Anatomy of your AdWords Dashboard

After you understand the basic structure, it’s time to show you around the anatomy of your AdWords dashboard.

Every newcomer to AdWords is always a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of tabs and sections to look at. My job is to get you comfortable and settled in—only then can you focus on improving your AdWords game. You can’t blame your tools if you produce lousy ads, since Google has equipped you with the best tools in the world!

Google designed their dashboards for simplicity and efficiency. To a newcomer’s eye, this dashboard is as far from simple as possible. However, once you get stuck in it, you’ll realise that the metrics are carefully chosen to relate to business goals. The entire program is ripe for customisation as well—you can generate reports with the metrics that matter most to you.

The Anatomy of your AdWords Dashboard

This is what your AdWords screen looks like once you login. There are four main sections and we have numbered these in the screenshot below:

1. Top navigation toolbar:

You’ll use this to flip between the four main pages of the AdWords interface.

2. Top-right menu:

This little nook houses your account settings, such as Billing info and Linked accounts. AdWords will also display account notifications in this corner.

3. Left sidebar:

This menu is also called the account tree. You use this to select the campaign that you want to view or edit.

4. Main workspace:

Depending on what tab and tree view you’ve selected, this area will display the related contents.

Adwords dashboard explained using highlighted boxes

Let’s walk through each section in turn, to get a taste of what you can find in each.

1. Top navigation toolbar

– Home, Campaign, Opportunities and Tools

There are four main tabs that you’ll visit very frequently.


This is the “meat” of your AdWords account, where you’ll spend the most of your time. You can create and edit campaigns, ads and keywords (using the obvious red buttons). You’ll also be able to see how each of your campaigns are performing through graphs and tables.

There are many sub-tabs within the Campaigns tab, which organises your data by Campaign, Ad Group, Keyword, Audience, Ad Extension and so on. Data can be further distilled using filters and segments. You can get really, really granular in AdWords. For example, display ad performance for keyword X, coming in from mobile devices in the evenings for the last 7 days.

The data will be displayed in a table with a column for each metric, and a performance summary chart to visualise the data trends. Go ahead and play around with these reports, and you’ll learn how to interpret them later.

Screenshot of AdWords keywords tab
In this screenshot, we’re looking at a certain campaign called “Main” and the performance of three different keywords. The graph shows that the number of clicks has been decreasing in the last two days too.

1. Opportunities:

This is Google’s clever computer at work. This area suggest all sorts of improvements for your campaign, such as new keywords, bid improvements, ad extensions, and more.

It’s an intelligent personal assistant (like Siri), or an interactive guide around AdWords. Once you’ve accumulated some historical data, you should definitely check out this tab for ideas to improve.

Of course, take each suggestion with a grain of salt and think if is relevant to your campaign.

1. Reports:

This nifty tool allows you to compile metrics that matter most to you (using filters and pivot tables), and create beautiful graphs and tables.

There are few pre-defined reports available and you can use these as starting points to build your own reports. Of course, you can save your report templates and they’ll re-generate them for different campaigns and timeframes.

Screenshot of example AdWords report displayed In tab section
This blue bar shows the number of impressions while the red chart shows the number of clicks. It looks like everyone who’s viewed the ad for certain keywords were interested and ended up clicking! You can test all of your hypotheses using these charts.

1. Tools:

This section lists all of Google’s tools. Two tools that you’ll use quite a bit are the Keyword Planner and the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool. You’ll use these to research keywords and test ads, respectively. We’ll explain these as we progress further in the book.

2. Top right menu

– Gear menu, Notifications, Help

If you click on the gear icon, this menu will appear with four selections:


As the name suggests, you’ll be able to add and edit your billing information, see your billing history, retrieve invoices and receipts, and so on.

Account Settings:

Here, you’ll find stuff like your sign-in information, user preferences, linked accounts and so on.

Send feedback:

A comments and a suggestions box


The FAQ page

Gear menu for Google Adwords

3. Left sidebar

– Campaign navigation, Shared Library, Bulk operations, Labels

If your AdWords account has more than one campaign, this tree view appears in the left sidebar. It functions the same way as your Windows Explorer—the campaigns and ad groups are displayed in the same way folders are displayed in your computer. You can minimise this sidebar to make space for your main workspace, if you like.

An account tree for Google AdWords

Right at the bottom of this sidebar, you’ll also find links to few other features (mostly used by more experienced AdWords users).

Shared Library:

This is a database of items that you can share between multiple campaigns and ad groups. For example, if you’ve painstakingly researched a list of negative keywords (keywords you don’t want your ads to show on), you can share this with other ad groups without typing them in one by one.

Another handy list to share is the audiences—once you get into remarketing, you’ll be able to identify a list of people who are interested in your products, but have not yet purchased anything. You can then double-down on this group with different ad campaigns.

Bulk Operations:

Another feature for the power users. You can write automated rules, such as “Pause the low-performing campaigns if converted clicks <= 10”. You can also download data, edit them on Excel and upload them back onto AdWords. Oh, the places you’d go once you’re a pro!


It’s like tagging your posts on your blog, or sticking post-it flags on your favourite quotes in your book. Let’s take a clothes retailer for example. He sells many different types of clothes (dresses, skirts, trousers, etc.) to many different areas (London, Liverpool, Bristol, etc.). By labelling ads, he can filter his data and compare how well dresses are selling in Liverpool in comparison to Bristol.

4. Main workspace

If all that I have explained above are the buttons on your remote control, this is your TV. It’ll display all that is nested within each tab and section.


Google Disclaimer

Google AdWords usually rolls out subtle changes regularly. If any of these screenshots displayed in this guide differs from what you see on screen, that means the interface has been updated since we wrote the book. In time, you’ll recognise the main elements and learn your way around AdWords without any help.