How To Plan Your Google Ads Campaign (The Smart Way)

Get the Flash Player to see this Google Ads tutorial about building your keyword list.

You’ve got your exhaustive list of keywords. Now what? This article aims to explain how to organise your first Google Google Ads campaign and ultimately your whole Google Ads account.

Having the basic keywords list and the Google Ads account, there are still some things you need to do before creating a successful, money-making Google Ads campaign. You need to separate the good, productive keywords from the bad ones. You need to arrange them into families/related keywords. Only afterwards can you proceed with the ad creation process.

How Do You Decide What Keywords To Use?

Keyword Selection

In your business field, you’re tempted to think like an insider. Key phrases that may look like common sense to you may be unknown to most of your potential customers. You need to find out which keywords from your list really have the potential to return the money you invest.

Some of the free keyword suggestion tools have several features that can help you in the keyword selection process:

You’ll see that the high competition keywords are also the most expensive. If you want your ad to appear in the top three positions for those keywords, there are good chances you’ll find yourself into a bidding war — a most unwanted position for an Google Ads beginner. Better leave them aside.

Unspecific terms — usually one word phrases, like “shoes” or “computers” — are not good performers. Though many people might search for “shoes” the term doesn’t have a specific target. The user could mean “jogging shoes” or “red leather Prada shoes with a diamond buckle”. The best thing to do is eliminate these terms from your list and look for the ones that are more specific.

Highly focused keywords are the most likely to become productive. If you sell “digital cameras”, you should build a group around this keyword. “Digital Cameras” may not be well performing, but “canon SLR” may be.

Very low popularity keywords are phrases that people hardly ever search for. They’re unlikely to become productive in your campaign.

The bottom line is to find those balanced keywords — not too low popularity, not too expensive — that are also highly targeted for your business. From these, focus on the ones with higher popularity.

What Keyword Match Options Should You Use?

Keyword matching is an Google Ads tool that helps you control the distribution of your ad. It allows your keywords to become even more targeted, so you can precisely manage who sees your ads.

There are four ways you can use keyword match:

You can set each search-targeted keyword to have one of those five settings. To use a keyword matching option, just add the appropriate punctuation to your keyword:

  1. Broad match: keyword
    Allows your ad to show on similar phrases and relevant variations.
  2. Phrase match: “keyword”
    Allows your ad to show for searches that match the exact phrase.
  3. Exact match: [keyword]
    Allows your ad to show for searches that match the exact phrase exclusively.
  4. Negative match: -keyword
    Ensures your ad doesn’t show for any search that includes that term.
  5. Broad match modifier: +keyword +keyword
    Allows a mix of both broad match and phrase match.

Broad Match

This is the default option for all keywords. If one of your keywords was ‘digital camera’ your ad would be eligible to appear when a user’s query contained either or both of the words ‘digital’ and ‘camera’ in any order. The search query could also include other terms, and your ads could also show for plural forms like ‘cameras’, synonyms, and other variations.

It is tempting for Google Ads beginners to make all or many of their keywords broad match type, however this is not advised as you can end up targeting many users that don’t fall into your target market. However, combining broad match keywords with negative match keywords can be a recipe for success.

Phrase Match

By putting your keyword into quotation marks, the keyword “canon digital camera” would only be eligible to appear when a user searches for the three words in that exact order. It can also appear for searches that contain other terms as long as it includes the exact phrase you’ve specified.

Exact Match

By surrounding your keywords in square brackets, the keyword [digital camera] would only be eligible to appear when a user searches for that exact phrase, in that exact order and without any other terms in the query. This keyword match option is highly targeted but will receive less clicks than phrase match.

Negative Match

By putting a minus symbol in front of your keyword, ‘-film’ would mean that your ad would not appear for any searches that contained the word ‘film’. This is especially useful when combined with broad match keywords. For example if you use the broad match keyword ‘camera’ and combined this with ‘-film’ in the same ad group then any time a user searches for ‘film cameras’ they will not see your ad.

This makes your keywords even more targeted and helps drive the right customers to your website. It’s important to use the keyword search tools to discover negative match keywords.

Broad Match Modifier

Broad match modifier allows keywords to have the versatility of broad match (match search queries in any order, misspellings, singular/plural form, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings (like “drive” and “driving”), but also keeps them confined, so synonyms and related searches won’t trigger your ads.

If your keyword was ‘+pink +camera’, we are able to target users searching for ‘pink digital cameras’, ‘pink canon camera’ and ‘video cameras that are pink’, but we don’t end up targeting users searching for ‘videos of pink’ the musician or just the keyword ‘pink’. In order for the ad to be triggered the two words (or their misspellings etc.) must be contained somewhere in the search query.

For these reasons broad match modifier is considered similar to phrase match but much more flexible, and more targeted than broad match. Broad match modifier is a great way to further target the right audience for your product.

The Common Pitfalls to Structuring Your Account

Google Ads suggests that you mirror your website’s structure when setting up your campaigns, this works well if you are an online store, but coming up with your own account structure is just as important as setting up your keyword list.

Your campaigns should be organized around broad product areas and then each campaign should contains several ad groups that focus on one specific product.

How many campaigns?

As a beginner to Google Ads it’s tempting to put all of your keywords into one campaign. However, working with one campaign for all your keywords is just not efficient.  Google Ads allows you to have up to 500 campaigns, don’t waste that opportunity.

First of all, if you put all your keywords into one campaign then all of your keywords would be displayed on the same page within Google Ads. If you work with several hundred keywords, it would be very hard to track them.

Secondly, some keywords may not fit that specific campaign. They may perform better in their own campaign, with different settings. At the campaign level, you choose your daily budget, geographic and language targeting, Google Network distribution preferences, and end dates.

If you answered the questions from our article “How To Prepare For Using Google Ads” you should be able to determine how many campaigns you would like to set up, and each campaign should have it’s own goal.

How many ad groups?

Google Ads allows you to have up to 25 campaigns, and you can place up to 2,000 ad groups into each campaign. This means that you could have up to 2,000 products in each campaign.

If each campaign has a goal, then each ad group should have a theme. This helps you to assign the same settings to similar products, and also use the same keywords for similar products. At the ad group level, you create ads and choose keywords and placements. You can also set bids for the ad group or for individual keywords or placements.

You can have up to 50 ads per ad group. So you can link keywords to different ads, to see how they perform. If your adgroups are small and relevant to a specific theme you will be able to deliver ad text that is very specific to the query that triggered your ad to show.

Within the same campaign, you’ll want to have more ad groups for two main reasons:

  • To test more bids.
  • To test more ads.

In addition to 2,000 ad groups, you can have up to 2,000 keywords per ad group. This equals the possibility of having a massive 50,000 keywords per account and if you wish to expand your Google Ads account at a later date (and you more than likely will) setting up an efficient account structure from day one will alleviate a lot of stress later on.

The main lesson to learn is, that the more structured your account is, from the very beginning, the more control you will have over every element of your advertising campaign.

Remember, you can watch this and other Google Ads Tutorials on our Youtube channel too.

Further Reading: We recommend reading How To Write Your Google Ads Ads next, or select from one of our growing number of tutorials below.


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