The Mother Of Optimizations: Audit Your AdWords Settings

AdWords settings matter. The options you’re given for how your ads rotate, which bidding strategy to use, when your ads do and don’t appear, all have a huge effect on how your account performs. Before diving into the 5 pillars of account optimization, it’s important to conduct a small audit of your settings to ensure that they make sense for your advertising goals, and that nothing’s being overlooked.

This guide will assume familiarity with Google ad serving networks, and correct network settings for your campaigns.


Top 10 Settings To Audit:

Audit settings 

Bid settings:


1.) Bidding strategy

  • CPC — Manual bidding
  • eCPC — Manual bidding, but Google raises bids beyond Max CPC if conversion is likely
  • Max CPA — Tell the Conversion Optimizer how much you’re willing to pay for a conversion
  • Target CPA — Tell the Conversion Optimizer how much you’d like to pay for a conversion
  • CPM — Manual bidding per 1,000 impressions
  • viewable CPM — Manual bidding per 1,000 viewable (above the fold) impressions
  • flex bidding — Customize and combine bidding options above in a single campaign

2.) Device bid modifiers

  • Set bid modifier for mobile devices
  • Eliminate mobile serving by setting bid modifier to ‘-100’

3.) Location bid modifiers

  • For locations
  • For radius targeting
  • For location groups — income tier, places of interest

4.) Bid scheduling

  • Set bid adjustments based on time of day or week


Serving Settings:


5.) Delivery method

  • Accelerated vs. Standard — determines whether to show your ads as quickly as possible until budget is reached or pace serving to ensure equal ad reach throughout the day.

6.) Close variants

  • Exact and Phrase Close Variants — includes close matches such as misspellings. (This feature will become mandatory beginning end of September, 2014.)

7.) Location settings

  • Include people searching for, in, or researching pages about specific locations
  • Exclude people searching for, in, or researching pages about specific locations


Ad Settings:


8.) Ad rotation

  • Optimize for clicks — Google determines ad preference based on CTR
  • Optimize for conversions — Google determines ad preference based on Conversion Tracking
  • Rotate for 90 days, then optimize — Google will determine ad preference after ninety days
  • Rotate indefinitely — Google never determines ad preference, rotates ads evenly

9.) Ad scheduling

  • Determines on which days and hours of day you’d like your ads to show


Audience Settings:


10.) Language

  • Ensure that your ads are appearing for users who speak your target language. 


A few facts about AdWords settings, and why they need to be considered:


  • These settings really matter – When managing accounts, it’s tempting to put all of one’s focus on the five pillars—bids, keywords, ad copy, landing pages, and structure—at the expense of ignoring the settings for these elements which often have just as great an effect on performance (if not more).
  • It’s easy to set something and then forget that you did! – This happens all the time. Performing a mini-audit of your settings is a great way to remember what you changed in the past, and why those changes were made. It’s also important for identifying oversights.




  • It’s important to analyze your settings before approaching the Five Pillars in order to understand how they’re affecting performance and to identify any oversights
  • Run a mini-audit of Top 10 settings listed above




Google settings guide