PPC 101: Account Structure and Keyword Research

PPC 101: Account Structure and Keyword Research

The world of PPC advertising can be confusing. In a new series, Eastside Co’s Paid Search Specialist, Jed Brookes-Lewis, shines a light on the fundamentals behind running successful campaigns and improving your return on investment.

Written by Hannah

5 min read

Structuring a Google Ads Account

Structuring a Google Ads account in a clear and logical way is important for 3 main reasons:

Ensuring that the searches triggering your ads are relevant for your audience.

Driving improvements in quality scores, which in turn results in better performance and lower prices.

To keep you organised and able to optimise. If your account is a mess, then you’re likely to get lost in that mess, your results will plummet (or never arrive) and optimising to get better results will be out of the question.

This blog will review the components that make up an account and how best to organise them.

Google Ads Account Hierarchy

Accounts are structured in the following way:

My Client Center

The My Client Center (MCC) contains all the accounts that a client or agency manages. Client accounts can be added by entering the account ID then the client accepting the request to link or by setting them up within the MCC. Some top-level settings can be managed across all accounts through the MCC.


Accounts are the most simple category to understand. Typically a client will have one account that contains all their activity, however, if activity is run across multiple markets, or there are different brands under the same company, it may make more sense to use multiple accounts.


Within an account, campaigns are the top-level division and are normally organised by broad themes. An example of this might be a sportswear retailer who would then divide their campaigns by brand (Nike, Adidas etc.).

Ad Groups

Under each campaign, you will create relevant ad groups, which will be much more specific. In the example mentioned above of a sportswear retailer where campaigns are split out by brand, this might be by clothing type (e.g. shoes under a Nike campaign). There’s no recommended number of ad groups to have under a campaign, but typically it’s more manageable to not go overboard since this will stretch your campaign budget too thin and potentially limit performance. Ad groups contain keywords which trigger your ads and then direct to a relevant landing page.


Keywords will fall under each ad group and are very important in controlling the way your ad is triggered. When someone types in the search box in Google, that search is called a “search query,” which is then matched with a keyword, which then triggers an ad. Each keyword will have a Max CPC, match type, and quality score tied to it. It’s critical to conduct thorough keyword research, gain a concrete understanding of match types, and spend time refining and optimizing your keyword strategy over time. Best practice dictates that ad groups should contain no more than 15 keywords to ensure they are as focused as possible around a specific topic.


This is the actual text that will appear when your ad is triggered. As per best practice, each ad group should have 3 ads per ad group directing to the same landing page. It’s important to follow AdWords guidelines in order to get your ads approved, A/B test your ads over time, and really highlight the benefits of your offering to one-up your competition in the search results.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the cornerstone of any PPC account. Choosing appropriate terms for ads to appear against gives you the highest chance of seeing conversions whilst ensuring these keywords are adequately long-tail will help control costs. PPC keyword research shares a lot of similarities with SEO keyword research, the main difference being, however, that with PPC keywords, you will be more focussed on intent-driven terms (e.g. “buy a product”) as opposed to SEO where you may be more focussed on “research-based” terms.

Keyword research can be carried out using a number of tools; the easiest being SEMrush and Google’s Keyword Planner.

Keyword Categories

Keywords can be split into four basic categories:

  • Brand: Any keywords containing your brand name and any trademarked terms.
  • Generic: Terms relating to products or services offered.
  • Related Terms: Terms that don’t directly relate to what you’re selling, but that users who want your products or services may be searching for.
  • Competitor Terms: The brand names of competitors who are offering similar products and services to yours.

In general, brand keywords are the cheapest to bid on, with costs increasing as you work through the above list. It is, therefore important to ensure coverage is as thorough across all categories, with less focus placed on the more expensive ones.

Match Types

There are four match types that can be used for keywords in a Google Ads account:

  • Exact: Ads will only serve when a user searches for text that exactly matches the keyword and small variations (plurals & spelling errors)
  • Phrase: Ads may show on searches that match a phrase, or close variations of that phrase, which may include additional words before or after.
  • Broad Match Modified: Similar to broad match (see below) however, by placing a + sign in front of specific words within the keyword, you can indicate that the search term must include this specific word.
  • Broad: Ads may show on searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations.

As with keyword categories, different match types drive different amounts of cost - exact match are the cheapest as they will match to far fewer search queries whilst broad is the most expensive due to the volume of searches your ad can show for.

You can also use broad and phrase match keywords to help drive further keyword research as you will be able to review the specific terms users are using to match to your keywords which can then be added as exact match.

Organising Keywords

Once you have built up a list of keywords, it is important that they are then organised into campaigns and ad groups, grouping relevant keywords together. The tighter and more focused your ad groups are, the easier it will be to measure the performance of each keyword, prune or expand your lists if necessary and create highly specific and relevant ads

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are the search terms that you don't want your ads to show up for, and they're an important part of any campaign because they help control costs and keep your ad targeting as relevant as possible.

The main reason to include negative keywords is to prevent your ads – and, by extension, your brand – from showing up alongside search queries that are irrelevant or offensive. For example, a seller of high-end furniture would want to target affluent customers and would add terms like "cheap" and "free" to the negatives list to prevent their ads for appearing alongside those terms. You’ll also want to rule out impressions on terms that are similar to but not really related to your business – such as “hairdryer” if you sell home appliances including washers and dryers.

These are especially important if you are using broad or phrase match keywords as the chances are higher you will be showing for irrelevant terms.

Whilst keyword research can seem like a daunting prospect to begin with, breaking it down into its component parts makes the whole process more streamlined. Whether you’re just starting out, or are a PPC wizard, why not get in touch with the paid search experts here at Eastside Co to discuss your current keyword strategy and how further performance improvements can be driven.

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