Organization Is the #1 Tip for PPC

SMS Text

When people ask what the best tips are for PPC, they assume the answer is some tool for bid management, trick in writing ads, or must have for landing page optimization. What is the best tip for real? Organize your ad groups and campaigns like your business depends on it, because it does.

Tools, tricks, and “must haves” are just aides in the daily activities of a search marketer, paid or natural. They can reduce the amount of time you spend doing repetitive tasks, but they can’t do it for you.

As with most advice when it comes to Internet marketing, there is no “best” way to organize ad groups and campaigns. It is going to depend on your business and goals. Just as each fingerprint is unique, each business is unique. Please keep that in mind when you read anything about marketing. This is to inspire thoughts, not to give you a “how to.”  The examples below are not one or the other. They are mix and match, blend, tweak and customize.

Tips When Organizing

  • Start in AdWords and use Editor. The drag and drop feature is priceless. Once you have your campaign set up the way you want, export out. Use that to setup your other accounts.
  • Please remember to have an account for each business/website. Never put different businesses in one account, you will grow someday and will want room to move.
  • Organize how you want to write your ads, the more specific to the keyword the better, but try to have at least a few keywords in each group.
  • Geographic targeting is done at the campaign level – just adding “[keyword] [state]” (or any combo like it) is not enough, you’re leaving out people that don’t add their location in the query.
  • Separate out your content and search if at all possible without driving you nuts. It’ll make your campaigns with just search that much more concentrated and powerful. It’ll also help with identifying problems at a glance.

Ways to Organize

There are many ways you might organize your campaigns and ad groups. Google has an article that names a few and some tips from them. And there are other resources out there that have covered this topic and the why. Best way to pick is to look at how your business is set up. Do what makes sense for you. So a screen-printing company might order by gender and age, type of shirt (ex. long sleeve, hoodie), or color to start with. Here is the lowdown and tips about some of the more popular organization types.


This is the most common way to organize campaigns, especially for larger companies with multiple products in one business. Organizing by product allows you to get the campaign up and running with directed ads and landing pages. Be sure you have the ad directed at the specific product, not the business as a whole and there is a specific landing page for each. When your company has multiple products you should never direct to your homepage. Ever. One product, maybe – but never, ever multiple.


Sometimes there is geography to deal with before products. Companies need to realize that even if you are in just one area now, you will expand. Geographic targeting can only be done at the campaign level, and the better you have them set up now, the easier it will be to expand later. Never make geographic ad groups in a nationally targeted campaign and assume that is enough. As mentioned above not everyone identifies the location in their search and sometimes they are too specific to track (ex. Using city name). And be sure to keep this updated. Marketing and tech people are usually the last to know when new states have been added to the mix.


A few others that you might look into include language due to the regional settings and the ad copy or call to action. The focus on other ways of organizing is to display the most targeted ad for the end user. The more targeted you can get, the better.

So just remember, tools can help, but in the end it is going to be how you organize your campaigns that assists in a higher ROI because the account is more targeted to the end user.

Kate Morris is the Director of Client Strategies at New Edge Media. They specialize in paid and natural search consulting and management, along with email, affiliate and social media management.

Kate Morris
Kate Morris is an SEO Consultant for Distilled Consulting in Seattle, WA. You can find her on twitter @katemorris.
Kate Morris

Latest posts by Kate Morris (see all)

Subscribe to SEJ!
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!
  • Justin March

    My tips… instinct, research, hard work and test, test, test… followed by more testing…

  • Matt


    Is this the #1 tip for PPC performance or account structure and ease of management?

    I can see where account structure is helpful for folks who rely on AdWords Editor or for account management.

    I have to think that bidding a keyword to match it’s potential for ROI is more important that if a keyword resides in Campaign A or B. Can you call out specific examples where keyword or adgroup restructuring improved keyword performance on the search network (not content)?


  • Kate Morris

    Hi Matt!

    In my experience a well organized campaign can be the difference in a good campaign versus a great campaign in terms of performance and management. So both really. Let me explain.

    Bidding is a big thing in campaign management, I will agree there, but even the best placed keywords on a SERPs page will not do well if the ad and landing page are not targeted to the right people. A well organized campaign with targeted ads, landing pages, and keywords will improve your quality score and potentially bring costs down, further helping your ROI on the campaign.

    Think about a campaign with 5 ad groups in very general terms. 50 keywords in each one. There are keywords that have different intentions depending on the words added, word order, and the like. If those same keywords were groups by intention and product so that specific ads and landing pages could be applied would increase the chance that the end user will find what they are looking for and purchase.

    I cannot give specific examples due to the nature of our business and client confidentiality and all of that. But here’s an idea of what I mean. This is just an idea, of course there would be more detail, but you get the idea.

    Company: Diamonds Galore
    Locations in California and Nevada, but can sell Nationally online

    Account Setup A – Original Setup
    Campaign: Necklaces
    Ad Group: Emeralds
    Ad Group: Diamonds
    Campaign: Bracelets
    Ad Group: Emeralds
    Ad Group: Diamonds

    Account Setup B – Optimal
    Campaign: Texas
    Ad Group: Engagement
    Ad Group: Wedding
    Ad Group: Necklaces
    Campaign: Florida
    Campaign: National (-Texas -Florida)

    Here the second setup would allow the company to:
    – target those people who can visit brick and mortar stores with geo-targeting, announce specials, and target the ads to pages with those specials and maps to the stores closest to them.
    – target those who are in the market for specific jewelry items like wedding and engagement rings.

    I hope you get an idea of what I mean here. With a well organized campaign, the management is easier, but more than that, costs drop (quality score) and return increases because the end user is targeted better.


  • Sue

    If your goal truly is to get the best ROI you should consider CPA or cost per action. Clients who use CPA affiliate marketing models pay ONLY for the clients they actually acquire. Giving true ROI on every cent spent. Your expense is based on REAL performance, getting sales! My experience at hydranetwork has shown me that CPA reduces wasted ad dollars.

  • Rob Lewicki

    Nice article Kate thanks!

    I like to organize an account thinking if someone was to ever take over the account, they should know exactly what’s going on just by viewing it. Back in my college days, my programming professors always said that you should code and comment in a way that if someone was to ever take over, they should know exactly what’s going on.

  • Kate Morris

    @sue it’s the road to perfecting ROI and CPA that I am talking about here. You are correct and I think this article shows you how you might go about getting there.

    @Rob exactly!! Another great point about good organization. Your clients and company (if inhouse) will thank you later.

  • Brent Haeseker

    Ok, so organization is probably not the #1 tip for optimum PPC performance, but I think the article is correct in that it is the root from which the bidding, testing, keyword optimizing, etc. grows from.

  • aag

    Thanks for giving a knowledge for PPC

  • Randall

    I would love to see a more fleshed out template like the one in the response to Matt. I was hoping that was what this article was going to do. I am sure there is a ‘best practices’ way to set it up, and would appreciate a full ‘sample company’ template to be able to learn from.

  • Kate Morris

    @randall actually, no there is no one best way. I wish there was some template to follow, but it really does depend on each company. I’ve worked with so many at this point that I have seen my best practices thrown right out the window when I experience a new company structure. These are just general tips for execution and the overarching tip to spend more time organizing and focusing on your end user searches.

    I will see if I can come up with a more directed “case study” approach later on.

  • Julie

    Hi Kate,

    I just found your blog and I am loving browsing through old issues about organization, tools and ppc.

    I only thought to ask you this (below) after I saw your disclaimer about tools you reviewed on site here. Very good idea, by the way!

    Above you mentioned “Please remember to have an account for each business/website. Never put different businesses in one account…”

    It was my understanding that it was against Google’s terms of service agreement to have more than one account, unless you were an SEO specialist and handled many (different) businesses. Even then you were only allowed to have more than one account if you passed their SEO course (which you have to pay for).

    My question for you Kate is
    Did I misunderstand what I read at Google’s TOS (as far as my understanding was explained to you above)?

    Or has it changed?

    Or is it one of those things, that most web business owners know about, but do it anyway?

    What do you think?

    Signed by “A New Fan”,

    Truck Routes GPS

  • Kate Morris

    Wow, that is a fantastic question Julie!

    Okay, just for everyone else, the post from Google is here:

    That of course says no. Why? Because they want people to understand that having multiple accounts to cheat the system and have more than one ad per keyword is NOT allowed. That is why they say that.

    But read the part that states “unless explicitly advised otherwise by Google.” I worked for a company once that had 7 accounts, I think. Maybe eight. We had our own MCC and lots of support from Google. Even though each was from the same company, Google saw that each was it’s own business.

    Now, we did have an MCC, and I was certified, but no, that is not required. You can have an MCC without certification, though it’s not recommended of course to have one without a certified professional. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    No seriously, if you are running multiple accounts, you are most likely spending lots of money, and should do the training anyway. It’s a good investment of time, and good for whoever is running it.

    I hope that answers your question. Be good about opening new accounts, attach them all through an MCC, and let Google know. Once they know that you are needing so many accounts to spend SO much money with them they will be more than happy to help you out. ๐Ÿ˜‰