Google Ads Audit Template: A Comprehensive Checklist (+ Free Template!)

Updated January 2024.

Here is your Google Ads audit template!

Google Ads is a powerful tool for connecting businesses with their target audience and driving tangible sales and brand recognition results. However, running successful campaigns requires more than just creating and launching them.

To harness the full power of Google Ads, it’s essential to periodically dive deep with comprehensive audits. These audits not only gauge performance, but also pinpoint areas ripe for enhancement.

In this article, we’ll walk you through a detailed Google Ads audit checklist (scroll to the bottom for an infographic of this checklist), including the value that it will provide to your business.

Plus, as a bonus, you’ll get access to a free Google Ads audit template, which you can use for your pay-per-click (PPC) audit to improve your overall ad rank on the Google Search Network!


Yaniv Masjedi
CMO, Nextiva

Their expertise has helped Nextiva grow its brand and overall business

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Understanding the Basics of a Google Ads Audit

As businesses invest more in advertising platforms, ensuring that ad campaigns are optimized and deliver a good return on investment (ROI) becomes paramount. The cornerstone of this optimization process is a thorough audit of your Google Ads account.

What Is a Google Ads Audit?

A Google Ads audit is the process of analyzing your PPC account shortcomings to improve your paid search performance on the Google Search Network.

During a PPC audit, your digital marketing agency reviews various aspects of the account that may improve or hamper your PPC ad success. This allows them to make data-driven recommendations to optimize your advertising efforts. Some prominent PPC account checks done during an audit include:

  • Analyzing the account structure
  • Checking the ad settings
  • Reviewing multiple and single ad group keywords
  • Testing the ad copy
  • Reviewing the ad targeting options
  • Perfecting the bidding strategies
  • Checking the conversion tracking via Google Analytics

The PPC marketing agency or your PPC manager analyzes the account’s performance metrics—such as click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), conversion rate and ROI—to identify areas where the account is underperforming and develops a plan to optimize the overall PPC dashboard account structure and performance.

Related Content: Best Google Ads Agency: Top 5 Choices for 2023

Why Is a Google Ads Audit Important?

The success rate of your Google Ads campaigns depends on vital ad metrics. The performance of your ads can be determined by conducting a comprehensive PPC audit. Approximately 97% of Google Ads fail to draw audience attention because of poor engagement.

Identifying reasons for poor engagement will allow your marketing team to make strategic changes and increase your chances of being in the top 3%. Here are the top advantages of conducting a PPC accounts audit:

  • Helps identify underperforming campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ads in the Search and Google Display Network. By analyzing the data, you can make changes to improve your PPC campaign performance, resulting in higher return on ad spend (ROAS).
  • Minimizes waste due to irrelevant keywords or poor ad copy.
  • Ensures that your ad account level complies with Google Ad policies to avoid suspension or penalties.
  • Improves your campaign performance to keep you ahead of your online competitors and help your ad rank higher on the Google display network.
  • Finds new opportunities to expand the overall reach of your active ads.

This is why it’s extremely helpful to have a Google Ads audit template on hand!

Related Content: Maximizing Your Ad Spend: 8 Reasons Why Google Ad Management Is Essential

5 Steps to Perform a Comprehensive Google PPC Audit

Here are the top tips for analyzing your Google Ads account dashboard:

1) Evaluate the Search Terms Report

Keywords are essential to all digital marketing channels and strategies, including PPC. The search terms report in PPC advertising provides insights into the specific search terms that trigger an ad to show, as well as the performance of those search terms, such as CTR, conversion rate and CPC.

To view the search terms report, sign in to your Google Ads account, click on All Campaigns > Insights > Search terms:

Google Ads audit template

Here are the key factors to consider when auditing your targeted search keywords:

  • Search Intent: Evaluate the relevance of the search terms that triggered your Google Ads. Are they closely related to your keywords and ad copy? If not, add a list of negative keywords to prevent them from appearing for irrelevant searches. However, it should be remembered that high-search intent can cost your campaigns a bit more than usual but offer high conversion rates.
  • Brand Keywords: By targeting your brand keywords, you can ensure that your Google Ads show at the top of the search results for your brand name. Targeting branded keywords helps prevent your competitors from capitalizing on your site branding. Since they are unique keywords, they come with low competitiveness and CPCs but offer high CTRs and conversions.
  • Performance Metrics: Look at the performance metrics for each search query, including CTR, conversion rates and CPC. Identify high-performing search terms driving conversions and consider allocating more budget to those keywords.
  • Keyword Match Types: Review the match type for each keyword and search query to ensure they are appropriately aligned. Broad match keywords may trigger ads for irrelevant search terms, while exact match keywords may limit the campaign’s reach. Elsewhere, consider how using long-tail keywords can help you target specific, question-based queries. Consider adjusting the match type for each keyword to optimize performance.

2) Dive Deep Into Conversion Data & Tracking

Evaluating your conversions helps you to understand the type of campaigns that offer the highest returns on investment. The easiest way to do this is to use Google’s free conversion tracking tool, which provides valuable insights into the actions your audience takes after engaging with your ads.

To begin, you’ll need to ensure that your conversion tracking is set up correctly in your PPC account with a clearly defined conversion action (i.e., the action you want users to take). This could be any number of things, including:

  • Signing up to your newsletter
  • Purchasing a product
  • Downloading an app
  • Becoming a qualified lead by requesting more information
Google Ads

You can review your current conversion actions by navigating to Goals > Conversions > Summary.

First, your key goal is to ensure that the conversion actions you’re tracking are fully aligned with your current business objectives.

Google Ads conversion tracking

If they’re not, click on the +New Conversion Action button, after which you can decide what types of conversions to track and set up a new goal.

If your actions still line up with your existing goals, you can determine which ad groups, campaigns and keywords drive the most conversions and revenue by analyzing key data, such as:

  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per conversion
  • Conversion value

Also, analyze the complete conversion paths users take on your website after clicking on your ads. Look at the pages they visit, their time on each page and any bottlenecks preventing them from completing the desired action. Optimize your ad campaign performance based on the obtained data.

Just want someone to do all the hard work for you? Single Grain’s Google Ads experts can help!👇

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Assessing Conversion Rate and Attribution Models

In the most basic sense, conversion rates are the most vital metric that you need to be measuring in any digital campaign, ad-based or otherwise. By understanding the percentage of website visitors who take your desired action, you gain valuable insights into the success of your ads, landing pages and overall campaigns.

Still, the journey from initial ad interaction to conversion is rarely as quick and simple as us marketers would ideally like, which can sometimes make it difficult to truly understand the impact of each touchpoint along that journey.

This is where attribution modeling comes into play, providing a method through which you can better understand how your touchpoints affect conversions and, thus, optimize campaigns accordingly.

There are many different attribution models, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Last-Click Attribution: This model gives all the credit for a conversion to the last channel that the customer interacted with before converting. This is the simplest model to understand, but it can be inaccurate because it ignores the impact of earlier touchpoints.
  • First-Click Attribution: This model gives all the credit for a conversion to the first channel that the customer interacted with. This model is also simple to understand, but it can be equally inaccurate because it ignores the impact of later touchpoints.
  • Linear Attribution: This model assigns equal credit to each touchpoint in the conversion path. This model is more accurate than last-click or first-click attribution, but it can be less granular.
  • Time Decay Attribution: This model assigns more credit to the earlier touchpoints in the conversion path and less credit to the later touchpoints. This model is more accurate than linear attribution, but it can be more complex to understand.
  • Position-Based Attribution: This model assigns more credit to the touchpoints that are closer to the conversion. This model is more accurate than linear attribution, but it can be more complex to implement.
  • Data-Driven Attribution: This model uses machine learning to assign credit to each touchpoint in the conversion path. This model is the most accurate, but it can also be the most complex and expensive to implement.

The best attribution model for a particular campaign will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of business, the goals of the campaign and the available data.

3) Analyze Your Campaign Performance, Structure and Goals

Here are the key performance indicators that you need to pay special attention to while calculating the performance of your campaigns:

  • Click-Through Rates: This is the rate at which your website is getting clicks on ads. Evaluating this metric helps you estimate the audiences’ mindset and what prompts them to click on your CTA in your campaigns.
  • Cost Per Click: This calculates the cost to acquire a click. The Google Search Network rates your campaigns based on the ad quality and relevance. If you fail to score high, the likelihood of increasing your ad spending increases. Evaluate this metric to see where to enhance your campaigns so that your ads spend significantly less.
  • Return on Ad Spend: This metric involves the amount you get in return as revenues on your ad campaigns. ROAS provides a clear picture of how effective your advertising campaigns are in generating profits for your business:
Return on ad spend formula
  • Quality Score: The quality score is a metric used by Google to evaluate the quality and relevancy of your keywords, landing page and ad campaigns. Your ad ranks based on the quality score. Analyze this metric to ensure all three elements align with your brand goals and target audiences’ search intent. Doing so will help you improve your keyword quality score, generating higher CTRs and lower cost per clicks.
  • Campaign Structure: The way you organize and set up your campaigns is essential to ensure that your ads are triggered for the most relevant search queries:
Google Ad Structure funnel

Here, you’ll benefit by creating different campaigns based on your products, services or marketing objectives. Each campaign should have a distinct theme or focus.

Within each campaign, organize your keywords and ads into ad groups based on related keywords, and create specific ads for each keyword within your group.

Related Content: Google Ads Enterprise Audits: Strategies and Tools to Boost Your ROAS

4) Scrutinize Your Ad Copy and Extensions

Review your ad copy to understand how your ads perform regarding CTRs, conversion rates and cost per click. Here are the key metrics to help you evaluate your ad copy:

  • Ad Formatting: Check whether your ads are formatted correctly and optimized for search ad networks. Ensure your ads are within character limits, and use appropriate ad extensions.
  • Grammar and Spelling: Review your ads for grammar and spelling errors. You should also check and revise your ad copy for outdated offers.
  • Goal-Oriented Ad Copy: Create goal-specific ad copy that has compelling stats and triggers emotions or urgency:
Goal oriented ad structure
  • Pictures and Videos: Ensure that you add relevant and engaging images and videos in your campaigns to draw audiences’ attention. Your pictures and videos should accurately reflect the products or services you are advertising.
  • CTA: Evaluate the wording of your CTA. Make sure it’s compelling and action-oriented. Also, check the placement of your CTA so that it is prominently displayed in your ad, such as in the headline or description.
  • Google Ad Guidelines: Check whether your ad campaigns follow Google Ad policies to fix disapproved ads (if any).
  • Unique Value Proposition: Review whether your ad copy clearly communicates your unique value proposition that sets your products and services apart from your competitors to increase the chances of conversions.

Beyond the copy itself, you should also pay attention to any ad extensions you’re using to enhance the prominence and visual appeal of your ads.

If you’re using site link extensions, for example, check to ensure that these still link to the most relevant landing pages.

If you’re putting callout extensions to work in highlighting key product features or special offers, consider whether these are still relevant and optimized for targeted keywords.

Elsewhere, consider experimenting with different extensions to find which ones work best for you and your campaign objectives.

P.S. Don’t forget to keep scrolling to get your free Google Ads audit template!

If you’re looking to save time and get professional results, Single Grain’s Google Ads experts can help you!👇

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5) Review Your Budget, Bidding and ROAS

It’s essential to bid on the right keywords and not go overboard with your PPC budget, as the ultimate goal of creating ad campaigns is to drive profitability.

Tracking your ad spend and returns when running Google campaigns is essential to ensure you’re achieving maximum ROAS. ROAS is an even more important metric to measure than conversion rates, as it allows you to determine how much revenue you generate for every dollar spent on advertising.

For example, if your campaign yields $5 in revenue for every $1 spent, your ROAS would be 500%. Achieving a positive ROAS indicates that your advertising efforts are profitable, while a ROAS below 100% means you’re spending more on ads than you’re generating in revenue.

For this, check whether the amount you spend acquiring traffic and conversions drives substantial CTRs with lower CPCs:

Google Ads budget and bidding

Prepare and effectively use negative keywords lists to eliminate the kind of conflicting negative keywords responsible for driving irrelevant traffic that steals your budget. Here’s how you can optimize your PPC budget and bidding:

  • Choose a Budget for Your Campaigns: Google offers you two options to allocate a budget for your campaign, which include daily and shared budgeting, where you can allocate and calculate the daily spending of each campaign and use one budget for all campaigns, respectively.
  • Set the Bidding Strategy for Your Campaigns: Choose the best bidding tactic for your campaigns by focusing on the areas you want your ad to focus on, including maximizing conversions and clicks, targeting CPA and targeting search page location.
  • Go for a Smart Bidding Strategy: If your ad campaigns fail to drive traffic and conversions, you should choose the smart bidding technique, which resizes and adjusts your bids and keyword list to optimize your campaign returns. To curate your keyword bidding, consider various factors, including CPA, ROAS, conversions and ECPC (Enhanced Cost Per Click).

Related Content: What Are Google Discovery Ads? (Everything You Need to Know)

Using Automated Rules and Scripts

Both automated rules and scripts are advanced features in Google Ads that allow you to automate certain actions in your account based on specified conditions. They’re designed to save time, add flexibility and introduce finer controls over campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ads.

Automated Rules

Automated rules allow you to set up specific conditions under which certain actions are automatically taken within your Google Ads account:

Google Ads automated rules

Examples include:

  • Pause Low-Performing Ads: If an ad’s CTR drops below a certain percentage, it can be paused automatically.
  • Adjust Bids: Increase bids by 10% for keywords in an ad group that have a cost per conversion below a set threshold.
  • Budget Management: Increase the daily budget for search and display campaigns that have consistently maxed out before the day ends.
  • Alerts: Receive an email if the average cost per click for a campaign goes above a certain amount.

Setting up automated rules requires you to:

  • Choose the type of rule you want (e.g., keyword bid rule, campaign budget rule, etc.)
  • Specify the conditions under which the rule should be triggered
  • Define the action to be taken when those conditions are met
Google Ads new campaign rule


Scripts are more advanced than automated rules and provide greater flexibility and control. They use JavaScript code to perform complex actions and calculations that aren’t feasible through standard interface options or automated rules. Examples of what scripts can do include:

  • Advanced Reporting: Extract detailed performance reports and even integrate with external data sources, like weather data, to make bid adjustments.
  • Bulk Changes: Make mass changes across keywords, ads or campaigns based on complex criteria.
  • Error Checking: Identify broken URLs in your ads, discrepancies in your account or campaign settings that don’t align with best practices.
  • Budget Management: Implement dayparting to adjust budgets throughout the day or set monthly spend caps.
  • Competitor Monitoring: Monitor auction insights to gauge competitor activity and adjust strategies accordingly.

For scripts, you:

  • Navigate to the “Scripts” section in Google Ads.
  • Input or paste your JavaScript code.
  • Schedule the script to run at your desired frequency.

While both automated rules and scripts provide ways to automate tasks in Google Ads, scripts require coding knowledge and are more versatile. Both tools, when used effectively, can help manage large or complex accounts more efficiently and introduce strategies that are responsive to real-time performance data.

Key Performance Indicators Your Business Should Be Tracking With Google Ads

To get the most valuable insights into the effectiveness of your Google Ads campaigns and ensure you’re making the right data-driven decisions to optimize your ads, it pays to keep track of the following KPIs:

✅ Click-Through Rate: The percentage of users who click on your ads after seeing them

✅ Cost Per Click: The cost of each click on your ads, a factor that will play a large role in managing your PPC budget with maximum efficiency

✅ Return on Ad Spend: Revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising

✅ Impression Share: The percentage of times your ads are displayed compared to the total number of potential impressions

✅ Quality Score: The quality and relevance of your keywords, ad copy and landing pages, all of which can influence ad positioning and cost per click

✅ Ad Position: Where your ads typically appear on the search engine results page, influencing visibility and click-throughs

✅ Conversion Value: The total value generated from conversions; this data is essential for maximizing your bidding strategies and achieving the highest ROAS possible

✅ Lead Quality: The quality of leads generated through your PPC campaigns, and whether or not they align with your business goals

✅ Geographic Performance: How well your campaigns perform in different geographic regions, a metric that can be invaluable for targeting specific markets effectively

✅ Search Query Performance: The search terms that trigger your ads; these will help you refine keyword targeting and lists of negative keywords

✅ Ad Schedule Performance: Analyzes how ad performance varies by the time of day or day of the week, aiding in optimizing ad scheduling

✅ Device Performance: How each campaign performs on different devices (desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.), providing insights on how to better tailor your campaigns to each type of device

Comprehensive Pay-Per-Click Audit Checklist

Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you get the most out of your Google Ads marketing:

I. Account Structure

  • Ensure that the campaign structure is logical and easy to navigate.
  • Make sure the campaigns are grouped by themes or goals.
  • Check whether the ad group level, ad rotation and ad variations are tightly themed with relevant ad groups and keywords.
  • Set auto-tagging to YES.
  • Link Google Analytics, Google Merchant Center and Google Search Console to track all relevant data.

II. Budget and Bidding

  • Review budget settings and ensure they align with your PPC advertising goals.
  • Check your bid strategy to ensure they’re in accordance with your goals. For instance, if your goal is to maximize conversions, you may want to use a target CPA bidding technique.
  • Set a minimum and maximum CPC to better control your ad spending.

III. Ad Copy and Extensions

  • Evaluate ad copy to ensure that it’s compelling and relevant, and meets ad policy requirements.
  • Use automated extensions to enhance your ads and improve performance.
  • If you are promoting a service, ensure that a call extension has been added at the campaign or account level.

IV. Landing Pages and Conversion Tracking

  • Ensure landing page quality is on point. Ensure they’re relevant, engaging and optimized for conversions.
  • Implement conversion tracking to measure and optimize campaign performance.

V. Keywords and Targeting

  • Conduct keyword research and analysis to identify effective and relevant keywords.
  • Use the appropriate keyword match type and ad group level to target the right audience. Also, ensure that you eliminate duplicate keywords and make optimal use of the negative keywords list.
  • Review and refine target keywords settings to optimize campaign performance.

VI. Campaign Settings

  • Review and adjust campaign settings to improve performance and achieve goals.
  • Ensure that location and language settings are accurate and relevant.
  • Set up appropriate ad scheduling to reach the right audience at the right time.

VII. Analytics and Reporting

  • Use Google Analytics accounts to track and measure campaign performance.
  • Regularly monitor and analyze campaign data to identify areas for improvement.
  • Create custom reports to track and measure performance metrics.

VIII. Best Practices and Compliance

  • Follow Google Ads best practices to ensure PPC success.
  • Ensure the ad and landing page comply with the overall Google Ads policies and guidelines.
  • Regularly review your campaigns and spend time on Google Ads optimization to maintain compliance and improve performance.

In addition to your free Google Ads audit template below, here is a handy PPC audit checklist infographic:

Google Ads Audit Checklist infographic - Single Grain

Related Content: Google’s Project Magi: The Implications on SEO, Paid Ads & Jobs

Download Our Free Google Ads Audit Template

To save your time and to ensure that your campaigns perform at their best, here is a step-by-step Google Ads audit template on Google Sheets that you can use to conduct your own audit and optimize your campaigns for success:

👉 Click Here for Your Google Ads Audit Checklist – Free Template 👈

Be sure to save a copy to your own computer first!

Final Thoughts: Conducting a Google Ads Audit

Consistently reviewing your ad performance is essential to generate the highest investment returns. When you perform a detailed PPC campaign audit, you’ll find the strong and weak points in your ad account, which helps you make data-driven decisions.

Use the above-listed Google Ads account audit checklist and free audit template to smoothen your ad audit process. This will help you ensure that you cover all the key areas that impact your ad group and PPC account success, including ad targeting, budgeting, bidding tactics, ad copy, conversion tracking and more.

Hopefully you learned how to conduct a Google Ads audit, but if you just want someone to do the work for you, Single Grain’s Google Ads experts can help!👇

Optimize Ads Now

Additional contributions by David Borgogni.

Google Ads FAQs

  • What is a Google Ads audit?

    A Google Ads audit is the process of reviewing and evaluating your PPC efforts and effectiveness. It highlights the negative and positive areas of the ad groups which need to be focused on for further optimization and improved audience reach.

  • What are the essentials of a successful Google Ad?

    To create a successful Google Ads campaign, pay attention to these essentials:

    • Set clear goals: It is essential to predefine your PPC goals before creating a strategy for ads. Remain clear about why you are creating the display campaigns: to increase brand awareness, acquire leads, attract PPC traffic, or drive mobile traffic.
    • Understand your audience: Use audience targeting options such as demographic, location, and interest targeting to ensure your search ads reach the right people.
    • Create a keyword strategy: Keywords are the connecting dots with the target audience. Implement a strong keyword strategy and gather keyword data based on web and mobile users’ search intent, search volume, and competitiveness.
    • Design innovative ads: Decide and segregate the campaign based on its types, including responsive search ads, shopping ads, display ads, expanded text ads, video ads, and dynamic search ads. Ensure your campaigns include optimized and engaging images, the USP of your company, strong branding, and a compelling CTA.
    • Keep track of your competition: To optimize your campaigns, it is essential to keep track of what your industry peers are doing to improve their pay-per-click campaigns. Look for their CTAs, targeted keywords, landing page, and ad campaigns to get inspiration for your own campaigns and what customers like.

    Don’t forget to get your free Google Ads audit template in the article above!

  • What are the different categories of keywords in PPC marketing?

    The top categories of keywords in pay-per-click marketing are as follows:

    • Exact match keywords: These are the keywords that exactly match the users’ search terms. Audiences will see your appropriate campaigns when they enter the exact keyword or phrase.
    • Negative keywords: These conflicting negative keywords are the ones that prevent your ads from being displayed to minimize ad spend wastage.
    • Broad match keywords: These ads appear in front of your audience for your target search queries and related searches, even if they contain variations, misspellings, and synonyms.
    • Phrase match keywords: With these keywords, your campaigns are displayed to the audience whenever they use a phrase from your keywords in their search query.
  • What is a keyword ad group? How many types of keyword groups are there?

    Keyword groups segregate various keywords based on their themes. Effective keyword grouping lets you optimize your pay-per-click campaigns to secure high-quality scores with relevant text ads and conversion-driving landing pages.

    Here are the major types of keywords groupings:

    • Single ad groups (SKAGs): These involve a highly relevant group of words, including a single keyword in the ads. It allows the creation of unique and significant ads without making them look like keyword-stuffed campaigns.
    • Multiple ad groups: This ad group contains more than one keyword in a single ad. Creating multiple keyword ad groups for your campaigns involves broadening the potential to reach the target audience.
If you were unable to find the answer you’ve been looking for, do not hesitate to get in touch and ask us directly.
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