Google AdWords Workshop – Part 2:
Campaign Structure

The following article is part 2 in our series on running your own pay-per-click advertising campaign with the Google AdWords program. If you are new to AdWords, read the introduction here first.

In this article we’ll be looking at how an AdWords account is structured, and the best way to organize your advertising within that framework.

AdWords is structured on three levels . . . Account, Campaign, and AdGroup.

As you might expect, the Account level simply deals with administrative records . . . email address, password, and billing information.

A single account can house up to 25 different ad Campaigns. Those campaigns can be a mixture of Keyword Targeted and Site Targeted campaigns.

Regardless of the campaign type, the ads in each campaign are governed by unique settings for geographic and language targeting, daily budget, campaign duration, and ad distribution preferences. We’ll cover all these settings in later posts.

There’s no hard and fast rules about how to structure your campaigns . . . what’s best for you will depend on the size and nature of your business. For example, if you carry numerous product lines, you might start by having separate campaigns for each of your product categories.

A restaurant chain on the other hand, might run separate campaigns for each branch in the chain, or perhaps each state that the company operates in.

To assist with this, you can name campaigns in a way that reflects the way you want things organized.

Each Campaign can contain up to 100 Ad Groups. For each AdGroup, you create one or more ads and select a set of keywords to trigger those ads.

The flexibility of this structure is designed to allow you to cluster keywords into logical groups organized around common themes and then write ads specifically for those themes. Doing that improves ad relevance, and therefore the click-thru-rate.

A keyword theme might be a product, or it might be a concept, whatever makes sense for your particular business or campaign.

For example, a mountain bike retailer might start with three campaigns . . . bikes, parts and accessories. And those campaigns might be sub-categorized into AdGroups named to represent several different product lines.

Each AdGroup will house keywords directly related to the AdGroup theme. For example, the helmets AdGroup in the accessories campaign might start with four keyword phrases:

And the ad written for that AdGroup would specifically target a Google user who searches using any one of those four keyword phrases.

If the retailer had not structured his campaigns this way, and instead deposited all his keywords into a single AdGroup, he’d be forced to run ‘all-purpose’ style ads like this one . . .

Ads like that tend to have mediocre results at best.

The flexibility of the AdWords system is such that if he wanted to, the retailer could break the helmets AdGroup down further into a number of sub categories for even better targeting. For example, he might have individual AdGroups for each brand and size that he stocks:

Doing that would make it easier to write ads that offer an even closer match for the keywords customers are likely to use when they search for one of those particular products.

How many keywords should there be in an AdGroup? It depends. In some situations, 10-15 keywords might be appropriate . . . whereas in others it might be 40, 50 or more.

It comes down to the number of keywords that can be effectively represented by a single ad in any particular situation.

The most common approach to designing a new campaign structure is probably to start by naming AdGroups on the basis of the products and services you offer, and let that drive the organization of campaigns.

Use that as a draft plan to guide the initial stages of your keyword research and list development. A site map of your web site can be a good way to kick-start the process.

Keyword research is often a voyage of discovery as you learn of new ways that customers can and do find your business. As a result, you’ll almost certainly want to refine whatever structure you start out with as work proceeds on developing a keyword list using the tools and techniques I’ll show you later. That’s okay, even experienced advertisers find that designing a new campaign structure is often an incremental process that comes together in steps.

But for that reason, it pays not to do any data entry in the AdWords control panel until after your keyword list is completed and you’ve settled on a final plan of how the structure will be laid out.

The mountain bike retailer example I used earlier provided a glimpse of the capacity of the AdWords system to accommodate complex campaign structures. And there’s various other ways that a company can utilize campaigns, AdGroups and keyword themes that will become apparent as we progress through the workshop.

For example, a more sophisticated structure might reflect the classic buying cycle common to many industries, or the geographical targeting requirements of a company that operates in lots of different markets.

But be careful not to bury yourself under too much detail . . . just because you CAN break AdGroups down into ever smaller units doesn’t mean that you should. The number of AdGroups appropriate to a retailer that stocks hundreds of products will be quite different to the much simpler requirements of a small bed & breakfast hotel.

At the end of the day, you need to find a compromise that effectively targets your most important keyword themes, but doesn’t over complicate campaign management.

Understanding the role of AdGroups and creating very targeted AdGroups for your products will be one of the most important things you can do toward achieving success with AdWords. That and understanding, how targeted AdGroups fit in with the subject of my next post . . . the AdWords Quality Score system.

Gary Elley

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