You Have 30 Minutes to Work on Your AdWords Account. What Should You Do?


30 minutes to work on adwordsEveryone wants to know the "magic formula" to set up and manage your AdWords account. To put it simply, you're out of luck. There really is no "right way," but there certainly are ways that are "more right" than others.

Figuring out how to spend the limited time you have in AdWords can be a daunting task. Since no two accounts are the same, it is equally difficult to put together a workflow that will encompass every account. Keeping that in mind, below is my guide to optimizing and then maintaining your AdWords account in minimal time.

Ensure Your Ad Groups Are Granular

Google recommends keeping Ad Groups between 20-30 keywords. I find this misleading. The single most important thing I stress to my clients is to keep your ad groups small and defined. That means keeping every keyword in an Ad Group as closely knit as possible.

For an example, one of my clients sells and installs vinyl windows. When I began working with them their ad group for these windows includes these terms:

Vinyl Windows

  • Best Price on Vinyl Windows
  • Energy Efficient Vinyl Windows
  • Vinyl Windows
  • Vinyl Window Installation

After working through to separate their Ad Groups, this is what we created:

Vinyl Windows

  • Vinyl Windows
  • Buy Vinyl Windows

Vinyl Windows – Best Price

  • Best Price on Vinyl Windows

       Vinyl Windows - Energy Efficient

  • Energy Efficient Vinyl Windows
  • Buy Energy Efficient Vinyl Windows

Vinyl Windows - Installation

  • Vinyl Window Installation

The new Ad Groups are much more focused and granular.

Create Targeted Ad Text

Now that we have broken down your ad groups, the next step is to create highly targeted ad text. The goal of creating ad text is to have a high click-through rate (CTR). We cannot obtain that goal if we use the same message to target people who are looking to buy different products.

To continue with the example from above, we will not want to use the same message for people looking for energy-efficient vinyl windows and to target people looking to purchase regular vinyl windows. Use the keywords within each ad group to create a specific, targeted message that your customers are looking for.

To use another example: Let’s say someone searches for “Maroon Sweater,” and two ads that lead to the exact same product page are displayed, one saying “Buy A Maroon Sweater Now” and the other, “Buy A Red Sweater Now.” The searcher is much more likely to click the ad that says “Maroon” because that ad is identical to the product/keyword that they searched for. The closer the alignment between your ad and the search query, the better.

Utilize Your QueryStream (“Search Terms” to Non-WordStreamers)

QueryStream is the most powerful tool available to any PPC advertiser. It allows you to access the exact terms searchers are using to find your products and shows how the keywords you are bidding on match to those terms. I start by sorting my terms by Impressions to start, then refine to clicks. I then look through the terms and determine whether these terms are relevant to what I am looking for.

If you see terms such as Justin Beiber in there, that should set off some serious PPC alarms. (Unless of course, you are in fact Beiber’s #1 fan club, at which point you may want to reconsider your life decisions.) Don’t waste money on Beiber and other terms you see are not relevant to your account. Set these terms as negative keywords.

Because the search terms often differ from the keywords you are bidding on, you should add the relevant terms into your account. By doing this, you are able to better control two things.

  1. You can create that targeted ad text we reviewed above.
  2. You can control the bid attributed to that keyword (this is especially great when you see some longer tail keywords that are often cheaper than more generic head terms).

30 Minutes? WHAT THE HELL?

Now, I know you are saying to yourself, “What the hell?! I thought I said I only have 30 minutes to work on my account!”

I know, I know. The steps above can be very time-consuming. But they don’t have to be. Start by choosing one ad group or campaign, if you’re feeling ambitious, per day and working through your account accordingly. This strategy will keep you focused and will spare you your sanity.  


I can see you have made it through and you are still sane. I know this because you are still reading!

Your account is now in a much better position to succeed than before. This is where maintaining your account is important.

The 20-Minute Work Week

Now that the account is optimized, continue to review your QueryStream and start using the 20-Minute PPC Work Week. For those Non-WordStreamers out there, the 20-Minute Work Week (20 mww) is a WordStream exclusive tool that is designed around alerting you to areas of your account that you can improve upon.

To me, these alerts and suggestions are great because they will give you a kick in the butt. They will give you guidance on what types of metrics should be setting off your PPC alarms, and what you should be looking for in your account. Since we have 30 minutes, says the title of this post, take what you have learned from your QueryStream and the 20 mww alerts and explore other non-suggested areas of your account.

What Do YOU Do With 30 Minutes?

Since there is no one right way of doing things, I ask you, what is your favorite way to manage your PPC time?

Comment below!

Ben Cohen is a Customer Success Specialist at WordStream and supports WordStream’s managed services team on numerous accounts. That means his days are full of training and consulting clients on their PPC accounts. Born and raised in Boston, Ben has not wandered far from home, having studied Marketing and Management at the University of Maine, Orono. Ben is also a diehard Boston sports fan. When he is not out hiking New England, you can find him at America’s most beloved Fenway Park. Go Sox!


Larry Kim
Feb 04, 2013

Great article! thanks Ben!

Feb 04, 2013

Great post Ben!  I speak to many people about their Adwords accounts on a daily basis (much like yourself), and the need to split apart Ad Groups into smaller, more relevant groups of keywords is probably the most common area of improvement I see.  By having smaller groups of closely related keywords, not only is it easier to write targeted Ad will save you time when optimizing.  It's much easier to monitor performance, and write new text Ads when you have a specific subject, product, or theme to talk about.  It's a lot harder, and more time consuming to write Ads for a group of 175 keywords that reference many different subjects. 

Elisa Gabbert
Feb 04, 2013

The point about smaller, tighter ad groups making the ads easier to write is a great one. Thanks Matt!

Kurt Henninger
Feb 05, 2013

Great advice........if it could only be done in 30 minutes. I do like your comment about granularity.  I just took over a client that it is taking me forever to "pull-apart" their account.  Quite literally, they threw a couple hundred keywords into one adgroup.It actually worked OK for them, as they had a budget to deal with it in the beginning, but to improve and write specific adcopy for taking a long time.Thanks.  

Sarah Park
Feb 07, 2013

Thanks a lot for these very helpful tips.  I didn't realize we could work on adwords in just 30 min.

Feb 22, 2013

Having advertisements which closely resemble the search keyword gets highlighted and may even pay lower cost per click but still may rank higher than those paying higher amount. 

Ben Cohen
Feb 28, 2013

Absolutely! Having tightly knit ad groups will lead to higher quality scores. And as we all know Google will multiply your QS by your bid to get your ad rank. Obviously the higher your QS multiplier is, the less you need to bid to get up in those higher positions thus saving you money!

Feb 22, 2013

Great article,

As the "buy" related keyword list grows I'd definitely want to put them in a seperate ad group :)

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