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Developing account structure for a new AdWords account can be a daunting task. After all, account structure is what ultimately sets up your campaigns to be either a success or a fiery disaster. But don’t bury your head in the sand just yet—we’re here to help you out. As a PPC management agency with extensive knowledge of AdWords, you’re in good hands. In this post, we outline the basics steps you’ll need to follow to get your campaigns off to a good start. So take a deep breath, relax, and read on…

Understanding the Gravity of PPC Account Structuring

The reason your AdWords account structure is so important is that it’s where you determine how, when, and to whom your ads are displayed. Without proper account structuring, you’ll end up wasting your ad budget on people who are uninterested in your products or services, your ad campaigns will be disorganized and unmanageable, and your quality scores will suffer and force you to bid higher than you need to.

Your account structure is comprised of several principal components including your campaigns and ad groups, keywords and negative keywords, ad copy, and landing pages. Before we get into the steps for setting up account structure, let’s first explore each of these components in more detail:

1. PPC Campaigns and Ad Groups

All of your ads will be created in an ad group within a campaign. Your campaigns are general categories for broad themes and within those themes are more specific ad groups, which is where you setup your ads and keywords.

It’s important to remember that, unlike other paid advertising platforms like Facebook, the budget is set up at the campaign level rather than for each ad group. Keep this in mind when dividing up your campaigns and creating ad groups. With too many ad groups, your budget will be spread too thin.

2. Keywords and Negative Keywords

Your keywords are the unique search terms used to trigger your ads. As a general rule, you should have no more than 10 to 20 keywords per ad group. You will need to do thorough keyword research in order to determine the best keyword opportunities for your ads. Whenever possible, you should use long-tail keywords (three or more words). Bidding on simple, short-tail keywords like “dog leash” will be expensive with next to impossible competition. You will need to continuously monitor your keyword performance to make sure that they are bringing in relevant clicks.

Negative keywords are unique search terms that won’t trigger your ad. For example, if you owned a clothing boutique in San Francisco, but you noticed you have a lot of clicks coming from people searching for clothing boutiques in New York, you could add “New York” as a negative keyword. This would prevent your ad from being displayed for New York related search queries. While it’s recommended to keep your number of keywords under 20, you should regularly check the searches that trigger your ads to find new opportunities for negative keywords. Building an extensive list of negative keywords will help you eliminate irrelevant clicks and wasted ad spend.

3. PPC Ad Copy

Your ad copy is the text that appears in the headline and description of your ad. Because space is so limited, you should include only the most important parts of your offer. The headline is the most crucial since it’s where people’s eyes fall first. Be sure to keep it under 60 characters, or else it may be truncated by Google.

4. Landing pages for PPC Ads

The landing page is the page on your site that a user is taken to when the click on an ad. While the creation of the landing page is separate from AdWords, it’s still a crucial component in the success or failure of a campaign. For instance, if your ad compels someone to click but they’re taken to a slow, mismatched, or poorly designed landing page, you’ll most likely lose the conversion.

You should never link an ad to a homepage or any other generic page. Each ad should always have a corresponding, specific landing page that matches the language of the copy and the offer from the CTA. You can, however, use one landing page for multiple ads with the same offer so long as you use dynamic text replacement to change the headlines and other relevant areas of text.

It’s fine to have the ads in one ad group pointing to different landing pages. But, only if the ads are all the same. If you test different ads and landing pages at the same time, you won’t know which element is causing the difference in performance.

Got all that? Ok, time to move on to the good stuff. Assuming you’ve already set up your AdWords account, you’re ready to start setting up your account structuring.

1. Map Out Your Account Structure Before You Begin

When it comes to the “right” way to set up your account structure, there is no hard and fast rule. In fact, there are many different methods that can be very effective. But, once you do decide on a structure that you think would work best for you, you should try mapping it out on paper before setting it up within AdWords. This will help you get a better grasp of how many campaigns and ad groups you’ll need to create.

The right account structure depends on your preferences, the products and services you offer, your store location, and more:

  • Account Structure Based on Products and Services: For many people, it makes the most sense to them to structure campaigns similar to the way their products and services are organized on their website. For example, say you own an ecommerce company that sells car covers. You could set up AdWords campaigns for each make of car cover, and within those campaigns you could create separate ad groups for the different models of covers. If Ford is your most popular make for car covers and Volkswagen is your least popular, then you could increase the campaign budget for Ford and decrease the budget for Volkswagen.
  • Account Structure Based on Location: If you have physical store locations, especially multiple locations across the country or around the world, then a location based account structure may be best for you. This allows you to have your ads triggered only when the search is coming from a specific area. For example, say you own a chain of bakeries. You could set up different campaigns for each physical location and have the ads within that campaign display only to people who are in that area.

2. Determine Your Best Keyword Opportunities

Before you begin creating ads, you first need to identify your relevant keywords. As we mentioned before, it’s best to select long tail keywords with low to medium competition. Keywords with high competition, especially when they’re short tail keywords, will be expensive and ineffective.

Try to choose keywords that potential customers would search for when looking for a place to make a purchase. This way, you’ll know that most of the people clicking on your ads are already in a buyer stage. For example, if someone searches for “where to buy car covers,” it’s highly likely that they’re in the market.

You can use Google Keyword Planner (GKP) to find the best keywords for your specific products and services. GKP will tell you the search volume and competition for the terms you enter, and it will also provide you with some related suggestions. In addition to the competition level, be sure to pay attention to the suggested bid price as well. Just remember, you don’t want more than 10 to 20 keywords per ad group.

3. Create a Campaign

Once you’ve finished planning your account structure and building your keyword list, then you can start creating your first campaign. When creating your campaign, there are several settings that you will need to pay special attention to. Inspect them carefully in order to avoid costly mistakes:

    • Campaign Type: If you only want your ads to appear in search results or you want to have separate campaigns for search and display, you will need to choose “Search Network Only” instead of “Search Network and Display Select.”
    • Language and Location: This may seem obvious, but it’s more common of a mistake than you might think—especially for newbies without the aid of an experience PPC management agency. If you select the wrong language or location, your ads will spend a lot of money on irrelevant clicks from people outside of your ideal targeting.
    • Bidding Strategy: When you set up your campaign, it’s setup for automatic bidding. However, this limits the control you have over the amount you spend and how it’s spent. Instead, you may want to consider manual bidding. You’ll also need to adjust the bid that is set for each keyword and your maximum budget.


4. Create an Ad Group and an Ad

Look at you go—You’ve just completed the setup for your first campaign! Now it’s time to create an ad group and an ad. To begin, go to your campaign, click the Ad Groups tab, and then click the red button that says “+Ad Group.” Once you give your ad group a name, you can create your first ad.


Before you just start hammering away at the keyboard, there are a variety of factors to keep in mind when creating advertisements:

  • Text Limitations: Google’s new ETA format gives you a bit more wiggle room than before, but you still need to limit your text to one 80 character description and two 30 character headlines. You can also use the display URLs to add an extra 15 characters.
  • Messaging: The copy you write needs to be relevant to the offer and the landing page that the ad points to. Be sure to include your keywords in the headline and be direct about what kind of offer the user will find on the other side. This will help to reduce unnecessary clicks.
  • Landing Page: As we discussed before, be sure that your ads link to an appropriate landing page that has the same offer as the ad and is easy to navigate. Make it clear what the visitor is supposed to do once they get there. If they have to spend too much time figuring out how to complete your offer, you’ll lose them.
  • Follow Google’s Rules: Before you can start running your ad, it needs to be approved by Google. In order to get your ads up and running as soon as possible, be sure to follow Google’s ad approval guidelines.

5. Add Your Keywords to Your Ad Group

Once you’ve set up your ad group and your advertisement, you’ll need to add the keyword list (with no more than 10 to 20 keywords) that you created in step two. Each keyword needs to be consistent with the ads in your ad group. Remember, these words will trigger your ads. If they’re not relevant, don’t include them.

When adding keywords, there are a few formatting options to keep in mind:

    • Broad Match: This is the default match type. With this selected, your ads will be displayed for closely related terms, included misspelled search terms.
    • Broad Match Modifier: Your ads will be shown for a modified version of your keyword, but not for synonyms.
  • Phrase Match: Your ads will be displayed when a user includes your search phrase in a different order or in addition to other words.
  • Exact Match: Your ads will only be triggered if the user searches for the exact term or a variation of that term so long as it does not change the meaning. For example, if it’s in a different order or includes a preposition.

After you add your keywords, click “save.” You can always add more keywords later on by going to the keywords tab and clicking the red button that reads “+Keywords.”


Final Takeaways

And that’s it! You’ve now setup your first campaign, ad group, ad, and keyword list. Not quite as overwhelming as you thought, right? Your next move is to repeat these steps until you’ve finished creating all the campaigns and groups you mapped out in the first step.