If you’ve been following along with our blog post series, you’ve already gone through planning your AdWords strategy, choosing keywords, and landing page best practices. Now that all the strategy and preparation components are complete, it’s time to actually get started; we’ll explain campaign structure and go step-by-step through setting up your first AdWords campaign.

Understanding Campaign Structure

Alright, we know this isn’t exactly the most exciting topic, but it’s important to understand the structure of AdWords and the relationship between campaigns, ad groups, and ads before you get started.

Let’s start with an example, shall we? Perhaps you’re opening a new restaurant location and want to generate awareness of your store opening. In this case, your campaign might be called Store Opening or New Location. From here, you would break your campaign down into different ad groups.

Your New Location campaign will break down into ad groups such as Lunch, Catering, and Supper. Your Lunch ads might have keywords such as “lunch in boston” and messaging such as “Stop by XYZ Restaurant’s new location on Newbury Street! Lunch specials for $9.95.” However, your catering ad group will have keywords such as “corporate catering boston” and messaging like “Newbury St location open, Catering to businesses in Back Bay.”

It’s best to have about 3-5 keywords per ad group. If you have more than that, consider breaking them down further; the more targeted and specific your ad groups are, the easier it is to tell what’s working.

Remember, budgets are set at the campaign level. (We’ll discuss budgeting later in this post). This diagram shows the relationship between your account, campaigns, and ad groups.

AdWords Account Structure



Now that we have the basics of campaign structure covered, you’re ready to start!

5 Steps to Setting Up Your Campaign

1. Start with Search Only

For beginners, we recommend starting your campaign with the “Search Only” network. The Display network is a little more advanced, so it’s important to get comfortable with Search prior to moving onto the Display network.

While Google has the default set as “Both Search and Display Networks,” you should never choose both. The goals for search and display networks are different, and how ads appear on these networks is completely different. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work; if you wish to use both search and display, you should set up a different campaign specific to each network.

2. Target Your Customers Geographically

Next, you can choose which geographic areas you would like to target. You can choose any country, state/province, or city/town. The areas you choose to target will differ based on your business model and your typical customer. For example, if you are a local restaurant, you wouldn’t want your ads to reach the whole world — your ads would be targeted to very small, specific areas.

However, if you are an online retailer, your ads might be open to areas that you ship to, or maybe you’ll focus your ads on areas that the majority of your sales come from. Google allows you to make your geographic targeting as broad or as focused as you like, and it will provide an estimated reach for each area.

3. Control Your Budget & Bidding

As previously mentioned, budget is set at the campaign level. If you have an annual or monthly spend in mind, you can work backwards to determine the cost at the campaign level per day and then break that down into the ad group levels. Or, if you have an idea of what you want to spend on each ad group, you can work from there to determine your campaign budget per day.

Bidding strategy can be tricky. Remember to always set manual bidding. Google has set the default to automatic bidding, but you will maintain control and ensure you don’t waste money if you choose manual bidding. Start at a low CPC and gradually increase until you get the results you’re looking for.

4. Use Ad Extensions

There are 4 types of ad extensions:

Location: add via Google Places or manually enter your address. If you are a local business where customers stop by, it makes sense to have the location extension. However, if your business is mainly online or if your location is simply corporate headquarters, you wouldn’t broadcast your location.

Sitelinks: add specific sections of your website to appear in a list below your ad. If you have multiple product or service lines, such as a bar, restaurant and hotel, you should feature these as sitelinks. If you are a retailer, you might use sitelinks to feature specific promotional pages.

Call: add a clickable phone number that makes it easy for users to call your business straight from the advertisement. This is particularly helpful for mobile users who are on the go and looking for your business.

Social: tie your ad with your Google+ page. Google+ is useful for search engine optimization purposes. It only makes sense to use this social extension if your company is active on Google+, otherwise, you wouldn’t want to promote it.

5. Schedule Smart

Google can automatically choose when to show your ads, or you can set up a schedule for when you’d like your ads to be shown. Make sure your ad schedule mimics your hours of operations and promotions. You wouldn’t want to advertise with a call-to-action to “Stop by our store today!” at 9:00 pm when you closed at 6:00. Similarly, if you’re running a promotion for a certain day, such as a Friday dinner special, you shouldn’t have the ad running on a Saturday; however, maybe you’d want the ad to run from Wednesday to Friday evenings.

Consider your potential customer’s schedule (when they might be searching) and how that fits with your promotions and hours of operations. This will inform your decision on when to show your ads and ensure you are getting the most out of your budget.

You can find the scheduling options once you set up your campaign by going to Campaign Settings >> Ad Schedule.

 Next: 4 Critical Components of Your Ads

This summarizes the first steps to setting up your campaign. In our next post, we’ll discuss some best practices for developing your ads. Stay tuned to our blog for more AdWords tips!

Ready to soar on ahead? Lucky for you, we just released a brand new eBook that covers all of these topics and then some: A Beginner’s Guide to AdWords. To learn more about starting your first AdWords campaign, download the free eBook here.

Download Our Beginner's Guide to AdWords eBook