The Mother Of Optimizations: Establishing Top-Level Audit Findings

When performing account audits, it’s easy to get bogged down in data to such an extent that you lose sight of more significant insights. For this reason, you should begin your analysis by making a top-level summary of key findings.


The Importance Of Seeing The Big Picture Before Drilling Down

Here’s what happens when you skip the big picture:

  • You lose the forest for the trees – Without an understanding of how your account’s performing as a whole, it can be extremely hard to understand granular data in context.
  • You get ahead of yourself – You don’t want to make optimization decisions prematurely.
  • You can’t assess performance against baselines – By establishing top-level findings first, you’ll be able to set aggregate baselines against which to assess the performance of more granular account elements.


Start with your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Your KPIs are the metrics by which you gauge success. Look at these metrics at an aggregate level over time for a quick look at performance trends.

  • Look at KPI performance over time – It’s ok to be general. We’re just looking for big picture insights at this point. Where are your KPIs for the last, say, twelve months?
  • Add external information to the mix – Take the insights you gained from your external research to pair any significant disruptions to performance continuity with changes in account management, business goals, marketing strategies, or other factors.


Go A Step Further With The AdWords ‘Date-Range Comparison’ Tool

This is, quite possibly, the most helpful analysis tool Google’s come up with for understanding account performance trends. Now that you have a top-level picture of performance for a significant time range, dig in a bit and look at how these numbers have moved over time.

  • Set Data Range to Compare Last 12 Months to Previous – If you haven’t identified any reason why such a long date range would not provide relevant insights (major performance disruptions, other factors), take the data! We’ll call this the ‘Glacial View’.
  • Set Date Range to Compare Last 6 months to Previous – This will give you a more current look at what’s going on, but still provide enough data on which to base big-picture insights.
  • Set Date Range to Compare Last 30 days to Previous – There’ll be less data, but it’ll be extremely current.


These three views in combination will give you a great deal of perspective on performance over time from a number of vantage points.


Dig Into Google Analytics For More Context

You can also use your Google Analytics data at this point to understand how your AdWords account is performing in the larger context of your full suite of marketing channels. Beyond this simply being good information to have, your GA behavior metrics from AdWords traffic will help shed more light on the level of engagement on the part of these users.


Make Your List Of Top-Level Findings

You’ve looked at your KPIs over a number of different date ranges. Now make a list of benchmarks. You’ll use this to compare more granular account elements.


 Cost CPCConversions CPAROAS / Profit / Revenue



  • Establishing top-level findings gives a much need understanding of how your account’s performing overall
  • Look at KPIs as the primary metrics for determining performance
  • Segment KPIs by date range for more insight into performance trends
  • Use Google Analytics for even more insight
  • Make a list of your findings to use as a reference guide for more granular optimization