I’m often asked, ‘what makes a good PPC account structure?’… well in truth, it varies from account to account. There is no real champion account structure as such. Instead, what I want to share with you is the back-bone of an account structure which should typically bode well for any account. Following the simple steps below cuts out a large amount of wasted time on what historically appear to be over complicated accounts.

Alpha/Beta PPC Account Structure

Firstly, if you have a good website structure, use this as a template (N.B. If you don’t have a good website structure/navigation then perhaps looks at that first; there is nothing more frustrating to a potential customer than an badly navigable website!). There are many reasons for doing this; the two main ones are that it aligns campaigns/ad groups to landing pages, as well as for ease of reporting.

The main purpose of the Alpha/Beta PPC account structure is to maximise quality score and conversion rate. As quality scores are also calculated at campaign level, it deems valuable that the campaign structure reflects and takes advantage of this. The price of a click depends on a metric known as ‘quality score’, which we know denotes how relevant Google thinks your combination of ad copy, keyword and landing page are to a searcher’s search query. Increasing quality score would reduce the price of clicks (and therefore the price of conversions) or improve ad rank (that is, the position the ad appears on the search results page). As we know, maximising quality score translates to higher ad positions and lower cost per clicks. By separating keywords with the highest quality score into a separate ‘cloned’ Beta ad groups, the campaign’s quality score will be further maximised and a higher ROI will be observed.


In A Nutshell

Let’s call the bare-bone ad groups our ‘Alpha’ ad groups. To implement this strategy, we would build out ‘Beta’ ad groups, containing the most successful keywords alongside the most successful ads and landing pages. The ad group should be a complete clone of the original Alpha ad group but it should only contain the winning criterion. With this likely single-keyword ad group, we can tailor the ad creative to be hyper relevant to the search term and user, and additionally can test new hyper relevant variations of these best performing ads.

Read my my blog post on Considering Ad Copy As A Group Of Swappable Elements on how to variant test ad copy.

The exact match keyword should then be added as a negative to the corresponding Alpha Ad group to ensure that that exact search query triggers the ad in the Beta Ad group only.

Here’s A Visual Of What This Structure Looks Like

ppc account structure

This such Alpha-Beta PPC account structure will allow us to focus on the most valuable keywords that provide the most ROI. It will allow us to carefully monitor and manage the budgets where the spend is going to give the biggest ROI. Additionally, it will provide a sound platform on which we can carefully create and test hyper relevant ad creatives, to further optimise the campaigns and overall account.

Use A Practical Naming Convention

Naming your campaigns and ad groups in a practical way from the start will mean ease of navigation down the line. I see so many accounts where the campaigns are ‘campaign 1’ or ‘Sarah campaign’… they do not mean anything to anyone (OK, well maybe to Sarah) but you get my point, they do not instantly identify the theme. If you want to assign campaigns to certain staff then consider using labels.

Consider a naming convention that includes the targeted network, theme of the ad groups and the keyword match type:

Search – Theme 1 – BMM

Search – Theme 1 – Exact

Search – Theme 2 – BMM

Search – Them 2 – Exact

Display – Theme 1 – Image

Display – Theme 1 – Text

Re-targeting – Theme 1 – RLSA

Re-targeting – Theme 2 – RLSA

The size of the account can get a bit out of hand with the addition of further campaigns, ad groups, intent etc., especially when you factor in all the different types of campaigns you may want to be running:

  • Shopping
  • Search Text Ads
  • Display (Topics, Interests, Placements, etc)
  • Remarketing
  • Dynamic Remarketing
  • Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)
  • Dynamic Search Ads (DSA)
  • Remarketing for Dynamic Search Ads (RDSA)

The trick here is with naming conventions and to label everything. The more clearly defined and separated the above campaign types are, the easier the account will be to navigate and manage.

So, we’ve looked at the structure, but I want to just jump back slightly here and touch on what the difference is between a keyword and a search query, and what match types are available along with their uses.

Keywords vs. Search Queries

We hear a lot of talk around keywords and search queries, but these are sometimes either misunderstood or misrepresented. So let’s clear this up:

  • Keywords are words or phrases that a marketer buys on Google
  • Search Queries are words or phrases that a user (potential customer) types into the Google search bar

Match Type

Next I want to run through what match-types are available, and what they entail:


Broad Match

This match type allows us to control how aggressively Google matches keywords to queries.
e.g. Formal Shoes also matches to Formal Footwear, Evening Footwear, and Men’s Dress Wingtips etc.
This form or match type gives Google almost total discretion.


Broad Match Modified

This match type allows us to specify words that must appear in a search, while capturing misspellings and different orderings of the words.
e.g. +Formal +Shoes also matches Formal Shoes, Formal Evening Shoes, Formal Black Dress Shoes.
BMM match type prevents synonyms.


Phrase Match

This match type allows us to control how aggressively Google matches keywords to queries.
e.g. “Formal Shoes” also matches to Black Formal Shoes, Formal Shoes for Men, Formal Shoes for Women.
Phrase match type requires the complete phrase to appear in the query.


Exact Match

This match type allows us to stop Google matching our keywords to certain queries.

e.g. [Formal Shoes] matches to Formal Shoes only.
Exact match type will only show the exact phrase.


Negative Match

This match type allows us to stop Google matching our keywords to certain queries
e.g. -Formal -Shoes matches to Men’s Trainers, Men’s Flip-Flops, Ladies High-Heels
Negative match type excludes any word or phrase.


I recommend using Broad March Modified (BMM) to discover new and potentially profitable search queries, Exact Match to isolate the top performing queries and bids accordingly and Negative Match to exclude the unprofitable queries. Generally I do not recommend the use of Broad Match or Phrase Match: Broad Match gives the least control and so potentially allows ads to appear on irrelevant searches (especially if you do not have a tightly optimised negative keyword list applied); Phrase Match would capture fewer searches than BMM as it requires precise spelling and so is less useful for exploration.

I have seen many an account where the PPC manager has used the same keyword on Broad, Phrase and Exact match, and I think to myself, you’ve wasted so much of your time by doing that. Also, I’ve see a lot of ad groups with long-tail (5+ keywords per line) with little to no data attributed, why? Because they had jumped the gun and second guessed what the customer would be searching rather than run BMM ad groups and analyse the search query reports (the queries that potential customers are actually using).

By using Broad Match Modify and Exact match types only, we are able to data-mine for new an relevant queries that we want to bid on and identify those that we don’t. Using Phrase and Broad match types only complicate things.

Creating & Analysing Alpha/Beta Campaigns

So to recap, below is a step-by-step process, which if followed correctly, will produce your A/B structure:

  1. Create the Alpha ad group with all keywords on BMM.
  2. Review Search Query Reports on the Alpha ad groups.
  3. Identify the performing and ill-performing queries via Search Query Reports.
  4. Create the Beta ad group and move the performing queries into Single Keyword ad groups.
  5. Ensure all Beta ad group queries are on Exact Match.
  6. Create targeted ad creatives and landing pages for the Single Keyword ad groups.
  7. Add all ill-performing queries to the corresponding Alpha ad groups as Exact Match Negatives.
  8. Add all Beta queries to the corresponding Alpha ad groups as Exact Match Negatives – This prevents Google from matching an Alpha keyword to a performing Beta query.
  9. A schedule is then created to re-run through steps 2-8 for continuous optimisation of the account.


By implementing the Alpha/Beta structure we can ensure that the Exact Match keyword is triggered by the users search query, resulting in a tailored and specifically related ad creative being entered into the auction to be shown on the SERP (SERP is the search engine results page, the page the user is directed to have clicking search on their search query). This will ensure that the users search query is matched most relevantly to a keyword and ad creative most likely to provide higher engagement and potential conversion.


  1. This should result in a higher Quality Score and Ad Rank thus resulting in a lower CPC to that of the same keyword using a different match type.
  2. This structure ensures that highly relative keywords, queries and ad creative are married up.
  3. This structure should also lower bounce rate and increase user engagement (Pages/Visits).


So What Makes A Perfect PPC Account Structure?

I am not saying the above is the answer to all our structural prayers, instead, it gives you a bare-bone idea of how to re-structure or build out your account to maximise efficiency in more than one way. Getting the structure right means you have more time to concentrate on optimisation and variant testing. Take a look at our account, how does it look? From campaign level can you clearly identify what each campaign entails? No? Well if you can’t then no-one else can. Have you segmented your campaigns / ad groups? If not, ask yourself why not.

I hope you have found this useful. I’d love to hear your feedback, and your experiences. What structure works well for you?