Back to Basics: Best Practices for Structuring your Keywords

Adam Wordsmith stares at his unshaven, weathered face in the mirror. “Open an AdWords account they said. It’s easy they said. Your revenue will double overnight they said.” Six months down the line and Adam, owner of Adam’s Trampolines, hasn’t made one online trampoline sale and his website’s bounce rate is at an all-time high. – See what I did there? Trampolines…bounce rate. For many people who are unfamiliar with the world of online advertising, starting and managing an AdWords account can be a daunting task. Google AdWords is certainly not an exact science and, if approached in the wrong way, could lead you to premature balding and arthritis. In order to avoid aching joints and the shiny forehead effect, there are certain best practices to follow when setting up and maintaining a successful AdWords account.

Keyword Planning

The key unique characteristic of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising that differentiates it from other media platforms is the nature of the interaction between advertiser and prospective customer. On most other platforms the advertiser throws out a message to a prospect on a billboard, TV commercial or flier, enticing him/her to come and buy the new Nimbus 2000 – or whatever product they are offering. The advertiser is presenting an argument as to why their product is needed and should be bought. PPC flips that interaction upside down and backwards. The interaction between advertiser and prospect begins with the prospect actively choosing to search for a product or service that they already have an established interest in. Google then ensures that the most relevant advert is displayed to match what the user is searching for. If the ad is enticing and directs the user to a page relevant to what they searched for, then there is a high likelihood of that user buying the product, online or otherwise.

“But Eitan, what does this have to do with keyword planning?” – Yes, I can hear your thoughts. AdWord accounts are powered by keywords, many online advertisers don’t realise that the search which is conducted to trigger their ad is actually part of the advertising process. The structure of an account’s keywords needs to be in line with how users would search for what you are offering. When brainstorming keywords that you want in your account, use your website for ideas.  Break down all the products and variations thereof into campaigns or ad groups and put these products into search queries, for example:

  • Campaign name – Trampolines
  • Ad Group name – Square Trampolines
  • Keyword – Cheap Square Trampolines

Ensure that all products are covered and that the structure of your campaigns and ad groups mirrors that of your website. Never forget the power of brand names. If you know that ‘Bouncy Trampolines’ is the most popular brand of trampoline that you sell then add that term into a campaign, for example:

  • Campaign name – Trampoline Brands
  • Ad Group – Bouncy Trampolines
  • Keyword – Cheap Bouncy Trampoline

Also don’t forget the effectiveness of having campaigns including your own company name. Depending on the size of your business, users might not conduct that many searches for your company. However, someone searching for your company name is more likely to click on the ad displayed than if there are only generic keywords and ads.

Keyword Management

Once you have established your keywords, grouping them is the next stage of your AdWords adventure. At the beginning of an account’s lifecycle it is best to structure keywords according to the structure of your website. Use campaigns to establish the theme of the keywords, subdivide the themes into smaller ad groups that should be split so that there is only one unique landing page per ad group. Fill each ad group with keywords that fit the theme of the ad group. Once the account has run for long enough that the keywords have gained meaningful data the advertiser can think of new ways to split out their keywords. You may want to group keywords by performance targets by identifying keywords that are meeting specific goals and splitting them accordingly. These keywords can then be managed separately with these goals in mind.  Keywords that are gaining a large impression share but not as many clicks can be identified and categorised so that they can be managed according to their strengths. This will also help to identify the poor performing keywords or low volume drivers which can be paused or deleted.

Keyword Match Types

As I’ve already mentioned, keywords target the user’s search queries. Match types are used to control the targeting logic of those keywords and ensure you get the largest, meaningful reach from your keywords. Four Match Types exist in the Google network. These are: “Phrase”, Broad and +Modified +Broad. Exact Match gives you the most control over who sees your ad because the search term needs to match “exactly” with your keyword. Example: This match type can yield a high impression share and strong Click-through-rate (CTR) due to its very specific nature and because someone is searching for that exact keyword, they are much more likely to click on the ad that is triggered. Therefore it would be wise to use this match type format for specific queries that you know will drive high search volumes. Phrase Match is more flexible than exact match and allows ads to show to customers who are searching for close variants to your exact keyword. Example: “Square Trampoline” – will match into the search query “cheap square trampoline online” which has additional words before and after the actual keyword. Broad Match allows for relevant variations of the search term to match into the keyword, including synonyms, singular and plural forms and misspellings. Example: square trampolines – can match into the search term: round trampoline. Modified Broad Match or Broad Match Modified is used to attract more visitors to your website even if their search term does not necessarily match your keyword exactly. The distinction between broad match and modified broad match is the “+” that is placed at the start of the word. Example: +square +trampoline – will match into the search term   “trampolines that are square”. Broad Match Modified is generally preferred to Broad as it still requires that the search term features in the keyword in some way, whereas just Broad can sometimes bring in irrelevant searches. You can have more control over bids and ads if you target queries with more specific match types, but targeting via phrase and exact shouldn’t be the dominant strategy across the entire account. Don’t overcomplicate your account and its management while missing out on valuable traffic from broad match terms.   ONE MONTH LATER

Expanding the Reach Of Existing Keywords

One month down the line and Adam’s account should be gathering volumes and supplying him with valuable insights into the effectiveness of different keywords. To build on his already phenomenal success there are certain simple changes that can expand his keyword’s collective footprint. The ads might be catchy, the offering might be stupendous but all that is wasted come auction time if you don’t watch and optimise based on keyword level bids. Increasing bids: Increase how much you are willing to pay for a keyword to show your ad to relevant searchers this must be done in a measured way. Google’s bid simulator can give a good estimate of how an increased bid can increase the number of impressions your ad will receive. Bidding Tips:

  • The top of page bid is not always the most profitable. Bidding for second position on a page can be cheaper while not diminishing visibility on the page and click volumes. Best performance comes from finding the sweet spot between cost and high-quality traffic volume.
  • Monitor industry trends and competitor activity to determine when and how much to increase or decrease your bids.
  • For new campaigns it is better to start with CPCs a little higher as this will give you an indication of the potential of your keywords and campaigns as a whole, while building quality score from the start.
  • Before using a bid management tool learn everything you can about it like how it works, its limitations and its advantages.

Refine Your Traffic With Negative Keywords

Negative keywords form the final piece of the AdWords jigsaw. They are essential to a well rounded keyword strategy. Basically, negative keywords prevent your ad from being shown to people that are less valuable to you or have no interest in what you are offering, however their search terms might overlap with your keywords. For example, adding the term “free” as a negative keyword at campaign level will prevent your ads from running when someone searches for “free trampolines”. When adding negatives, approach the task with the same mind-set as with positive keywords and think about what a user could potentially search for that you don’t want to show ads for. The adding of negatives is purely to ensure that the most relevant traffic is being exposed to your advert by eliminating irrelevant searches. Establishing negative keywords can often be a reactionary step. Once the account has been running for long enough, a search query report (SQR) can be pulled to see what search terms are triggering ads. Amongst these might be some terms that you don’t want to trigger your ad, these can be added as negatives. Furthermore, you can utilise Googles “Keyword Planner” to identify potential negative keywords as well as missed positive keywords.


There you have it, the guidelines to running a successful AdWords campaign. Enough from me, I’m sure by now all you’re thinking about is our old friend Adam Wordsmith and where he and his Trampoline Company are today… I’ll set your mind at ease; the story ended happily, of course. After restructuring his campaigns to align with the best practices broken down above, Adam’s website traffic increased along with leads generated from visitors to his site. He has since enabled visitors to purchase trampolines on his website and, with the help of conversion tracking, is able to record how many purchases his AdWords effort is generating. The online platform is exciting and the rewards of using it can be tremendous, however if you’re going to use it – use it right.

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