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AdWords Account Structure

Circle Scott Dunroe On Google+




Having an effective AdWords account structure is like having a solid foundation for a building, if either are built poorly then it is likely the end result will prove to be ineffective. Over the years I have created campaigns for a multitude of clients across many industries and in this time I have come to realise that good account structure is the core factor in achieving initial steps to success with AdWords.



How many campaigns should I create for my website?


Generally a single campaign can cover the marketing requirements of a website, although it is a good practice to segregate an individual campaign for each network (search, display and mobile) providing you can afford to divide the overall daily budget. Splitting the networks into separate campaigns allows performance to be monitored quickly and accurately between the networks while low clickthrough rates (CTR) accumulated on the display network can be kept separate from the higher CTRs of the other two networks.

For a standard website I recommend that a single campaign is created while ad groups are used to cover all categories, sections and products (or services) of the business. In the cases of large websites however, multiple campaigns may be needed to cover all aspects of the business. A general sports shop selling equipment for a variety of sports for example may need a campaign for each individual sport included on the website; this would then allow multiple ad groups to be built within that specific sports section. An example would be building a campaign dedicated to basketball; the ad groups could then focus on selling balls, footwear, clothes, etc.

I also believe it is important to take marketing goals into consideration when deciding on how many campaigns to build for your website. If you target certain areas / locations for example then it can be worthwhile dedicating a campaign to each one as this gives you the ability to create ads relevant to that specific location and therefore improve the likelihood of a potential client clicking on your ad. I believe this can be especially effective if you have multiple stores with a specified delivery radius as you will only ever have your ads displayed to potential buyers. There is also no need to be concerned of having duplicate keywords between these campaigns providing that the location boundaries do not cross over one another.

You may find that you wish to allocate a certain budget to a particular product or service on your website, creating a campaign satisfies this requirement while you can create an additional campaign targeting the rest of your website with an alternative budget.

How many ad groups should I include in each campaign?


If you are looking to keep a standard, simple and organised campaign then this depends on the number of categories, sections or product types included on your website. Advertisers can become confused when trying to manage an overwhelming amount of ad groups so I suggest to stick to the website’s layout when building the ad groups to ensure all aspects of your business are covered while keeping things as simple as possible to maintain.

The actual number of ad groups is not important or relevant to the campaign performance, you will not be penalised or rewarded for having too few or too many ad groups. It is important however that these ad groups are made up of tightly themed keywords accompanied by relevant ads which ideally contain the keywords in the ad description. Constructing your ad groups in such a way will help you to achieve a potentially higher quality score which results in better average ad positions for cheaper cost per clicks (CPC).

Should I have a separate campaign or ad group for each line of business I have?


Using a campaign would be best as an ad group would limit your ability to connect different ads and keyword groups with different product landing pages. The ad group would eventually be one large list of mixed keywords related to your business which in turn would force you to create generic ads rather than ones relevant to individual products. The lack of relevancy between the ads and search terms would have a negative impact on your average CTR, while eventually the whole ad group would begin to suffer in terms of quality score to an extent where the costs become too much or your ads simply stop showing.

Using a single campaign per business combined with multiple ad groups allows you to create an account based around the website itself. Each ad group can contain a list of relevant keywords to a particular product or section of your website while the ads will be based around these keywords and products. You can even use the website's structure when considering which ad groups to construct within the campaign.

What kind of keywords should I have as I have SKU IDs for some products?

Google users will at times search for brands, SKU numbers and product IDs. I therefore think it’s worthwhile to include these various search term variations as keywords. Not only will you have the potential of targeting keywords not used by competitors but you will also have a much higher chance of improved clickthrough rates, reduced costs, higher ad positioning, etc.

Combining these keywords with the dynamic keyword insertion code in ad headlines can also make your ads more attractive to searchers in general. If a searcher has gone to the trouble of searching for a SKU and then sees an ad with the same search term in the headline, that individual is more likely to click on that particular ad rather than selecting a general ad (which still might be relevant to the product in question). If this ad also leads directly to the product searched for then there is an increased likelihood of generating a sale at the same time, deeplinking SKU keywords to the appropriate product pages will assist in this.

When I use SKUs as keywords I find it important to consider which match types I introduce them to the ad group as; an SKU in exact match for example may be too restrictive as people will commonly enter the SKU along with additional text into the search bar meaning that you may miss out on that potential customer. Using the SKU in broad and phrase match combined with a strategic inclusion of negative keywords however will ensure you don’t miss out on traffic while cutting out irrelevant and unwanted visits to your website. An additional organisational tip I like to give is also to name your ad groups by the SKU IDs you are using so you can identify them easier when reviewing performance reports from the system.

Some keywords are very expensive, how can I still run on these at a lower cost?

If you are concerned about the expense of certain keywords on the search network, it might be worthwhile to consider advertising on the display network. The costs are generally cheaper on this network and you can still have large elements of control with regards to where your ad is shown. You have the ability to research which websites apply to your own business and then include these as manual placements for your ads. You can also try the contextual targeting feature which allows you to choose certain topics related to your business which in turn allows Google to select and include relevant websites automatically for you.

As I previously mentioned, creating campaigns dedicated to certain regions, cities or areas can help in reducing costs in an alternative way. Restricting a campaign to a certain area will help eliminate some competitors and reduce overall costs at the same time, or by making region specific ad groups and including the region names within keywords, "buy basketball london" being an example. This method again combined with the dynamic keyword insertion code is a very good practice in reducing unnecessary costs.

If you need to keep conversion rates as high as possible in order to achieve a good return on investment (ROI) then editing your ad is essential. You can make it known via your ad description to searchers that your objective is to sell something to them rather than simply provide information, this prevents any ‘non buyers’ clicking on your ad out of curiosity. The negative aspect of this practice is the fact that your CTR may suffer as those original ‘curious clickers’ will turn into impressions instead, yet you will still cut out the unnecessary costs of those clicks at the same time.

Besides doing the above, you can pay less for keywords by having a strong performing campaign with high quality scores. While these types of rewards do not come instantly, a few months of highly relevant landing pages, high click through rates, and strong impression shares will help you to increase your quality scores which can positively increase your ROI.

Creating an effective AdWords account structure sounds very time consuming and a lot of work, how can I save the time and effort?

Building campaigns for multiple websites, locations and businesses might sound like a lot of work, especially when trying to do it as professionally and relevant as possible, but with the help of AdWords Editor this time and effort can be greatly reduced. AdWords Editor is a free Google application for managing your campaigns while features include the ability to make bulk changes, copy or move elements between your AdWords account, navigate through your account freely and much more. Creating a campaign for each Google network can be as simple as copy and pasting the original campaign using AdWords Editor and then changing the settings.

I truly find AdWords Editor as a life saver when it comes to managing so many Adwords campaigns for clients on a daily basis. I generally make the majority of management and optimisation changes to an account via AdWords Editor while I will review statistics and performance using the regular online AdWords interface.

Is there anything else I need to consider?

Before creating an AdWords campaign it is important that an advertiser determines what they want to achieve from advertising with Google AdWords. This can range from increased traffic or brand awareness to generating more sales or leads. Establishing these targets in mind will help you to make decisions when creating the account, adjusting settings and selecting an appropriate daily budget. A common objective would be "to generate x amount of sales with a specific budget" for example, ensuring that a good ROI is acquired. Without these goals you may start advertising ‘blind’ in a sense putting your budget to no efficient use.

With goals determined, you will need a way of seeing whether these targets are achieved via Google AdWords. Conversion tracking code (provided by Google AdWords) can be installed on a "Thank You" page located after a customer has purchased something from your site or filled in a contact form. This will then trigger that a conversion has been made within the campaign whenever the customer completes a sale or form and reaches the page with the code installed. Using this code will help you determine which keywords, placements, ads, countries, etc, have generated a sale and at what cost; this then allows you to make the appropriate changes to the campaigns according to the results gathered.

If you offer products through an e-commerce website then you may also consider creating a Google Merchant Center account (if you do not already have one). You will be given the opportunity to offer your products through the Google Merchant Center while running Product Listing Campaigns and Product Extensions with AdWords. Product Extensions can really benefit a campaign as they have the potential for text ads to be served on AdWords that could include a product extensions (image with product details), a product listing ad (image with pricing details) and also an ad under the shopping.

Tips on creating an effective AdWords structure


  • Always create your campaigns by topic - A campaign should be centered around your product, service or brand.
  • Create highly relevant ad groups - There should be a relevant theme throughout your keywords, ads and landing page content.
  • Keep things organised - In some cases you can view your AdWords account structure like a filing system; the more organised it is, the more effective you can run it.


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about Scott Dunroe

I have been managing AdWords accounts for over 8 years now at an international marketing agency level and also as a freelancer. I am very passionate about Google's PPC platform and pretty much anything else that is Google related. My theory in life is to learn something new every day and this community is definitely a good place to do so; I would recommend anyone reading this to stick around as it's an excellent source of information with great people contributing to it.

Zubair Siddique
November 2012

Hey Scotty,


Great inputs...I have a question regarding the keywords. I understand that using duplicate keywords within the same campaign is a bad idea. What if I have a duplicate keyword in two diffrent adgroups in a campaign and one of them is in paused state. Will it still affect the performance of the keyword. Also what if I have a duplicate adgroup will different kewords and one of the ad group is in paused state.




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