Google Ads: The Tiered Approach

Posted on 03/03/2020 by Team Hallam

The tiered approach to Google Ads is a recommended one, but this blog looks at what it actually is and whether or not it will work for you.

There is a consensus opinion from Google and the digital marketing industry that the best approach when deciding on an Ads account structure is to group your campaign and ad groups into a logical format based on the structure of your website. This is known as the tiered approach. Whilst this might be the case, I think that there may be a better alternative to this as well as the pros and cons of each method.

The website structure approach:

Google makes no secret about this being their recommended approach, with this being readily available on the support area of Google Ads:

Google Ads Tiered Approach - recommendation


What Google means is to set your campaigns and ad groups out into groupings based on your site, the example they give demonstrates this:

Google Ads Tiered Approach groupings

There are a number of obvious advantages to running your Google Ads account in this way, they are as follows:

  • Clarity – Creating your account in this way allows you to clearly see which products are performing better, where your money is being spent & where the traffic is coming from.
  • Speed of response – Do you want to be able to pull products instantly? This format allows you to change and edit spend across your account between products based on the stock you have or current promotions.

There is no doubt that this structure has its advantages (why else would Google recommend it?). It can, however, be difficult to manage accounts in this format with limited time. It can also be difficult to identify exactly which keywords are performing for you. This is where the tiered system can be beneficial.

The Tiered Approach:

What Is It?

Split your ad groups into 4 campaigns based solely on performance. This can be done using a number of metrics depending on your goals such as:

  • Cost per click
  • Click-through rate
  • Number of conversions
  • Cost per conversion
  • Revenue
  • Return On Investment

The tiers should be as follows:

  • Tier 1 – The best of the best, these are the search terms that provide the most value to your business.
  • Tier 2 – The better than average search terms, the ad groups that perform better than the account average for your specified metric.
  • Tier 3 – The below the account average, but not the worst.
  • Tier 4 – The worst ad groups in your account.

Why Use Tiers?

The main reason for this is to ensure that the ad groups that are most successful are always showing to the maximum potential. The worst thing that can be happening within an account is for a keyword or ad group to be profitable, but be limited in the number of times it shows due to less profitable search terms using all of the campaign budget. The tier system minimises this. It allows you to ensure that tier 1 runs entirely limitless assuming it is profitable (which it always will be in tier 1) and under your daily budget.

Unfortunately, it is often the case that tier 1 does not have the search volume that other tiers have. That is why you will find that you can then maximise the spend from tier 2. If you have not yet reached your required daily spend, money can be spent on tier 3 and tier 4 respectably.

Finally, this approach allows you to increase and decrease spend according to your business and marketing changes. Do you need to reduce the spend? No problem, turn off tier 4 completely and lower the budget for tier 3. Want to increase spend and drive traffic? Increase the bids and budget available for the lower-tiered campaigns. You can do all of this whilst not interfering with the spend on the profitable campaigns and ensure they continue to run despite you altering the lower (lesser performing) tiers.

Could This Work For You?

Well, this depends on your situation and requires your account to be the following:

  • Not region-specific
  • Have a large number of ad groups
  • Have a clear profitability point (such as target ROI, CPC or Cost Per Conversion)
  • It works particularly well if you are regularly hitting your daily budget for a number of campaigns and do not think you are getting the most out of the account.

This method allows you to maximise the potential from the really profitable keywords whilst still maintaining the exposure of having the entire campaign running. This will simply ensure that your profitable keywords are not limited by your unprofitable keywords that will generally be of higher volume.


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Google Ads: The Tiered Approach

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