The Importance of Structure in a New Paid Search Account

, August 11, 2014

When creating paid search campaigns, sometimes we are rushed to put something together quickly – just to get it live.  And when that happens, we don’t often have the time to create a campaign structure that will serve a long-term purpose, allow for flexibility and changes, and which can be easily maintained by another person.

Basic Structure of a Google AdWords Account

Basic Structure of a Google AdWords Account

It’s important to take the time to strategically lay out your PPC account, because this ensures that your ads and keywords are tightly themed, which improves your CTR and Quality Scores.  And having a well-thought out account structures provides easier ongoing maintenance and optimization. Taking that extra time up front will save you a lot of time and headaches down the road.

Let’s identify 5 important steps to follow when creating a new paid search account:

1)     Put it down on paper first

Sounds old fashioned right? But sometimes you need to create an outline or diagram to see what your new account will look like, at least from a visual perspective.  And mapping out your layout helps to ensure you have the right structure in place.  I use different methods, depending on the size of the account.  Flowchart tools like SmartDraw provide you the ability to visualize the high level campaign/adgroup/keyword flow.   AdWords Editor allows you to create draft accounts that help you visualize what your account should look like, and gives you the ability to “see” what it will look like.

2)     Use descriptive naming conventions

Once you have your layout in place, ensure you use clear but concise naming conventions for your campaigns and ad groups.  This is critical if you have various product types and models.  If you have different geographic campaigns, incorporate that into the naming convention as well.  Another suggestion is if you are incorporating different keyword match types, add that to your campaign name.  Be sure to use descriptive names in your ad group  names as well – this makes determining where you keywords should be a much easier process.

If you have both search and display campaigns, notate this in the campaign names.  This helps when sorting campaigns to look at specific performance metrics (ex: filter by Search and Display).

3)     Bucket like keywords together

This can be one of the more challenging tasks in setting up a campaign – determining which keywords go into which ad groups.  However, if you take the time to set up strategically themed ad groups, this process can be relatively easy.    By taking the time to put the keywords in the right ad groups, it makes creating the ad copy much easier as well.  Make sure you follow best practices, and keep the number of keywords in each ad group to a maximum of 8-10.

4)     Use best practices with ad copy

Having tightly themed keywords in your ad group helps you to be able successful and relevant ad copy.  Try to incorporate the keyword or keyword phrase in either the headline or the description line, and also try to work into the vanity URL.  Include a strong call to action, and have at least three versions of ad copy per ad group.  If you have a larger number of keywords, you will want to incorporate additional versions.

5)     Get a second set of eyes

It’s always important to have another person review what you have put together – everyone has a different background and experiences, and having someone else look at your structure can provide valuable insights that you might have not thought of.

Creating a new paid search account takes a lot of thought and planning.  Take the necessary time to build a solid and well thought out campaign structure, and it will pay off in the long run.


Author bio: Diane Pease is an Inbound Marketing Manager for Cisco, and has been in online and traditional marketing for over 25 years. She has expertise in SEO, social and traditional marketing, but her primary specialty is Paid Search and analytics. Diane focuses on providing clients with solid paid search strategies and seamless campaign execution. Her last article for SEMrush was “10 Tips for a Successful PPC Account Launch.”

  • Michelle Anderson

    Great article. I’ve always tested two ads per ad group at a time. Any thoughts on this strategy as opposed to 3 per ad group? Thanks!

  • Diane Pease

    Hi Michelle – great question! Typically I have done two, but sometimes it depends on what you might be trying to test (such as different offers).