How To Structure Your Paid Search Account to Make the Best Use of Match Types

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When marketing an E-Learning program via paid search on Google Ads or Bing, your account structure sets the foundation for how your campaigns will be managed, and ultimately how well they are set up for success. The challenge in setting up campaign structure stems from the many options available. And as nice as it would be for there to be one “right way” of doing things, this just isn’t the case.

In every paid search situation, one must take into account the ultimate objectives of the campaigns, and then choose the route that best enables you to accomplish those objectives. Depending on the objective, the best direction for reaching it can vary tremendously. 

As a paid search account matures beyond its initial stages, one of the most important considerations is how to create an account structure that best makes use of the available keyword match types. This is an incredibly important factor when it comes to allocating your budget effectively and ensuring good quality control over the search queries for which you are bidding.

Alpha / Beta

Many marketers have written about the “Alpha / Beta” approach to structuring a paid search account, and even after several rounds of changes in the Google Ads platform, we still believe that this represents a very effective match type management strategy.

The Alpha / Beta account structure essentially works like this:

  • The “Alpha” campaign houses all of your Exact Match keywords, which typically are chosen by virtue of having generated conversions at an acceptable level previously.
  • The “Beta” campaign houses the equivalent Broad, Broad Modified, and Phrase Match keywords. A negative keyword list of all keywords in the Alpha campaign is applied to the Beta campaign to ensure that those search queries always serve in Alpha.
  • The Beta campaign becomes your source of new keyword discovery. As new search queries generate conversions, these queries are used to create new exact match keywords in the Alpha campaign, which are also added to the exact match negative list applied to the Beta campaign. This creates an ongoing process of keyword mining and campaign refinement.

It’s important to note that in general, the Beta campaign does not need to have a large number of keywords. You can cover an enormous amount of potential search queries with just a handful of Broad, Broad Modified, and Phrase Match keywords. Fully Broad Match keywords, in particular, should be used judiciously and with caution, as Google can sometimes spend a lot of your ad budget on search queries that are highly irrelevant to your offer if you’re not careful.

Benefits of Alpha / Beta

So what are the benefits to setting up your account in this way?

  1. First, you will maintain much better overall control of the search queries that trigger your ads. Your Alpha campaign will focus only on your best converting search queries, while the Beta campaigns will attract a mix of different types of searches, some great and some not so great. You can refine this over time by adding additional negative keywords to the Beta campaign in order to improve the quality of traffic.
  2. Separating your keywords in this manner also gives you more control over budget allocation. Decisions about where to spend your ad budget can be made more intelligently between your Alpha and Beta campaigns, depending on their relative performance.
  3. Another benefit of this account structure is that it is conducive to good keyword quality scores. Keywords that are singled out in the Alpha campaign can be paired with hyper-relevant ads and landing pages to keep the entire experience aligned for your prospects. The better that alignment, the higher your Quality Scores will ultimately climb.

Combining With Other Account Structures

The Alpha / Beta approach can be carried out with any campaigns you have running with sufficient conversion volume. Campaigns with exceptionally low conversion volume, on the other hand, are less likely to benefit nearly as much from breaking out match types in this way.
Let’s say your campaigns are going to be divided primarily on the basis of the courses offered by your organization, like this:

  • Course 1
  • Course 2
  • Course 3

Assuming that all of these courses are receiving enough conversion volume, each of these campaigns can be broken out with their own Alpha / Beta structure, with two campaigns for each:

  • Course 1 Alpha / Course 1 Beta
  • Course 2 Alpha / Course 2 Beta
  • Course 3 Alpha / Course 3 Beta

This applies whether your campaigns are divided on the basis of course, topic, category, geography, or otherwise. In any of these cases, you can utilize the Alpha / Beta structure to improve your performance.

If you’re looking for help with this and other ideas in running PPC for your e-learning programs, we are up to date on all of the most recent best practices. Reach out today for a no-obligation strategy session with one of our experts!

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