There’s so many variables that dictates the success or failure of an AdWords Campaign. The moment you decide on your Adwords structure is when you’ll define a successful search campaign from one thats a complete flop.  It’s well known that ongoing account management and optimizations are most important to PPC success however before we can even begin talking about optimization, we need to focus on building the Adwords structure foundation layer that’ll serve as the springboard for all future campaigns. There’s so many different methods that one can take to structuring their Adwords account so I’m going to stick with the methods I’ve found to consistent show solid results and which are relatively easy to replicate so you can learn this approach, then implement into your own Adwords account and which will lead to you developing your own Adwords structure style.

Adwords Structure Overview

An AdWords account contains a hierarchy of components as follows: campaigns > ad groups > ads > keywords. Campaigns are at the top of the pyramid. They house our ad groups, which contain our ads and keywords.

Essentially, the basic framework of an AdWords account is pretty simple, however to actually execute proper Adwords structure from scratch is where you will need the most practice. First and most importantly, you must predetermine what your strategy is prior to starting starting the development process. Whether or not you plan on creating Display Ads along with search campaigns, you have to have an end goal in mind. Search campaigns are generally the first campaigns that are going to be built out in a PPC Campaign so logically that’s where we will begin.

The Adwords Structure Needed for Search Campaign Success

Adwords Structure at The Campaign Level

How you initially set up your Adwords campaigns is a pretty big predictor of your campaigns success, or ultimate failure. At this stage, I prefer a simple approach to my campaign structure by casting a wide net in order to help me later on by making the account management and optimizations run smoother. My goal is to simply generate data. From experience, it will typically take 3 to 4 weeks of running brand awareness campaigns to gather enough data so that I can begin targeting. Each initial campaign needs to be broad based and as the data comes in will be whittled down over and over until it’s narrowly focused and showing traction as a winner 

Brand vs. Non-Brand

Separating your campaigns by brand and non-branded keywords is typically the first step that’ll be put into action. Your branded campaigns will perform a lot differently than your non-branded campaign, which is why they’re sectioned out by campaigns. As a starting point, the budget required for a brand vs. non-brand campaign will vary as well. Branded campaign will still be themed out but done so at the ad group level depending on the amount of your product and/or service offerings on hand.

The non-brand campaigns typically have more competition and will require a lot more oversight and daily management ranging from budget optimizations to ad scheduling. Structuring our campaigns this way allows us to focus more on the high level theme, which makes budget allocation more streamlined and efficient due to campaigns structuring.

The Adwords Structure Needed for Search Campaign Success

Keyword Match Type

Your Adwords campaigns should also be segmented out by keyword match type. The way I’ve approached this is to have the first campaign containing broad match keywords, or broad match modified with a phrase matched keywords grouped by ad groups, and then I’ll clone a campaign from one of 2 methods described above that will contain just exact match keywords. This Adwords structure gives us two campaigns that has the same keyword sets, only one will consist of broad/phrase match keywords and the other strictly exact match. Now this is important, the exact match keywords should then be applied as negative keywords to the first broad match campaign. This is important as it will prevent internal competition amongst keywords. 

Why would we do this? Let me explain.

Your broad match campaigns will cast a wide net and draw in search queries that you can potentially add as new keywords while your exact match campaigns only trigger ads for the exact keyword phrase, exactly as you have it written. Once search queries are worthy enough to be counted as keywords, they’ll be added to exact match campaign and then applied as a negative keyword to the broad match campaign it came from. This keeps campaigns clearly and organized so that optimizations are a lot easier to manage.

Adwords Structure: The Ad Group Level

Your ad groups should be categorized by more granular themes. Each ad group should contain a keyword set that is as relevant as possible to your ad group. When you do this, it just makes it easier to identify keyword sets that aren’t engaging by your audience and you’re able to make the cuts to improve them.

Having your keywords organized like this will also help improve the Quality Score of your keywords. You’ll want your ad copy to be as closely related to your keywords as possible in order to generate high click-through-rates and improve the ad relevance of your creative. When keywords are in tight clusters, your ad copy will reflect a highly relevant message to your audience and boost the performance of your campaigns. On the topic of Quality Score, there is another method of setting up your campaigns at the ad group level.

Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs)

SKAGs are exactly how they sound, every keyword receives its own ad group. This can be extremely helpful in situations where keywords are in hyper competitive ad auctions or their average cost-per-click is extraneously high. In these circumstances, Quality Score can pay huge dividends to the amount you pay per click and pay per acquisition.

When each keywords is in its own ad group, your ad group will (at least it should) contain ad copy that has the keywords directly placed into it. Matching ad copy to your keywords greatly improves CTR (try resisting clicking on an ad that has what you searched on Google displayed right in front of you) because your copy will be highly relevant.

It is important to note that this type of structure does require added maintenance in the long run. Each time a new keyword is added to a campaign, a new ad group and set of ads must be created as opposed to bucketing new keywords into an ad group theme in the first strategy mentioned. While some extra hours may be put in down the road, benefits will be reaped with strong performance.

Adwords Structure: The Ad Level

At the ad level, it’s a best to have around 3-5 ads per ad group. This allows you to test copy variations in order to see what sticks best with your target audience.

Every ad contains the following components:

The Adwords Structure Needed for Search Campaign Success

The ad components that you need to focus on testing are the Headlines and Descriptions. When conducting your split tests, you need to keep every component of your ad exactly the same with the exception of the one component that you’re testing. Done this way makes it easier when generating test results, to know exactly which component of your ad is responsible for a winning ad. A new variation can then be prepared and added into the rotation.


The structure of an AdWords account can be the difference between a winner or a complicated needy partner that demands hours of your time. It’s essential to build a solid foundation if you plan on having an account for any length of time. By structuring your AdWords account using the practices here, you will be able to more easily jump into campaigns and see where you’re having success, as well as identify the root causes of poor campaign performance and positive results alike.

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The Adwords Structure Needed for Search Campaign Success
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The Adwords Structure Needed for Search Campaign Success
There's so many variables that factor into the success and even failure of an AdWords account that we couldn't no talk about properly talking about is the Adwords structure you need to follow for search campaign success.
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Marketing Media Wizard
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