Pay Per Click Ads. How We Build Campaigns

Our approach to building PPC campaigns


PPC, or Pay Per Click - refers to Search Engine marketing. Currently dominated by Google Adwords, and to a lesser extent, Microsoft’s Bing.

Like many things digital, there’s a million ways to do anything, but we wanted to document our approach to how we build PPC campaigns for our clients.


Before we start, it’s worth going through the structure of a typical PPC campaign.

  • Account

    • Campaign

      • Adset

        • Negative Keywords

        • Keyword

        • Ad

In addition, there’s also a few other things to mention that we used in our strategies:

  • Branded Campaigns. These are campaigns that look to attract traffic from things related to your brand - like brand name, owner’s name and specific product name. It works to secure the top spot of your search engine if anyone’s searching for you (you probably should already be at the top for your Brand’s name in any event), and dissuades competition.

  • Non-branded Campaigns. These are for everything else. Essentially, we break these into products and services, and try to develop strategies around keyword and search intent. We go into how we let the data help guide us a little further below.

(Update made March 2019)

Please note: For more established sites, Dynamic Ads (both for immediate search and re-marketing display campaigns) may replace the above approach. It really just depends on your ROAS and how much relevant content you have on your site.  


A few rules to try not to break

Rules are there to be broken right? Not always. PPC isn’t an exact science (or at least, we don’t find it to be), but we do try and stick with a few rules;

  • Start with a few dollars per campaign, per day and grow the budget with the account

  • Be prepared to give it time. PPC takes time to develop. We like to set aside time each week to work on our accounts. By making incremental changes each week, we’re able to show huge improvements over a long time.

  • Don’t forget the data. Making sure you’re accurately tracking users’ site engagement is worth every cent. Google are generally, very generous with their attribution modelling, so, it’s worthwhile making sure you’re being accurate with your conversion tracking.

  • Don’t sweat “imperfect” ads. Perfect copy doesn’t always work in PPC. Let the data tell you what is best.

How we do it

1. Start with something easy

Start with a Branded campaign. This is the easy part. As mentioned above, we try to start each PPC account with a branded campaign. In its simplest form it’s the brand name, any spelling variations, specific product names (that are associated with your brand), and owners or key prominent business members.

Essentially, this allows us to capture good, cheap traffic, and will also protect you against any competitors looking to snatch traffic from you. We find that this is especially good for brands who are going to struggle to be found on page 1 organically (if they have chosen a generic brand name, for instance).

We’ve also found that it also means that if anyone is searching for the director or owner of the business, then we can very easily drive traffic to the website, rather than to Facebook or Linkedin, which is great, as it promotes the business and also gives users the opportunity to click first on the business, rather than having to find the site via extra social media clicks.

The branded campaign should only require one ad set (this may be expanded into two later if required), and you may not even require a landing page if you are happy to just drive traffic to the homepage.

Typically, we find that, as the clicks are so cheap, you shouldn’t have to allocate more than $5 per day on a branded campaign. Clicks usually sit around 10c max.

2. Lay the groundwork for something bigger

We find the easiest way to start is to identify a service or product, that you sell or offer. One that you want to drive traffic for. As a general rule of thumb - it’s best to cast the net wide to start with - identify a few high-opportunity (with low-cost) keywords, or low-cost keywords that are highly relevant (these might be long-tail keywords), and group these into a campaign. To start with, we are happy to have one ad set per campaign. Each Adset should require its on landing page, if possible.

Then (and this is our special sauce), you take time and effort to refine each campaign. Each week we periodically and consistently look and make tweaks to the following:

  • Keywords: to find new opportunities.

  • Negative Keywords: making sure we’re not bidding on keywords that aren’t relevant.

  • Campaign Structure: Are we grouping the keywords in the right way?

  • Budgeting: Are we getting enough length out of our budget? Do we need to increase the budget, or spend time trying to improve the quality score and relevance.

  • Ad Optimisation: Are there any ads that could be improved. We look at our best performing ads and try to bring the rest of the account up to scratch.

  • Best Practice: Is there anything else that we can be doing considered to be best practice. Things like three ads per adset so Google can test and deliver the best ads, making sure we’re always adding long-tail keywords to the account, and so on.

Finally, and this is something that find is actually one of the most important things to do, check to see how people are using your site. It’s one thing to have an amazing ad campaign, delivering clicks, but making sure people are converting, and improving their conversion path is something else that we’ve built into our weekly review and monthly strategy session.