Managing Your Adwords Account Structure for Low CPC’s

sorting ad groups like lettersThere are a multitude of ways to organise your Google Adwords PPC account so where do you start?

This post is designed to give my ideas on the thinking behind an account structure that results in low costs and also how best to manage an account structure going forward, again with the aim of low cost per clicks. It is a little like pruning an apple tree in order for it to provide the greatest quantity of the most delicious fruit. if done well it returns bountifully,  if hacked up it dies a slow and mouldy death. I would also be keen to take your questions and also to hear if other PPC consultants take a very different approach that also works.

It is also worth noting that the ideas here are transferable across the other PPC search engines such as Bing too, I just write it with Google Adwords in mind as I have been brainwashed into thinking that it is the only one out there 🙂

Also, I am not going to focus on ads at all for this article. Just bear in mind that you should have at least 2 ads per ad group, probably 3, and be testing them constantly and going with what converts and clicks well. The ads should be highly targeted to the ad group that they are in. For more information on ads you can read my post on writing great ppc ads.

Right; the first thing to think about when considering your PPC account structure is that it has to make logical sense to a businesses website. it has to correlate at some level to the website hierarchy. This enables easy analysis of performance as well as easier organisation of your keywords. I like to visualise a PPC account as a post office sorting room where all of the letters have to go in the right hole to get delivered to the correct address. We want users to be shown the most relevant ad in our Adwords account for the keyword that they searched on, we then want them to click through to the most relevant web page in our site for that search term. If this doesn’t happen then they are less likely to purchase.

For this article I am going to need to continually refer to an example of a website so am going to use the “fake”example of an lingerie website just to spice it up a little. I am sure that Figleaves could add a few things here as I have never actually sold underwear so this is based purely on memories of my early teen years spent flicking through the underwear section of my mum’s mail order magazines.

When starting with a clean slate take a look at your website hierarchy and copy it. it may become apparent through using PPC that your account structure is not actually too sound and needs reviewing but for arguments sake we will assume for now that it is top notch.

To start with we are going to look at bras. What product dimensions do people shop for bras in?

  1. Size – 28A all the way up to 56FF – there are about 18 different sizes for each strap length, and going up in increments of 2 inches there are 15 different strap lengths so a total of 270 beautiful size combinations.
  2. Colour – Black, White, Blue, Red, etc etc – OK, let’s just say there are 10 colours.
  3. Brands – Calvin Klein, Wonderbra, Diesel etc – we have 10 different brands.

Using these 3 dimensions we can see that we have the potential to create 27,000 possible combinations assuming that all brands cover all sizes and colours.

When you build ad groups based on product names you will always need a core keyword or a number of core keywords that are integral to the product/s, e.g. for bras the word would be “bra” or “bras”.

These combinations are all of the form size + colour +brand +core keyword so will produce keywords like “36C black Calvin Klein bra”. I would call these our long tail ad groups.

For arguments sake we will go with this and therefore need to create 27,000 ad groups to cover long tail bras alone. Of course many of the ad groups will not get any impressions or clicks so can probably be deleted later on but lets just put them in for now.

As well as the long tail we should start with keywords for all of the more general, potentially higher volume keywords. Again we will also need a core keyword that will run throughout. This will again be “bra” singular as well as “bras” plural.

These could take the form:

  • size + core keyword (32dd bra) – 270 ad groups
  • brand + core keyword (Calvin Klein bra) – 10 ad groups
  • colour + core keyword (white bra) – 10 ad groups
  • size + brand +core keyword (32dd calvin klein bra) – 2700 ad groups
  • brand +colour +core keyword (Calvin Klein white bra) – 100 ad groups
  • size + colour + core keyword (32dd while bra) – 2700 ad groups

There is then obviously the option of going for keywords like “bra” on it’s own but as it is such a generic term in a field of such wondrous variety I think that it is a bit boring and best left out. To put a serious PPC consultant view on it; the purchase intent is probably far less on the search term “bra” than it is for a term “32c white Calvin Klein bra”.

Now we have decided our basic structure we need to look at the practical implications of building it. Google officially allow 25 campaigns in one account. In addition to this 5,000 ad groups per campaign and 10,000 keywords per campaign.

The actually limit is 1 million keywords over 100 campaigns but depending on your clout this can take hours or weeks to negotiate with Google.

So assuming we have 25 campaigns that we need to fit in close to 33,000 ad groups we are going to need at least 7 campaigns (based on the 5,000 ad group limit).

A simple way to cut it is to choose one of the most obvious dimensions that people will shop on. In the example that I have gone with I would choose brand, this is simply because people frequently use a brand name in their searches – I have read (Hitwise in 2010) that it is up to 80% of all of the searches going through Google!

Therefore, we should have 10 branded campaigns for bras and then one generic campaign for terms that do not include a brand name.

You then simply get an excel sheet with all of the different sizes, all of the different brands and all of the different colours and concatenate them to create your ad groups and keywords. I normally create the keywords at the same time and upload together and then following this you just need to upload the ads. Hopefully the paste from the spreadsheet below makes it obvious enough.

Brand Size Colour Campaign Ad group keyword Match type Max CPC
Calvin Klein 32cc white Calvin Klein – Bras Calvin Klein-32cc-white Calvin Klein 32cc white bra exact 0.49
Wonderbra 28b black Wonderbra – Bras Wonderbra-28b-black Wonderbra 28b black bra exact 0.49
Gossard 36d blue Gossard – Bras Gossard-36d-blue Gossard 36d blue bra exact 0.49
Hanky Panky 44c red Hanky Panky – Bras Hanky Panky-44c-red Hanky Panky 44c red bra exact 0.49
Calvin Klein 28c white Calvin Klein – Bras Calvin Klein-28c-white Calvin Klein 28c white bra exact 0.49
Wonderbra 38bb black Wonderbra – Bras Wonderbra-38bb-black Wonderbra 38bb black bra exact 0.49
Gossard 50cc blue Gossard – Bras Gossard-50cc-blue Gossard 50cc blue bra exact 0.49
Hanky Panky 34bb red Hanky Panky – Bras Hanky Panky-34bb-red Hanky Panky 34bb red bra exact 0.49
Calvin Klein 36cc white Calvin Klein – Bras Calvin Klein-36cc-white Calvin Klein 36cc white bra exact 0.49
Wonderbra 40dd black Wonderbra – Bras Wonderbra-40dd-black Wonderbra 40dd black bra exact 0.49
Gossard 32cc blue Gossard – Bras Gossard-32cc-blue Gossard 32cc blue bra exact 0.49
Hanky Panky 28b red Hanky Panky – Bras Hanky Panky-28b-red Hanky Panky 28b red bra exact 0.49
Calvin Klein 36d white Calvin Klein – Bras Calvin Klein-36d-white Calvin Klein 36d white bra exact 0.49
Wonderbra 44c black Wonderbra – Bras Wonderbra-44c-black Wonderbra 44c black bra exact 0.49
Gossard 28c blue Gossard – Bras Gossard-28c-blue Gossard 28c blue bra exact 0.49
Hanky Panky 38bb red Hanky Panky – Bras Hanky Panky-38bb-red Hanky Panky 38bb red bra exact 0.49

I am assuming here that you will be using Adwords Editor to upload your keywords and ads as 33,000 ad groups in the Google Interface will take you a couple of months at least 🙂

If you are not sure on how to use the editor then please give me a shout and I will walk you through it. If you need to download it then you can get it here.

What is the best starting PPC keyword structure?

I always suggest a focus on the long tail from the start as if you just start with the major keywords and slowly build out then you will be bankrupt before you get to have an anywhere near efficient account.

As in the example above I would always include an exact match keyword for every ad group that meets the core ad group theme.

I would then, in this case include just a broad match modified keyword too to start with. See below

Brand Size Colour Campaign Ad group keyword Match type Max CPC
Calvin Klein 32cc white Calvin Klein – Bras Calvin Klein-32cc-white +Calvin +Klein +32cc +white +bra broad 0.45
Wonderbra 28b black Wonderbra – Bras Wonderbra-28b-black +Wonderbra +28b +black +bra broad 0.45
Gossard 36d blue Gossard – Bras Gossard-36d-blue +Gossard +36d +blue +bra broad 0.45
Hanky Panky 44c red Hanky Panky – Bras Hanky Panky-44c-red +Hanky +Panky +44c +red +bra broad 0.45
Calvin Klein 28c white Calvin Klein – Bras Calvin Klein-28c-white +Calvin +Klein +28c +white +bra broad 0.45
Wonderbra 38bb black Wonderbra – Bras Wonderbra-38bb-black +Wonderbra +38bb +black +bra broad 0.45
Gossard 50cc blue Gossard – Bras Gossard-50cc-blue +Gossard +50cc +blue +bra broad 0.45
Hanky Panky 34bb red Hanky Panky – Bras Hanky Panky-34bb-red +Hanky +Panky +34bb +red +bra broad 0.45
Calvin Klein 36cc white Calvin Klein – Bras Calvin Klein-36cc-white +Calvin +Klein +36cc +white +bra broad 0.45
Wonderbra 40dd black Wonderbra – Bras Wonderbra-40dd-black +Wonderbra +40dd +black +bra broad 0.45
Gossard 32cc blue Gossard – Bras Gossard-32cc-blue +Gossard +32cc +blue +bra broad 0.45
Hanky Panky 28b red Hanky Panky – Bras Hanky Panky-28b-red +Hanky +Panky +28b +red +bra broad 0.45
Calvin Klein 36d white Calvin Klein – Bras Calvin Klein-36d-white +Calvin +Klein +36d +white +bra broad 0.45
Wonderbra 44c black Wonderbra – Bras Wonderbra-44c-black +Wonderbra +44c +black +bra broad 0.45
Gossard 28c blue Gossard – Bras Gossard-28c-blue +Gossard +28c +blue +bra broad 0.45
Hanky Panky 38bb red Hanky Panky – Bras Hanky Panky-38bb-red +Hanky +Panky +38bb +red +bra broad 0.45

Set the bids on the broad match keywords to be less than the exact match keywords so that the exact match keywords pick up all of the impressions that they should pick up. it is important that you do this not only to save a bit of cash but to also judge the real search volumes for each of the exact terms.

I have not suggested a phrase match as the broad match modified is targeted enough to restrict to only relevant traffic with an account structure like this that is predominantly focused on the long tail.

Once we have the long tail in then we need to also build in the more generic keywords too in the same way, bear in mind that the more generic the keyword the higher the bid you may need, but do not overbake it, go in low and raise if necessary.

Now, we have to get into the nitty gritty…

For keywords such as “32dd blue wonderbra bra” (possibly for this brand we should remove the additional and unnecessary “bra” from the end) so for the +32dd +blue +wonderbra how do we make sure that the other more general keywords in our account such as +32dd +wonderbra do not take the impressions away from the more targeted term at a higher cost when people click through?

Negative keywords!

These are marvellous little things – If only they had negative alcoholic beverages that restricted the unwanted after effects of drinking too much whiskey….

The careful, planned and strategic use of negative keywords is the driving force of your PPC account that will channel all of the traffic into it’s neat and tidy little pigeon holes and help you make buckets of cash.

Get out the whiteboard as this takes some thinking and planning.

Start thinking about real long tail searches and where you want them to go.

e.g. “32dd white sexy calvin Klein bra for the fuller woman”

You want it to go to the ad group for “32dd white Calvin Klein bra” and not just “white bra” or “Calvin Klein bra” or “32dd white bra” etc.

Therefore you need to add negative keywords that channel the searches to the right place. Here are a few examples of negative keyword rules to implement:

  • All brand + colour ad groups to have all sizes added as negative keywords
  • All brand + colour ad groups to have all other brands added as negative keywords
  • All brand + colour ad groups to have all other colours added as negative ad groups
  • All brand + colour +size ad groups to have all other brands, colours and sizes added as negatives. Now, if you are not using standard broad match then this may not be necessary but it may be a good measure to have in place to protect you in case of mistakes.

Once you go through this exercise you will find that it is bloody complicated and that it takes a number of running’s before you determine exactly the best way to set it up.

The really tricky thing is that at the beginning you cannot guess what kinds of searches people will use so you do not want to restrict things too much so need some relatively open ad groups to pick up the searches that you have not thought of.

Now you have all of your keywords in, negatives in and you have read my post on writing great ppc ads and have put in 2 or 3 highly targeted ads for each ad group.

How do I manage my account structure going forward?

Once your account is running you will be constantly monitoring it and worrying about performance and what is working and what is not working and how it can all be improved etc etc.

PPC offers a unique window into a business as if there is a campaign, for example with bras “Diesel” that is converting at twice the rate of all other bras then there must be a reason. Maybe you are the lowest priced supplier in the market or maybe your other ranges are too highly priced, maybe your site focuses very heavily on the Diesel brand etc etc.

There are a multitude of reasons why this may happen and it is up to the PPC consultant, or you, to figure out why. It is the same with poor performing products.

If you do use an external PPC consultant such as myself then I would highly recommend freedom of business information as it really is necessary in order for an external marketer to succeed. If an external marketer is asking for the data, do not clam up and treat it as sensitive, you hired them so support them as if they are sitting next to you. They will die by the sword before you if things do not work out and you will be the hero of the business before them if things do work out. I have spend most of my career client side so know this well.

After week 1 there are 2 things that you should start with:

  • Review your bids – these will invariably be all over the place so bid down anything that is just taking loads of traffic and not converting and likewise bid up anything that is in a position lower than 8 as it is not getting a fair chance.
  • More importantly run a search query report. The search query report shows you all of the exact searches that all users conducted before clicking through to your site. Check out this post on how to analyse a search query report for a detailed explanation and run through.

Google PPC search query report set up

To summarise the search query report (SQR); you need to find all of the irrelevant searches for each ad group that users ran and that the ads were shown for and add them as negative keywords at an ad group level. If you find keywords that are completely irrelevant to the campaign as a whole, then these need to be added as negative keywords at a campaign level. I tend to add phrase match negatives in both cases as they do the job of picking up anything else of a similar nature, exact is far too tight and limited and broad can be a little ambiguous with negative keywords.

Think of yourself as a sculptor for this process; search query reports are a time consuming pain in the arse, but it is well worth taking your time and doing it properly as it means that you will be directing only relevant traffic into your website and more importantly you will be sending all traffic to the most highly targeted ad and ultimately webpage that you have. Constantly think of the improved efficiency of the account when doing this, a day or two after running it and making your changes, assuming you haven’t messed it up, you will be reaping the benefits.

Secondly and just as important as the negative keywords you need to find all of the highly relevant keywords that people are searching on that relate well to your products that you did not initially think of – you will see them in the search query report. These need adding in to your ad groups, but very carefully.

From the search query report you may find that for one ad group (lets call it 29C black bras) that started with just 2 keywords had 120 different search terms that drove traffic to the ad group over the past week. This is great, it is a very active product area, but needs some careful management. Now if you add all of these long tail new keywords to the same “29C Black Bras” ad group what will happen? The broad match modified keyword that picked up the impressions and clicks in the first place will pick them up again unless you do one of 2 things.

  1. Ensure that all new long tail keywords added to the ad group have a bid set higher than the broad match modified starting keyword. (not recommended)
  2. Sort through the 120 new keywords and put them into themed groups, add in new ad groups that have an again tighter theme for each of these groups, create new and more highly targeted ads and then add in a negative keyword that clearly represents the theme of the ad group to all other ad groups (not the same ad group).

Number 2 takes a lot of time and effort but this is where you will create a highly profitable Adwords account that has low CPC’s.

There are no real short cuts with PPC. To get a highly efficient account takes a lot of time and effort. There is a curve where too much time and effort becomes unprofitable so it is up to each business to determine their opportunity and to push as far as they can within these boundaries.

Joel

Founder & CEO

2 thoughts on “Managing Your Adwords Account Structure for Low CPC’s

  1. Hi – great post! Regarding this point:

    “Sort through the 120 new keywords and put them into themed groups, add in new ad groups that have an again tighter theme for each of these groups, create new and more highly targeted ads and then add in a negative keyword that clearly represents the theme of the ad group to all other ad groups (not the same ad group)”

    I am doing this now with my campaigns, but I am not certain if I should be adding the long tail keyword as phrase match or exact match – what would you suggest?

    1. Hi Aran
      I have actually revised my strategy since this was written and have an idea that works more effectively;
      What I would suggest is having an account structure where you have 2 ad groups for each theme or product type – one for exact match keywords only and another for broad match modified keywords only.
      So for example: you have 2 ad groups for Natural Weed Control
      1) Natural Weed Control – broad
      2) Natural weed control – exact

      You add the same keywords into both ad groups but only in the specified match types. Then in order to control the flow of traffic you add all of the exact match keywords to the broad match ad group as negative exact match keywords.
      This means that if you have the keyword [organic weed control] in the Natural weed control – exact match ad group then you should add this same keyword as a NEGATIVE exact match keyword to the Natural weed control – broad match ad group.
      Then going forward the next time you mine keywords through a search query report you will see all of the search terms that are being triggered by the broad match ad group’s keywords – when there are tasty keywords then add them into the exact match ad group as exact match keywords (be strict on the match types) and then again add it as a negative to the broad match ad group that it initially triggered an ad for.
      You can also then easily spot the poor search terms which need to be added as negative keywords and add them in.
      This is pretty tricky to explain in a comment – needs another post really so if you want me to talk you through it then just email me at joel@deepfootprints.co.uk with your Skype details and I will give you a bell to explain. Not looking for a job – just appreciate that you are enjoying the blog.

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