PPC Campaign Setup Checklist for Google AdWords

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PPC Campaign Setup Checklist for Google AdWords

[GUIDE] Your 30 point guide to setting up your first campaign

Updated: 18th October 2017 | Level: Introductory

Setting up new Google AdWords campaign is relatively straightforward but a little thought and planning prior to clicking will pay dividends. Having reviewed dozens of client accounts we have developed this Campaign Setup Checklist for you to download, to help you avoid making costly mistakes upfront.

PPC campaign setup checklist for google adwords

Before you Start

Prior to creating your new PPC campaign there are a number of decisions to take that will help you get started.  Ideally you will already have chosen your PPC platform (typically Google AdWords for most small businesses), have a budget in mind, a list of products or services to promote and a set of landing pages on your website designed to convert your campaign traffic into leads or sales.  If you have these things lined up , great, if not we suggest reading this post prior to clicking.

Armed with this information to hand, you are ready to create your new campaign.

Account Set-up

If you already have a Google AdWords account, skip this and move on to the next section. Otherwise follow these simple steps:

  1. Register a new gmail email address then go to adwords.google.com and click sign-up.  Ideally you should be using an existing account, preferably one you use to view and administer your Google Analytics account.
  2. Enter your billing & contact information
  3. Choose your language & time zone
  4. Link your account with any other relevant accounts e.g. Analytics for conversion tracking and Merchant Centre for inventory
  5. Specify your account access

Once you've done this you should see something like this:


Campaign Settings

With the core account in place now you can move on to the fun stuff, i.e. the actual campaign setup.

Campaign Type

Select the appropriate campaign type, this can depend upon factors such as your goals and your target market. Choose between:

  1. Search and Display Network Select
  2. Search Only
  3. Display Only
  4. Shopping
  5. Video
  6. Universal App Campaign

Feature Level

Choose the sub-category or feature set that best suits the campaign objective. Search options include Dynamic Search Ads, Call-only. Display campaigns include options for brand awareness, influence consideration and drive action.


When selecting target devices consider where people are most likely to be when they see you ad. Are you looking to target people whilst they are on the move? Or are people most likely to search for you whilst at their desk?


Do you want to reach people local to your business, or is your campaign national or even international? You can specify target locations by country, county, city or a radius around your business.


You can select which language you want to target - but remember you have to write the ads in the relevant language (Google does not translate them). It makes sense to select the language that your website is written in.

Bid Strategy

Your objectives will help you to decide bid strategy, cpm - for views, cpa - for conversions, cpc - for clicks.


A few factors will influence your budget not least what you can actually afford to spend. Another key component is how much a lead or sale is worth to you as it helps you to decide how much you are willing to pay for a click or a conversion.


These allow you to add additional information to appear below your ad. Locations: highlight the different locations of your business with a map or the distance to your business which can also link to your location page. Sitelinks: Link to other pages on your website for example other linked products, opening hours, etc. Call: Add buttons with your phone number which people can tap or click on to call your business directly. Callout: allows you to add relevant extra information such as 'free delivery', 'qualified experts', etc.


This is where your earlier work on identifying your market comes in handy. some examples of targeting on the Display Network include; Placements, where you target people whilst they are browsing particular sites; Topics & Interests allows you to reach people whilst they are browsing content in similar interest categories and Demographics which enable you to target by gender, age and whether they are a parent or not.


Perhaps you need to consider what industries or products you may want to disassociate from (e.g. gambling, defence, oil). Also for some campaigns you may want to exclude an audience (e.g. exisiting customers for new customer messages). Whilst on the subject of exclusions you will probably wish to exclude your IP address to avoid paying for in-house clicks.


Limiting the time your ads show to the times your potential customers are most likely to be browsing or around your opening hours helps to make sure you reach the most customers at the best time. It also ensures that your budget is spent effectively.

Ad Delivery

You can choose to show your ads evenly across the day or accelerated so they are shown more earlier in the day.

Ad Rotation

Select whether you want to rotate your ads until they are optimised or indefinitely, bear in mind the latter would need close monitoring.

Bid Adjustments

Set bid adjustments to get the most out of your preferred targets. You can choose to adjust bids up or down according to factors such as time, location and audiences.

Ad Groups

Ad Groups are a set of ads targeting shared keywords. In each Campaign create separate Ad Groups to target a set of keywords around a specific product or service.  These keywords are typically very similar in nature and should match the ad copy, tone and intent of you ads within each group.

Landing Page URL

It may sound obvious but check your landing page URL takes you to the right page with the information your customer expects to find.


Identify keywords that define your product/service based on what customers would search for. Keywords are the basis of your targeting, if you've done your homework it should be an easy step to copy them from your keyword analysis and drop them into your ad group.

Negative Keywords

If there are search terms you know are not relevant you can add them as negative keywords, especially if your product name can have an alternate meaning e.g. pipe (smoking or plumbing?).

Match Types

Use match-types to tighten or broaden your keyword scope. Choose between broad, phrase and exact.


Define lists of people you may want to remarket to e.g. shopping cart abandoners, people who have visited your site before, etc.

Set CPC Bids

If you want to bid more or less aggressively for certain keywords in an ad group, you can set keyword-specific max CPC bids to overide the default.

Create Ad Variants

Create at least three variants of each ad. This allows you to compare performance and retire poor performing versions.

Specify Custom Tracking Parameters

This is optional, but useful if you are using Google Analytics. These parameters allow you to pass additional variables into your tracking URLs e.g. ad variant.

Final Checks

There's plenty of opportunity for error and oversight in the setup process and given how quickly this will go public it's worth taking a few minutes to do some final checks and make sure everything is in place.

  1. Use a Call-to-action - Calls to action direct customers to what you want them to do next.
  2. Include an Offer - Offers help your ad to stand out from the others
  3. Proof Read - Obvious but important, typos can be off-putting but also can lead to your ad not showing
  4. Check your URL - Make sure that those who click go to the right place - where you want them to go and that they see what they want to see
  5. Remove Duplicate Keywords - Keywords should be unique to an ad group, duplicate and you are competing with yourself!
  6. Include Keywords in Ad Copy - This will help to increase your quality score and therefore your ad position.

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