What is campaign structure in Google Ads and why is it so important?

The first thing to know about campaign structure is that it’s not a “one size fits all” kind of deal. There are several types of structures that are popular among PPC practitioners. Which one to apply to an account or client may depend upon the specifics of the campaign, as well as your preferences as a manager.

Now, why is it important to choose the right structure for your account? Because it will give you better control over how your ads are triggered, according to the different terms used on your Google Ads account. Imagine not being sure what ad group will be triggered for a specific term or keyword. That would be hard to manage and would mean that you would end up wasting clicks and budget.

Now, let’s review the most popular ways to structure campaigns, according to Google Ads experts

SKAG Structure

SKAG stands for Single Keyword Ad Group, meaning that you are going to target one, and only one keyword with each of your ad groups. Now, what type of match will you use for that keyword?

Most people like to use SKAGs along with an Alpha/Beta Structure. The Alpha is usually a campaign where you put your Single Keyword Ad Groups (so, only one keyword) using exact match, and that campaign runs in parallel with a Beta Campaign, where you put several groups (whether they’re SKAG or not) using phrase match.

Remember you can learn all about Keyword Match Types in a previous post.

Pros and Cons of SKAG

The main advantage of SKAG is that you’re likely to have high CTRs because you’re focused on very specific terms, your ad copy will be tailored to the only keyword that is going to trigger your ads (and if you don’t get good results on the first time you write copy for that keyword, it’s relatively easy to optimize). All of this will very likely have a positive impact on your Quality Score.

On the negative side, if you have a lot of keywords that you’d like to target this way, it’ll soon become hard to maintain, and you may end up spending more time than with other methods, just managing the sprawl of ad groups. So we would recommend this method only if you anticipate that the number of targeted keywords is going to be manageable in the long run.

Hagakure Campaign Structure

Hagakure is a method of structuring your campaigns based on big volumes of data, which quite often means using landing pages, rather than keywords, as the building bricks for your structure.

You’ll find everything about Hagakure in our dedicated series of posts in this blog, from what it is and when to use it to how to make the move to Hagakure, including what manual work is left after you’ve moved your campaign to Hagakure. Anyway, here’s the big picture on its advantages and disadvantages.

Pros and Cons of Hagakure

On one hand, it’s a simple structure, easy to set up. On the other, it involves trusting that Google algorithms will do a good job of understanding your site and sending the right searches to each page. For that, you’ll need two things: a well-structured website, and enough data

If your campaign is small, or you think it won’t generate a big enough number of impressions, don’t go for Hagakure.

Match type structure

The Match type structure also called match type mirroring, is the method that involves creating duplicate ad groups, one for each keyword match type. So you could create a campaign to target the main keywords or concepts you’re interested in, and inside it, you create an exact match ad group, a phrase match group, and a broad match group.

This will make your account more efficient since you can pretty much expect that exact match groups will perform better, while phrase and broad match groups won’t perform as well – and you can act pretty quick on anything that stands out:

A good term is bringing conversions for the broad or phrase groups? Move it to exact match. Some terms are clear underperformers, even in the low-performing groups? Move them to negative keywords.

All of this will help you save time and money managing your keywords, not only when it comes to negativization, but also by letting you manage your CPCs by ad group.

Pros and Cons of Match type structure

On the positive side, it can be easy to manage, even for big campaigns. Creating multiple ad groups on the same keyword on specific match types will allow you to break up your campaign into more manageable sections.

Cons: You still need to figure out a way to not overspend on the phrase and board match groups, which usually means spending a lot of time on top of them (unless you’re a pro and effectively use custom rules, scripts, etc). If you miss something or make a mistake there, your whole structure of campaigns could fail. So perhaps Match type structure is not suited for those new to Google Ads.

Bonus: Brand vs Generic Structure

Not every business will need to bid for their own brand terms, but if you’ve determined that’s your case, it’s best practice to keep all your Brand efforts in separate campaigns from those targeting generic, non-branded terms.

Why? Well, brand terms are likely to perform considerably better than generic terms, since the user is looking specifically for your product or service. If you mix brand and generic terms in a campaign, a first look at the metrics of that campaign could make you think that the campaign is performing better than it really is. 

Not to mention that budget allocation for brand terms should also be completely independent of the budget allocation for generic terms.


Not sure about what strategy you should choose for structuring your campaigns? Worried that it might be too much micromanaging and manual work? Then leave it to OrbitalAds, the NLP and AI-powered tool that does the hard work of managing your Google Ads campaign for you. Try it now.

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