AdWords Account Audit Checklist

As a small business owner, it is imperative that each dollar goes exactly where you mean it to be. Thus, if you spend thousands of dollars for marketing you will want to know exactly how your money works for the benefit of your business. But, it is a known fact that, modern marketing is not only expensive but also outrageously complex. And the solution that almost every business has for that is getting help in the form of digital marketing freelancers or agencies.

That sounds simple enough, right? Not really. How would you then know if your “help” is actually helping you out?

We wanted to make a way for small business owners to not get ripped off again so we made this auditing checklist. The standard process is that a digital marketing professional will run through a list of items to determine the current status of your account and things that you need to work on together. That said, below are some alarming signs that your digital marketer might be ripping you off.

Do you have access to your own Google AdWords account? If not, that’s your very first step to being informed and knowing more about why your ads aren’t working well for your business. Check out some things to consider for campaigns.


Make sure that the targeted locations are where you do your business.
You might be not getting what you are paying for if there are targeted locations included where you do not have any business.


Make sure the advertisements are only in the same language as the ads themselves.
Why would you pay for your ads to be shown to people who can’t understand it? That’ll be a total waste of money.

Search vs. Display

See if there are any campaigns targeting both the Search and Display Network. Consider splitting them into separate campaigns, if there are any.
The display network differs from the search network. The latter refers to ads that display based on keywords entered directly into a search engine while the former takes keywords from your ad groups and pairs them with websites that are also using these keywords.
They are different beasts from each other, and it won’t be beneficial to you to group them together.


It’s crucial that campaign data be sorted out per device. Data collected about conversions can be significantly different on different platforms. You might even be surprised to see the ratio of your mobile to desktop traffic.
Putting them together prevents you from getting better analytics for your ads, which in turn leads to poor decisions. It’s just a sign of laziness if you see this in one or more of your campaigns.

Do you check if you have more than one Ad Group in your account? It’s really alarming to see only a single ad group. Below are more points to be considered for ad groups.


Are there any ad groups that have more than 20 keywords in your account? You may find it better if they are broken down into smaller ad groups. That will allow for greater focus on a specific topic, which will help in crafting better ads and direct to appropriate landing pages.
Going the extra mile with your ad groups will get your business to better places in terms of leads.


Inspect some of the most expensive ad groups, those with the highest clicks and impressions — to determine that they’re all tightly packed around the same topic. There may be times that even smaller groups can be unfocused. You could split those up.
It will give you the best value for your money if you really are receiving more accurate results.

Number of ads​

A good practice is having 2-3 ads per group. This allows you to test ads against each other to continually optimize, while also granting actionable data fast enough.
You may have to think about looking for a different agency if they only put up 1 ad per group as this won’t allow you to do any comparison and see what’s the best ad for your business. Another thing to look out for is if your account has too many ads (4 or more) as it will impede the improvement of your ads overall.

Is you marketer or provider promising or offering you “guaranteed” clicks? That’s one of the biggest signs that you may have been throwing your money away. Look out for some things you should watch out for in terms of keywords.

Match Types

The most common thing to look for here is to see if there are too many broad match keywords being used. In most cases where this occurs, they haven’t had a chance to look into the best match types for your keywords.
Another thing to look for is to see if they are using excessively restrictive match types. Like when there are some cases where a modified broad match type would be more appropriate but a phrase match type is used. The phrase match may be too restrictive for the queries compared to what you are actually hoping your keyword will match to.

Negative Keywords

These exclude your ads from showing up on searches with that term. So if you’re a cleaning services company that doesn’t provide air conditioner cleaning, you could add a negative keyword, designated with a minus sign (-air conditioner cleaning).
A good digital marketing freelance or agency will include ALL POSSIBLE negative keywords for your benefit. Make sure that those words are being excluded or you may find yourself having very low conversions.

Keyword match type summaries

The info below from Google shows the different keyword match types. Make sure that your digital marketer is knowledgeable in this aspect and utilizes it for better performance of your ads.
Keyword match types help control which searches on Google can trigger your ad. So you could use broad match to show your ad to a wide audience or you could use exact match to hone in on specific groups of customers.
(Source: Google Ads Help)

Match type Special symbol Example keyword Ads may show on searches that contain: Example searches
Broad match
women's hats
Close variations of the keyword, related searches, and other relevant variations. The words in the keyword don’t have to be present in a user’s search.
buy ladies hats

women’s clothing

women’s scarves

winter headwear for women
Broad match modifier
+women’s +hats
All the terms designated with a + sign (or close variations of those terms) in any order. Close variations include terms with the same meaning. Additional words may appear before, after, or between the terms.
women’s scarves and hats

winter hats for women

hats for stylish ladies
Phrase match
“women’s hats”
Matches of the phrase (or close variations of the phrase) with additional words before or after. Close variations include terms with the same meaning.
blue women’s hats

buy hats for women

ladies hats on sale
Exact match
[women’s hats]
Exact matches of the term or close variations of that exact term with the same meaning.
women’s hats

ladies hats

hats for women

hats women

Conversion Tracking

If you don’t have conversion tracking set up yet, this is always action item number one to get you on the right track.

Other Red Flags

Note Note


These are the most basics to take a look at to audit and evaluate your account. You can decide what to focus upon understanding what your priorities are as of the moment. There are a lot more than what’s on the list here but the ones here are the most usual concerning points.

Once you’ve gone through the list and evaluated what shape your account is in, then you’ll get to truly know if your digital marketer is being upfront with the services you are getting or if you are simply being ripped off.

Here at SBO Authority, we are more than happy to assist and provide you free consultations if you feel like you’re not getting the most of your money. We want to make sure that we help raise the standard of the digital marketing industry — for small business owners, and for the benefit of all.

Send us a message at or give us a call at 02 9944 3281. Martin will be assisting you with your concerns.