How to structure AdWords Accounts

21. 04. 2016
Google Ads
William Daigneault / Unsplash

The structure of an AdWords account is a decisive factor for success or failure of an AdWords Campaign. A thoughtful account structure is based on the division of campaigns and ad groups. This facilitates a targeted control as well as an exact measurement of the outcome.

If a single ad group treats too many different subjects or if it contains keywords with too many different settings, it is almost impossible to keep track of the performance on ads level.

In fact, it is all about finding the right structure for each account. However, the structure must not be too complex but detailed enough in order to keep track on performances.

Small and medium accounts

Small budget accounts definitely have to be logically structured in campaigns and ads. The target is to generate only relevant clicks, which are worth the money. Obviously, it is only thoughtfully structured ad groups that can obtain relevant clicks.

For very small accounts, two campaigns will be sufficient, one of which being structured in ad groups.

Medium and big accounts

First: what is a „big“ account? Out of two reasons, the term „big“ in fact is not as accurate as the term „complex“ would be: On the one hand, accounts dealing with a budget not higher than 10,000€ a month can be complex ones. On the other hand, there are companies, which spend much more money on their Google ads but still rely on a rather simple structure.

Still, why are some accounts in the need of a complex structure while others can go with a simple one? In fact, the only thing that matters is the goal a company wishes to reach with its AdWords campaign. Different companies have different demands for their accounts and they therefore apply different strategies

Understanding the business model

Before starting a campaign, the targets should be set clearly: what is the aim of the campaign? There can be various goals, eg higher profits, higher margins, more newsletter recipients or just making the own brand more popular.

There are campaigns aiming for no other goal than achieving a defined quota, which may have positive influence on other company sectors eg buying at cheaper prices when buying a certain amount of a good. Small profits or even losses are an ignorable side effect to them.

A clear target definition often pre-defines the structure of the account, meaning that the structure follows the company’s business model.


Unnecessary to mention, that the goals shall also be measurable. This implies that goals, which are not measurable, should be ignored. A correct understanding of the numbers is of utmost importance for a deep understanding of the account’s performance: Which keywords are performing well? Which price is set for each keyword? How to optimize the ads?

Different models to use for campaign structures

Model 1: Discovery & Managed Campaigns

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to define all relevant keywords beforehand. The system below is helpful in order to do both, finding new keywords and excluding inept terms. At a discovery Campaign, which is running with low budgets, the keywords are adjusted as largely/modified largely fitting. This results in advertising plans for a variety of terms. Bad performing keywords shall be excluded. Also, high-performing keywords can be excluded and reintegrated into the campaign as “exact match” or “matching” keywords.

This model is not eligible for very big campaigns with some thousand products since it can easily become too complex. Still, it is a perfect strategy for small and medium campaigns.

Model 2: structure campaigns according to locations

Especially service companies depend on being found locally. In order to define the location in the search process, a separation on ads level is necessary: „plumber Vienna“ or „plumber Graz“.

However, a great number of users search only for „plumber“, expecting to find a local one. In this case, the separation has to be done at the campaign level, where local settings are adjustable.

Model 3: Structure Campaigns according to keywords factors

With this model, every match-type is represented by an own campaign: “exact match”, “matching phrase” and “largely matching”. The brand campaign and the exactly matching keywords deserve the most attention and the largest share of the budget. The broader the scope, the higher the volume. Still, a too-high volume could have negative influence on the conversion rate.

Model 4: How to structure campaign according to the buying-funnel

This model is the best choice to attract users at different stages of the Buying-Funnel. Longer search phrases stating a clear intention lead in most cases to higher conversion rates than less concrete terms would do. Those keywords implying that the client is just doing some basis researches with no clear buying intentions should be granted a smaller share of the budged.

These are four models, which are helpful in order to set up a successful AdWords account. It is of utmost importance to establish a congruence between the keywords – ads – landing page. A good account structure helps reaching this goal. Still, if compromises have to be made and if users don’t see the ads perfectly matching with their searches, campaigns and ad groups have to be adapted.