The Top 5 basic mistakes that we find when conducting Google Ads audits.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Auditing and reviewing the setup of Google ads accounts is something that we’ve been doing for many years. Often, we seem to find a common theme around specific areas that need improving in order to ensure optimal performance. Below, we’ve listed the top 5 most common mistakes that we see, and why they will be hindering your performance.


Written by

Senior Paid Media Executive

Weak Ad Copy 

For a lot of visitors, your ad copy is one of the first introductions that users have of your brand. This is your opportunity to showcase your USPs among your competitors and gain the interest of high intent users so that they click through to your website. However, quite often we see low quality ad copy that does not positively reflect the brand, cater to what is being advertised or include relevant CTA’s and USPs. To better reflect your brand offering and ensure that your ads are performing well, we always recommend including the following into your ad copy:

  • Highlight your key USPs - ensure that your customer has a reason to want to pick your brand amongst other competitors in the search network. Make your offering stand out.

  • Ensure variation among your headlines and descriptions - it’s difficult to test your messaging if all of your headlines are similar to each other.

  • Include a CTA - provide the user with an action to commit once they land on your site so that this is in mind as they’re scrolling the website.

Using a copywriter to write your ad copy like we do here at Clicky also ensures that your ads are compelling and on brand. 

Tracking Issues

One of the most common issues that we see across our audits is inaccurate or low quality conversion tracking. We often see issues with overinflated tracking, soft conversion tracking and overall general inaccuracies within conversion tracking. Tracking is THE most important aspect to get right in your Google ads account. Without accurate tracking, you cannot gain a clear insight into how your campaigns are performing, or make informed decisions around areas that need adjusting to improve them. Not only is it important in helping you to analyse your data, it is also vital in ensuring that your campaigns perform effectively with AI driven bidding models. If the conversion data is inaccurate, then Google’s AI bidding models will bid for users based on incorrect results, which in turn will not provide you with the performance results that you need. 

Always ensure that your technical team has double checked any conversion tracking to confirm that you are providing your campaigns with accurate, high quality conversion data. It is especially important currently with the GA4 switchover. Hopefully, you have experienced a smooth transition from UA to GA4 tracking, however this is still very new and needs to be consistently monitored.

Structural issues

The structure and set up of your campaigns has always played a large role in how well your campaigns perform. This has adapted a lot over the years, with segregation being favourable a few years ago, and  consolidating data now the preferred approach. This should always be adapted towards the most effective set up for your bidding strategy and individual brand needs. Often, we see an outdated approach with limited structural adjustments over a long period of time, which can lead to stagnation in an account. As Google ads is constantly evolving, the account structure must evolve with it. A bad account or campaign structure can also present issues with improving performance, ad visibility and increased CPCs.

Limited negative keyword strategy

High quality, high intent traffic is most often one of the key goals of a Google ads strategy. In order to do this, a good negative keyword strategy must be implemented to remove any low quality traffic as soon as possible. Since the launch of smart shopping back in 2018, the visibility of search terms in shopping has become limited. This put search term analysis out of the question for a lot of advertisers, however since its adaptation into Performance max this year, we can see that Google is starting to present us with more insights into the search traffic flowing through our campaigns again. Even though visibility is limited, it is still alarming when there is no keyword strategy in place for these campaigns, especially as there are a lot of generic terms that would need to be removed from the very beginning.

For search, however, we continue  to have good visibility of our search traffic, and yet, negative keywords are often overlooked here too. Low quality or irrelevant traffic continues to use up Google Ads budgets, which ultimately negatively affects the performance of the whole account.

Granted, the advancement of Google’s bidding model thankfully presents us with much lower irrelevant search traffic than we were seeing historically, however a good negative keyword strategy is still incredibly important in helping to guide the bidding model towards the quality users, especially at the very beginning of a campaign creation or with lower volume conversion actions. It also helps to quickly stop any wasted spend, as opposed to allowing the bidding model to spend your budget before it decides that the users are of low quality. 

Limited Testing

Testing is something that we constantly promote within Clicky. It is an essential aspect in being able to continuously grow and adapt the performance of your campaigns. Limited evidence of testing is something that we see repeatedly, and with Google ads always evolving, this presents us with opportunities to adapt our strategies. There are so many different elements that we are able to test, and yet it’s not always within the current strategy of an account. To give an example, some of the areas that we like to test here at Clicky include tests for ad copy, keywords, landing pages, bidding strategies, campaign types and much more!