Join us in the eternal quest for perfect PPC strategy. Even the most advanced tactics that we use today will become a thing of the past when more intuitive algorithms, automation, and communication tactics develop. The current iteration of algorithms favors two major PPC strategies: SKAGs and Keyword Tapering. Depending on your budget and timeframe, you’ll be able to choose one of these to maximize your ROAS (Return on Ad Spend), as well as improve the quality score of your Google Ads account.
In this article, we will explain the most significant features of Keyword Tapering and discuss how it can expand your SKAGs strategy. We will also shed some light on keyword match types that generate a high amount of clicks and help you optimize ROAS by maximizing your budget and impressions share as well.
Can Keyword Tapering help you formulate a Perfect PPC Strategy?
While SKAGs can be a great place to start, we sometimes face their limitations. The answer to overcoming these limitations is Keyword Tapering. Keyword Tapering takes advantage of the learning period at the early stages of your campaigns. It helps you achieve the same level of targeting SKAGs do while ensuring that you manage your exact match campaign in the best way possible.
How SKAG works?
We have already had an in-depth talk about SKAGs and how they work in one of our previous articles. Although we could expand on that topic, we wouldn’t want to stray too much from the subject at hand. So, let’s have a quick overview, so we can see how it relates to keyword tapering – this is how SKAG works:
- SKAGs made to increase the keyword relevancy of your ads and their click-through-rate (CTR), which should result in an increase of Quality Score and a lower cost-per-click (CPC).
- They increase your CTR by breaking down your keyword to search term ratio to bring it as close to 1 to 1 correlation as possible. They aim for little to no discrepancy between the keywords you are bidding on, and the search terms users type into the search engines.
- They do so by using three keyword match types for a single keyword – broad match modified, phrase match, and exact match. Single Keyword Ad Groups don’t use ordinary broad match because it brings many irrelevant search terms.
The downsides of SKAG
There are two major issues when it comes to using Single Keyword Ad Groups:
- The excessive use of keyword match types filters out irrelevant traffic, but it can also severely decrease your available audience. Sure, you are preventing your budget from being wasted on irrelevant traffic, but you could also be missing out on some relevant search terms that could prove to be valuable.
- No matter how well you optimize your Skag for the keyword you are targeting, there is still a lot of messy data coming your way. Since there are three match types in use, the search terms can be misattributed to the wrong match type. This can make adjusting your budget a bit of a gamble.
But, there is a solution to these issues – Keyword Tapering. It leverages the “Broad, Match, Modified” campaigns to look for relevant search terms that you may want to advertise via isolated campaigns. Keyword Tapering also uses “Exact Match” campaigns to avoid irrelevant search terms in your targeted audiences. By using it, you will extract all the essential search terms from your mining campaign and transfer them to your “Exact Match” campaign to achieve optimal success. This will bolster up your Exact Match campaign along with your CTRs, conversions, revenue, and ROI.
How does Keyword Tapering work?
So far, we have talked about how Keyword Tapering can solve the issues you may confront using standard SKAG methodology. Now let’s focus on how to set up these campaigns to maximize your return of investment.
“Broad, Match, Modified” Mining Campaign
The first thing you need to do is to set up two identical campaigns – a “Broad, Match, Modified” one, and an “Exact Match” one. They should target the same keywords and have the same budget.
The goal of your “Broad, Match, Modified” campaign is to find the most valuable search terms since there can be a large variety of relevant and irrelevant search terms for any targeted keyword.
The purpose of both campaigns having an equal budget is to give them more time within the learning phase (the time it takes for the system to learn which patterns are working the best). The learning phase can vary depending on the level of statistical significance you are aiming for based on your brand or campaign. It can take up to 4 or 5 weeks to accumulate data on which search terms are driving the most conversions from your “Broad, Match, Modified” campaign. Please bear in mind that the timeline here will heavily depend on your budget. Here at Alpha Efficiency we are focused on the concept of “statistical relevance”, when observing all analytical things. Please learn more about statistical relevance on Harvard Business Review.
“Exact Match” Campaign
The “Exact Match” campaign is where Keyword Tapering shows its full potential. The longer your “Broad, Match, Modified” campaign runs, the more nuanced metrics you will begin to understand, ultimately identifying the most valuable search terms to target. You will regularly shift them over to the “Exact Match” campaign. It is very important, however, to negate the terms you’re moving over, so you don’t end up paying for them in both campaigns. If that happens, your data is tainted, and your experiment has less significance and validity. This could be done by creating a Negative Keyword list with those search terms and adding that list to your broad modified campaign. After that, add those search terms into your “Exact Match” campaign so you can target them directly.
This way instead of targeting keywords one by one, you have an elaborate system doing the targeting for you. It’s all bound to increase the accuracy and efficiency of your targeting.
Search Terms and Budget Shifting
While you are extracting search terms out of the “Broad, Match, Modified” section of your campaign and adding them to your “Exact Match” campaign, their volume in the first is tapering down, so your budget should also be doing the same in that particular campaign. As you lower your budget on the first campaign, you also lower the cost per conversion since you are no longer bidding on less relevant search terms. This allows you to increase the budget for the “Exact Match” campaign which should dramatically increase your CTR since you are now targeting only relevant searches.
You should notice that this brings you a huge advantage when you start to extrapolate these strategies into your return on investment calculations.
Close Variant Script
Google took a step in the direction of completely automating your bidding strategies with the introduction of the Close Variant, a combination of the “Exact Match” and “Phrase Match” types. This means that “Exact Match” is not as exact as it used to be and that the search engine can now show your ad in relation to less relevant terms.
Thankfully, you can now use a Close Variant Script to search through all of your so-called “exact” match campaigns to find those that aren’t really an “exact” match. This script will automatically negate these keywords out of your campaign making your “Exact Match” campaign function like it’s supposed to.
The benefits of Keyword Tapering
Now that we have shown how Keyword Tapering works, let’s look at all the benefits it can bring to your PPC campaign:
- The first major Keyword Tapering strategy benefit is that it sheds some light on which search terms and match types are the best fit for your campaign. Even with the most filtered SKAGs, all of the different match types would tangle together. Keyword Tapering gives you the ability to see which search terms to include in your campaign, and which ones to dismiss.
- The second and most obvious benefit of keyword Tapering is that it can radically boost your ROAS. It helps you focus your budget on campaigns with the most valuable search terms giving you the biggest value on your investment. On the other hand, you will be eliminating those budget-draining irrelevant terms that are leftover in your mining campaign. The longer the Keyword Tapering runs, the more efficient it becomes. Although there may be a slight investment in the learning phase, it surely pays off.
- The problem that Google’s Close Variants have created with “Exact Match” absorbing the “Phrase Match” and making both “Phrase Match” and “Broad, Match, Modified” match types less effective is now easily solved using Keyword Tapering. You don’t even need to go too deep into Keyword Tapering to make use of Close Variant Scripts and make your “Exact Match” fully trustworthy.
In these modern days, PPC, or paid search is evolving unstoppably as an advertising platform. Along with it, Google’s algorithms are becoming more complex, making the learning phase essential. Sure, it may cost a pretty penny in the first month or so, but investing in a broader, exploratory campaign to start with will make you dividends later on thanks to the exact match campaigns, which strictly target winners.
Our official stance here at Alpha Efficiency is still leaning towards SKAGs, as the majority of our clients are budget sensitive, and yearn for more cost-effective solutions SKAGs are giving us a tighter box to operate in. This means that we conduct experiments on the smaller budget, and outside of the keyword tapering framework. Keyword tapering is more suited for larger accounts that are in need of serious keyword expansion and analytical research specific for their vertical & industry. Need help with your Google Ads or Bing campaigns?