Blog article

What are single keyword ad groups and how to use them?

Each Google Adwords account can have multiple campaigns. Each campaign can consist of multiple ad groups. How to store ads in this structure? As part of the campaign, we can in turn set ad groups. Ad groups allow you to organize your keywords and advertising creatives into thematic packages. For example, if we have several product subgroups to be advertised in the same target group, we can create two ad groups, e.g. sports shoes and sports shirts. We can assign appropriate advertising creations to each of these groups and determine the keywords for which they are to be displayed. Ad grouping allows you to better match creatives, keywords and placements. Consequently, it affects the conversion. In addition, it facilitates the management of advertising campaigns and the regulation of budgets that we spend on individual products. But where do single keyword ad groups come in and what are they?
The use of SKAGs (single keyword ad groups) can be a very successful structure for Adwords accounts. In this article I try to explain what SKAGs are and how you can use this strategy to optimize Adwords campaigns.

What we already know: Adwords structure

For a successful Adwords campaign it is important that the displayed advertisements are very relevant to the search terms. This ensures a better click-through rate (CTR) and an overall higher quality score. In order to keep your ads relevant to the search terms, they are divided into Ad Groups. At a higher level, you can use campaigns to adjust (regional) targeting and budgets.

In order to keep the advertisements relevant to the search terms, it is therefore important to keep the keywords in the Ad Groups very strongly around the same “theme” (often products or services). Google itself speaks in the support section of Adwords about the use of about 10-20 search terms per Ad Group.

Depending on the (personal) preference of the Adwords administrator, there are some variations on this “basic structure” such as copies of Ad Groups per match type (exact, phrase, modified broad) or copies of search terms with different match types within the same Ad Group.

Meet SKAGs

With the outlined structure of an Adwords account, there is little wrong and it is sufficient in the majority of cases. Nevertheless, I would like to introduce you to the term “SKAG”: Single Keyword Ad Group. An alternative strategy for setting up your Adwords Ad Groups which, if applied correctly, can be very successful.

The idea is simple: instead of forming your Ad Groups with 10-20 search terms around a product or service, you form an Ad group with only one search term. You add this search term as broad modified, phrase and exact match to the Ad Group.

Ideally start with 3 to 5 search terms (and therefore Ad groups). The search terms you choose must be very relevant to you, but not too specific (shortest tail possible). If you already have an Adwords campaign, use the search terms report to see which terms are the most conversions and use them.

Example search terms for SKAG “Online marketer”:
+ online + marketer
“online marketer”
[online marketer]

Then you prefer to process the relevant search term in the Headline and Display URL of your ads.

Now you have extremely specific ad groups and advertisements around your most important keywords. Important ingredients for a good Quality Score.

Optimize Adwords with SKAGs

Because in your SKAG you also included the search term modified broad and phrase match, your advertisement will also be shown by Google in very similar or more specific variants of your search term. Identify the person with multiple impressions / clicks with your optimisations and also create a SKAG here. In the meantime, add that term as a negative to the current Ad Group. In this way your Adwords campaign becomes more specific and better.

After an optimization round of the Ad Group “online marketer”, it could be that the term “freelance online marketer” has been responsible for impressions / clicks / conversions. Here we create our own SKAG (with own ads) and we add the term [freelance online marketer] as a negative keyword to the Ad Group Online marketer so that it no longer steals traffic from our new SKAG.

To SKAG or not to SKAG?

The advantages of working with SKAGs are:

  • Better relevance Ads
  • You do not have to collect all possible variants of important keywords in advance. The longer the account is optimized – the better it will perform.
  • Higher ad positions
  • Lower click price
  • More conversions

On the other hand, managing SKAG accounts takes more time than “regular” accounts and optimizing ad-copy can be more difficult, because (certainly specific SKAGs) gather data less quickly.

The most common approaches towards SKAG that are ineffective

In one very common approach AdWords users put all the keywords under a single ad group. Even though one might like that this strategy takes minimal effort and time, it actually does not provide anyone with great advantages. Actually, there are more disadvantages like for example clumsiness and disorganisation. Secondly, it is difficult to get any valuable data from this approach, because not all keywords will be performing well but it is not clear which are ones are doing poorly. Also, the ad group would have a large number of ads, but it would be difficult to know which which keywords triggered an ad and because of that it would be too difficult to analyze the performance of both your keywords and ads. Only the average performance across the ad group can be gathered which is of no real significance.

A second common approach is when users segregate keywords based on their themes and add them only to the relevant ad groups. Unfortunately, this technique does not have too many advantages either, even though it is a more refined approach which increases the collection of data. Data collected at an ad group level is based on an aggregate of keywords and specific themes. But there is not data available that connects to individual keywords or ads. Especially when not all keywords will perform well.