— June 20, 2017
AdWords can be a beautiful thing—but for some, it can be a nightmare. Setting up the right AdWords account structure is crucial to campaign success, but it’s not as easy as one might believe. But I’m here to settle your fears. The truth is that once you get the hang of it, AdWords isn’t all that bad. In fact, it’s pretty great.
In this post, we’ll go over some of our PPC management agency’s tips for setting up a solid AdWords account structure. With a bit of study, analysis, and a dash of elbow grease (index finger grease?) your AdWords account structure will be the envy of all other PPC managers. So, sigh a big breath of relief, and prepare to get your campaigns roaring on the right track.
Tip 1: Stay Away from AdWords Express
You know how back-to-school shopping can help students start off the year on the right foot? The same goes with your AdWords account structure. You need to start with a solid foundation before you can expect success. Poor AdWords account structure can lead to unruly campaigns, and thousands of dollars in wasted ad spend.
When opening an AdWords account, some businesses—especially small businesses without marketing teams—opt for AdWords Express. It’s easy to understand why since it’s marketed as the sliced bread of paid advertising. No need to waste your time choosing keywords or building out PPC strategies—AdWords Express will do all the hard work for you.
But, much like an all-bacon diet or that five-second pizza cooker in Back to the Future, this tool is too good to be true. In fact, its limitation of user control is exactly the problem. Remember, you’re going up against thousands of other businesses, many of which have PPC managers that spend a great deal of time on keyword selection, bidding optimization, and other strategies. In fact, the inability to fully manage and monitor your campaigns will ultimately waste money.
So, in this case, blind automation is going to do you a great disservice. Instead, opt for the ol’ standby: AdWords User Interface (UI). AdWords AI gives you much more control over settings and optimization, making it the smarter and more powerful option.
Tip 2: Pay Special Attention to Your Campaign Settings
Once you’ve completed your account setup and added your billing information, you’re ready to start running your search campaigns! Well, almost…
First, let’s make sure you understand what a search marketing is and why it’s so beneficial.
Search marketing can be an incredibly powerful advertising tool for one unique reason: the people who see your ads are already looking for products and services like yours. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, as they say. But, in order to increase the chances that those people viewing your ad will be interested, you need to correctly setup your campaign and choose the right keywords and settings:
Naming Your Campaign: Don’t Be Generic
One of the first steps in setting up your search campaign is to give it a name. Instead of giving your campaign a generic name like “Campaign 1” or “Becky,” choose a name that will help you stay organized. This will make your life a lot easier once you’ve got multiple campaigns in your account. For example, include the campaign type (search, display, etc.), the location (e.g. US), and the device type in the name. This will be a huge help when filtering your analytics reports later on.
Select the “All Features” Option for More Control
When choosing account options, select “search campaign” and “all features.” These options will give you the most control over your account.
Because we’re setting a search campaign, AdWords will have automatically selected the Google Search Network for you. This means that your ads will appear on all Google sites, including Google search, Google Shopping, Google Maps, and Google Play. However, you do have the option of whether or not to include your ads in Google search partner sites. If you decide to include search partner sites, be sure to monitor them consistently. If, after a while, they are not performing well enough, you can remove them via the “segment” button within the campaigns tab.
Take Advantage of Location and Other Demographic Targeting
If you want to sell your products or services to a specific region, your campaigns may benefit from location-based targeting. For example, if you only ship your products domestically (within the U.S,), you should choose U.S. targeting only. However, AdWords location targeting can get much more granular than that. In fact, you can narrow down to specific states, cities, and zip codes. You can also refine by specific income levels within the location you choose.
When setting up a location for your campaign, be sure to pay special attention to the advanced location options, which allow you to target:
- People in, searching for, or who show interest in your targeted location
- People in your targeted location
- People searching for, or who show interest in your targeted location
And to exclude:
- People in, searching for, or who show interest in your excluded location
- People in your excluded location
Set Up Your Bidding Strategy
Bidding can be a bit tricky—especially if you’re an AdWords newbie. While there is an automated bidding option, it’s not a great idea to select this option unless you have quite a bit of conversion data for AdWords’ algorithm to go off of. Instead, begin with “Manual: Manual CPC Bidding.” Note that the “Enable Enhanced CPC” checkbox will be autoselected. Uncheck that before proceeding.
Next, you’ll need to set your default bid. Google Keyword Planner (GKP) provides bid estimates for every keyword; you usually should start lower than the suggested bid. Monitor traffic, modify your ads, and audit your landing pages for a while before increasing your bid. If you do increase your bid, go slow.
Set Up Your Budget
Even if your ads are performing splendidly, your campaign may be automatically shut off prematurely if your budget is set too low. Instead of just picking a random number out of your head, it’s best to use Keyword Planner to get a realistic idea of average CPCs and how much you may need to spend. Just remember, these estimates are exactly that—estimates. While they can give you a good place to start, you will need to monitor and adjust accordingly.
Run Your Campaigns On a Schedule
In the advanced campaign settings, you’ll find a “schedule” section that allows you to select a start date, end date, and ad scheduling (time of day).
The start date is exactly what it sounds like—it allows you to schedule a campaign to begin on a specific date, allowing you to have things ready to rumble well ahead of time. End dates can be helpful if you’re running a campaign for a temporary offer, such as a seasonal promotion or an upcoming event. You can leave this area blank if you want to keep your campaigns running for a while. The last option, ad scheduling, is a bit more unique. It allows you to run your campaigns on a schedule. For example, specific times or days of the week.
Tip 3: Choose the Right Structure, Keywords, and Ad Group Strategies
Picking a Structuring System
The right structuring system will depend on your personal preference and your campaigns. There are some common strategies you can choose from, including:
- By Match Type. For this structuring system, you will have two campaigns for each keyword group—one campaign for broad match modified, and one for exact match. This option allows you to manipulate your budget so that your top exact match keywords use most of the money. While this can be a great option for those with smaller budgets, it’s likely that your account structure will get a bit unruly as more campaigns are added.
- By Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs). SKAGs, a personal favorite of our PPC management agency, means that each ad group contains just one keyword (selected from your top keywords). While Google actually recommends using about 15 to 20 keywords per ad group, this strategy allows you to be incredibly granular and have much more accurate message match between your keywords, ads, and landing pages.
Choosing the Right Keywords
Picking the right keywords for your campaigns is a bit more complicated than just typing your product into Google search and looking at the suggested searches. In reality, there should be much more research involved so that you can ensure you’re bidding on the best keyword opportunities. Ideally, the keywords you select should be long tail (at least three to four words) with low to medium competition. Short tail keywords are too generic and will be incredibly difficult to rank for. Plus, long tail keywords give you the opportunity to target niche groups within your target audience.
You can check your keyword ideas and find keyword suggestions in GKP. And, despite my previous dig, Google search suggestions can sometimes be helpful. Once your ads have been running for a while, you can check query data to look at searches that triggered your ads. The latter can also help you find opportunities for negative keywords—keywords that you don’t want to trigger your ad.
Once you’ve chosen your keywords, you’ll need to choose a match type: broad, broad modified, phrase, and exact:
Broad: Your ad will be triggered for the exact search term and any related terms.
Broad Modified: Your ad will be triggered for searches that include your keyword in any order. For example, if your keyword is best plant food (broad modified keyword should be written as +best +plant +food in AdWords), your ad could be triggered by search queries such as “Which plant food is best?”
Phrase: Your ad will be triggered for searches that include your keyword in the exact order you specify (noted to AdWords by placing quotations around the phrase). However, the search query can include other words before and after the phrase. For example, for our “best plant food” keyword, your ad could be triggered by a search query such as “Where can I find the best plant food in California?”
Exact: Your ad will be triggered for searches that exactly match your keyword in the same order and with no other words added on. Use brackets for this match type: [best plant food].