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Wednesday: Determining the Number and Granularity of Ad Groups

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A common question we get when making PPC presentations is, “How many keywords should you include in an ad group?”

There is no single correct numerical answer to this question. Remember our mantra: (Almost) every keyword should appear in the ad text. This really means that you should split your keyword lists into as many small subsets as possible. Here again is the example we used in the previous section:


  • Women’s hiking boots
  • Hiking boots for women
  • Best hiking boots for women
  • Buy women’s hiking boots


Buy Women’s Hiking Boots
Hiking Boots for All Terrains.
Name Brands. 20% off. Buy Now!

This ad doesn’t include the words compare and online. But that’s OK. The most important thing here is that the ad is displayed when the searcher uses a query related to women’s hiking boots, and your ad pertains specifically to that kind of shoe. It mentions hiking boots twice, and highlights all terrains and name brands, which could be important benefits to an online shopper. So although you don’t have every word from the keyword list in the ad, you certainly have included  the most important ones.

You should now see that it’s OK to create ad groups with thousands of keywords, and other ad groups with only one keyword in each. For example, because you won’t typically need to create a separate ad group for each individual misspelling, each of thousands of URL variations can coexist in a single ad group. The limit to the granularity of such ad groups will be the limit of the number of keywords that can be included in a single ad group, which varies from engine to engine, but numbers in the thousands.

Understanding the Benefits of a Well-Structured Account

You’ve listened to us preach about the importance of a well-structured PPC account. We walked you through the process of setting up campaigns and ad groups that are tightly grouped with small keyword lists and ads that feature most keywords from each ad group. Let’s look now at the specific benefits of well-structured accounts:

Faster reporting and analysis: If your keywords are scattered all over your account with little or no rhyme or reason, it’s going to be extremely diffi cult to analyze the account’s performance and make improvements. When you run reports for your campaigns, ad groups, keywords, ads, or any other aspect of your account, you need to be able to look at the data and draw conclusions. With poorly structured campaigns and ad groups, reporting will take a lot more time, it will be signifi cantly less reliable, and trending will be diffi cult to determine.

Effi cient account management: After your PPC account is up and running, you want to be able to make changes quickly and effi ciently in order to enhance the account’s performance. If your account is set up properly, you can make notes and formulate an optimization strategy quickly, and drive straight into your account with confi dence that you know exactly what needs to be done and exactly where the strengths and weaknesses lie.

Better PPC ad copy: The more tightly themed your ad groups are, the better targeted your PPC ad copy will be. Yes, the chanting of our mantra continues: Your ad copy should be able to feature almost all of the keywords in your ad group. If you have to use dynamic keyword insertion (DKI), or if you have so many keywords that your ad copy can’t feature them, you have some ad-group segmentation to do. Remember, highly relevant, benefi t-driven, keyword-focused PPC ads and landing pages are the crux of a successful PPC account. You have to get the account structure right for all of this to occur.

Higher quality scores: Great quality scores hinge on your CTR and the relationship of your PPC ad text to the keywords within your ad group. Your quality score can get a lift when Google can easily determine the theme of your ad group, because all of the keywords are relevant to your ad text and they’re relevant to each other. With a higher quality score, you will pay less per click, and your ad position will improve.

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