Avoid Long Tail Keywords in AdWords — 3 cases where using them will hurt your campaign

So you thought you were improving your campaign by adding long tail keywords? Think again. While many may tell you about The Benefits of Using Long Tail Keywords, this post will tell you about The Dangers of Using Long Tail Keywords.

1. When You Compete Against Yourself — You Lose.

You found a long tail search term that was targeted by a broad/phrase keyword and decided to target it in a separate ad group. Great!

But now you’re targeting the same term from two different ad groups.

  • First, from the original ad group (with the broad/phrase keyword).
  • Second, from your new, targeted ad group with the long tail [exact] keyword.

Why is targeting from two different ad groups a bad idea?

Simply because you can’t control which ad group will be chosen in the auction.

This could result in:

  • Lower CTR, since you can’t control the Ad copy.
  • Lower CPA, since you can’t control the landing pages. (When users search for “nike shoes for men size 11”, taking them to a general page: “nike shoes” that includes shoes for women or kids, is a bad idea…)
  • It’s harder to control close variants
  • It’s impossible to control your bids
The solution is to add ad group level negative keywords to prevent the old ad group (broad/phrase) from triggering the keywords in the new (long tail keyword) ad group.

*Make sure to check my post: “Creating a ‘perfect’ AdWords campaign is impossible — OR, More Accurately: Humanly impossible”, to understand why that’s not such an easy thing to do.

2. Close Variants are Tricky to Discover!

If you’ve gotten to this point, you’ve probably opened your search term report in AdWords looking for long tail keywords.

Let’s take another example:

You may find: “nike shoes for men size 11” and create a new ad group for it.
Then, you find: “nike man shoe size 11” and create a new ad group for it.

But since these two are close variants and can trigger each other (even in [exact] match type), you compete with yourself — and lose.

The solution here is to either add all close variants into one ad group, or add ad group level negative keywords of the actual keywords in the opposing ad group. (In WabHub, we call it: Split Ad Group)

3. Low Search Volume — Only Seems Harmless

And finally, you’ve reached the most dangerous use of long tail keywords: ones with low search volume.

Keywords with status ‘low search volume’ will not trigger any ads. Thus, you cannot isolate them into their own ad groups. If you do, you’ll block yourself from showing your ads for that term. Making the mistake of isolating a ‘low search volume’ is very common. Even experts who spend a lot of time investing in their accounts make this error.

It goes like this:

  • In your old ad group (broad/phrase) you add an ad group level negative keyword (see point #1), so it will not trigger that term.
  • In your new ad group, you now have a keyword with low search volume that won’t trigger any terms either.

Separating a low search volume keyword into its own ad group will always hurt you.

THE SOLUTION: Check the search volume of every keyword BEFORE you isolate and target it in a new ad group. If the search volume is too low, save yourself the effort and keep on triggering it with the old (broad/phrase) ad group.