The Importance of Campaign Structure and Naming Conventions in Paid Search Accounts

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 SticksKeywords: [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 CheeseKeywords:[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 SticksHeadline:Buy Nacho Cheese Sticks
  • Description Line 1:Our Delicious Sticks: Now 20% Off!
  • Description Line 2:While Supplies Last, Buy Some Now.
  • Display

  • Ad Group Name:Nacho CheeseHeadline: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:

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.

By Omri Levin, Senior Media Manager

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