When was the last time you performed an SEM Audit?

When you first launched your SEM activity we’re sure it was carefully strategised and implemented, but over time things can change and performance can slip.

We’ve put together an SEM audit guide that anyone with some basic Excel and AdWords knowledge can work through in under 20 minutes. At the end of the audit guide, you should have a basic overview of key performance areas that underpin a successful AdWords account, as well as a few opportunities on where you can improve.

Want a more in-depth audit of your opportunities? Please contact us for your free SEM account audit.

SEM Audit: Campaign Spend Analysis

Just where are your dollars going?

Firstly let’s take a look at the top level campaign spend performance.

Let’s start by downloading all of the data and getting it into Excel. You can do this by logging into your SEM account, navigating to the campaign tab and pressing the download button. Note that if you’re recording conversions it’s a good idea to include these in the columns for later analysis.

‘How much data should I download?’ I can hear you asking.

3 months or 90 days is a good rule of thumb, but this does largely depend on your level of investment and traffic. It also depends on seasonality and broader market conditions. The idea is to get enough relevant data in order to improve the statistical significance of SEM audit and consequently, our decision making.

With this data downloaded into Excel, you can quickly run a filter across the top columns and arrange these by highest spending.

sem audit excel analysis

The first question to ask is – Is your spend allocated to converting campaigns? Or are there campaigns having spent your budget with 0 conversions?

For a conversion focused campaign, we’re looking to see if spend is allocated correctly across two key areas.

We are expecting our campaigns with the most investment to:

  1. Provide some conversion volume
  2. Have high conversion rates (Conversions divided by Clicks)

If you’re seeing spend across campaigns that are not driving any conversions or have high budgets associated with low conversion rates, then the next step is to a few questions as to why and if there are strategic reasons behind these decisions.

SEM Audit: Brand vs Non-Brand Spend Allocation

What proportion of your spend is allocated bidding on brand vs non-brand keywords?

The next step is to code up all of your campaigns in Excel into brand or non-brand.

This can be done simply by adding another column in your Excel analysis and working through your campaigns to add a label on brand and a label on non-brand.

brand vs non brand sem audit

If you’re unsure of what campaign is a brand campaign, these are generally campaigns that only contain keywords that relate directly to your brand.

For example, if your company was called InsureMe and sold insurance products, campaigns only containing keywords with ‘insureme’ could be considered brand campaigns. While a non-brand keyword for the above example could be considered be something along the lines of ‘insurance quote’.

Best practice at Gallantway recommends that brand keywords are separated into their own campaigns. If this is currently not taking place, then stop here and ensure that this happens.

AdWords budgets are set at the campaign level, by separating brand and non-brand keywords into their own campaigns you are able to better report, control and separate the investment you are making on your own keywords versus your investment in acquiring potential new customers through non-brand keywords.

Once you’ve got your campaigns labelled up it’s time to run a pivot table across your data. You can do this by selecting all of your data, going insert and selecting pivot table.

All you need to do then is select the ‘brand – non-brand’ label/column header we used in the example below and add the appropriate metrics using the checkboxes.

brand and non brand sem audit process

What you are looking to do is separate all of the campaign data into brand and non-brand categories, so that you can see just how much you are spending as a % of your total investment on branded keywords. And just how much branded and non-branded keywords are contributing towards your conversion and business goals.

Performing an SEM audit of these elements should prompt a conversation around targeting brand keywords and if your strategy should remain or change.

SEM Audit: Match Type Audit

A SEM Match Type audit is a great way to quickly understand how well targeted your AdWords account is.

By performing an SEM audit to understand how targeted your SEM account is, you are able to take the temperature of just how much work is going on behind the scenes to make sure your investment is working as hard as it can for you. This is because a highly targeted AdWords account with a high weighting of Exact match keywords is a good reflection of the overall health of the account.

If you would like to learn a little more about match types, take a look at the Google resource here.

The first step is to pull a keyword report of all of your active keywords and their associated keyword match types. You can do this by selecting the keywords tab in AdWords and pressing the download button.

Now run a pivot table over all of the data to separate how many keywords fit into each match type. You can do this by selecting all of your data, going insert and selecting pivot table.

The next step is to add the match type and then drag your keywords into the values column. .You can then add your cost, conversions, and any other relevant metrics.

sem audit match type analysis

Similar to our campaign analysis, we can now get an idea of how each match type is performing. One of the big things we are trying to understand is; is there an over-reliance on broad or phrase match?

The final step is to take the keyword count numbers for each match type and divide them by the total number of keywords to give you a %. Here we are trying to understand (as a percentage) how many of all of our keywords fit into each match type.

Once we understand the percentages and distribution of keywords we are able to see how this compares to best practice. We believe best practice for match types is to have around 70% of your keywords on exact match. This ensures accurate matching of keywords to ads, helping improve quality score and overall efficiency of your spend.

Last of all, you can bring in spend and conversions into the audit to understand how investment and performance are split between the match types.

There you have it. You should now have a basic SEM audit which provides insights on campaign spend and reliance on match types as an indicator of the health of your account.

Of course, there are many more crucial pieces that make up the overall effectiveness of an SEM account. If you would like a free SEM account audit, please get in touch with us.

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