How to Structure Google Ads Search Campaigns


Mark Shore


April 11, 2022

Google search ads are a cornerstone for any successful performance marketing program. A well-defined campaign structure is essential to maximize the success and scale of your PPC ads. This article breaks down how HiFi – a fictitious, global fintech startup – would structure their account. These best practices can be applied to your brand as well, whether you’re a startup or an established business.

Optimal Google search ads account structure

Define your high-level targeting buckets

There are three main targeting categories you’ll want to differentiate – brand, competitors, and generic.


This campaign will contain keywords unique to your company, including your brand name and individual products. Some examples would be:

  • hifi
  • hifi invest
  • hifi credit card

Since you’re targeting people already searching for your brand or products, these will typically be your highest performers. While some companies shy away from these terms since they figure they’ll get those same customers organically, this can be a risky strategy (as we’ll see in the next section) since your competitors are trying to steal your customers.


Conquesting is an effective way to pull traffic away from your competitors to your website or app. In this campaign, you’d target keywords around your competitors and their products, for instance:

  • sofi
  • wealthfront
  • blockfi credit card

It’s often effective to mention what makes you unique compared to the competition in these ads.


This campaign will contain groups of general keywords that relate to your products. Some terms HiFi may want to target are:

  • best investing app
  • robo advisor
  • cashback credit card

Categorize your targets into similar themes

Competitor and Generic categories are typically further broken down by theme (unless you only offer one product). For instance, you may want to bucket similar keywords together:

  • Credit cards
  • Online banking
  • Robo advisors

Separating by theme will allow you to have specific ad copy for each group, as well as drive to various landing pages with tailored messaging. Funneling traffic to specific landing pages based on ad copy can be a great strategy to boost conversion rate optimization.

Utilize different match types

Google offers three match types: exact match, phrase match, and broad match. The goal is to allocate most of your budget to the exact match keywords most likely to convert. Phrase and broad match can help you continue to find new keywords to add to the mix.

Exact match

The syntax for exact match keywords is to put them in brackets, for example, [hifi investing app]. Searches must have the same meaning or intent as your exact match keyword. These keywords will typically have the best performance, but they also have the highest CPCs.

Phrase match

The syntax for phrase match keywords is to put them in quotes, for example, “hifi investing app”. To show on phrase match, searches must include the same meaning as your phrase match keyword but may also have other terms. These keywords help you find variations of existing keywords that you can add to your campaigns.

Broad match

The syntax for broad match keywords is to simply input the keyword, for example, hifi investing app. To show on broad match, searches must be related to your keyword but don’t need to include your keyword. These keywords can help you find similar, completely new keywords. It’s best to dedicate only a small portion of your budget to broad keywords.

Use negative keywords to focus your campaigns

Google also allows you to add negative keywords. You’ll want to add related keywords that don’t align with your brand or products. For instance, since HiFi doesn’t offer crypto investing, they would add crypto-related keywords as negative keywords.

You’ll also want to utilize negative keywords to keep your campaigns or ad groups focused on the proper match type. For instance, your phrase match campaigns would negative target exact match keywords, and your broad match campaigns would negative target phrase match and exact match keywords. Here’s an example of targeting the same keyword across different match types.

Optimal match type campaign structure

In rare cases, you may want to segment by demographics

Separating campaigns by specific demographics can make sense if messaging or customer experience varies significantly. Some segments to consider are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Location

For instance, if HiFi has different investing experiences in the US and UK, they would likely separate all campaigns by those two regions.

In general, however, Google’s algorithm does a good job of getting your ads to the right people. So when in doubt, you should leave all demographics together in the same campaign.

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