The Definitive AdWords Audit Guide [with Interactive Checklist]

Ad ​W​ords Audit​s - Interactive ​Checklist
Take this list & check it twice… (Image Source)

Ever get the feeling that your AdWords account should be performing better, but you don’t know how? You’re not alone: a lot of advertisers spend so much time tweaking the knobs and dials that they neglect to step back and look at the account as a whole. Their tunnel-vision prevents them from seeing mistakes as well as money-making opportunities.

I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. So pull up your calendar right now and schedule time every few months to do a PPC audit on your account. Make it easy: schedule it for when you get your car’s oil changed or when you change the air filters in your vents. Just like those are preventative measures to ensure better performance of your car or heating/cooling system, regular AdWords audits will ensure better account performance before it gets into trouble.

There are six basic components to an AdWords audit; and instead of listing them, we’ve decided to make you a handy checklist to make you think big picture PPC.

Note 1: If the checklist item doesn’t apply to you, check the box anyway.

Note 2: If the counter isn’t going up when you check all those boxes, give the page a refresh. It’s finicky.

1. Do You Audit Your Campaign Settings?

AdWords Campaign Settings

**Make sure you don’t have campaigns set to both search and display because the two networks require different bid prices and the user intent is different: visitors coming from the search network are actively looking for what you offer, whereas visitors in the display network are doing something else when they see your ad. Within the display network, check on the following:

Score: 0/12

2. Do You Audit Your Ad Groups?

Adgroup settings


Score: 0/3

3. Do You Audit Your Ads?

Score: 0/6

4. Do You Audit Your Keywords?

Keyword Match Types
Image source
Score: 0/5

5. Do You Audit Your Landing Pages?

Score: 0/4

6. Do You Analyze Your Metrics?

The five steps above are all to prepare you for the final and most important step: analyzing the metrics so you can make data-driven decisions. Here are a few things to look for:

Score: 0/5
Your grand total score: 0/35

Make the time to check these six areas of your account a few times a year, and keep it running like a well-oiled machine. After all, you do that for your car, and it doesn’t have the revenue-generating potential that your AdWords account does.

— Theresa Baiocco

About Theresa Baiocco
Theresa Baiocco is the co-founder and CMO of Conversion Max, an agency in Bend, Oregon that specializes in PPC Management, Landing Page Optimization, and Conversion Optimization for companies spending $20,000 - $100,000/month on AdWords. She has a Master's degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado in Denver and is a Google AdWords Qualified Individual. She also has a Market Motive Master Certification in Conversion Optimization.
» More blog posts by Theresa Baiocco


  1. Jamie

    Fantastic resource, Theresa. Great idea to make it a checklist, too. Will be sharing with our team!


  2. Don Sturgill

    Wow, Theresa, this is an extensive resource. Excellent work! It’s heading straight to bookmarks for future reference. Regarding different pages for different devices: I don’t know of an an area, currently, where there could be a bigger payoff. Not only is the display different between (let’s say) my desktop at work and my smartphone … but my search intent and degree of urgency are typically quite different as well. Good stuff!

    • Theresa Baiocco

      Excellent point, Don, that the search intent and urgency also differ by device so the content needs to be appropriate by device, not just the layout. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Jonathan Nelson

    Excellent article, Theresa. I’d like to respond to #3 Do You Audit Your Ads. I’d say 80% or more people miss this one and it’s one of the most important things that contribute to AdWords success.

    To help make this easier for advertisers, marketers and businesses I launched AdProof crowdsources your A/B testing outside of the AdWords auction. This allow you to get qualitative and quantitive feedback fast at an extremely low cost. With the average CPC around $2.50 you can see why testing on the AdWords auction can be expensive. You also need demand on the AdWords auction. If you’re targeting keywords that don’t drive a ton of search volume then you are wasting precious time. With crowdsourcing AdProof gives you the demand you need to get results back quickly.

    Give our demo a shot and let me know what you think.

    Jonathan Nelson

  4. Ericka

    Love this! I’m sorry to say that I don’t do a lot of the above, but now I have something to strive toward for our clients’ AdWords. Thanks!

  5. Jarad

    Honestly I wouldn’t call this definitive. I can think of +50 more audit points to look for. Nevertheless, good resource! Shared.

    • Theresa Baiocco

      Thanks Jarad – you’re right that there’s a lot to look for. I’d love to hear some of your top list items that I didn’t include.

  6. Jon Dunn

    A very nice resource and handy audits covering the basics… thanks Theresa!

    @Jonathan Nielson- Thats a great idea! Off to check now!

  7. Angie Schottmuller (@aschottmuller)

    I LOVE it when you guys do the interactive checklists! ***** I already shared it with our PPC team. Great resource. Thanks, Theresa [and Oli & web crew]!

    Any thoughts on expanding section 5? I’ve found that ad match to landing page (5.1) can be very subjective without spelling out the specifics. My perception of a well-matched LP is often very different from that of an IT team or PPC specialist. Expanding section 5 would make the post even more valuable. Thoughts? =)

  8. اندروید

    Excellent , thanks mis baiocco

  9. Bob

    Good tips. Adword campaigns can use up a big chunk of your advertising budget quickly and without producing good results if not monitored and fine tuned regularly.
    I’m just heading over to AdProof to take a look.

  10. Randall Magwood

    Theresa great post. Do you think that there’s an advantage of having 1,000’s of low competition keywords, as opposed to paying for 10 high competition keywords that are expensive – but come with alot of traffic? Hopefully my question sounds clear lol. Thanks.

  11. Peter

    Fantastic Guide! Thanks a lot!

  12. Jayesh Pau

    Hi, thank you for your efforts to create awesome post, you’ve explained all the points in right direction, it will help to many webmasters. i like all the points.