Pete Bowen's site

Modernising legacy Google Ads account structure

A client asked for help modernising their legacy Google Ads account.

The structure was complex:-

Performance was OK but he felt like the whole thing was held together with string and duct-tape. He worried that not using Google's newer features would either make his account crash suddenly one day or slowly get worse over time.

But, he couldn't make wild changes and hope for the best. The business had to have a steady flow of leads.

A successful restructure leaves the account easier to understand, easier to optimise and better positioned for the future.

Understanding why the account looks like it does is key to getting from sticky mess to well-oiled machine.

I get started with this by asking myself three questions:-

  1. What was the person who designed the current structure trying to achieve?

  2. Do we still want to achieve the same thing today?

  3. If we were starting from scratch today, how would we do this?

If you're lucky you'll be able to ask the person who designed the current structure what they were trying to achieve. But, for me, that hasn't been possible in most cases. I've had to try and reverse engineer their intentions from the way the account looks today.

A quick warning. If you don't have access to the person who built the account you might look at the current structure and write them off as a complete moron.

While that might be true, I prefer to start with the assumption that although the structure might not look like what we'd build today, my predecessors weren't all idiots. Especially if performance is OK at the moment.

You see, what's considered good practice evolves.

So, if we rule out stupidity as the reason for the current account structure, what's left? I can think of two things:-

We'll start with the business requirements. That's where the account structure reflects some underlying business need or constraint.

Let me give you a few examples I've seen.

A client has duplicate campaigns for each of his 8 offices. The campaigns have the same keywords, landing pages and ads. The only thing that's different is the location targeting - a 50 mile radius around the office.

There is a business requirement to spend the ad budget allocated to each office only on leads for that office. Separate campaigns make this possible.

If we didn't have this business requirement it might make more sense to have one campaign with several location targets.

Another client runs separate campaigns for each of the resorts they bring tourists to even though the target demographic is the same.

They don't advertise all the resorts all the time. They prefer to be able to pause or enable the ads at campaign level instead making changes across many ad groups. Again if we didn't have this constraint we might have consolidated the campaigns to get more data.

The other reason for legacy account structure is optimisation.

At it's heart Google Ads in-the-account optimisation boils down to getting three decisions right as often as possible:-

  1. Should we show an ad to this person now?

  2. What should the ad say to win the click?

  3. How much should we offer for a click?

Over time how we've done this has changed. In the past we used Alpha/Beta campaigns to prioritise spending on high-converting keywords. We used SKAGs to show the most relevant ads. We separated campaigns or ad groups by device to bid the right amount for a mobile user vs a computer user. And so on.

Today we might use broad match, offline conversion uploads and a target conversion value bid strategy to do this. Tomorrow we'll do something else.

But if you understand what the goal of the legacy structure was, and find out if the goal is still important you'll be more confident in your restructure.

If you've found this useful, you might also find this article on the human side of account restructures worth a read: https://pete-bowen.com/i-ve-inherited-a-mess

Need some help with this?

I offer 1-to-1 mentoring and consulting. You’ll get help, advice, support and answers without having to commit to a long-term contract. Details here.

Want to increase your conversion rate?
I’ve seen conversion rates double, triple and even 10X after a few quick and easy changes to the enquiry form. Subscribe now, and I'll send you a free copy of my in-depth ebook High-Converting Enquiry Forms.
You're already paying for clicks. Now turn them into conversions. Privacy policy. Unsubscribe at any time.

Related articles

How I stop Spanish job-seeker leads from Google Ads Most Spanish job-seeker spam comes from click fraud. Here's how I stop it.

Data from launching a brand new campaign using Target CPA bidding. Normally you wouldn't launch a new campaign using a conversion-based bid strategy. I did, here's what happened.

A new Google Ads campaign needs deep data, not wide data. 100 clicks on 100 adverts tells you nothing. 100 clicks on 1 advert and a picture starts to emerge.

How I track WhatsApp conversations as conversions in Google Ads At the time of writing Google has no way of tracking WhatsApp leads as conversions. I've used a couple of work arounds to solve this.

Most Google Ads advice is wrong for small businesses A small account needs a different setup and different management. You see, something that improves a $50 000 a month account might tank a $500 a month account.

How I reduce wrong-business leads from Google Ads This is for you if you advertise on Google Ads and get leads who think they're contacting a different business. They call or fill in a form looking for someone else.

How I improve lead quality by telling Google which leads are good. By default Google Ads believes every lead is good. But that's not true. You can give Google feedback on lead quality and use that feedback to get better leads.

How's your Chinese? Google shows English adverts to people who searched in Chinese even though the campaign language is set to English. Here's how you can stop this and why you might want to.

Is it safe to use broad match keywords for lead generation campaigns? Google is pushing broad match hard and, some people are reporting good results. But, is it actually best practice now? Or are broad match keywords a waste of money?

Should I split a massive multi-country Google Ads account into separate accounts? At first glance it seems like splitting a big account into smaller accounts will make it easier to manage. But, there are downsides and, there are ways to make big accounts easier to manage.

Why did Google charge me $300 for a $20 click? Every now and again Google would charge an outrageous amount for one click. As much as 15 to 20 times what they normally paid. Here's how to prevent that.

An easier way to sell services. Bigger value projects take a lot of work to sell. You have to have the discovery calls, meeting notes, customised proposals and quotes. And, you often need several follow-up meetings. There is another way.

Why I don't just delete fake leads from my inbox If the only thing you do with fake leads from Google Ads is delete the lead delivery email you risk getting swamped by fake leads. Here's why and what to do to improve lead quality.

Grow your own big-budget clients Building a profitable agency or freelancing with small-budget clients is hard. Here's how to grow your smaller clients into bigger-budget clients.

Getting a lot of junk leads from Google Ads? You can spot conversion fraud because the leads have genuine email addresses and phone numbers but when you call them they don't remember filling in your form.

My client fired me, and now he’s asking for my secret sauce. A client fired you even though you were doing a good job. Here's how to make this sting less and keep the door open for future work.

You can optimise your client's business like you optimise their Google Ads account. You can give your client a much bigger ROI by optimising their business than almost anything you can do in their Google Ads account. Here's how.

How to handle your client's terrible ideas. Your client has a terrible idea for "improving" the campaign. If you push back you're going to lose the client. Here's how to keep the client without killing the campaign.

Google Reps You may get an email or call from someone claiming to work at Google. They’ll tell call themselves an account representative, strategist, advisor or account manager. You and I would call them salesmen.

Guaranteeing Google Ads. It’s uncomfortable when a potential client asks me if I guarantee that they’ll make sales from their Google Ads. In the past my first instinct was to run away. I thought that asking for a guarantee was a sure sign that they’re going to be a toxic client. I was wrong.

Optimise your words There are a handful of non-PPC tools I'd hate to run my Google Ads business without. Hemingway is one.

Resources for Google Ads agencies and freelancers. Tools, reading lists and discussion groups for digital marketing agencies and freelancers offering Google Ads as a service.

The AdLeg Google Ads Software Suite. I interviewed Kyle Sulerud, creator of the AdLeg Software Suite about how he started in Google Ads (AdWords) and why he built his Google Ads creation and management software.

How do you convince a potential client to trust you if you don’t have a track record? How do you convince a potential client to trust you if you don’t have a track record? This happens a lot when people go out on their own after working in-house or for an agency. Read on to find out how I solved this problem.

How to take over an existing Google Ads account. You’ve taken over a Google Ads account that’s in trouble. You're going to turn it around - more conversions, lower costs, 10 quality scores etc. There’s a lot riding on getting this right...

Should I specialise or be a generalist? I often get asked whether it’s best to specialise or be a generalist. I understand why but I think it's the wrong question. I think a better question is ...

I've inherited a mess. Crazy structure, gibberish naming convention and 22 conversion actions that might or might not mean anything. Here is a collection of principles, tips and ideas for when you inherit a messy Google Ads account.

How to make OK money from small clients You have to work with the clients you can get, not the ones you hope for. Sometimes you might not be able to attract big-budget clients. Here's how to do OK with smaller clients.

A love letter to statistics This is for you if you’re interested in making data-driven decisions about your Google Ads. Amy Hebdon, founder at Paid Search Magic, wrote a fantastic article she described a love letter disguised as a how to about PPC data interpretation.

Allocating budget How do you know the best way to split your ad budget between search and display, between Facebook and Google, between one keyword and another?

Does Google rip advertisers off? I'm not saying that everyone who's paid for Google ads has turned a profit. That's definitely not the case. But, when people lose money on Google ads its likely to be because Google Ads was a poor fit for their business, or because of the way they did Google Ads. I can't see Google risking their future to steal your advertising budget

Don’t believe every recommendation from Google. The optimisation score is Google’s newest way of telling you how to run your Google Ads account. Read on to see how following it blindly can hurt your business.

Don't believe my writing I'm not trying to bamboozle you, it's just that my - and everyone else's - writing isn't always right for your circumstances. Read on to find out more...

Google showed your ads to the wrong people today. Google showed your some of your adverts to the wrong people today. You (or someone you hire) must deal with this or your ads are going to start costing more and generating fewer leads. Here's how.

Has Google jumped the gun on mobile? How much commercial activity happens on mobile phones? Is it enough to justify a mobile-first approach to development? Case study with mobile vs desktop AdWords generated leads across 7 industries.

How do you get more leads from Google Ads when you’ve maxed out impression share? How do you get more leads from Google Ads when you’ve maxed out impression share? Here's how we solved this problem...

How to get fast traction on a brand new Google Ads campaign. I worked out a process for getting fast results from new AdWords campaigns so I didn't have to worry as much. You're welcome to copy (and improve) my process.

I’m getting too many B2C leads. I want only B2B. I’ve bumped into this problem with almost every client who sells to other businesses (B2B) not to consumers (B2C). Here are some options ..

I'm scared I'll break my campaign If you don't feel confident making changes to Google Ads campaigns this might help...

Improve conversion rates by adding extra calls to action. Need to improve your conversion rate? Here's a tested approach that takes only a few minutes.

Putting a little science into AdWords In the past I relied on a combination of the change history in AdWords, some rough notes and my memory to keep track of my testing. It worked but it wasn't great. It became more difficult as my business grew. I started to feel like I was losing control. I couldn't answer questions about an account without having to root around in Google docs, AdWords and email. Read on to see how I fixed this.

Should you advertise on Search Partners? We check the campaigns we manage regularly to see how much it costs to generate an enquiry on Google search versus search partners. Most of the time it costs more or less the same. Sometimes the difference is huge.

Should you show ads to people on their phones? It is a fact that more people use the internet on their phones than they do on computers these days. But are these glued-to-their-phone types going to buy from you?

The hidden trade-offs of automated bidding I like automated bidding. But, there are some trade offs with automated bidding that are not well documented.

Using the Search Terms Report to find negative keywords. The Search Terms Report is a great place to find negative keywords to add to your AdWords campaign. It shows (some of) the actual words and phrases that triggered your ads.

You don't have enough data to be confident that you're making the right decisions. Here are 3 rules of thumb I use to to help me make more of the right decisions when data is scarce.