This series of blog posts goes ‘behind the scenes’ to extend and expand on the content in our free ebook ’21 Secrets of High-Resolution PPC’. Request your copy here.
Paid seach campaigns are organized into campaigns and ad groups. Why they’re organized and how they should be organized is something that doesn’t get discussed enough.
The secret to ad groups is hidden in its name. Ad groups are a way to organize text ads. If they were a way to organize keywords, they’d be called keyword groups!
Properly building ad groups is incredibly important. Yet it seams that most people spend far too little time designing and constructing their ad groups. This happens primarily because the goals aren’t clear.
The Goal of Ad Groups
The goal of an ad group is:
- To perfectly align questions (search queries) with answers (text ads).
- Every query that comes into an ad group should smack straight into some ad copy that directly and perfectly addresses its topics, issues, intent, and desires.
- It not good enough for all the keywords in an ad group to be similar or narrowly focused or contextually similar or anything else.
- If the people whose queries come into a group don’t see text ads that satisfy them, the ad group is a failure.
Rebuilding Ad Groups
It’s also rare to find paid search managers spending a lot of time re-organizing ad groups. Which is a mistake because taking what is learned from real-life data and experience and shifting things around is often the most effective way to jump start a campaign that is stuck with performance below your expectations.
Ad group reorganization doesn’t happen a lot in large part because it isn’t easy enough to reorganize within our tools. But the ‘clarity of vision’ problem applies here too. Without a clear set of organizational goals how can you know that something is wrong or how you should fix it?
There is only one legitimate way to analyze the success of an ad group: Take the list of search queries the ad group has attracted, say over the last 30 days. Put this list next to the text ad copy that has been shown to the people who executed those searches.
If you can’t look at any of the text ads on that list, and be completely comfortable that it is clearly and directly aimed at answering the question implied in any and every search query on the other list, then you have work to do to improve your ad groups.
A lot of that work involves adding and deleting keywords, shifting or duplicating match types, working on bidding and quality score, and other similar tasks. But none of these efforts can be fully or correctly completed if you don’t first commit to building ad groups around the ads they contain and not around the keywords they contain.
The Ads Are The Targets
This is the distinction that matters. Build ad groups around ads. Fit in keywords that attract compatible queries.
Ads are the target. Build a nice small target. Then hit it. Hit it as squarely and cleanly as possible. Don’t allow anything in that isn’t a bullseye.
There may be many great keywords that just don’t fit. You may have to add negatives to that particular ad group that are perfectly valid keywords elsewhere. That’s fine. You can build as many ad groups as you need to have each one be tight and focused. But if you allow unaligned queries into your ad group, the downhill spiral begins:
- Queries that don’t target the ad copy get impressions but not clicks.
- So CTRs drop
- And what may be perfectly good queries are under-served by inappropriate ads (ei they’re wasted)
- Quality score suffers for the keywords, target URLs, and overall account
- Money is wasted in the process, and cost rise in the future (due to lower quality score across the account)
If the search engines let you dynamically decide which ad to show based on the search query, you could build ad groups around keywords and then direct each person to a highly targeted text ad. But they don’t, so you have to work the other way around. Build highly targeted text ads then construct ad groups that only bring very specific people to them.
It’s easy to remember: they’re called ad groups.
What do you think?
This blog post is a companion to our free ebook ’21 Secret Truths of High-Resolution PPC’.
It will be available for download later this month.
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