Welcome to PPC Hero’s newest blog series! All week we are going to discuss ways to save time when managing PPC campaigns. For today’s topic, I’ll be tackling how carefully planned PPC account structures save time not only for management but also for reporting, too. Honestly, account structure is one of my all-time favorite PPC subjects. It’s like a puzzle, and I love seeing how all the pieces come together to create a great performing pay-per-click account. But we need to learn how to walk before we can run…

Account Structure Basics

Hopefully you know this, but I’ll remind you just in case. The average, run-of-the-mill PPC account will be broken down as such: Account (AdWords, YSM, adCenter, etc.) > Campaign > Ad Group > Ad Texts & Keywords. Imagine a PPC account as a nesting doll, with each subsequent level residing in the next largest level. Because of this tiered structure system, it is quite easy to organize your account for end-user relevancy as well as manager-friendly simplicity.

The worst example of an account structure would be one campaign, one ad group and 100’s of keywords. I cringe at the thought. That means that 100’s of keywords are triggering the same set of ads. Talk about things that make you go, “blech!” For the uninitiated, account structure creates the foundation for determining your Quality Score (used as a blanket term here for Google, Yahoo! and MSN’s respective ad quality systems). By foundation, I mean, the way you organize your campaigns, ad groups and therefore how you group your keywords and ad texts together plays a role in the performance of your account and the resulting Quality Score. It’s all about granular organization of your keywords, allowing you to write keyword-rich and relevant ad texts which lead to higher click-through rate, and at the end of the day – higher Quality Score. Whew!

A Time Saver for Management

OK, so you’re probably sitting there thinking, “John – I know account structure is important for Quality Score, but how can it save me time?” Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ll start off by saying this: There’s a reason that organized people are able to accomplish so many things. When everything is put away in it’s nice, neat, little space – it’s a rather simple task to go and retrieve it. Be that a set of keys, a file or a keyword. There it is.

A carefully planned account structure will save you time for the sheer fact that it is easy to navigate and find your ad texts and keywords. Imagine the dreadful scenario I stated above – one campaign, one ad group and 100’s of keywords. So, maybe finding that one ad group will be easy, but good luck scrolling through that list of keywords to make bid changes or to review stats. Not a pretty site is it? Imagine an account that is a little farther down the PPC manager evolution timeline that has 4 campaigns with 2-3 ad groups apiece. This is closer to what we’re looking for. But this is where the “carefully planned” statement comes into play. If all of the campaigns are labeled as “Campaign 1” and so-on, and the ad groups are just a hodge-podge of keywords – this advertiser is really no better off in terms of organization and saving time.

How can you remedy the situation? Whether your PPC account will house 50 keywords or 5000, start with a plan! When creating an account from scratch, this is easiest – but you can do this with an existing account too. Hopefully, when you performed your keyword research, you were already pre-sorting those terms into buckets (or silos or whatever organization buzz term you want to use). Start here. Then work your way into breaking those buckets into tightly themed groups – your future ad groups.

Move on to Microsoft Word and SmartArt (my weapon of choice, you can hand draw if you’d prefer), and literally map out your account structure. While you do this, consider the naming conventions you give to each campaign and ad group. Campaigns should have unique names that serve to generally describe the ad groups contained within. The Ad Groups should follow suit with names that generally describe the keywords within. See a trend here? Using this plan, then it’s a matter of putting the pieces together in AdWords Editor, adCenter Desktop or Excel (where’s our desktop application at Yahoo!?). And “whalah!” – you’ve created an account structure that makes sense and is easy to navigate – thus making it easier to manage.

Other account structure tactics that can save you time? Separating Content and Search into different campaigns. When geo-targeting (especially on an international level), put different countries into different campaigns. Have products that receive more budget than others? Give them their own campaigns. The list goes on and on.

A Time Saver for Reporting

Please keep everything I just said in mind. For many of the exact same reasons, PPC reporting is made easier with a carefully planned account structure. Using ridiculous naming conventions like “campaign 1” or “ad group 13” will not serve you well when it comes time to create reports. Unless you’ve got a photographic memory, the naming conventions should be there to remind you of each campaign and ad group’s content, making it easy to build reports on the fly.

So, that was the obvious example. Like I mentioned above, structuring your account around Content and Search campaigns, or geo-targeting options and even budgeting will save you time with management. But again, when it’s time to pull a report – you can get to the core of the information you need immediately. As an example, I’m comfortable using programs like Excel that allow me to slice and dice my PPC data any way I like it. But it can be a time consuming process to manipulate the data to get down to some of these levels (content, search, geo-targeting, budget, etc.). When your account structure is built around these items, you can quickly and easily create reports. Or if you’re in a real hurry – take a look at your campaign summaries in each of the search engines and go on with your day. You choose!

Well, that’s my 2 cents on utilizing PPC account structure to save time when managing and reporting on my campaigns. Remember to use logical, descriptive naming conventions for your campaigns and ad groups. And when you are running campaigns with Content, geo-targeting or complicated budgetary concerns, use your account structure to break these down for easier management and reporting.

How do you use your PPC account structure to save time with management and reporting? Let me know by leaving a comment!