AdWords Account Audit Checklist


Here at WordStream, I am not only a Customer Success Specialist, but I am also a Premier Consultant. As a Premier Consultant I meet with clients every two to four weeks to discuss the state of their account and what they should be doing to improve it. On these calls we can really dig into what our advertisers need to be doing to improve their account, whether that’s setting up brand new remarketing campaigns, digging into how to improve quality score, or helping to analyze advanced metrics in Google Analytics.

Part of my usual process when I get a brand new Premier Consulting client is to first run through a checklist of items to determine what shape the account is in and what areas we can target to work on first together. I focus on the basic structural aspects in an account first, and then work to more advanced topics once the basics are covered.

I’m not going to give away the secret sauce of our Premier Consulting services; however the information I’m going to share in this blog post provides insight into parts of the checklist I go through so you can get a better handle on your own or your clients’ overall account.

AdWords Audit

BONUS: Click here to download a simplified version of this checklist as a PDF.

  1. Campaigns:
    1. Location – Ensure they’re only targeting the locations where they do business.
    2. Language – Make sure they’re only advertising in the language the ads are written in.
    3. Search vs. Display – Check to make sure no campaigns are targeting both the Search Network and Display Network. If there are any, suggest that they split them into separate campaigns.
    4. Mobile – Whether they’re on enhanced campaigns or legacy campaigns, I’ll segment their campaign data by device and check their campaign settings to get a sense if they have evaluated their mobile situation. Conversion data can be significantly different on different platforms and also, some clients are surprised at their ratio of their mobile to desktop traffic.
  2. Ad Groups:
    1. Size – Check out any ad groups that are over 20-30 keywords in size. Chances are they may be able to be broken down into smaller ad groups that will be more focused on a specific topic, which will help them craft better ads and direct to appropriate landing pages.
    2. Topic – Spot check some of the ad groups with the highest clicks, impressions, and cost to make sure that they’re all tightly packed around the same topic. Sometimes even smaller groups can be unfocused and could be targets to split up.
    3. Number of ads – I usually like to see two or three ads per ad group in my clients’ accounts. This means they can test ads against each other to continually optimize (versus if they only had 1 ad running), but also means that they’ll be able to collect actionable data fast enough (if they have 4+ ads running per group it will take longer to collect the data).
  3.  Keywords:
    1. Match Types – The most common thing I look for here is to see if they are using too many broad match keywords – some clients have started working with me with accounts that are only on broad match. In most cases where this occurs, they haven’t had a chance to look into the best match types for their keywords. A second thing I’ll look for is to see if they are using match types that may be too restrictive. For example there are some cases where a phrase match type is used where a modified broad match type would be more appropriate. The phrase match may be too restrictive for the queries the client is actually hoping their keyword will match to.
  4. Search Queries:
    1. In the WordStream Advisor software, I’ll jump into their QueryStream on the account level and look through their search queries with the most impressions, cost, and clicks. This can indicate that there’s work to do adding negative keywords and/or changing match types on keywords. If you’re not using WordStream Advisor, you can get similar information from the Search Query Report in Google.
  5. Other:
    1. Conversion Tracking – If a client doesn’t have conversion tracking set up already, this is always action item number one to get them on the right track.
    2. Ad Extensions – I’ll make sure they’re using appropriate ad extensions for their business and resources.
    3. Other Red Flags – This can include anything that could cause serious problems but doesn’t appear too often. One recent example of something that fit under this bucket was a case where someone was running a product listing ad and regular search ads in the same ad group.

Those are the main basics I’ll take a look at when evaluating a new client’s account and deciding what to focus on during our initial Premier Consulting sessions, but there are plenty of other items on my actual checklist I use for my clients.

Once we have gone through an overview of the basics and have evaluated what shape the account is in, then the true Premier Consulting starts – discussing various advanced tactics and optimizations like scheduling, bidding strategy, possible expansion areas, peel and stick opportunities, etc. However, knowing where an account stands right off the bat is truly the difference between success and struggle.

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Andy Kuiper
Jul 02, 2013

Nice and informative list Phil... an absolte 'must have' for the early stages of AdWords ---> many SMB's would be wise to take the time to go over their accounts using this info :-)

Jul 02, 2013

Thanks Andy!

Cooper Long
Jul 02, 2013

Great list.  I think another thing within search queries to look for at the account level (especially with campaigns with more loose match types) is queries triggering in the "wrong" campaign- like a branded term triggering in a non-branded campaign as a basic example.  Perhaps the term is present in another campaign but due to bid, campaign budget, etc., it's sometimes triggering to a phrase or broad match term elsewhere.  Directional negatives are needed.Another area, especially if converson data is available, would be to examine the google search vs. search partners segment and compare performance.  Similarly, looking at time components like day of week or hour of day is a good way to both spot some waste and perhaps be more agressive elsewhere.

Jul 02, 2013

Awesome additions Cooper - these are two things that I've seen some folks not pay too much attention to, but can definitely help performance. Removing Search Partners and acting on time of day data can be helpful especially for clients that have a very limited budget. 

Randall Magwood
Jul 02, 2013

I just set up a new campaign at Bing Ads and I see that these Adwords tips can be applied to my Bing Ads account. Thanks for the great info and breaking everything down for me when it comes to having my account right.

Zhenya Delate
Jul 03, 2013

Thanks for this informative list! And I agree with Mr. Long in that Negatives and Search Networks are also good items to investigate / optimize.  Thank you!!!

Jul 11, 2013

Yep.I see alot of mistakes with Day Parting and campaigns missing call extensions.  

Jul 11, 2013

thank you for this article account audit is the key as i was not sure where to start from.regarding search range, critical decision whether to pause or make negative keywords from search terms report.whether to include more broad match from search terms or not.adding more keywords makes the keywird list higher and out of control.what do you you suggest. thanks for the other valid points Mukesh

Jul 11, 2013

Great list - I usually do an "extended" keyword check after the initial audit to see if 1) there are keywords with too broad of an intent (or not focused), and 2) if they do have negative keywords, are they using the right match types so that they aren't too restrictive or limiting potential quality leads. 

Oct 15, 2013

Great List! Thanks for Sharing!

Nov 13, 2013


Midas Media
Dec 05, 2013

A quick a dirty approach to big campaigns is to display all ad groups, ads, take the number, all keywords, take the number and then divide each by each.So if you have less than 2 ads per keyword, you know the account is underoptimised.If you have more than 30 keywords per ad group, the same can be said.Very quick I know, but helps you quickly get an idea of the bigger account's health.

Mar 23, 2014

Phil, thanks for your list! even if it is not your "secret sauce" recipe these informations are gold! Robert

Jan 31, 2017

As I'm new in PPC I was looking for some checklist, these checklist are very useful for me.
Thanks for sharing!
Looking for more tips like this.

Jun 06, 2017

Awesome checklist. I've been doing SEA for many years know and in my point of view every sea specialist should force himself to evaluate his own work an a regular basis using this (or simulair if you like) SEA checklist. Good job Worstream!

Bram den Bieman
Jun 16, 2017

With your permission I will use this and refer to it on my blog at - and yes of course I will add a proper source using your url and so on. Keep on doing the good work!

Dustin Miller
Oct 09, 2017

Helpful info for anyone that wants to do a quick audit of most common problem areas. Thanks for sharing.

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