Your Google Ads campaign structure is the internal organization of your ad campaigns. Get your structure right, and it’s easier to manage and optimize your PPC ads for success.

Here, you’ll find:

Laying down an effective structure before launching your ad campaigns makes it easier to manage and customize your ads. This means more clicks, more conversions, and more money for your business.

Not sure where to start? We’ve created this step-by-step guide for building the most effective Google Ads campaign structure.

What is Google Ads campaign structure?

Google Ads campaign structure is the backend organization of your Google Ads account. It refers to how you organize your account, campaigns, ad groups, and individual ads to get the best results.

Campaign structure: the Google Ads terminology you need to know

Flow chart showing how a Google Ads account is structured

Here are the must-know terms and their function within your Google Ads campaign structure:

Account

This is the top level of your Google Ads structure. All your campaigns, ad groups, and ads sit neatly under your account.

From here you can add your billing information, set up conversion tracking, and determine your attribution model.

Getting your Google Ads account structure right is vital as this will affect your campaigns and ad groups. Take the time to go through your settings and optimize everything to your specific needs.

Campaign

A Google Ads campaign is a collection of ad groups that share a specific theme and goal. For example, a collection of search ads that drive traffic to your ecommerce store.

You set your bid strategy at campaign level. This determines whether you choose keyword bids manually or allow Google to automatically bid on your behalf with specific criteria in mind.

Google Ads offers a wide range of campaign types. Here are some of the campaigns you can create.

Campaign types available in Google Ads

(Image: Google Ads screenshot)

  • Search ads: Text ads that pop up at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Search campaigns are great for driving searchers who are ready to buy to your website, as well as for local marketing
  • Performance Max: Performance Max campaigns use artificial intelligence (AI) to manage your ad campaigns across multiple Google properties at once
  • Display ads: Image ads that appear across the Google Display Network – over two million websites and mobile apps. Display ads build brand awareness and are also fantastic for retargeting
  • Shopping ads: Work in ecommerce? Shopping ads help showcase your entire product inventory at the top of the search results
  • Video ads: Ever watched an ad before your favorite YouTube playlist? A video ad campaign helps your audience visualize your products in action
  • App campaign: These specialist campaigns help you drive mobile app installs and in-app conversions across a wide range of Google properties
  • Smart campaigns: Google Smart campaigns use automation to run and manage your ads, ideal if you don’t have much Google Ads experience. They differ from Performance Max campaigns as they are simpler in structure
  • Demand Gen: Designed to work across Gmail, Google Discover, and YouTube Demand Gen campaigns target customers based on their search history and interests

Which campaign is right for your business?

“If your goal is to drive sales online, search or shopping ads are the ideal choice,” says Steven Dang, VP of Growth and Strategy at HawkSEM. “Alternatively, if you aim to encourage brand awareness, a display or video campaign can bring the results you’re looking for. Think about your audience, goals, and budget – this will help you find the right answer.”

Want to know more about setting up a Google Ads campaign? Check out our comprehensive guide!

Ad groups

Your ad groups sit under your campaign and contain multiple ads. Ads targeting similar audiences for similar products will likely belong to the same ad group.

Let’s say you sell footwear, and you have a Google Ads campaign for promoting women’s shoes. This campaign can contain separate ad groups for:

  • Running shoes
  • High heels
  • Flats
  • Affordable shoes

Multiple ad groups make it easier to organize your keywords and ad copy around specific themes and ideas.

Ads

Each ad group can contain multiple ads – this is the copy you use to sell your product or service in Google Ads.

Honda Google Search Ad

(Image: Google search engine results page screenshot)

“It’s sensible to run multiple ads for each ad group,” says Dang. This makes it easy to try different headlines, calls to action, and copy and see which prospective customers like best. I recommend three ads per ad group as a minimum.”

5 steps for structuring a Google Ads campaign

It’s important to take a methodical approach to your Google Ads account structure. While it’s tempting to jump right in and start creating ad groups straight away, it’s best to take it slow.

Here are the five steps you need to take to ensure your campaigns are well-structured.

  1. Conduct keyword research
  2. Create your campaign
  3. Craft your ads
  4. Build killer landing pages
  5. Test, tweak, and test some more!

1. Conduct keyword research

Knowing the words and phrases you want to target can help you plan how you structure your Google Ads campaigns and ad groups.

Keyword research is the cornerstone of all good digital marketing strategies – not only does it help steer your PPC campaigns, it supports your search engine optimization (SEO) too!

Generic keywords won’t help your Google Ad campaigns. “When we first started running Google Ads, we used extremely basic search terms like ‘industrial steam cleaners’ and ‘glass steam cleaners’, ” said Lev Tretyakov, CEO of Fortador. “We got clicks, but they were expensive, and didn’t always lead to conversions.”

“We tightened up our keywords and looked into long-tail words and phrases like ‘high-pressure Lamborghini powered steam cleaner. This, alongside more tightly-focused ad groups, led to a 13% increase in CTR and a 7% lower CPC.”

Google Keyword Planner report, using the seed keyword “women’s shoes”

(Image: Google Keyword Planner screenshot)

A great place to get ideas for keywords is Google Keyword Planner, which is free with a Google Ads account. Here you can see search volume, competition, and related keywords. You can also add relevant keywords straight into each ad group level.

Keep reading to see how many keywords you should add to each ad group, and to learn more about keyword match types.

2. Create your campaign

You’ve decided on your campaign type, your keyword list, and who you want to target. Now it’s time to build your ads. Getting the details right from the start saves time and effort later and means you see clicks and conversions sooner.

The details available depend on the type of campaign you create, but most campaign types have the following options.

  • Ad scheduling: You can set campaign start and end dates, ideal if you want to run time-sensitive adverts. You can also use ad scheduling to limit ads to certain hours of the day and days of the week
  • Device. You can choose which mobile device you want your ads to show on. For example, if you want to promote an Android app, it’s sensible to exclude your ad from showing on iOS devices
  • Location Location targeting allows you to specify where people can view your ads. You can also exclude particular countries, regions, and cities
  • Assets: Previously known as ad extensions, assets add extra information to your search ads. For example, you can add links to your most popular pages, a phone number, images, or a lead generation form. These make your ads more engaging and mean your ad takes up more space in the SERPs.
An example of assets in a Google search ad

(Image: Google search engine results page screenshot)

Regularly check your ad campaign settings to make sure they deliver the results you want.

3. Craft your ads

How you create your actual ad depends on the type of ad you choose. For a display ad, you need to upload images and videos. With search ads, you need to focus on writing solid ad copy.

For a responsive search ad, you provide a collection of headlines and descriptions. Google Ads then generates different ad combinations and identifies which ones perform best. Here’s what we recommend for writing fantastic Google Ads:

  • Use your target keywords in your ads where you can
  • Look at the ads your competitors create – Google Ads transparency center is great for inspiration
  • Google Ad headlines and descriptions have small character limits – every word counts!
  • Focus on the benefits you offer rather than the features. For example, rather than talking about the cleaning enzymes in the washing powder you sell, say how it provides spotless cleaning at lower temperatures
  • Try different ad copy ideas and experiment – you might create something your target audience loves!

Don’t forget to adhere to the Google Ads’ guidelines, which disallow trademarks, repetition, and copy that doesn’t make sense. Breaching guidelines can mean rejected ads and delays.

4. Build killer landing pages

Your ad is a small part of the customer journey. When a customer clicks on your ad, it must take them to a relevant, targeted and highly optimized landing page that prioritizes the user experience.

Landing page for Amazon Business

(Image: Amazon Business screenshot)

“If you’ve got a good click-through rate (CTR) on your ad, but the conversion rate on your website is low, it’s time to give your landing pages a tune-up,” says Dang. “Ideally you should have individual landing pages for each ad group so you can highlight different product offerings and promote different call to actions.”

Another benefit of a targeted landing page is that it positively affects your Google Ads Quality Score. The higher your score, the less you pay per click.

5. Test, tweak, and test some more!

Once you’ve set up your Google Ads campaign structure, the work doesn’t stop. You need to test your structures and optimize them to get the best results.

It’s especially important to regularly check in if you use automated bidding or an AI-assisted campaign type like Performance Max to make sure you’re not losing out on clicks.

The benefit of structuring your Google Ads campaigns from the start is that it makes it easier to see what works and simpler to make amends.

It’s critical to understand which metrics are most relevant to your business. Do you want to track conversions, cost-per-click (CPC), or CTR?

Conversion rate optimization strategies like A/B testing are a great way to see what your target audience prefers. Google Ads offers ad variations, which make it easy to run multiple versions of an ad.

Of course, if you don’t know where to start with optimizing your Google Ads campaign structure and ads, a Google Ads specialist can help. We used A/B testing to boost the University of Nevada’s PPC conversion rate by a staggering 309%!

3 advanced tips for PPC success

We’ve looked at the basics for optimizing your Google Ads campaign structure, but what else can you do to take your ads to the next level? We asked our PPC experts for their top tips.

Think about your keyword match type

You can choose different keyword match types for each word and phrase you bid on. This can significantly change the value of your bid, as well as the reach of your keywords.

Here’s a quick guide to the three different match types:

google ads campaign structure match types

You can also build a list of negative keywords. If someone uses one of these keywords in their search query, they won’t see your ad. You can apply these at the account, campaign, and ad group level, and they’re a great way of ensuring your ads don’t appear in front of the wrong target audience.

Consider how many keywords you have per ad group

“As a rule of thumb, the more keywords you have in an ad group, the easier the ad groups are to manage,” Says Dang. “However, this means your ads are less targeted, resulting in potential lost clicks and conversions.”

There are three main ways to structure your ad groups. Single keyword ad groups (SKAGs), single theme ad groups (STAGs), and single intent ad groups (SIAGs). Let’s look at these in more detail.

SKAGS STAGS SIAGS

Our opinion? SKAGs worked well in the past, but with all the changes to Google Ads, they’re not as efficient as they used to be. STAGs and SIAGs are better options, but the choice that’s right for you will depend on your industry and goals.

Regardless of which option you choose, we recommend using between five and twenty keywords per ad group and negative keywords to eliminate low-quality clicks.

Download Google Ads Editor

Alt text: Google Ads editor home page

It’s important to regularly check your Google Ads campaign structure, but it can be hard to make changes in bulk on the Google Ads website. Downloading Google Ads Editor makes it easier to amend your campaigns in a couple of clicks.

Google Ads Editor works on your desktop, meaning you can work offline. You can make changes in bulk and amend multiple campaigns at the same time.

The takeaway

Getting your Google Ads account structure right before you start creating campaigns makes it much easier to manage, review, and optimize your ads.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to getting your campaign structure right. You might need to do some testing and research to see what works best for your business.

At HawkSEM, we’re experts in PPC management, which is the boost your ad campaigns need to soar to new heights. With our expert team and access to enterprise tools, including ConversionIQ, we’re well-placed to transform your Google Ads campaign structure and get you on the right track.

We’re here to step up your campaign goals, one keyword at a time.

Talk to us today to find out more.

This article has been updated and was originally published in February 2023.

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