The Mother of Optimizations: Audit AdWords Account Structure

The way in which you structure and organize your AdWords account has a massive effect on your ability manage it effectively. There are a number of reasons for this, the two primary reasons being:

 

  1. segmentation of ad serving — networks, ad types, bidding control, user intent and engagement ad pairing.
  2. organization — the ability to find account elements quickly and optimize them efficiently.

 

When it comes to auditing your account structure, it should first be understood that there is no one right way to set up an account. That said, there are a number of best practices you should follow.

 

Your audit of account structure should start here. Identify which of these suggestions are already being implemented and consider the suggestions provided as you contemplate ways to improve your current structure.

 

Campaign Level:

 

  • Separate campaigns by network — This is fundamental. Do not run Search and Display targeting from the same campaign.

 

separate campaigns by network

 

 

  • Separate campaigns for brand terms — If you’re buying your brand keywords, give them their own campaign. Brand terms almost always deliver significantly different performance than non-brand terms.
  • Separate campaigns for competitor terms — If you’re bidding on the brand terms of your competitors, you’ll want to isolate these into their own campaign as well.
  • Separate campaigns for RLSA — If you’re running remarketing lists on the Search Network via Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), it’s often a good idea to break these out into their own campaigns with a flexible reach setting of ‘target and bid’. Don’t forget to add these lists as negatives to your traditional Search campaigns if you decide to go this route.

 

Separate campaigns for RLSA

 

 

  • Segment GDN targeting methods — If running multiple targeting methods, consider breaking these out into separate campaigns as well.
  • Separate campaigns by match-type — You might consider creating separate campaigns for each match type you’re running.
  • Alpha / Beta account structure — Consider creating a ‘top performers’ campaign, or collection of campaigns, for easy access to your most valuable terms. You can set thresholds for your Beta campaign keywords and add them to the Alpha campaign one they prove themselves. This way all of your most important terms will be easy to find. This also allows you to put more care and attention into the optimization of deserving terms without having wade through a lot of content to find them.
  • Separate campaigns by product type — If you sell a large number of products, it’s helpful to give each product type its own campaign.
  • Separate campaigns by geography and language — You may be running ads in different regions and countries and in different languages. Always break out campaigns by language. Geography-based campaign segmentation is often helpful if you’re running ads in multiple countries, or in areas with unique performance.
  • Separate campaigns for budget — Your budgets are set at the campaign level so it’s important to bake this into your campaign strategy. The use of AdWords ‘shared budgets’ is often convenient here.

separate campaigns by budget

 

Ad Group Level:

 

  • Ad group titles tightly themed around keywords — Make sure your ad group names correspond tightly to the specific keywords they contain. This will make it much easier to find what you’re looking for.
  • Less than thirty keywords per ad group — The number is a bit arbitrary, but the point is that keeping ad group keyword counts relatively small and tightly themed will facilitate a higher degree of relevance between keywords ads, and landing pages.
  • Consider ad group-level bids — Are these present in your account? If so, are they being superseded by keyword-level bids? It’s important to remember that keyword bids trump ad group bids. If it looks as though bidding is being managed at the ad group level, make sure those bids aren’t being trumped by keyword bids. You want to avoid a scenario in which you’re optimizing bids that won’t actually be recognized by AdWords.
  • Separate ad groups by match type — As an alternative to segmenting match types at the campaign level, this can also be done at the ad group level. This is often the preferred choice of many account managers because it keeps keyword themes confined to the same campaign, which often makes things a little more manageable, both in terms content grouping and not letting your account grow to an unmanageable size by creating 3X the number of campaigns.

separate AGs by match type

 

Keyword Level:

 

  • Keywords consistent across all three match types — If you’re bidding on a three match types, keep this structure consistent across all keywords, as opposed to arbitrarily adding additional match types to some keywords and not others. If, however, you have a reason not to run some match type variations for certain terms — broad match for more general terms, for example — that’s fine.
  • Using broad match modifier — Broad match keywords cast a very wide net, in terms of the search terms Google will pair them with. For this reason, it’s often a good idea to replace your broad match terms with modified broad match terms by adding the ‘+’ modifier to each term in the keyword. This will tighten the net and ensure greater relevancy.
  • Have a navigational keyword strategy present — Negative keywords serve two primary purposes. 1.) They keep your ads from serving for irrelevant search queries 2.) They help ensure that the impression goes to the right keyword. You may have multiple keywords that are eligible to serve an ad for a particular search query. You want your most relevant keyword (which will trigger your most relevant ad, and lead to your most relevant landing page) to trigger the impression. Navigation negatives allow to sculpt ad serving for optimal  relevancy.
  • Keyword-level destination URLs — You have the option to ad keyword destination URLs, which will supersede your ad destination URLs. Us them if you feel you can achieve greater landing page relevancy this way, although multiple ideal landing pages within a single ad group is usually an indication of the need for more structural segmentation at the ad group level for more customized ad messaging. That said, keyword level destination URLs can be extremely effective for things like advertising multiple sizes or colors of the same product.

 

 

Checklist For Auditing Account Structure

 

Campaign Level:

 

  • Separate campaigns by network
  • Separate campaigns for brand terms
  • Separate campaigns for competitor terms
  • Separate campaigns for RLSA
  • Segment GDN targeting methods
  • Separate campaigns by match-type
  • Alpha / Beta account structure
  • Separate campaigns by product type
  • Separate campaigns by geography and language
  • Separate campaigns for budget

 

Ad Group Level:

 

  • Ad group titles tightly themed around keywords
  • Less than thirty keywords per ad group
  • Consider ad group-level bids
  • Separate ad groups by match type

 

Keyword Level:

 

  • Keywords consistent across all three match types
  • Using broad match modifier
  • Have a navigational keyword strategy present
  • Keyword-level destination URLs

 

Ask Google: How To Structure an AdWords Account

 

 

Another good one, though ignore the best practice of building out separate campaigns by device! (No longer current due to Enhanced Campaigns)


Brad Geddes AdWords Account Structure Guide