When you’re running a Google Ads campaign that’s not converting, it can be extremely frustrating. If you don’t have a mental framework or a process in place to audit your Google Ads campaigns, you can end up wasting a lot of time. Wandering aimlessly throughout your account, making adjustments here and there doesn’t necessarily lead to finding the main cause of your lack of conversions.
Our Proven Framework for Google Ads Audit and Optimization
In this video, I’m going to share with you the framework that we use in the case that Google Ads is not converting. The steps that we teach all of our staff will help you go through your account, find areas that could use improvement, identify areas of waste, and get your Google Ads campaign on track.
My name is Frank, I’m the founder of Sagapixel. I’ve been doing digital marketing, and Google Ads specifically, since about 2008-2009. I’ve turned around quite a few campaigns over the years, be it accounts that we’ve inherited from other agencies, or our client asks us to just get it on track, or actually fixing campaigns that we’ve set up that just weren’t doing what they needed to do.
Overall, we generally work with clients that have some sort of budget limit with what they’re spending. This means that a lot of the work that we put into our accounts is to identify the waste, the parts of the account that are not delivering, so that we can free up that budget and use it on the parts of the account that are working. We accomplish this by looking at each account in three phases.
Phase number one is to whom are we showing the ads, and when are we showing them?
Phase number two is what are they seeing when they click on the ad?
Then, phase number three is what is the experience on the landing page or website after they’ve clicked on the ad.
Phase One: Targeting the Right Audience at the Right Time
So, let’s jump into phase one.
These are the things that we’re going to check:
- What is the age group that we’re delivering to?
- What are the genders?
- What is the household income?
- What are the audiences that these people belong to?
In particular, we want to find audiences that we can prevent from seeing the ads.
- What times of day and days of the week do the ads run?
- What are the geographic areas where we are running the ads?
- Finally, what are the keywords that we’re bidding on?
- What are the search terms that are getting triggered, and how can we avoid waste there?
All of this is done with an eye towards what can I stop spending money on.
Start By Reviewing Age Targeting
So, let’s jump into it. We’re going to start off by going into the audiences section, and we want to look at ages. In this case, this is a campaign for a basement waterproofing company.
Delivering this to 19-year-olds would make absolutely no sense; they probably don’t have the money to pay for it, and very few of them are likely homeowners. So, in this case, you can see we’ve excluded them entirely. The same thing goes when it comes to gender; this isn’t really a male versus female type of purchase, so we haven’t made any adjustments there.
Review Household Income
Household income: People in the lower 50% almost certainly don’t have $8,000 to do a basement waterproofing job; they’re probably the wrong people to deliver these ads to.
Look at Opportunities for Exclusions
The next thing to look at are the people that we’ve excluded from this campaign, which in this case is not particularly extensive. In this case, we are excluding renters. I imagine you understand why: people that are renters are very unlikely to hire a basement waterproofing company to come out; they’re probably just going to go to their landlord and have the landlord handle it.
Add Observation Audiences
Now, in this case, this is going to be one of the few areas that I’m going to outline where we’re not only looking to cut, but we’re actually looking to add.
So, we’re going to take a look at the audiences that we are observing as well. In this case, we have a few of them: Home and Garden, people that are homeowners, people that are looking into real estate that’s for sale.
This is where you want to find any sort of audience where there may be a correlation between them being a part of that audience and then having a lower cost per conversion. Once you identify those, you’re then going to increase or decrease your bids accordingly.
One of the goals here should also be to identify additional audiences that you can exclude entirely.
Review Location Targeting
Next, we’re going to look at locations. You know, I only have one week of data here, so let’s expand this out to ‘all time.’ Here, we’re going to see that some of these counties have significantly higher costs per conversion, and others have significantly lower costs per conversion.
In a case like Monmouth County, it really doesn’t even make sense to run this campaign with an $800 cost per conversion; the margins are just not going to be there, which is why we’ve placed this bid adjustment of minus 90%. It might even make sense to remove this targeting entirely, given how much more expensive it is to drive a conversion there than it is everywhere else.
Review Keyword Targeting
Next, we’re going to move over to the keywords that we’re bidding on, so we can find ultimately the most important numbers: the cost and the cost per conversion.
The keywords that you’re bidding on that are driving the highest cost per conversion, like this ‘basement waterproofing cost $76,’ that’s a very high cost per conversion compared to everything else, and for that reason, we paused it.
You want to regularly monitor this, see if there’s a problem with the keyword that you’re bidding on in the first place, but also make sure that you’re looking at the search terms report. If you are doing any sort of phrase match or broad match keyword bidding, it very well may be that Google is simply showing the ad for irrelevant keywords that you can easily exclude, that would make that keyword targeting finally work.
Review the Search Terms Report in Google Ads
So, let’s take a look at the search queries report.
In the search queries report, we’re going to do the same thing: we’re looking at all the searches that we’ve been paying for, and any amount of volume, and which ones seem to have the highest cost per conversion.
This right here, I notice this ‘French drain basement’ has had zero conversions, and we spent almost $11,000. This tells me that it’s a prime candidate to be excluded from the campaign entirely. In this case, I’m going to click there, add as a negative keyword, do it for the ad group. We very often, if it’s a definite ‘don’t want to run it,’ then I may actually put it as a campaign or a negative keyword list that can be applied across the entire account.
But in this case, for a couple of reasons, I’m just going to apply it to the ad group.
Add Negative Keywords
In some of the campaigns I’ve run in the past, I’ve seen things like ‘Has Lady Gaga gotten a facelift?’ for a campaign where we were bidding on facelift keywords for a plastic surgeon. That’s a case where I would want to add that to a master negative keyword list for the entire account because there’s no situation in which we would want to bid on a Lady Gaga keyword for a plastic surgeon.
Phase 2: Review the Actual Ads
The next thing that we’re going to be looking at is part two: the ads that they’re seeing.
So, we already determined who’s seeing the ad, who’s not seeing the ad, where they’re seeing the ad, when they’re seeing the ad. Now let’s look at the actual ad.
In this case, we have a few expanded text ads. I said this is a really old campaign at this point; it’s probably seven or eight years old, and looking at data from four years ago with extended text ads probably doesn’t make any sense.
So, I’m going to change this to the last, say, 500 days. I decided to set it back to 180 days, so we’re looking at the last 6 months here. In this case, you can see the expanded text ads being really old ads; they really do not deliver very frequently.
Google is really trying to basically deprecate them. In this case, we can see that at any rate, the responsive search ad is driving a better cost per conversion. My personal view is that Google probably has its thumb on the scale here; they really don’t want you running these ads anymore. So, given that it only consists of about 10% of our ad spend, we’re going to look at the responsive search ads to start.
Review the Quality Score of Your Responsive Search Ads
Now, responsive search ads don’t really give you a ton of information. Some of the things that I’m noticing here is that a few of these headlines have really low impressions compared to some of the other headlines.
This tells me that Google Ads is not particularly crazy about these three headlines, and it might make sense to replace them. Next, we’re going to click on assets and make sure that we have everything set.
Make Sure You’re Using Ad Extenstions
We have the service catalog set, we have site links set, we have callouts that have been set, as well as the phone numbers.
So, the next thing we want to check is just to make sure that we’re using everything. As I click through this, I’m seeing that the business name isn’t set, the business logo isn’t set. We do have site links, we do have callouts, we do have structured snippets, we have the call.
I do not believe that we have the lead form, so we should probably be adding this. Price extensions we may or may not use; in this case, I think I’d rather not. They’re probably just not something they’d rather discuss with the client. And I’m seeing that we are using location extensions. I’m not seeing images in here, so overall, I’m seeing a few things that we could add to this campaign to make it perform a little bit better.
Phase 3: Review the Landing Page
Step three: look at the landing page. So here we are, here’s the ad, I’m going to click here. It’s taking us over to the website.
Most of our clients are on mobile, so let’s knock that down to mobile.
Alright, do we have a tap to dial? Yes, we do.
Do we have online booking to schedule an appointment? We do not; that’s probably something that should get added.
Is this something where we want to encourage people to fill out a contact form? It turns out that it’s not. We’ve just had a lot of cases where people filled out the form, and they just never picked up the phone when our client called back.
We really wanted to encourage them to pick up the phone and talk to somebody. But in a case like Sagapixel, I don’t want people calling here all day; we’re busy. I won’t necessarily be able to get somebody that can help them on the phone, so in our case, I would much rather someone fill out the form.
Ultimately, it boils down to the business: what works best for the business. If it makes sense to add a chat, add a chat.
We just need to take a hard look at what we can do to get people converting to the action that we want them to take. But that’s not everything; we should also look at the actual landing page, the impression that it’s giving to people, the messaging.
Establish Social Proof
Why would somebody want to work with this basement waterproofing company? The main thing that jumps out at me about this page is that there is no social proof. You land on the landing page, it tells you exactly what it is.
We don’t do anything to establish any level of social proof; we just jump right into talking about what it is that they do and giving a CTA: call today. This campaign could probably be helped by reworking this landing page and adding that social proof that people are going to care about before they make an expensive investment in their home, like waterproofing their basement.
I hope that this video was helpful. I wish you good luck in working on your Google Ads campaign and trying to figure out what you can do to tighten it up and lower your cost per conversion.