Google AdWords Strategy – How to Structure Ad Groups and Increase CTR

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One of the most common questions I get when I’m consulting marketers who want to get started with Google AdWords and PPC marketing, but don’t want to lose their shirt is: “Bryan, how do you structure your ad groups for maximum results”?

This article will lay out the exact process and a great example of how you should structure your ad groups and campaigns in general to make the most money promoting products with Google AdWords search network.

Step 1: Understanding Match Type

Google AdWords allows you target keywords in 3 distinct “match types”. Those are broad match, phrase match, and exact match. Each of these match types also have a negative counterpart, which is a critical component in order to form tightly themed campaigns and ad groups that Google loves.

Now how AdWords distinguishes between these match types and determines which user query triggers which keyword match type you’re targeting in your campaigns can seem quite complex. But it really isn’t. I think the best place to go to understand how this works is straight from the source. I highly recommend you read Google’s explanation of how this works which you can find in the AdWords Help Center.

Step 2: Quick Keyword Research

Now the purpose of this article is not to teach you how to do keyword research because that’s whole other article in itself (perhaps even 5 or 6 more). But I do want to give you glimpse of how to build a campaign using keywords that you know are converting for others.

What I do is a series of processes to find the keywords that are most likely to bring you targeted traffic and quick. One of those processes is to use spy sites to find out what keywords other advertisers are targeting in their campaigns. One of my favorite keyword spy services is appropriately called Keyword Spy. There is a paid and free version. I highly recommend the paid version if you’re going to be at all serious about your PPC business.

Simply use Keyword Spy to gather a list of 50-100 of the top keywords in your niche. The example I’m going to use is the golf niche. So let’s say you want to run a campaign promoting an eBook as an affiliate. Start your campaign with the top 10-20 keywords sets from your list. So let’s say one of those keywords sets is “fix golf swing”. The most tightly themed, and highly effective campaign setup would be to create one ad group per keyword set, per match type.

Keyword Sets

Keyword sets are simply a set of 10-20 very similar keywords. So a keyword set for the keyword “fix golf swing” could include 10 keywords such as:

fix golf swing, fix my golf swing, how to fix golf swing, fix golf swing tips, golf swing fixed, fix swing for golf, fix golf game swing, etc…

As you can see from the list above that all keywords have a common phrase of fix golf swing with miscellaneous variations or modifiers thrown in. This is a perfect example list of keywords that would make up a tightly themed ad group that Google would love to see structured within your campaign.

Example Adgroup #1: Fix Golf Swing (exact)

This would be the name of your first ad group, in which you would place the exact match of the keywords within our example keyword set above. So you would place this in the keyword list box for that ad group:

[fix golf swing]

[fix my golf swing]

[how to fix golf swing]

[fix golf swing tips]


This is the exact match form of the keyword ‘fix golf swing’. That’s it. After that, optimally you would want to create 2 ad variations for that ad group. You ads should include the common keyword in the ad copy. Of course, you would also want to use a tracking script and the given destination URL so you can track if the exact match of and of the keywords in that ad group generated a sale.

So at this point you have 1 ad group set up, you’ve got 2 laser-targeted ads written for that ad group, and you’ve got a tracking URL’s set up for each keyword.

Example Ad Group #2 – Fix Golf Swing (pm -em)

Basically what that means above is phrase match, negative exact match. That also coincidentally is how this ad group will be set up. Makes sense, don’t it! Here’s what you might enter into the keyword box for this ad group:

“fix golf swing”

“fix my golf swing”

“how to fix golf swing”

“fix golf swing tips”

-[fix golf swing]

-[fix my golf swing]

-[how to fix golf swing]

-[fix golf swing tips]

What you’re doing here is creating an ad group with the just the phrase match keywords from our example keyword set above, and then the negative exact match thrown in there as well. What this does it tell AdWords, only trigger the keywords in this ad group if the user searches for a phrase match variation of a keyword in our ad group, and NOT to trigger this ad group if they do an exact search of any these keywords.

In other words, if they search for the exact match you want your exact match ad group to trigger your ad. If they search for a phrase match variation you don’t want your exact match ad triggered but rather your phrase match ad. This distinctly divides the traffic and forces Google not to cross-trigger your ads. This is absolutely critical in terms of increasing your quality score, increasing your CTR, and having Google absolutely LOVE your campaign.

I hear ya…

Trust me, I hear you thinking right now, “man, this seems like a real pain”. Well, to tell the truth if you have a set process and the proper tools, it’s really not. If you’re doing it manually, then yes, it is. But either way, if you’re serious about your PPC campaign’s profits you shouldn’t take short cuts. This is the way Google wants you to set up your ad groups and campaigns, and the AdWords system will reward you for doing it.

I’ve been at this for nearly 5 years now, and have spent thousands of dollars testing, hundreds of hours putting in work and gathering data, and I’ve not seen a better system for structuring AdWords campaigns yet. So simply put, do the extra work and you’ll see the fruits of your labor – trust me.

Broad Match Keywords

Now I know some of you are probably wondering about why I haven’t mention broad match yet. That’s because when you first start your campaign, you should NEVER use broad match. Your conversions and profits will be exponentially greater if you just leave broad match alone for now.

There’s a complete strategy that goes with setting up your ad groups like this and the use of broad match must be done in an almost scientific way. If you’re interested in the complete system and strategy, and how to absolutely kill almost every AdWords campaign you’ll ever run then I highly recommend you check out my “Affiliate Lab Formula 2.0” system. This is a complete, step-by-step formula that will show you how a four figure AdWords/PPC affiliate marketer sets up and manages campaigns at a nearly 90% success rate (meaning campaign ends up profitable).


This is a strategy that you can instantly build profitable AdWords campaigns at hyper-speed. You should go immediately and implement this into your AdWords campaigns, and you WILL see some awesome (and almost unbelievable) results. Hope you have found this article on how to structure ad groups for maximum profits extremely helpful and that you take action and put this stuff to work ASAP!

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