Full Screen

Keywords, Ad Groups, and Campaigns

More Free Lessons in

PPC and Paid Search View All →

Get cutting-edge digital marketing skills, know-how and strategy

This micro lesson is from one of our globally recognized digital marketing courses.

Start a FREE Course Preview Start a FREE Course Preview
Global Authority

The Global Authority

12 years delivering excellence


245,000+ Members

Join a global community


Associate Certification

Globally recognised


Membership Included

Toolkits, content & more

Digital Marketing - Study Notes:


Keywords are essential to everything we do.

And this is just a nice way of bringing life here. So you can see there are three people here. One is searching online, one is comparing options, and one is ready to purchase. Now just think back to that consumer buying journey, and you can see how it relates exactly to a wider spread of consumers and gives you access to that market.

Keywords and consumers

Keywords are the foundation for a search campaign. These are what consumers input into a search engine to find your product. So choose the appropriate keywords relating to your product, but also relate into its benefits on what the consumer is actually looking for. You will also find that, depending on the competition level and depending on how much that keyword converts, you can put different bid levels.

So you might want to pay less for the research keywords than you do for the purchased keywords, because the purchased keywords are going to drive all the revenue, and the research keywords are only getting people into that funnel. So using bids can allow you to give different pricing levels that you’re willing to pay to different keywords along the journey, and this is essential for any kind of deep optimization.

And campaigns themselves generally have multiple keywords to cover multiple searches. So it’s like you have to build out a whole variety of different searches that users might input into Google in order for you to capture as much of the market as you possibly can. This will be built into a keyword lists, which are lists of word combinations that we use, that you would use, and you would like your ad to show when a potential customer or interested party searches for that particular keyword.

Ad groups

When you group a list of similar keywords together into a list, that’s called an ad group. There are tools available to search marketers to easily create relevant keyword lists.

You don’t have to just think of everything. You can input it into Google and Google will use what’s happening in the market presently. It’ll use your own historical data and a number of other factors to deliver you hundreds of keywords that you can input into your campaigns. And it allows you to, I suppose, discover new searches. It also allows you to research the market a little bit, because Google will show you what people are trending now as part of the keyword output.

Keep on top of your keywords. How can keyword lists be created to drive business objectives? Consider creating lists around the type of search intents. Are they top of the funnel? Are they researching? Or are they ready to purchase? Are they middle of funnel? Are they comparing options? Are they evaluating alternatives?

Always go back to that search bar behavior model and think, “Where exactly in the journey could my keywords fit in the psychology of the consumer?”


Then you can structure your campaigns around a top-of-funnel campaign, a middle-of-funnel campaign, and a closing campaign or purchase campaign.

And you can apply different budgets and different bids to the keyword lists all across and all across your campaign structure, so you can know how much you’re paying for research, and how much you’re paying for comparative keywords, and how much you’re paying for actual purchased keywords. It’s a future-proof way of reporting sensibly to key stakeholders on what their investment is driving at different levels of the bar decision-making process.

You will need an exhaustive level of keywords to target your audience, because people are searching tons of things all the time. So having hundreds of keywords is essential to make sure that you capture as much of those searches as you possibly can. Google will use the matching technology, the match type technology to build it out a little bit.



As best practice, you’re better off building as many keyword lists as you possibly can. Note the function of that keyword, and assign the correct budget to that keyword level in that regard. And then, to refine your traffic as an optimization technique, you could add those negative keywords to cut out the unwanted searches or low conversion to high cost per conversion searches that are just eating up a lot of your budget but they’re not actually giving you what you want, and you may find that over time.

So you will not know more than likely at the beginning what’s a high CPA and low CPA, but over time you can start building and making sure those negative keywords are added in there to refine the traffic more and more.

Ad groups

Ad groups are groupings of your keywords, and you group them into similar themes, and this is how you organize your keyword lists. Keywords are stored in ad groups, and you can create ad copy for that keyword list. So the closer your keywords are related to each other, the more relevant that ad will be. And you should group your keywords together by relevant theme. Keep them as close as possible, down to the level that the superlative might be a reason for grouping all your keywords together.

For example, you might group all your cheap flights keywords in one ad group, and all your best flight keywords in another ad group. That level of detail can make a big difference because someone who’s searching for cheap flights may not be looking for the best flight. They’re certainly looking for the cheapest flight. And likewise, someone looking for the best flight may not be looking for the cheapest flight. So it can be worth separating your keyword lists.


Keyword lists or ad groups are grouped together into campaigns, and campaigns are at the top level of management.

The reason campaigns are important is this is where you set your location, and this is where you set your daily budget. So you can organize your ad groups into campaigns and manage how much these ad groups spend on a daily basis. Think of a campaign as the gatekeeper to the spend of all the keywords within all the ad groups in that list. It’s very much a budgeting consideration around the way you structure and the way you think about campaigns.

This type of organizational structure allows digital marketers, really like we’ve got thousands and thousands of keywords to manage thousands of lists as easily and effectively as possible with a budgeting element and a location driving element to this.

Back to Top
Cathal Melinn

Cathal Melinn is a well-known digital marketing director, commercial analyst, and ecommerce specialist with over 15 years’ experience.

Cathal is a respected international conference speaker, course lecturer, and digital trainer. He specialises in driving complete understanding from students across a number of digital marketing disciplines including: paid and organic search (PPC and SEO), analytics, strategy and planning, social media, reporting, and optimisition.  Cathal works with digital professionals in over 80 countries and teaches at all levels of experience from beginner to advanced.

Alongside his training and course work, Cathal runs his own digital marketing agency and is considered an analytics and revenue generating guru - at enterprise level. He has extensive local and international experience working with top B2B and B2C brands across multiple industries.

Over his career, Cathal has worked client-Side, in digital marketing agencies and media owners with brands including HSBC, Amazon, Apple, Red Bull, Dell, Vodafone, Compare the Market, Aer Lingus, and Expedia.

He can be reached on LinkedIn here.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


    Paid Search
    Cathal Melinn
    Skills Expert

    This module begins with the key concepts of paid search and demonstrates how to set up a Google Ads account and create a paid search campaign. It explains how to manage a paid search campaign budget effectively and outlines the different methods that can be used to optimize your paid search campaign. It also covers how to measure and report on the success of a paid search campaign.