10 Questions to Ask Before You Create a Google Ads Account

If you’ve ever audited a Google Ads account, you know you’re likely to find a few obvious, and very correctable, issues—especially if you’re working from a checklist. Things like: 

  • Newer campaign types (such as PMax and Demand Gen campaigns) are missing important guardrails that could improve performance and reduce wasted ad spend. 
  • Assets (formerly ad extensions) aren’t associated with their intended campaigns.
  • Customer lists are uploaded but not utilized.
  • Ad messaging has typos or spelling errors
  • Keyword and bidding strategies are outdated

At the same time, you may also find tell-tale signs of things that went wrong from the very beginning—things your checklist may not catch and aren’t so simple to fix.

What’s the story of the account?

It’s fascinating to speculate about the discussions that happened before an account was launched based on what you find during an audit

Was the Google Ads account well thought out and planned? Or was it built in a hurry? Did the client or manager say, “Hurry up! We need leads!” or “Quickly! We need to build awareness of this new product!”?

Because when there isn’t sufficient pre-launch discussion and planning, it can manifest as deeper, more fundamental issues, such as: 

  • Account structures are misaligned or unorganized, causing duplication in efforts amongst campaigns and ad groups. 
  • Programs are poorly mapped, with disjointed messaging, misaligned assets, and duplicated efforts. (Classic example: “Call today” messaging is added to headlines, descriptions, callouts, AND sitelinks.) 
  • Expectations aren’t aligned with budgets. For example, expectations for your national campaign are sky-high, but the budget is so low you’re only getting a handful of clicks a day. 

To avoid having these fundamental problems in your Google Ads account, you need to ask yourself ten important questions BEFORE you create your account. 

1. What are you trying to accomplish with your new Google Ads account? What’s the goal?

Knowing what you’re trying to achieve is essential because it drives decisions about the campaign types to choose. For example, if your goal is to build awareness of a new product, then you should look to video and display-focused campaigns. 

2. Do you have the right assets to support that goal?

We can whip up content for text ads, no problem. But Google Ads is about so much more than simple text ads on SERPs these days. 

More and more marketers are embracing Google’s latest omnichannel campaign types, such as demand gen. These campaigns need images and video and those are harder to whip up.

3. What type of first-party audience data do you already have that can support that goal? 

What audience data do you already have that can give you a leg up? 

If you’re launching a new product, for example, do you already have a list of existing customers? Or if you’re launching a new and improved model of an existing product, do you have a list of customers who bought the prior version?  

4. Have you done keyword research?

New advertisers, especially in B2C, often struggle with highly competitive (i.e. expensive) keywords—which will impact your initial launch strategy. Because if you discover you don’t have enough budget, you might not be able to target top markets. 

A more common problem in B2B is low search volume. If that’s the case, you’ll need to dedicate budget to advertising via image and/or video ads and use broad match terms matched with customer lists. 

In short, the more intel you can get about the keyword landscape before you launch, the better you can plan. 

5. Do you have existing Google ads data that can help you predict click costs?

Speaking of keyword costs: Google’s Keyword Planner and other tools are great, but they don’t always paint a clear picture of what your actual costs will be. I’ve audited many an account where the account manager is surprised to find the actual click cost is much higher than what they had estimated. So if you have any data from existing Google ads that can shed light on actual costs, use it. 

6. What metrics will you use to measure success?

Try to choose realistic metrics to measure the success of your account. 

Yes, performance metrics, such as leads and sales, are obviously important. But if you’re launching a new product—and need to build a foundation of brand awareness—then those performance metrics might not be appropriate. You might choose to focus on engagement metrics instead. 

7. How does your brand stack up when compared to competitors? 

If you’re new to the market, you may need to put more trust signals (such as customer video testimonials) on your landing pages and assets. After all, your competitor may have already built trust. If you haven’t, you’ll need to do more in this area. 

8. What will the post-click experience look like?

Do your landing pages (and their content) provide people with a positive, coherent experience? Or will they click through and wonder if they accidentally clicked on the wrong link?

That’s not to say that your landing pages have to be perfect at launch. It’s usually better to launch with a less-than-perfect landing page than not launch at all. And even your less-than-perfect landing page can provide you with valuable benchmark data. 

Still, landing pages are very important. You should circle back to them, and improve upon them, as soon as you can. 

9. Have you created a test-and-learn plan?

Your budget might not allow you to test out all the ideas you have for the initial launch. Instead of discarding those ideas, keep track of them and map them out so you can test them in the future when you have enough budget.

For example, we put our ideas into a test-and-learn spreadsheet, filling the rows with ideas and the columns with different testing opportunities. We also use the tabs to keep track of our performance results to keep everything all together.

10. What payment method will you use?

This point might seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at how often Google accounts come to a complete halt when a credit card expires, goes over the limit, or is declined for whatever reason. 

It’s always a good idea to input a backup payment method to avoid this kind of snafu, especially when the only person who can fix the card is away on vacation.  

Ask the right questions to set yourself up for success

No Google Ads account launch is ever perfect—but you can set yourself up on the right path by asking yourself these ten questions first. 

And when you go back and audit your account weeks, months, or years later, you’ll see the benefits of all the hard work you did up front.

A version of this article first appeared in Search Engine Land.