Oppor­tu­ni­ties often arise for an agency to restruc­ture a client’s cam­paigns.  This often hap­pens when a client switch­es agen­cies. Search Dis­cov­ery has restruc­tured dozens of clients at the onset of an engage­ment and, through ini­tial account audits, our team dis­cov­ers oppor­tu­ni­ties to put best prac­tices in place.  These stan­dard prac­tices ele­vate account per­for­mance and increase con­trol over opti­miza­tions, bud­get­ing and more.

The rea­son for a restruc­ture may con­sists of a messy set­up due to years of delet­ed key­words and cam­paigns.  Anoth­er rea­son may be that a Google account may not be using stan­dard best prac­tices like sep­a­rat­ing spon­sored text ads and dis­play ads to under­stand per­for­mance between the two net­works and to pro­vide more con­trol over bud­get­ing and opti­miza­tions.  Addi­tion­al­ly have these two net­works in a sin­gle campaign/ad group will neg­a­tive­ly affect Qual­i­ty Score.  What­ev­er the case is, there are sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits to set­ting up an account accord­ing to the fol­low­ing best prac­tices.

# Part 1:Campaign Struc­ture


Campaign Settings

The set­tings that are man­aged on a cam­paign lev­el are:
- Bud­get
— Loca­tions — Tar­get­ing
— Exclu­sions
— Bid Adjust­ments
— Ad Sched­ul­ing — On/Off
— Bid Adjust­ments
— Lan­guages
— Bid Strat­e­gy
- Device Tar­get­ing — Bid Adjust­ments Only
— Net­works — Search vs. Dis­play
— Deliv­ery — Stan­dard vs. Accel­er­at­ed
— Ad Rota­tion
— Cam­paign Lev­el Neg­a­tive Key­words

There are agency and gen­er­al best prac­tices to fol­low when mak­ing deci­sions about how to break out cam­paigns; how­ev­er, clients’ pre­req­ui­sites such as bud­get­ing or tar­get­ing pref­er­ences may set the lim­its for what options an adver­tis­er has.

Match Types

BEST PRACTICE: Sep­a­rate cam­paigns by match type.

To learn more about the dif­fer­ences of match types and see exam­ples vis­it Google’s AdWords Help web­site.

As a first step, we want to sep­a­rate exact match key­words from all oth­er match types.  This will allow us to apply cam­paign lev­el neg­a­tive key­words, mir­ror­ing your exact match terms, for all broad cam­paigns to pri­or­i­tize and force the Exact match iter­a­tion to serve and not match out to anoth­er match type.

Con­trol is the key goal here.  Typ­i­cal­ly, exact match terms are more con­sis­tent in their per­for­mance.  By iso­lat­ing exact match terms, you can effec­tive­ly adjust bids to set them in an opti­mal aver­age posi­tion and ensure each key­word pro­vides the high­est return on invest­ment.  Since exact match per­for­mance is the most effi­cient, it makes sense to ful­ly fund these (if you have the bud­get to do so) which is done by sin­gling out with­in its own cam­paigns.

It can be ben­e­fi­cial to sep­a­rate phrase, broad and broad match mod­i­fi­er terms as well, at least into sep­a­rate ad groups, to be able to do the same.  With­out this struc­ture, you will find that some of your broad­est terms cap­ture traf­fic on key­words that you have built out else­where in your account.


BEST PRACTICE: Sep­a­rate *brand terms from every­thing else.*

An added ben­e­fit of hav­ing a sep­a­rate cam­paign for exact terms is that you are now able to bud­get sep­a­rate­ly for your exact terms.  If you find that exact match terms pro­vide a sta­ble and high ROI, a sep­a­rate cam­paign will allow you to set a bud­get that will only be spent on those high­est per­form­ing terms.

The most rel­e­vant exam­ple of this is on brand­ed terms. In this way, an adver­tis­er can ensure that they are serv­ing ads for brand terms at all desired times.  If brand is not sep­a­rat­ed out into its own cam­paign, brand terms will stop serv­ing as soon as the cam­paigns bud­get is exhaust­ed.

For exam­ple, an adver­tis­er adds a few new terms in a cam­paign that turn out to be expen­sive and have a high lev­el of vol­ume.  By mid-day, the new terms have caused his bud­get to be exhaust­ed.  Since he had brand terms in the same cam­paign as the new terms, his brand terms have no more bud­get with which to serve impres­sions.

Geo Targeting[


Adver­tis­ers in cer­tain ver­ti­cals such as trav­el, hos­pi­tal­i­ty or retail may have loca­tion based bud­gets or oth­er goals that will require them to break out cam­paigns by loca­tion.  Google’s enhanced cam­paigns now allow a user to tar­get and boost bids based on spe­cif­ic loca­tions; how­ev­er, to effec­tive­ly man­age sep­a­rate bud­gets by geo­graph­i­cal area, sep­a­rate cam­paigns are still required.

BEST PRACTICE:  Use Geo­graph­ic tar­get­ing to cut waste and tar­get your local cus­tomers, espe­cial­ly if you’re a local busi­ness.

There are addi­tion­al, very cool, geo-tar­get­ing capa­bil­i­ties that are out of the scope of this arti­cle such as geo-fenc­ing.  Stay tuned for addi­tion­al posts on geo-tar­get­ing.

Display vs. Search

I admit this one is pret­ty straight-for­ward, although, you would be sur­prised by how often we find a new client has com­bined Search & Dis­play cam­paigns.  There is not a lot of ben­e­fit to com­bin­ing mul­ti­ple net­works oth­er than ease of man­age­ment.  To be hon­est, I don’t under­stand com­plete­ly why it is even an option and there­fore strong­ly rec­om­mend that all cam­paigns are either tar­get­ed to the Search or Dis­play Net­work.

There is much more to cov­er on Dis­play as well.  Stay tuned for addi­tion­al best prac­tices specif­i­cal­ly for dis­play and oth­er non-search cam­paigns.

BEST PRACTICE:  If you have lim­it­ed bud­get, stick to Search only to max­i­mize the traf­fic with high­er intent for action.


Anoth­er use case for a sep­a­rate cam­paign is for test­ing.  For exam­ple, you may want to reduce all vari­ables in a copy test oth­er than the dif­fer­ences in copy.  In order to do this you could cre­ate a cam­paign for test­ing, dupli­cate the ad group that the test will reside in, pause the orig­i­nal and be off to the races. The qual­i­ty score for the copy will be as fresh as is pos­si­ble for both the orig­i­nal and new ad to be test­ed.

BEST PRACTICE:  Always test and learn to dri­ve bet­ter per­for­mance and under­stand data and trends!

Part 2:

Naming Conventions

Naming Campaigns

The nam­ing of cam­paigns and ad groups is both per­son­al and, in my own per­son­al opin­ion, an art form.  There are many ben­e­fits to con­cise and descrip­tive nam­ing con­ven­tions.

For exam­ple, an account has a broad cam­paigns con­sist­ing of broad, phrase and exact terms.  The cam­paigns break down to a brand, com­peti­tor and non-brand cam­paign.  I per­son­al­ly like to use the pipebar “|” so that cam­paign names might look like this:

  • Brand|Exact
  • Brand|Broad
  • Competitor|Exact
  • Competitor|Broad
  • NB|Exact
  • NB|Broad

You may ask, why “NB” instead of “Non-Brand” and I would say to you… great ques­tion!  There are two ben­e­fits here:

BEST PRACTICE:  Reduce the num­ber of char­ac­ters when cre­at­ing Ad Group and Cam­paign names.

There is a ben­e­fit to reduc­ing name length as much as pos­si­ble.  When you cre­ate reports and/or bulk sheets, the short­er the names, the more columns you can view at one time.  Grant­ed, this isn’t a prob­lem if your office looks like this:

Multiple Monitor Setup
Image from Life Hacker

Naming Ad Groups

Ad Group nam­ing is by far more impor­tant than cam­paign nam­ing.  The impor­tance of Ad Group nam­ing goes hand in hand with the struc­ture and “tight­ness” of Ad Groups.

BEST PRACTICE:  Build­ing tight Ad Groups helps an adver­tis­er max­i­mize qual­i­ty score, improve ad rel­e­vance and click through rate, make copy updates more effi­cient and more.

**Ad Groups should typ­i­cal­ly have an aver­age of 10 or less key­words.  The name of the Ad Group should close­ly reflect the key­words with­in it.  An exam­ple:

  • Ad Group Name: Nacho Cheese Sticks- Key­words: [nacho cheese sticks], [nacho cheese stick], [nacho cheese stix], [nacho cheeze sticks], [nacho cheeze stick], [nacho cheeze stix] , [nacho cheez sticks], [nacho cheez stick], [nacho cheez stix]

  • Ad Group Name: Nacho Cheese- Key­words:[nacho cheese], [nacho cheeze], [nacho cheez]

By tight­ly align­ing ad groups, the adver­tis­er is able to tar­get each set of key­words with the most rel­e­vant ad and land­ing page.  This improves click through rate and qual­i­ty score.  In the above exam­ple, an adver­tis­er may now cre­ate the fol­low­ing tar­get­ed ads:

  • Ad Group Name:Nacho Cheese Sticks- Head­line:Buy Nacho Cheese Sticks
  • Descrip­tion Line 1:Our Deli­cious Sticks: Now 20% Off!
  • Descrip­tion Line 2:While Sup­plies Last, Buy Some Now.
  • Dis­play URL:www.NotYoCheese.com/Sticks

  • Ad Group Name:Nacho Cheese- Head­line:Buy NotYo’s Nacho Cheese

  • Descrip­tion Line 1:Our Deli­cious Cheese: Now 20% Off!
  • Descrip­tion Line 2:While Sup­plies Last, Buy Some Now.
  • Dis­play URL: www.NotYoCheese.com/Cheese

Since the key­word is basi­cal­ly sum­ma­rized in the Ad Group name, future ad copy updates are much eas­i­er and you will not need to dig into each ad group to under­stand what key­words each ad will serve for.