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Paid Search Campaign Structure: An Introduction

Managing paid search campaigns is part art and part science. In this blog post I’m going to delve a little deeper into the art and science of SEM account Hierarchy and Account Structure. There is no absolute right way or wrong way to structure an account, but there are a few key things you can do to make your accounts more efficient and easier to manage.

So what do I mean by PPC or SEM campaign hierarchy? I mean how you structure your keywords within your Google Adwords or Bing Ads account.

The over simplistic way to explain campaign hierarchy is as follows:
Keywords are grouped together by like terms/phrases into Ad Groups. All keywords within an ad group share ads that have been created for that set of keywords. Ad Groups are grouped together into Campaigns. Campaigns are just a aggregation of Ad Groups, but within a campaign you can set your specific targeting settings.

The benefits of having a solid strategy for keyword categorization and campaign heirarchy are:

  1. More relevant ad copy & landing pages
  2. Increased Click Through Rates
  3. Increased Conversion Rates
  4. Ability to improve and maintain quality score
  5. Silo keywords based on User Intent and Purchase Funnel
  6. Increased Targeting via Negative keyword implementation
  7. Keyword research & Discovery via match-type segmentation
  8. Ability to set-up Campaign Targeting by Network, Device Type, Geography, Day Parting, etc

Sit down, and think through your paid search strategy. Determining what your end goals are will help you determine how to set-up your campaign hierarchy.
I have different goals and bid optimization strategies based on types of keywords and device types. I treat branded and trademark keywords differently than keywords at other stages across the purchase funnel.

Some of my best practices for campaign structure:

  1. Break apart Trademark & Company Branded Terms into separate campaigns.
  2. Break apart the remaining campaigns into Silo’s based on user intent
    • Product
    • Brand
    • Category
    • Examples of Campaign Classification for gourmet gift basket company Harry & David:
      • Branded & Trademark Terms
      • Sales and Promotions
      • Gift Baskets
      • Gift Towers and Boxes
      • Fruit Baskets
      • Fruit
      • Fruit of the Month Clubs
      • Bakery Gifts
      • Chocolates
      • Confectionery Gifts
      • Flowers & Plants
      • Home Decor & Kitchen Gifts
      • Special Occasions
      • Gourmet Foods
      • Examples of Campaign Classifications for a online Motorcycle retailer:
        • Helmuts
        • Riding Gear
        • Parts
        • Accessories
        • Tires
        • Motorcycles (Manufacturer / Make / Model / Year)
  3. Segment keywords into like ad groups based on theme.
    • Example from Harry & David Gift Baskets:
      • Gift Baskets – Organic
      • Gift Baskets – Kosher
      • Gift Baskets – Same Day Delivery
      • Gift Baskets – Under $50
      • Gift Baskets – Cheap
      • Gift Baskets – On Sale
      • Gift Baskets – Wine
      • Gift Baskets – Champagne
      • Gift Baskets – H&D Product Names
        • Roxy Anne Gift Basket
        • Applegate Gift Basket
        • Tablerock Gift Basket
        • etc
      • etc
  4. Don’t over segment… If you find yourself having a single keyword to an ad group on a regular basis, then you’re most likely going to deep. Each ad group can and should have ad copy written to it that is relevant to the keywords within the ad group. If you complete a super in-depth keyword segmentation will you have the resources to write relevant ad copy for each ad group, or will you just create a generic copy and use it for all ad groups and keywords.
  5. Segment keyword match-types and search distribution at the Campaign level:
    • Duplicate campaigns and assign keywords within a campaign a single match type.
      • This will allow you to have specific ad groups for query research.
      • As you start to see queries from your broad, broad modified or phrase match campaigns that are performing well then you add those keywords in either or both phrase and exact match. If you see queries that aren’t related to your products then add them as negatives to the appropriate campaigns.
    • Duplicate campaigns for content network — Most companies do not need every single long tail keyword in their content keyword mix.


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