PPC Tool Review: Inside the Free AdWords Grader

Note from the editor: The free PPC grader tool reviewed here is a useful application for:

  • A small business owner who wants a report card for his AdWords campaigns. Get an easy-to-interpret report that compares the project to others in a like category with similar spend. Use it once and then again later to make sure your management of your AdWords campaigns is improving.
  • A PPC manager (agency, in-house, or consultant) delivering progress reports to a client or manager. If a benchmark report card is taken at the outset of a project, later reports, delivered with compelling visuals, tell a story of your achievements and a smartly managed account.
  • A PPC manager assessing a potential new client. Get a quick-overview appraisal of an AdWords project’s strengths, weaknesses and low hanging fruit.

In the daily world of paid search, the analyst or marketing agency makes sure that they are providing their client with opportunities of growth and most importantly ROI. Yet, what tools do advertisers consider useful for PPC management? Just recently, Larry Kim, CEO of WordStream, invited me to a live demo of their new PPC auditing tool, AdWords Performance Grader Plus. Now, as an analyst that considers herself an enthusiast when it comes to performance metrics and elaborate charts, I was intrigued to know what has changed or improved in comparison to their former AdWords Grader. Plus, any tool that might help with supporting my original analysis in efforts of providing the best results for my clients is okay in my book!

AdWords Performance Grader Plus

The new and improved features now available through the AdWords Performance Grader include:

  • Performance Tracker.  Reports on your account performance every 30 days offering the advertiser another look at efficiency of their marketing efforts. Providing “overall performance and key metrics trending over time.”
  • Mobile PPC Readiness Score. Reports on your Mobile PPC efforts, identifying factors of mobile optimization and evaluation.
  • New and Improved Benchmarks.  Reports on metrics, specifically “competitive benchmarks” where not only does it identify your current performance but also compares your PPC efforts with similar advertisers in your industry. Areas of industry comparison includes but not limited to: wasted spend, quality score, impression share, click through rate, account activity, a few other benchmarks. 

Features of Interest

Now if you were to ask, what AdWords Grader features I found beneficial or worthwhile? Well, from the areas that Larry went over, the metrics / elements I found most interesting were, but not limited to:

WASTEFUL SPEND. Taking into account the negative keywords, how many were created in the last 90 days and how adding more negative keywords to your campaigns will help reduce the waste. Spend is also compared to similar advertisers.

AdWords Grader Wasted Spend Report
Wasted Spend report in the WordStream AdWords Grader

TEXT AD OPTIMIZATION. Being that Ad Copy does play a factor when tying landing page relevance and contributing to quality score calculation, you want to know what has been working and possibly expand from its identified potential.

AdWords Grader Text Ad Optimizatoin Report
Text Ad Optimization report in the WordStream Google AdWords Grader

MOBILE PPC OPTIMIZATION. Confirming if all mobile optimization opportunities have been addressed, specifically mobile text ads, sitelinks, and call extensions.

PPC BEST PRACTICES. Offering additional insight for PPC experts to address if areas are missing or need improvement.

Would I Recommend AdWords Performance Grader Plus?

After reviewing what WordStream’s auditing tool has to offer, I do see myself using the grader as a supporting tool when running an in-depth analysis of an account’s performance. Yet, with real-time data and opportunities being offered through Google Analytics and AdWords, I would use the tool to confirm my reporting, like I would with other tools in my handy analyst toolkit.

What Are Some Areas to Take into Consideration?

Although, I do find the improved benchmarks great with its detailed feedback of a PPC experts marketing efforts, an expansion of discussion on comparison of “similar advertisers” within my industry is up for debate. As it can be agreed, our clients come at different sizes and with different goals, therefore, what “industry” is my performance being compared to?

Final Thoughts

Let it not be mistaken, as an SEM advertiser, I am not saying that this innovation replaces any tool, but to consider this auditing tool as another one to be added to our ever-growing bag. Google AdWords has many great features including the “Opportunities” tab and new interface, but with online marketing consistently changing, we can all agree that with marketing, specifically paid search advertising, the more tools we can use to support or confirm our methodology’s and analysis comes at great benefit, while achieving the ultimate client satisfaction.

Diana Becerra is an SEM Analyst at Bruce Clay, Inc., a marketing enthusiast, and non-profit activist. She has a B.S. in Business Management with a concentration in marketing and is currently attending graduate school in focus of obtaining a Masters of Business Administration. Before joining Bruce Clay, Inc., Diana worked in many areas of marketing, including public relations, communications, community program development, software development and brand management. She loves marketing, sports and sprinkles. Connect with Diana on .

See Diana's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (2)
Filed under: PPC/Pay-Per-Click — Tags:
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent PPC/Pay-Per-Click posts is better than the last!

2 Replies to “PPC Tool Review: Inside the Free AdWords Grader”

Diana Becerra

As I mentioned, the Free AdWords Grader is another tool to keep in our back pocket, that we analysts can you use to find any missed opportunities we might have missed while carrying out management of paid search advertising. There’s no harm in a free tool, right? Why not see what it’s about? Hope you find it useful and let me know about your experience.

I have never put much faith in anything that was free; you have to spend money to make it. But you seem to like the grader tool so I might have to give it a second look in the near future.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Serving North America based in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Bruce Clay, Inc. | PO Box 1338 | Moorpark CA, 93020
Voice: 1-805-517-1900 | Toll Free: 1-866-517-1900 | Fax: 1-805-517-1919