CharitiesGoogle AdWords

Google AdWords for charities: Building the perfect account structure

What’s so important about account structure?

Every time I set up a new AdWords account, it’s so tempting to just dive right in and start setting up campaigns based on a rough structure I’ve got floating around my head.

But it’s so important to think about the bigger picture. Let me explain why specific, well-structured and tailored campaigns perform best…

If you select relevant keywords and place them into specific ad groups, you can create ad copy for each group that’s perfectly tailored to the search query they typed in. The more tailored your ad copy is, the more likely the user is going to click on your ad. If your users are interacting well with your ads, your click-through rate will improve and your keyword Quality Score will increase. When your Quality Scores increase Google will show your ads more, so your bids will be more effective and your Search Impression Share will increase.

On the other hand, if you place a load of non-related keywords into the same ad group, the search terms that trigger your ads will be more varied and so your ad copy is unlikely to be perfectly tailored to your users. If your ad copy doesn’t accurately reflect all your keywords and your users aren’t clicking on your ads, Google is likely to lower your Quality Score and show your ads less. This means you’ll end up bidding a higher amount to appear top in the search results.

And if that isn’t enough for you, having a well-organised AdWords account is just so much easier to manage and optimise!

The structure of Google AdWords

So let’s just remind ourselves of Google’s current AdWords structure.

How to tackle all these different elements is up to you. Some people like to research all their keywords and then split them up into relevant campaigns and ad groups, while others prefer to brainstorm all the different campaigns and ad groups before going into detail with the keywords.

As long as you’re thorough with your research, both ways are fine!

Setting up an example campaign

It might be easier to walk through the set-up process together step-by-step.

Let’s pretend you’re advertising content for a new charity, the Porcupine Trust. Your website has the following content:

Campaigns and Ad Groups

You might not want to create ads for everything on your site, but it’s not a bad idea to base your AdWords Campaigns on your website structure. So now might be a good time to take a look at your sitemap!
For instance, our Campaigns and Ad Groups for Porcupine Trust might have the following structure:

As you can see, we’ve not followed the website structure exactly. We mentioned before that it’s good to make your campaigns as specific as possible, so if you’ve got a particularly large section of content on your site it may be good to split these up into multiple Campaigns.
For instance in the structure above, we’ve got a ‘Fundraise’ Campaign containing ad groups for different events. However most charities will find they need separate Campaigns for ‘Running events’, ‘Cycling Events’, etc, within which they will have Ad Groups for specific challenges (e.g. London Marathon, Royal Parks Half Marathon, etc). You may even find that you want an entirely different Campaign for each challenge, which is fine too.
My overall advice for setting up Campaigns and Ad Groups is:

  • Be as specific as you can, whilst ensuring your account is tidy and manageable
  • If you have more than 10 Ad Groups in a Campaign, consider whether this could be split up into multiple Campaigns
  • Remember that all your settings are done at Campaign level – this may impact your overall structure. If you want to target ads for some running events to a certain area this might change how you structure these campaigns e.g. if you want to target Great North Run only to certain areas in the North rather than the country as a whole then this would need to be its own campaign.

Within each Ad Group, you’ll have a number of keywords or phrases that you want to bid on. These keywords will determine when your ads appear in front of searchers.
The first thing to note is that it’s important to bid only on the words that you genuinely think users will want to see your ads for. If you start bidding on irrelevant keywords, users won’t find your ads as effective, and your ad click-through-rate and keyword quality score will drop.
The second thing to note is that there are a number of different keyword match types, which help to give you more control over when your ads will appear. These match types are all represented with different symbols. The different match types include:

  • Broad match – Okay, this one isn’t represented by a symbol because Broad Match keywords are indicated by not using any symbols. This type of keyword will reach the widest audience because your ad will be triggered when a user types in any word (or similar word) in your key phrase, in any order. For example, Cycling events could include cycling routes, bike shows, cycling in France, motorbike events, etc. I would generally advise against using Broad Match keywords, unless you’re sure that these won’t draw in a load of irrelevant terms.
  • Broad Match Modifier – This is similar to Broad Match, but allows you to ‘lock in’ certain words by putting a + (plus) symbol in front of it. For instance, the keyword +cycling event would only trigger search terms that include the word cycling. The keyword +cycling +event would trigger terms including cycling and event (such as cycling events, cycling events in France, events for cyclists, best cycling events around the word, etc).
  • Phrase Match – This gives you more control as your ads will only be triggered when users search for your keywords in the exact order you typed them in. You can indicate Phrase Match by putting your keywords in quotation marks. For instance, “cycling events” would trigger cycling events, cycling events in France and best cycling events, but would not trigger events for cyclists.
  • Exact Match – For even more control, you can put your keyword in square brackets. This will ensure that your keyword only ranks for that exact search term. For instance, [Cycling events] will only trigger the term Cycling events or minor variations of that phrase, such as cycle events or cycle event.
  • Negative Match – You can use a – (minus) symbol to tell AdWords which keywords you don’t want your ads to appear for. For instance, by typing in -France, -Route or -Motorbike, you can make sure you’re not showing up for search terms containing those words.

Key tips for choosing your keywords:

  • Research the keywords you want to use before you set your Campaigns. You can use AdWord’s Keyword Planner to do this.
  • Make sure you’re not ranking for irrelevant keywords – you don’t want to attract the wrong audiences or mislead users.
  • Usually Ad Groups contain around 10-20 keywords. Any more than this and you might want to consider splitting them up into different Ad Groups.
  • Use a variety of keyword match types, especially if you’re not confident in understanding how they work. If you need to, test the same keyword with multiple match types and see which one works best. However, as I mentioned before, be wary of using Broad Match!
Ads and Landing pages

Once you’ve selected your Campaigns, Ad Groups and Keywords, you need to think about your Ads. There’s no point in bidding on carefully selected keywords if no one responds to your ad copy!
Currently Google gives you the following options for your copy:

Headline 1 – 30 characters (e.g. “Information About Porcupines”)
Headline 2 – 30 characters (e.g. “Everything You Need To Know”)
Description – 80 characters (e.g. “Questions about porcupines? Get information, advice and support.”)
URL with two Paths – 15 characters each (e.g.””)
Key tips for writing ad copy:

  • Use keywords in your copy – Google uses relevancy as a factor when calculating Quality Score, so make sure your Ads are related to the keywords you’re bidding on.
  • Make sure your keywords are related to your landing page – This is another factor that Google considers with Quality Score, so make sure your landing page is relevant and keyword-optimised!
  • Include a Call to Action – If you want your users to take a particular action on your website, such as donating or signing up to an event, then try to include a phrase like ‘Sign up now!’ or ‘Donate today’ in your copy.
  • Test your ads – It’s a good idea to create 2-3 ads for each Ad Group so that you can see what’s working best. Every so often, remove the one that’s performing worst and replace it with another variation to test.
  • Review your ad copy before posting – Mistakes are very easy to make and they won’t do you any favours! Check for spelling mistakes and URL errors before you make your Campaign live.

I hope that all makes sense. If you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to drop us an email!