Building Successful Low Budget PPC: Understand your Campaign Settings

Chad Kearns, Vice President of Marketing Services

In charge of building your first PPC account? Don’t have a lot of time or money to spend within AdWords? Well you came to the right place. Over the course of the next six weeks, Portent PPC Strategists Chad Kearns and Tim Johnson will be laying down the knowledge in a six-part blog series detailing best practices for setting yourself up for PPC success. Follow along to pick up tips on how to build your first PPC account like a PPC superstar.

Post #1: Building Successful Low Budget PPC: Account Structure

Hand checking boxes

During campaign creation, AdWords provides a number of settings to tailor a campaign to your advertising goals. Understanding these settings can make or break the success of your campaign. Google does offer recommended settings defaults along the way, but be wary. Don’t forget that the more you spend each month in AdWords, the more revenue Google collects. Are the recommendations in AdWords best for you as an advertiser or are they best for Google’s bottom line?

In this post, we break down the six major campaign settings so you can avoid spending your advertising dollars on unqualified customers.


After naming your campaign, the next option in the General category is ‘Type’. There are three types of campaign types advertisers can opt into: Search Network only, Display Network only, and Search and Display Networks.

What is the difference between the Search and Display Network?

The Search Network is a collection of search engines offering advertisers sponsored text ads. Ads are triggered by user search queries.

The Display Network is a group of websites which offer text and image ads. These ads are targeted contextually based on the advertiser’s preference.

Pro-tip: Use a descriptive name for your campaign. It will be worth it when you have multiple campaigns accumulated in your account. Then, opt into the Search Network only to give yourself the best chance for initial campaign success.


After opting into a Search Network only campaign, it’s time to determine your reach across Google’s Search Network.

By building a Search Network only campaign, your ads will be displayed across Google Search, Shopping, Maps, Images, and Groups.

The choice within the Networks section is whether to include your ads on Google search partner sites. Search partners are sites that have affiliated with Google, like and Electing to include Search partners will increase your impressions and click volume but may decrease the overall quality of your paid traffic.

Google Search Network

Pro-tip: Start with Google’s Search Network only. If down the road you are working to build volume and increase your daily spend, employ search partners.


Are you a small coffee shop that customers want to find while running errands on a weekend? Think about increasing your bids on mobile devices to target customers who are out and about.

Are you a b2b offering a specialized software download? You may want to avoid showing on mobile devices all together.

The Devices section is where you make those decisions happen. Due to AdWords new Enhanced Campaigns format, completely excluding any of the three device types (Desktops/Laptops, Tablets, and Mobile) is not possible.

Instead, mobile bid adjustments must be made to shift your device preference.

Adjust your mobile bids by -100% to all but remove mobile targeting or increase your bids by a maximum of 300% to opt for a mobile heavy campaign.


Pro-tip: Understand which devices your customers use – not only to visit your website, but to convert on your site, and adjust your mobile bid accordingly.


By default, new campaigns are set to serve the entire United States and Canada. For many low budget advertisers, serving ads to all of North America will not be effective.

When first getting started in AdWords, think about where your core market is.

Geographic targeting can be broken down by country, state, Nielsen DMA region, city, zip code, and if you would like, congressional district.

In addition, advertisers can also set a targeted radius around a specific location.


Pro-tip: Understand the capabilities and reach of what your business delivers. If you don’t ship internationally, keep your targeting domestic. If you are a local business with a physical location, how far will customers realistically travel to visit you? 


English is the default language for all new campaigns. Leave it at that. Please.

Pro-tip: Set your language to English, unless you have a really good reason to do so otherwise.

Bidding and budget

The Bidding and budget section in the campaign settings allows advertisers to not only set their daily budget, but also to decide how keyword bid levels are determined in their campaign.

Since Conversion Optimizer will not be an eligible option when building your first campaign, advertisers must employ the ‘Focus on clicks’ bidding option. Then it’s time to choose between manual bidding (dictated by yourself) and automatic bidding (AdWords sets your bids based on a maximum CPC limit).

Once the campaign bidding method is set, it’s time to determine your daily budget. When determining a daily spend limit, keep in mind your actual spend per day can run in excess of 20% over what the daily budget is set at.


Pro-tip: Manually set your bids. Provide yourself the ability to fluctuate bids between which average position and average cost per click best fit your cost per acquisition goals. Think about setting your daily budget slightly under your budget limit to account for the possibility of excess spend.

After selecting your settings and saving your campaign, it’s time to move on to building descriptive keywords lists to populate your ad groups.

Watch out next Friday for our next post on best practices for building your first PPC Account!

And feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments.

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  1. Great start guys. Geographic targeting, depending on the city or state one may need to utilize GDN to drive traffic and conversions. ofcourse this all depends on what is being sold.

    1. Hi Asim,
      While the Google Display Network can be a good place to spur conversions, it can also be a money pit for small businesses advertisers without a lot of AdWords experience.
      That said, we feel the Search Network is the best place to start when building your first PPC campaign.

  2. Great idea with low budget ppc. Did you try it yourself? Maybe it will help me to safe time. I will think about starting this project one day and definitely will add your link to favorite. I also wanted to admit that your post is informative and answers the most of stupid questions.

    1. Thank you for the comment and feedback on our post.
      At Portent, we offer a PPC package that focuses on low budget PPC.
      PPC Essentials was created for paid search accounts that spend under $3,000 a month in advertising.
      Feel free to ask questions along the way as you build your account!

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