As part of setting up your Google Ads account, you will need to master the use of Ad Groups. Creation of Ad Groups follow the creation of campaigns and are meant to group keywords together that serve the same intent and subsequently target those people with the same ads. For example, if you have a campaign that targets “sneakers” searches, you could use different ad groups to group together people who search for “red sneakers” or “leather sneakers”. Being able to put together keywords of specific themed intent, enables you to serve these users with more relevant ad copy and landing pages.
See this video for step-by-step instructions on how to create ad groups.
Creating your Ad Group Blueprint
To determine which ad groups you want and how many, you will need to determine how specific you want your ads to be. Looking through your product or services catalogue is one way of making this determination. Another way is to look at how a potential customer might have a certain search intent.
A very powerful way to gain this insight is using the Search Term report in Google Ads, especially if you have been running the account for a while.
Not One Correct Ad Group Approach
Once you have a good idea of both your product or services catalogue and how users might search, it’s time to determine how you would want to organise things. You will have to make some decisions that are sometimes not clear cut. To keep with the “sneakers” example, you might have a user looking for “red sneakers” and another user looking for “sneakers size 10”. This might lead you to create an ad group for any “red sneaker” intended search and ad group for “sneaker size 10” searches.
But how would you deal with an extremely specific “red sneaker from brand x size 10” search? Have a practical approach by starting with ad groups that serve a broader search intent as you will always have the option to specify further in time.
It might take some time to determine the perfect campaign and ad group structure for yourself. You might need to go through different iterations of campaign/ad group builds. Remember that certain things can only be controlled on the campaign levels, such as daily budgets and bid strategies.
Creating Ad Groups
When you start creating ad groups you will have the option to choose between the “standard” and “dynamic” option. The first one will give you full control and requires you setting up all the keywords. The dynamic option will use an URL path to generate its own targeting. This option is great for those who don’t have the time to put in the manual work or those who just want to use the ad group to my keywords.
The following steps are not relevant to those using dynamic ad groups.
Once the ad group has been created, you will need to add keywords. These can be entered line by line in the online interface or using the + button in the Google Ads Editor App. Keywords will have to be entered as either Phrase match (by adding quotation marks “” around), Exact match (by adding brackets [ ] around), Broad match modified (by adding the plus sign + in front of each word) or Broad match (no extra marks needed). Each match type will give you control on how the keyword matches certain search queries.
If you are short on keyword ideas, make sure to use the Keyword Planner tool that is embedded in Google Ads. You can get inspiration by inputting your website and even estimated volumes and costs by testing sets of keywords.
Next to adding keywords, it is also imperative to add negative keywords to prevent certain search queries from matching to the ad group. This is often an overlooked aspect and is essential in making sure your ad group matches perfectly for those who you intended to reach. Before you can set an ad group live you will have to set a default bid for the keywords in the ad group.
Ad Group Best Practises Still On the Move
When creating ad groups it’s also important to consider how Google has changed it’s matching algorithm the last few years. There has been a lot written and said online on the topic of “close variant” matching and how this affects how we build Google Ads accounts. A close variant is Google’s effort to “make things easier” for Google Ads users. It basically widens the scope of a keyword such as “sneaker” to potentially match to “buy sneakers” or even “buy shoes”. Traditional ways of controlling performance via SKAGS (Single Keyword Ad Groups) for example become harder to do and more and more Google Ads users need to rely on Google’s machine learning generated wider interpretation of matching. So far this is still very much in development and subject to debate.
Read more on how ad groups work and how to set them up on:
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