Shiny PPC ads dominate Google’s SERP, but you’ll need the right structure to set up a Google Ads campaign that’ll land you at the top.
Here, you’ll find:
- How Google Ads (FKA Google AdWords) campaigns support your marketing goals
- The fundamentals of a bulletproof Google Ads campaign structure
- Expert guidance from industry pros
- An easy, step-by-step guide to set up your Google Ads campaign for 2023
How do you structure a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign with confidence — and without worrying you’re taking a big budget risk?
When you don’t have an effective structure in place, you’re not likely to land high up on search engine results pages (SERPs).
That’s why we created this easy to follow, step-by-step guide for building the most effective Google Ads campaign structure.
Why is structure so key? For starters, paid ads on Google’s search network and display network make up 21% of all web traffic.
(Let’s translate that into dollars.)
Google’s Chief Economist Hal Varian dissected cost-per-click (CPC) insights across various advertisers. The common denominator was an average $2 return for every $1 spent on Google Ads — in other words, a 100% ROI.
But to see returns like that requires a supercharged campaign structure.
What is Google Ads campaign structure?
Google Ads campaign structure is the backend organization of your Google Ads. Each campaign is made up of ad groups — and inside those ad groups are (you guessed it) the ads relevant to that particular ad group.
But let’s break down what these terms mean a little further.
Google Ads account structure: The basics
Google Ads can feel a bit like a Russian doll of jargon. Here are the must-know terms and their function inside a Google Ads campaign structure:
- Search ads: Text ads that pop up at the top of Google’s SERPs. These are great for boosting leads, sales, and conversions.
- Display ads: Image ads that help you showcase the visual appeal of your products and reach segmented audiences.
- Video ads: Ever watched an ad before your favorite YouTube playlist? That was a video ad campaign, a fabulous choice to help your audience visualize your products in action.
- Local ad campaigns: Do you operate in a specific region? Local ad campaigns help you target people in your area.
- App campaign: These campaigns help you get coverage across Google’s search engine pages, videos, and millions of other apps.
- Shopping ads: Retail marketers, to the front! Shopping ads help you showcase an entire product inventory atop Google’s SERPs.
- Smart campaigns: Your regular ad campaign, only automated with Google’s expert optimization.
- Performance Max Campaigns: Smart campaigns working overdrive, with real-time optimization, richer insights, and access to an entire Google Ads inventory from one campaign.
You might try different strategies for each campaign, like A/B testing a video campaign versus an app campaign. If this sounds like too much heavy lifting, we’d love to help. For example, our conversion rate optimization service used A/B testing to boost Sierra Nevada University’s conversions by 309%.
Conversely, you might want to spend more of your marketing budget on a local campaign, or compare two campaigns with different keywords.
Keywords are the rocket fuel that launch well-written SEO content to top-SERP status, and the same goes for Google Ad campaigns. For example, a luxury wedding planner might target keywords like “wedding planner LA” or “high-end wedding planner.”
But remember: You’ll need to place these keywords in each ad group, heading, description, and account for negative keywords.
So, in the luxury wedding planner’s case, going after rankings for “the wedding planner” could mean sharing campaigns with an irrelevant audience — people searching for JLo’s rom-com. Yikes.
To avoid this, use Google’s Keyword Planner to get started and be sure to account for those negative keywords.
Let’s say you offer eight main products you’d like to advertise. The ads with a common theme (perhaps two-three) are part of an ad group level.
Think of it like a subcategory, ads targeting similar audiences for similar products (maybe two-three ads) will likely belong to the same ad group. Each ad group shares a landing page where relevant audiences can take that next step in the buyer’s journey.
These are the two-three bite-sized lines describing your product. Google says ad copy should be “genuine” and “compelling.”
Meaning? You’ve got a tiny window to make your products pop and warrant clicks.
You want to channel your product’s benefits concisely, and in the most engaging way. You might look to competitors for ideas, or research your audience to establish an effective writing tone.
Of course, you might not figure out the best style right off the bat. That’s why Google offers ad variations, a method for testing your ads’ effectiveness. Play around with different creative copy to see which ads bring more conversions and pump up ad rank. Here’s an audience-centric example from Honda, whom we serve as one of our clients:
So, where does your audience land after clicking on your ad? On a landing page!
Your ad captured their attention; the landing page is the workhorse that needs to immediately convey your top selling points, speak to their pain points, offer a solution, and, if operating at full capacity, seal the deal with an enticing call to action (CTA) that results in sales conversions.
Landing pages can be sales pages, information pages, or sign-up forms where you gather email addresses. These will become great leads to nurture.
Here at HawkSEM, we offer a breadth of strategic tips for effective landing pages that combine a stellar user experience while incorporating best practices to kickstart the creative juices.
Alright, now you know the key ingredients of a PPC campaign structure. Next we’ll share how to structure your campaigns using these ingredients for maximum results.
Pro tip: Ensure having tight relevance between keyword, ad copy and landing page headlines to get the highest quality scores. The better the quality score metrics, the less you pay per click.
5 steps for structuring a Google Ads campaign
1. Conduct keyword research
Keyword research starts with audience and competitor research. If you want to know what your audience is searching for on Google, you need to understand them first. Maybe you already do. If not? Start with:
- Customer surveys
- Social media monitoring
- Google Trends
After that, check out your competitors. What keywords are they ranking for? You might want to capture some of their audience, or target keywords with a spin closer to your brand selling points.
Then, check out Google’s Keyword Planner, where you type in your ideal keywords and see related keywords and average traffic for each one. Don’t forget to add negative keywords so you don’t mistakenly attract the wrong audience.
Each ad group needs about 20-25 keywords. But your future customer might not type your service to the letter, that would be an exact keyword match. That’s why your research should cover all keyword match types:
- Exact match: Word-for-word search query. These are specific keywords that narrow down your audience. For example, you might make “Los Angeles insurance advisor” an exact keyword to target an LA audience.
- Phrase match: Queries with the same meaning albeit different words. For example, “LA insurance broker.”
- Broad match: Queries with keywords related to your keywords. The pool gets bigger here, so you might use phrases like “health insurance LA,” “car accident coverage LA,” or “malpractice insurance Los Angeles.”
But what happens when you start getting clicks? How do you know what your audience typed into Google’s search box? Google’s Search Terms Report helps you find out. We use that, plus our proprietary tech ConversionIQ to decipher which keywords resonate with our client’s audiences the most.
We applied this method to our client Mommy’s Bliss to acquire a 79% increase in their keyword rankings!
After that, play around with smart bidding so Google can automatically bid on high-performing keywords.
Here’s a quick run-through for your keyword tasks:
- Audience research
- Competitor research
- Keyword Planner
- Match types
- Ad Group brainstorming
- Search Terms Reports
- Smart bidding
2. Create a campaign
You might have one or two ideas to start. Maybe it’s two location-targeting campaigns for your two laser hair spa locations. Or, it’s an image-based ad campaign for your novel travel backpack.
You’ll get to add in the details by toggling campaign settings:
- Type: Search, Display, App, Shopping, or maybe Performance Max? Decide where your audience sees your ads by picking a campaign type.
- Schedule: Input the campaign start and end dates. You might compare similar campaigns over different seasons.
- Ad scheduling: Does your ideal audience spend a lot of time online in the evening? Ad scheduling helps you limit ads to certain hours of the day, or even days of the week.
- Location and language: A simple yet salient setting. Don’t forget to set your location(s) and language(s).
- Ad extensions: What should your audience know beyond your ad copy or headline? A phone number to reach you? Can you link to more web pages on top of your landing page like this accounting firm (“Request a consultation” and “Sign up for newsletter”)?
- Bids and budgets: Check your keyword list and prioritize your top contenders. If they’re super relevant, you might set a high default bid for them, which is the highest you’d bid for the keyword.
- Bid strategy: Smart bidding is the best way to ensure ample PPC optimization for each ad. However, that could cost you a pretty penny. Consider manually bidding for more granular insights, customizability, visibility, and savings instead.
We like to look at all the data with a fine-toothed comb for our PPC campaigns at HawkSEM, including conversion rate, CPA, and ad spend. We did this for our client New Century Financial. A little monitoring and subsequent bid adjustments helped us increase conversions six times over.
You’ve created your first ad campaign! Pat yourself on the back, the hardware is in order, now let’s tweak and tighten the nuts and bolts to really make your campaigns pop.
3. Craft your ads
Let’s assume you chose to start with a search (text) ad. A text ad comprises three sections: a headline, description, and URL.
Today’s Google Ads expert isn’t phased by the small 90-character description limit. Here, every word counts. So your ad copy should engage, excite, and convince the audience to learn more. Try to include any of these value adds:
- Unique features
As for the headline? All that with even higher stakes with a mere 30-character limit, since it’s the first line your customer will see. A solid keyword is mandatory here, too. Once everything looks primed and polished, proofread the copy with Google Ads’ guidelines close by.
If you’re stuck with writer’s block, get help from a Google Ads agency. They often have skilled marketing writers on staff to help you communicate your value in an enticing way.
4. Back ads up with killer landing pages
Your landing page should keep up with your ad’s promises. Flaunting a promotion? Your landing page should outline that 25% discount. Claiming to be a field leader? Prove it with a landing page statistic or testimonial to build visible social proof.
Your ad strategy is the first base. Once your ad copy reaches your audience, you’ve hit second. The landing page is third base. You should highlight your product offerings in a compelling way that’s aligned with the ad copy the viewer just read.
We’re talking about serious relevance and persuasive CTAs. Bonus points for personalized CTAs.
But the persuasion doesn’t just come from the CTA alone.
You can showcase your product’s benefits, testimonials, and case studies here to wine and dine your audience. Only then will they fill out your information form for your email newsletter or other action. Just remember to keep forms to the point, please. Nothing long-winded, or you’ll sacrifice your punch and intrigue.
You might already have a landing page or two and create some ads after the fact. If that’s the case, ensure alignment and accuracy across the two pieces.
The goal? Conversions, aka the home run.
5. Test different campaign structures
Once you’ve set up your structure for a specific ad type, the work doesn’t stop. You need to test things out and see which structures work the best.
Google Ads is nearly infinite. Trust us; we’ve worked with hundreds of different combinations. So which ones do we recommend to start with to get the most bang for your buck?
Broad match – smart bidding
Yes, you run the risk of casting too wide an audience net with broad match keywords. But Google recently invited marketers to use broad-match keywords with smart bidding, promising to identify more keyword opportunities this way. Plus, you’ll score more clicks!
Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAG)
Itching to test out different keywords? Try single keyword ad group campaigns, where you dedicate a single keyword to different groups. As a result, you’ll adjust the ad text and headlines to match each respective keyword. Let the best keyword win.
Of course, the SKAG PPC campaign structure is one of the most time consuming tasks.
Why not let a professional handle the busy work? Our skilled PPC experts will happily dive into every single keyword and determine the best performing ones.
Age groups with smart bidding
It’s simple — age groups help you leverage customer lifetime value (CLV) in your digital marketing strategy. You’ll spend a ton of time toggling negative keywords; however, if you have enough data to back it, you’ll be able to target longer-term customers and high-value age groups.
These are just a few examples. If you’re just starting out, test as many separate campaigns as possible — or as your budget allows — until you find one bringing you the big bucks.
But hey, why not cut to the chase and remove the guesswork?
We conduct A/B testing to help our clients learn how to structure a PPC campaign that works for them.
Still, don’t underestimate the power of a slamming landing page. We revamped one for our client, Zephyr, sprucing up the page’s lead form. Conversions were so immediate and drastic that we didn’t even have to conduct A/B testing.
It’s easy to get behind the power of Google Ads, but the perfect paid search campaign structure eludes many marketers. Luckily, the right research, testing, and skilled hand can expedite your Google Ad campaigns to the next level.
But you’ll need time and data; two things marketers always run short on.
At HawkSEM, we’re experts in PPC management, which is just the boost your campaigns need to really soar to new heights.
Did you call for backup yet? We hear you and we’re here to step up your campaign goals, one keyword at a time.
Talk to us today to start generating an average 4.5x marketing ROI our clients gain from partnering with us.