How do ad groups work?

In a previous post, I described campaigns as a house that organizes all of your ad groups, keywords, and ads. If campaigns are the house, then ad groups are the rooms in the house. Like rooms, ad groups have a certain theme and its keywords and ads apply to that theme. Before creating my ad groups in my Google Ads account, I like to open up a Google Spreadsheet and start organizing lists of themes. I’ll do industry analysis and keywords research to understand what people in my market are interested in. This helps to broad my focus and catch ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of. In this post, I’ll explore what ad groups are and the best practices for creating them.

Ads Groups organize the keywords and ads into themes

Keywords allow your ads to show on specific searches

Ads provide users with info about your product or services

Ad Groups are based on themes that are relevant to your products or services. Some examples of ad group themes are desserts, beverages, and snacks. In the desserts ad group, some of the keywords might be chocolate chip ice cream, carrot cake, and blueberry cupcakes. If you were a real estate agent, some of your ad groups might be selling houses, buying houses, or top real estate agent. You want to make sure that your ad group themes are relevant to the services and products that you sell.

Pro tip: When creating your first ad groups, build for simplicity. As your account grows, it will become more and more complex. By starting off simple, your keywords and ads will be better organized.


You can set bids at the campaign, ad group, and keyword level. Creating your first a group, you are prompted to set a default bid. This bid will apply to all your keywords when you first create them. If you add new keywords the group, the default bid will apply to them too. After your ad group has been created, you can adjust your keyword bids accordingly. Please note, your default bid doesn’t doesn’t limit how much you spend per ad group. You can only limit your spend by adjusting your keyword bids and campaign budget.


Your keywords allow you to control what searches your ads appear on. If you’re a real estate agent, some of your keywords might be “real estate agents near me”, “real estate agents in my area”, or “top real estate agent”. When a user searches on Google for top real estate agents in the area, your ads could appear.

There are a few different keyword match types that allow you to control what kind of searches your ad appears on. The five keyword types are broad match, broad modified, phrase match, exact match, and negative.

Broad Match
Your ad can show up on any searches related to your keyword. For example, if you are a real estate agent and your keyword was top real estate agent, then you could possibly show up on searches for:
– top real estate agent in my area
– what’s a top real estate agent
– how can I become a top real estate agent

– real estate agents top scores

Be very careful when using broad match keywords. They have the potential to show up on almost anything and can cost you a ton of money if not used correctly.

Broad Match Modified
Your ad can only show up on searches that contain keywords with a plus sign. For example, if your keyword was +top +real +estate +agent, then the searches you could show up on are:
– where’s a top real estate agent at
– top salary for real estate agent
– top real estate agent in my city

– top schools for real estate agents

Broad match modified gives you a bit more control than just broad match but be careful when you use it.

Phrase Match
Your ad will only show on searches that contain your keyword phrase. For example, if your keyword phrase is “top real estate agent”, then your ad could potentially show on searches for:
– top real estate agent in my area
– find me a top real estate agent
– top real estate agent near me

– how much do top real estate agents cost

Unlike broad match modified, you’ll noticed your keyword phrase isn’t broken up. There are no words in between. Only at the end or beginning. I like using phrase match because it gives me more control.

Exact Match
Your ad will only show on searches that exactly match your keyword. After Google’s recent update to its algorithm, exact match will also include variants of your keyword. Variants can be misspellings or singular or plural forms of your keyword. For example, if your keyword is [top real estate agent], your ad can show on searches for:
– top real estate agent
– top real estate agents

– top realtors

Negative Keywords
This allows you to exclude searches you don’t want your ads to appear on. For example, as a real estate agent you probably don’t want to show ads on searches for vehicles. By adding vehicles as a negative keyword, you can make sure your ad never shows on those searches.


After finding awesome keywords for your ad groups, you can start building relevant ads. Great ad copy is very important because it is how you attract uses to your site. A few great tips are using the keyword in the headline, delivering a concise message, and making it as relevant as possible.

To make your ads look bigger, you can include extensions. A few extension types you can use are sitelink extensions, structured Snippets, call out extensions, and call extensions. These are great ways to promote your product and get customers to click your ad. When writing great ad copy, make sure to follow Google’s ad policy. For more information on ads, check out my other blog posts.