It’s Time to Audit Your AdWords Account

Ryan MootHart, PPC Architect

Ah January, another revolution around the sun complete. Yearly budgets are set, resolutions made, and the holidays are still recent enough you can taste the eggnog. I hate to be the guy who brings up that one thing, which causes you to go into a brand-new-year-and-I-already-forgot-about… panic, but: when’s the last time you took a deep dive into your AdWords account?

I’m not talking about the last time you added a handful of keywords or when you last added a new campaign. When’s the last time you went through your account top-to-bottom and checked everything? If you didn’t get to this as part of your 2017 planning, no matter if you got the full checkup at the beginning of 2016, it’s time to audit your AdWords account again.

Even if your account performed well all year, there are several things that changed in Google AdWords in 2016. Here are five things you should be sure to review during your next AdWords audit.

1. Expanded Text Ads

Google introduced expanded text ads earlier in 2016, which has quickly become the new standard text ad format in AdWords. As of January 31, 2017, you’ll no longer be able to create or edit any text ads in the previous format.

Standard Text Ad PPC
Standard Text Ad

Standard Text Ad

These expanded ads have 2 headlines of 25 characters each and one body description line of 80 characters. In total, they’re about 50% larger than the previous text ad format. If you’re not using these in your account by now, you’re absolutely missing out on impressions and clicks.

Expanded Text Ad PPC Account Audit
Expanded Text Ad

Expanded Text Ad

2. Bid Modifiers for All Devices

Mobile bid modifiers have been around since Google first introduced enhanced campaigns in 2013. These modifiers allow you bid up or down for mobile traffic by a percentage you set. However, did you know you can now set bid modifiers by all device types?

Example Device Bid Modifiers PPC Account Audit - Portent
Device Bid Modifiers

Device Bid Modifiers

Check your campaign data segmenting conversion metrics by device. It’s common to see mobile clicks having lower conversion rates, but you might notice some campaigns where desktop traffic lags behind, or where tablet traffic outperforms both mobile and desktop. Set device bid modifiers accordingly on the campaign level based on these metrics.

3. RLSA Options

Here are a couple of remarketing lists for search ad (RLSA) developments you might not have heard yet:

  • Similar audiences, which are automatically generated by Google based on your existing remarketing audiences, are now available for use in search campaigns.
  • Customer match (e-mail list) audiences are now available for use in shopping campaigns.

Many advertisers got access to these functionalities in just Q4 of 2016. If you’re eligible to use either (or both) of these features and you’re not yet using them, you should absolutely develop a plan and test them out in 2017.

4. New Ad Extensions

Have you heard of price extensions? How about message extensions? Promotion extensions? For quick reference:

  • Price extensions allow you to show short descriptions and prices of products or services you offer.
  • Message extensions allow a user to text your business directly from a mobile SERP.
  • Promotion extensions allow you to highlight discounts alongside your text ad.

These are three new ad extension types Google introduced in 2016, and if your account is appropriate and eligible you should definitely be using them.

Example Price Extension PPC Account Audit Portent
Price Extension for AdWords - PPC Account Audit - Portent

Price Extension

Promotion Extension Example for PPC - Portent
Promotion Extension Example - PPC Account Audit - Portent

Promotion Extension

5. Conversions

In the tools section of your account, go through your conversions and ensure all settings are up-to-date and that no goals are obsolete. AdWords removed the Converted Clicks functionality (although you can still see the metric itself available in your account) and enhanced its Conversion metric. You can now manually set your conversion(s) to count each click (i.e. each sale) or each unique click (i.e. each user).

Conversion Settings PPC Account Audit
Conversion Settings PPC Account Audit

Conversion Settings

If you don’t remember adjusting any of your AdWords conversion settings this year, make sure to check this piece sooner rather than later.

The PPC Fundamentals and Your Next Steps
These are just some of the new things to take into consideration when auditing your AdWords account. There are still the vitally-important, traditional elements to review as well, such as campaign structure, ad group structure, keyword selection, and so forth.

If you feel like you may be overlooking or under-using any of the new tools or best practices here, make time to take that big step back from daily optimization to truly audit your AdWords account before we get too far into the year. Alternatively, you can get a few tips from us at no cost by requesting a free PPC audit from Portent. Just sayin’.

Get a Free PPC Audit from Portent

Ryan MootHart, PPC Architect
PPC Architect

Ryan is a PPC architect at Portent, with more than a decade of experience managing large-scale e-commerce, international B2B lead generation campaigns, and everything in between. He became a published author in 2016 with the release of his book, Towards Cascadia, which is a non-fiction exploration of Pacific Northwest identity, bioregionalism, and nationhood. Outside of work, Ryan and his husband, Paul, enjoy traveling and are avid followers of Sounders FC, Seattle’s Major League Soccer club.

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  1. If you can, have someone else do this for your account (might be easier to get buy in if you do it for theirs). A fresh set of eyes can see things that you can’t, even if you are disciplined and going through everything with a fine toothed comb. They also bring a completely different set of experience to your account so while you may have not seen success with a feature or extension, your audit partner might have done it in a different way that would apply to your account. Share the love, share the knowledge.

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