Blog Post

PPC How To - Beginner Campaign Structure


In this inaugural post in our PPC How To series, I will start with the reason behind providing PPC How To instructions when our primary business is having clients hire us to setup and manage their PPC accounts. Some might say we are giving away the farm. As I tell many of our clients, you should blog about what you known and we know PPC. I will blog about beginner and expert topics and welcome any input on questions to answer… just use our contact us form.

Adam and I been investing a significant amount of resources in building our own PPC Management tools with short-terms plans to release a self-service PPC Management tool. Our plan is to couple the tool with PPC How To video and text content to give our clients the information they need to build and manage successful PPC Campaigns.

One of the first PPC How To issues we work with is how to the search engine campaign structure features. When new clients come to us one of the first issues we work on is aligning the campaign structure with the goals of their PPC campaign.

So, what is campaign structure? All of the engines have adopted the same general approach. Here is quick overview of the structure they provide:

  • Account – this is the highest level of the campaign structure and typically holds the information about your business and the billing instructions. If you are using an agency, they may run your search accounts through their account or you can open your own.
    • Campaign – The campaign is the next highest level and is the only structure that lets you allocate budget within an account. You cannot tell Google/Yahoo/MSN that you want to spent $100 on a certain keyword rather you must put that keyword or a group of keywords into a campaign and assign budget. In our experience, controlling budget and measuring return is one of the most important uses of campaign when building an account.
      • Adgroup – Adgroups are the lowest level of the hierarchy but hold all of the keywords and ad creative (text / display / mobile). Adgroups are most important because they allow us to closely match the ad creative to the keyword.

Now that we have established the hierarchy, now we’ll review the PPC How To issues that we run into most often:

  • PPC How To Issue: Only Using 1 Campaign – for the simplest campaigns you may only need one campaign, but almost every campaign we have reviewed would be more efficient if they used campaigns to allocate their budget more efficiently. Let’s take the simplest example, Branded Terms vs Category Terms. I always recommend that clients keep their branded terms in its own campaign so that they can more precisely control budget and measure return on different terms. I’ve seen too many campaigns that look great when everything is together only to find out that many of the keywords are dragging down the average.
  • PPC How To Issue: Only Using 1 AdGroup – if a client is only using one campaign, they are most likely only using 1 AdGroup as well. Why? Well Google (and Yahoo / MSN) want to make it easy to setup an account so their account setup wizards try to keep things simple. They accomplish the goal of simplifying sign-up but it isn’t the best way to run a PPC campaign. Most campaigns cover several different themes and offers. Ideally, you will want targeted ads for each of these groups.
  • PPC How To Issue: Mixing Head Terms and Tail Terms – most campaigns will naturally evolve in a way that you’ll get about 80% of your success from 20% of your terms. Those 20% of your terms are the head terms. I recommend that you pay special attention to them and consider how to use campaigns and AdGroups to structure your campaign such that you control your budget and measure your return.

It is impossible to cover all of the ways to use campaign structure. Our clients use campaign structure to solve geographic service areas, hours of operation, internal budget allocation and many other issues. You can sign-up for our newsletter if you’d like to receive upcoming additions to the PPC How To series. Or, if you’d like us to review your campaign structure and provide actionable recommendations, sign-up for a FREE 30 Day Trial.