When taking over a paid search account, you have two options: set up a new account or use the same account to post a new campaign structure. If you set up a new account, you get more of a fresh start with Quality Scores and key metrics, while using the same account allows for easier access to all historical data from the old account.
Either way, your goal is not only to continue with the status quo but to improve its performance. Maybe you would like to increase revenue, decrease cost or improve conversion rate. But often you will be faced with ad groups that are overloaded with keywords, landing pages that are way too general and an account that could use a bulk of highly relevant new keywords to improve its performance. Red lights are flashing everywhere and the siren is on full blast as well. You get overwhelmed by all the things you need to do to achieve your goal – and have no idea where to start.
Of course, real account migrations are complex. The restructure can take months, and it would be done in stages, with bid management throughout. But to keep it simple, let’s keep it grouped into some simple steps on how to manage a successful account transition.
Step 1: Start with the Top Keywords
Being on the PPC firefighter team, you need to try to act calm and composed in this alarming situation. You can’t do everything at the same time, even if you are a multitasking machine. You can start with the top keywords in terms of clicks or with all brand keywords. Make sure that brand keywords are separated from generic keywords into specific ad groups, with specific ads. If your account is referring to more than one brand, make sure to separate these into different ad groups.
Let’s use the imaginary boots brand Hipster XZY Moon Boots as an example. You take over their AdWords account and notice the following top brand keywords in the same ad group:
- “Hipster XZY Moon Boots”
- “Hipster XZY size 35”
- [purple xzy moon boots]
- Moon boot xzy uk
- [hipster xzy boots men’s]
Ideally, you should split all of these keywords into separate ad groups with specific ads for each of them, to better address each user based on his individual search query.
If you are working with an account with keywords in more than one language (e.g. English and a local market language), I recommend splitting these up into separate campaigns as well. This gives you better control in terms of budget, keyword bidding and overall campaign management. Then you can display ads in the local language for local language queries and in English for queries in English. This is not only advisable for increased relevancy for the user, but also a matter of improved structure to improve QS and thus decrease cost.
Step 2: Add New Keywords
When you have restructured the top keywords and started shifting the traffic from the old structure to the new, it is time to look for new keyword ideas. The Keyword Planner is a good starting point, because it provides you with ideas of new keywords and shows you whether keywords are already in the account. You can look for more ideas on the client website or in their Google Analytics account (e.g. bestsellers on the website, top used terms from on-site search and which pages have the most user engagement).
Step 3: Restructure Rest of the Account by Using Quality Scores as a Guideline
When you have restructured the top keywords into new ad groups with new and more specific ads and added new keywords, you can restructure the rest of the account. Quality Score is one of the best indicators to guide this process. If you notice keywords with very low QS, you need to ask yourself whether they really belong in the account or whether it’s a matter of choosing a more specific landing page, writing more specific ads or splitting them up into new and more granular ad groups.
Step 4: Shift Traffic from the Old Structure to the New with Bid Management
Shift the traffic gradually from the old campaign structure to the new one by using higher keyword bids for the new structure in the beginning and decreasing bids on the old structure keywords in the days to follow. You can set the new structure live with e.g. 25% higher bids than the old one and then gradually decrease the bids for the same keywords in the old structure in the following days. This way, the new account structure can smoothly take over the traffic from the old one and you can better manage amendments if you notice any drops in Quality Score or other unexpected anomalies. You should be able to get Quality Scores of 10 for most brand terms. If you notice a high traffic brand term with a QS of e.g. 6, there is most probably room for improvement in terms of structure, landing page or ad.
As soon as the new structure has taken over most of the traffic and you have taken care of any anomalies in the transition, it is time to shut down the old structure keywords (and campaigns).
If you take over an account in a bad shape, there will be loads of things to do. Reviewing the overall campaign structure is an ideal first step of the process. Making the ads more specific to the search queries by splitting keywords into granular ad groups with specific ads will help increasing Quality Score, which in turn decreases avg. CPC and the overall cost.
camato is a helpful tool to use for restructuring PPC campaigns, since it follows patterns in your keywords (such as colour, gender or size) allowing you to set up structure and landing page rules to save you precious time.