Google Ads Campaign Structure – The Shortest Yet Useful Guide

This blog post is in context of search network campaigns only.

The structure of a campaign on Google Ads includes ad groups, target keywords, negative keywords, ads, extensions, and audiences.

There’s no specific way or rule to structure your campaigns. However, you should structure and set them up in a way that is easy to manage – hence saving your time and money. I will be discussing some best practices for structuring your campaigns in this blog post.

Let’s start!

1. Number of keywords in an ad group

You can add as many keywords in an ad groups as you want (maybe all your keywords) however you will end up saying this!

What you should do instead is divide your keywords into themes (based on how closely they are related to each other) and create multiple small ad groups instead of one or a few big ones.


1. Managing a few keywords in an ad group is much easier than managing dozens of them.

2. As you have closely related keywords in an ad group, your ads match better with the keywords and hence, are more relevant to users’ searches.

3. As your ads are more relevant to your keywords, your click through rate improves. Hence, your keywords’ quality score improves.

4. As the quality score improves, CPC and CPA comes down.

Example of creating keyword themes:

If you are offering a camera rental service, you can divide your keywords like this:

Theme 1: Generic keywords like camera rental service, camera rental company, camera rental provider, etc.

Theme 2: Keywords for brands like Canon, Nikon, Sony, GoPro, etc. Keywords like canon camera on rent, canon camera rental, etc. should be in one ad group. In this case, you should have a separate ad group for each brand.

Theme 3: Keywords for any particular camera model should be kept in a separate ad group.

You can come up with multiple such themes. The bottom line is; don’t create large ad groups.

There’s a popular campaign structure – single keyword ad group (SKAG). As the name tells, you add only 1 keyword (all the 3 matches of the keyword) in an ad group. While it’s definitely a heck of a task to set up dozens of ad groups, it really pays in the long run.

However, if SKAG looks like too much, you can start with keywords themes as explained above.

2. Number of ads in an ad group

You should have 2-3 ads in every ad group.


1. With 2-3 ads, you can try multiple messaging.

2. Running multiple ads improves CTR as your messaging doesn’t get repeated and stale.

3. Based on which ad is converting better, you will get an understanding of what appeals more to your audience. You can then pause the ads which are not converting better and replace them with new ones with different messaging.

Assuming you have created multiple ad groups based on keyword themes, you should create ads relevant to those keywords. The point that I want to make here is don’t use the same ad(s) for all your ad groups because every ad group has different set/types of keywords.

Google suggests 2 ETAs (Expanded Text Ads) and 1 RSA (Responsive Search Ad) in one ad group. The structure is definitely worth trying. It did work for us in some cases and didn’t in others so you will have to test whether it will work for you or not.

3. Negative keywords

Negative keywords can be added at 3 levels – account, campaign and ad group.

Account level negatives keywords are added using Negative Keyword Lists. They are useful when you have dozens of campaigns and you have some terms which should be negative in every campaign. Instead of adding a particular term as negative in each campaign separately, you can just add it in the negative keyword list and add that list to all the applicable campaigns. It saves a lot of time.

For example, if you sell women’s shoes, you can add man, men, male, males, boy, boys, etc. as negatives at the account level.

Campaign level negatives restrict ads in a campaign from appearing on the terms added as negative. Keywords added as negative at the campaign level works for all the ad groups and keywords in that campaign.

They are useful when you have a set of negative keywords which apply only to one campaign and not to others. A very common example is, if you have a separate campaign for brand keywords, you should add brand keywords as negative in your other campaigns.

Ad group level negatives are used when you want to restrict ads from one ad group to appear on keywords from another ad group. Ad group negatives are very useful when you have a SKAG (single keyword ad group) campaign structure. Consider this scenario: you have separate ad groups for Digital Marketing Company and Digital Marketing Company in Bangalore. In this case, Bangalore should be added as a negative in Digital Marketing Company ad group.

It is very important to handle negative keywords carefully otherwise you may end up limiting your reach.

4. Ad extensions

Ad extensions can be added at the account, campaign and ad group levels. Generally, extensions are added at the campaign and account levels.

Extensions which are relevant to all your offers should be added at the account level for example call and location extensions. Note: other extensions can also be added at the account level.

Then there could be some extensions which apply only to a specific campaign or campaigns. Such extensions should be added at the campaign level.

Similarly, there could be some extensions which apply only to a particular set of keywords. They should be added at the ad group level.

5. Audiences

Audiences are added at campaign and ad group levels.

It is best to add them at the campaign level as it saves time and it’s easy to manage them at one place (rather than separately in multiple ad groups). As a campaign generally has all the related keywords, it makes sense to add your audiences at the campaign level.

You can, however, add them at the ad group level if your campaign has unrelated keywords in multiple ad groups. Adding audiences at ad group level also makes sense when you want to see how an audience performs for a particular keyword or a set of keywords.

Note that if you add them at the campaign level, then you won’t be able to add them at the ad group level and vice-versa.

Final Words

Following the practices explained above will definitely make your campaigns easier to manage and optimize. However, there’s no rule to structure your campaigns and you can structure them based on your needs.