 days, so you can see how your overall performance and key metrics are trending over time. For example, advertisers can use Performance Tracker to easily monitor and act on changes in Quality Score – something Google just doesn’t offer.
- Mobile PPC Readiness Score – By now we all know mobile is a big deal and not something you can safely ignore. The Grader now includes a “Readiness Score” to assess your mobile PPC preparedness and optimization, including an evaluation of your account’s adherence to mobile best practices.
- New & Improved Benchmarks – We’ve revisited our competitive benchmarks for PPC, so all the featured KPI’s in your performance report (including Quality Score, click-through rate, account activity, and wasted spend) are more current and accurate than ever.
Check out the video below for a quick overview of how it works, including the new features:
Why You Need a PPC Audit
If you’re thinking, “That’s great, but I don’t need a PPC audit,” wipe that smug grin off your face. As I mentioned, we’ve analyzed more than $3 billion worth of AdWords spend, and all this analysis reveals that most businesses need a lot of help – especially small and medium-sized businesses. These are just a few of the common errors we see over and over:
- Inconsistency and Neglect: Only 1% of small business advertisers log in and do work in their AdWords accounts every week, which is shameful. Half of small businesses only log in once per QUARTER.
- Wasteful Spending: 1 in 5 small businesses (20%) aren’t using a single negative keyword – without this cost-saving measure, they’re wasting tons of money on irrelevant, non-converting clicks.
- Account Setup Errors: More than half of small businesses don’t have conversion tracking set up properly, which makes it impossible to track ROI.
- Crappy Landing Page Optimization: 1 in 5 SMB’s send all their PPC traffic to the home page, a well-known worst practice.
- No Mobile Strategy: Fewer than 20% of AdWords accounts have set up mobile-preferred ads, and only 1 in 20 advertisers is using call extensions in all their campaigns.
You should be feeling nervous. Are you absolutely certain you’re not committing any of these grave errors? You can get a FREE audit that will tell you for sure! And if your AdWords account really is as healthy as you think it is, the AdWords Grader Plus will give you proof, in an infographic-quality report that you can show to your team as evidence of your hard work.
What You’ll Get with Your PPC Audit
Here’s a sample report to demonstrate all the data and insights, including actionable tips for improvement, that you’ll get when you use the AdWords Grader Plus to audit your account (click the image to enlarge it):
Check out some of the great reviews WordStream has already got from Search Engine Land ("certainly a brilliant tool") and Clix Marketing ("The improved vertical benchmark data and the ability to track performance (Quality Score!) over time alone make the grader worth your time").
5 Reasons to Audit Your PPC Account Now
To recap, here are five reasons why you should do a PPC audit ASAP:
- You can’t get better until you know what’s wrong. A PPC audit gives you a baseline to start measuring improvements against. Find out where you stand against benchmarks like average Quality Score and expected CTR in your industry.
- A PPC audit helps you identify the “unknown unknowns” – mistakes you don’t even know you’re making. Often these are quick fixes that can save you a ton of money.
- Start improving your PPC reporting now. With Performance Tracker, you’re not just getting a one-time PPC audit, you’re setting up a recurring report so you can track overall performance and top-level metrics every month. It’s super-easy.
- Mobile accounted for 48% of all online traffic on Christmas Day. Mobile search will overtake desktop search in volume this year. You can’t ignore the mobile space and truly succeed in PPC. Use the Grader to see where you stand on mobile optimization.
- If you’re a rep at an agency, you need to make sure your client accounts are in order – before they do! Audit their accounts, fix any problems, then run it again and show them how awesome their account is doing.
I recommend that you add “PPC Audit” to your January goal list – and then check it off by running your report right now! Why wait?
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