In Is Your Paid Search Agency Ripping You Off? (Part 1), we showed you how to look into your AdWords paid search account’s change log to evaluate the amount of management activity that has occurred (or worse, not occurred). Today we’ll look at how to evaluate your accounts basic structure or setup.

Rip-Off Sign #2: Poorly-Structured Account

Google AdWords (and Bing/Yahoo as well) gives the account manager the ability to organize a paid search account into Campaigns, which then can be further subdivided into Ad Groups. Working from the bottom up, an Ad Group consists of one or more keywords (the search terms you are bidding on) associated with one or more ads. Google shows the ad in an ad group when it has determined that a particular search entered by a Google user matches well with a keyword-ad combination (leaving aside for now the factors of bid and sufficient budget). A Campaign is simply a group of one or more Ad Groups.

While there is no one “right” way to structure Campaigns and Ad Groups, the following are considered best practices, and at least some of these should be visible in any well-managed paid search account:

Signs of a Well-Structured Paid Search Account

  • Logical Campaigns. Campaigns should be organized to reflect the main categories of your business, and/or various visitor intents/actions you are targeting. For example, if you are selling shoes, you might have campaigns for running shoes, climbing shoes, dress shoes, etc. Or your campaigns might be organized by intention, such as sales leads, newsletter signups, paid subscriptions. If you market to a number of local markets, it might make sense to organize your campaigns geographically (e.g., Chicago, New York, Los Angeles…). Ad spend budget is allocated at the Campaign level, so your campaigns should be structured in a way that allows you to move budget to that which you most want to emphasize. Telltale Rip-Off Sign: Everything in one campaign OR campaigns with non-descriptive names (such as “Campaign #1,” “Campaign #2”).
  • Focused Ad Groups. Most campaigns should have multiple ad groups, with each ad group focused on a logical aspect of the Campaign. For example, a “Sports Shoes” campaign might be divided into ad groups for “Running Shoes,” “Tennis Shoes,” “Aerobics Shoes” etc. Keywords and ads within each Ad Group should be tightly focused around the Ad Group’s topic. This is very critical, as Google rewards keyword-ad combos that match well to searcher intent with higher Quality Score, which leads to lower cost-per-click. Telltale Rip-Off Signs: Ad Groups with non-descriptive names, only one ad group in each category, keywords and/or ads in ad groups don’t relate well to Ad Group’s purpose.

There are certainly other structural elements that should show up in a well-managed account, but the above are good minimum benchmarks.

Next Part: Poor Use of Keywords (For other posts in this series, see the series link at the top of this post.)