Single Keyword Ad Groups – The Best Way to Elevate Your PPC Campaign

Brian Bojan Dordevic
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Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAG) is a superior strategy and a way to structure a Google ads account. It helps you achieve higher performance by giving you intense control over your keywords, campaign settings, ads, and bids. It works for both social and display networks and saves you from wasting your budget on irrelevant traffic. SKAG is the ad group that contains only one keyword with the purpose of matching search intention as closely as possible. This kind of segmentation makes your campaigns more manageable and more comfortable to improve. How you structure your Google Ads account is vital for your PPC success. With SKAGs, you can elevate your click-through-rates and quality scores faster while earning more money in the process. By pairing your keywords into unique ad groups, you ensure that the keywords you are bidding on match the search terms you are paying for. SKAGs are one of the main aspects of our very successful Google Ads Micro Campaigns.

Table of Contents
Single Keyword Ad Groups - The Best Way to Elevate Your PPC Campaign

What are Single Keyword Ad Group benefits?

With each of the ad-clicks paid, no marketer wants to spend their money on irrelevant clicks that won’t bring any conversion. This is where SKAG can help:

  • Data integrity – You will have an easier time analyzing your campaigns.
  • It makes it easier to track the whereabouts of your keywords.
  • It improves your performance metrics over time.
  • As search terms and keywords discrepancy lowers, you will see more visitors click on your ads.
  • By improving the quality score and CTR, you will boost your ranking position with Google Ads.
  • Improvement in average position and quality score directly impact impression shares.
  • It gives you more control and bidding option for active keywords.
  • You gain more insight into user management with users that click on your ads.

How SKAG improves click-through rates?

Ads that match search queries are more likely to earn the clicks that drive PPC performance. Multi-keyword ad groups can make that alignment less likely since one ad can show for multiple keywords. Here you are at risk of losing clicks by having less relevant ads. With SKAG, you are sure to serve ads that precisely match what a searcher wants to find, especially when you are using SKAG’s exact match option. This makes your ad to increase ad relevancy, which is one of the factors that determine the Quality Score. This way, you will get more clicks at the discounted rate.

How SKAG improves your Quality Scores?

Quality Score is a way for Google to show how well your ad performs in the AdWords auction. Your Quality Score is based on your landing page experience, the relevance of your ad, and how likely it is to earn clicks. Since SKAG creates ads that are highly relevant to keywords, that also gives them a higher expected click-through rate, that shows to AdWords that you have a great ad that deserves a higher Quality Score.

Bid management

With AdWords, you can adjust bids based on demographics and user behavior at the ad group level, which is an essential part of optimizing campaigns, but you cannot do that at the keyword level. This is where Single Keyword Ad Groups enter the scene. Adjusting for demographics and behavior in SKAG becomes a keyword-based bid adjustment when there is only one keyword in the ad group.

Higher rankings at lower cost

With higher click-through rates, better Quality Scores, and more granular control, you will earn higher ad placements at lower costs. Single Keyword Ad Groups will bring you all of these advantages and give your PPC campaigns an edge over your competitors.

How to set up your Single Keyword Ad Group?

First of all, you need to go into your Google Ads account and navigate to the Search terms report after clicking on the Keywords tab. Order your Search terms report by the number of conversions. You can do this by clicking on the conversion column header. Once you have done this, add all of the top-performing keywords to their own single keyword ad groups. Note that if you are not using conversion tracking, you can sort the report with the “Clicks” column and check the average CPC with the keyword planner tool. However, if you are using Conversions Tracking, you should classify the report with the “Conversions” column to pages that are bringing more conversions, which will make it easier to identify engaging pages to the users. You will want to add the keyword in all three match types to the single keyword ad group. The final stage is to create ads that are highly specific to your keywords. Add the exact keyword to the headline area beside the display URL (path). All other areas of the ad would be based on USP with a focus on your CTA. Make sure not to include your competitors’ brand name in the copy of your ad, since this can get you in trouble for copyright infringement!

You should add one keyword per ad group and as many ad groups in a campaign as you want. Each needs to have one variation of Ad Copy with a single matching keyword. It is okay to include all the different match types of a particular keyword for each ad while keeping the focus on a single service within a campaign. However, we’ve been implementing phrase match, and noticed that this match type yields the highest performance.

 Each ad group must have no less than three ads, and they should all include the keyword of that particular ad group. You can then continue with creating different ad groups for phrase match, broad match modifier, and exact match.

Another factor that can lower your ad relevance is changing the keyword’s word form. You should avoid doing this unless you have no choice. For long-tail keyword that doesn’t fit in one headline due to the character limit, use the keyword and the path in Headline 1 and Headline 2.

How to start a successful ad campaign using SKAG?

Low-budget Google Ads campaigns are the bedrock of small businesses starting. If you are running a small-scale campaign, you probably cannot afford to bid on multiple keywords. SKAG allows you to target one keyword and base your ads accordingly, but you have to make sure that the keyword you select is as specific as possible. You should look for medium volume on the traffic side of things for the keywords you evaluate. Look for low competition keywords and scout the results to match intent. The intent is the degree of interest searchers hold. High intent means that searchers are very close to being ready to buy products, while low intent means they are just starting to look for things to buy. Since you are looking to make sales or deliver services as soon as possible, you should aim for high intent. You can use Google Ads Keyword Tool to discover suitable keywords for your campaign. This tool provides valuable data such as bidding cost estimates for top page and subsequent pages. Once you have found your keyword, it is time to develop a single keyword ad group. Modify your keyword with three specific match-types:

  • Broad match modifier: + keyword
  • Phrase match: “keyword.”
  • Exact match: [keyword]

That’s it for now. Let’s save what we have done, and move on.

Google Ads platform offers ten different styles to choose from. Most people would choose “maximize conversions” or “maximize clicks” since they sound like the most prominent and effective choice for low-budget campaigns where you want to turn small amounts of budget into positive conversions. We are not going to pick those, however. Instead, we will focus on manual bidding.

Manual bidding is a smart bidding type that leverages the experience and observations of your account manager. 

While Google likes to boast about machine learning and automation to increase or decrease your bids on a given search from Enhanced CPC, Google’s AI will determine How to maximally improve its bank account. Using this bidding type will waste your money since the AI tends to create wasted clicks from those users that would find your ad content irrelevant to their needs. We also found that ALL alternatives to manual bidding on SKAGs result in over-optimization. Your search volumes are already tight and low for any automation to happen.

The next step would be creating a SKAG landing page. This is very important, and most campaigns with high click-through-rates don’t see many conversions due to a poor landing page. If you see a big gap between the click-through-rate on your ad and your conversion rate, then your landing page is most likely the one to blame. When creating a perfect landing page, there is one essential thing to keep in mind – message match. This is a measure of how well your landing page copy matches the phrasing of the ad that brought the visitor. For experienced PPC marketers, this means matching the copy of their ad to their landing page headline. A strong message match will reassure your visitor that they have come to the right place. You need to deliver the content which reflects the visitor’s intent and expectations. Making the landing page reflect the searcher’s intent by showing them that the service you are offering is the one they had searched for is crucial for any campaign.

Once you have developed your landing page, you need to head over to your ad and place it as the final URL. Since you are running a low-budget campaign, you want everything to be perfect so your future clients would feel comfortable. So, if you find that your landing page needs some optimization, you can install UTM tags at the account level.

Although it often takes a serious upfront investment before any noticeable results start to show, Google Ads can help your business to grow fast and reliably. Many companies still don’t make use of Google Ads because they fear the complexity of the platform and the risk of losing their initial investment. Just like with any other marketing strategy, the risk is there, and the results are not guaranteed. The best you can do in protecting your budget overall is to set a daily maximum budget. Be specific with your keywords and only pick those with at least medium volume and low competition. Don’t select more than one keyword, invest time in your landing page, and the results will show.

Downsides of SKAGs – Why Most Agencies Don’t Use Them

Besides all of the positive sides of Single Keyword Ad Groups that we have talked about in the text above, there are still a few downsides worth mentioning. Here are some of the most common reasons why some businesses still don’t use this tactic.

SKAGs take more time to create

The first and most apparent reason why Single Keyword Ad Groups are not always a good idea is that they are time-consuming to set up and manage. Unless you are new to Google Ads, you could already have a few hundred keywords in your account. Putting each of those keywords into their ad groups with their own sets of ads sounds like hard labor, and many people think that possible monetary gains are not worth the time it takes to set up everything. The best way to check this thesis is to test the SKAGs approach to your top five keywords. See how they perform against the same keywords that are not set up in SKAG and measure the results.

 This way, you are starting to achieve that data integrity that will provide you with more control over your advertising account.

SKAGs take more effort.

It is true that to get the most significant benefit from SKAGs, You need to invest a lot of effort. You need to keep a closer eye to search terms that don’t match the keywords and to use ad group level negative keywords, so your shorter tail SKAGs don’t steal away impressions.

Testing can take longer.

Your actual ad testing can take longer since you are not getting a condensed level of clicks from multiple keywords in the same ad group, but rather for each keyword separately.

But You Should Have Zero Excuses

SKAGs could take longer, but your first steps towards creating a super optimized quality score start with a single ad copy and a single keyword. Even the busiest of marketers should find the time and energy to succeed with Google Ads. And this is just a first step to tackling the Google Ads opportunities. Want to learn more about Single Keyword Ad Groups from our SEO agency in Chicago? Schedule a call and get a quote for your project.


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