A Guide to Optimal Campaign Settings for AdWords in 2014 for Savvy Advertisers

SEJ- The Optimal Campaigns Settings for AdWords Search Campaigns in 2014 for the Savvy Advertiser-09

I have noticed that campaign settings in AdWords don’t get a lot of coverage in the PPC industry. The more extravagant subjects like remarketing tactics, Authorship removal, Quality Score or negative keywords tend to get all the attention from influencers in the industry.

However, what all these posts don’t tell you is that unless you set the right campaign settings, your campaigns will always be limited.

Compare it to running a marathon, but you forgot to put on your shoes. Yes, you can do your best to walk ahead, but you’ll never go full speed and you definitely won’t  finish first.

Today, I’m sharing the campaign settings that I use to ensure I can finish on top with all my AdWords Search campaigns.

Focus on One Network at a Time: Don’t Include Search and Display Together

One of the first tips I ever received in PPC was to not include the Search and Display Networks in the same AdWords campaign.

Today, six years later, that advice still applies. Even though you have new campaign types like Search with Display Select, which should ensure you’re only getting relevant impressions from the Display Network, you still don’t want to use the Search and Display Networks together.

Sources like Wordstream have reported decent performance with the new campaign type; however, I often compare Search with Display Select to AdWords Express Campaigns. They can be good if you have a low budget and don’t know much about AdWords; but if you want to be serious about your AdWords advertising, you need to create a separate campaign to target the Display Network.

The two best arguments for doing this are:

  1. If you don’t, your CTR and Impression trends will be impossible to see in graphs as you can’t filter the Display or Search Network out of graphs
  2. You can’t write different text ads for the Display Network. The Display Network is essentially a Push Marketing method and requires substantially different ads than the Search Network, which is Pull Marketing.

Furthermore, your Display Network campaign structure needs to be different and you must prioritize negative keywords as only 50 negative keywords are applied to a given Display campaign.

Always Include the Search Partner Network When Starting a New AdWords Campaign

Lately I’ve noticed a lot of new clients have turned off the Search Partner Network from their search campaigns. When my team asked the client about their reasoning, almost all of them answered they had read somewhere that you should only focus on Google Search.

Somehow the Search Partner Network has been given a bad reputation. I tried looking for reputable blogs that had written poorly about the Search Partner Network, but I couldn’t find anything.

On the contrary, my industry colleague Sam Owen wrote positively about it and we even have a SEJ post from this year about how to make Search Partners work for you.

I always recommend starting out with Search Partners if you have room in your budget. After a month or two, you will be able to analyze the results and make a decision based on the key performance metrics you’re seeing.

Note: If you are targeting a big nationwide audience and you don’t have a big budget, no, you might not want to include the Search Partner network from the beginning. But, if you have room in your budget to spend about 10-15 percent extra and get 10-15 percent additional revenue then I highly recommend you use the Search Partner network.

Target the Languages the Demographic in Your Location Targeting Speak

If you’re targeting an area where your target audience might be speaking a language other than English, you want to pay special attention to this section.

One of the most misunderstood parts of the AdWords campaign settings interface is the language setting. The language setting allows you to target users who have chosen a specific language as the interface language in their browser or within their Google account.

It has nothing to do with what language a person searches in – it’s all about their browser/Google account settings.

So if you’re targeting Florida and don’t have Spanish as a language, you’re missing out on a big part of your potential traffic gains. As I write in my (free) book “The Proven AdWords Strategy,” you should always target at least English and Spanish if you’re in the US.

In Canada, about 22 percent of the Canadian population speaks French. By not including French as the targeted language, you’re essentially missing out on 15-22 percent of your traffic potential.

Use Specific Areas Within the Area You Want to Target

I used to be a big fan of radius targeting for local businesses. The theory is very good:

  • You only target potential customers who are able and willing to drive to your store


  • You only target potential customers that you are willing to drive to in order to provide your service

However, as time went by, I found that solely basing my targeting on a radius is not as effective as it could be.

First of all, with the addition of Enhanced Campaigns you’re able to implement location bid adjustments according to how individual cities and zip codes perform. The way to enable this is by targeting individual cities or states within the greater area you’re targeting.

Andrew Lolk

Andrew Lolk

CMO, Co-founder White Shark Media® at White Shark Media®
Andrew Lolk is the author of the 189-page free AdWords ebook The Proven AdWords Strategy. He's worked in AdWords since 2009 and have co-founded White Shark Media®; A leading Search Marketing agency and Google AdWords Premier SMB Partner: We help small businesses succeed through innovative search engine marketing strategies.
Andrew Lolk

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3 thoughts on “A Guide to Optimal Campaign Settings for AdWords in 2014 for Savvy Advertisers

  1. Once again a great post, Andrew. I have one question, I am managing an AdWords account with a goal to generate leads. Prior to this quarter, the campaign has historically performed well and given us good amount of leads. But, in this quarter, it has dramatically failed to give us leads.

    When this account came to me & when I saw it, I found it’s campaign structure completely against the best practices that we follow & that you have mentioned above. I immediately created a new campaign & re-structured the entire campaign, with appropriate setting & ad groups and ran it for a month. Unfortunately, the campaign performance was still down.

    Should I have re-structured the existing campaign & run it, instead of a complete new campaign? I mean to the importance of historical campaign performance data being taken into account by Google.

    Can you comment on this. Thanks in Advance


    1. Hi Ashok,

      Sorry for the late reply.

      I won’t say that you should have restructured the old campaign. Typically you would see the same challenges.

      My suspicion is that your new campaign is lacking broad match keywords that were in the old campaign, correct? That is typically the main reason for worse results after an account restructure. However, this depends on whether or not the broad match keywords in the old campaign were actually performing well for the client.

      Also, if you’re taking over a declining campaign you need to find out why it is declining. It might not be AdWords related at all. Maybe you’re just not able to compete on price or other factors, which means that no matter how much you work on your AdWords account you won’t be able to change the results.

      A famous advertising guru once said that the limitations of advertising is set by how well a business is run. If you don’t have a good product or business to promote you will simply not be able to have good results.

  2. Perfectly laid down footsteps as how should PPC professionals move around and make the optimal campaign for advertisers.