Top 10 reasons Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) Improve Campaign Performance in AdWords

Single Keyword Ad Groups are an ideal way to organize your AdWords campaigns. But how do they work and what are the benefits?

There are a lot of articles talking about why SKAGS are amazing, but here is a condensed overview covering the advantages of SKAGs and how you can build some of your own.

The idea is simple: SKAGs are an AdWords campaign structure where there is only one keyword in each ad group. The reason so many PPC marketers get excited about this structure is because of the results:

  1. Scientifically a better way to test: by isolating variables (keywords and ads) you get a more accurate understanding of what works and what doesn’t compared to traditional keyword grouping methods.
  2. Improved CTR: putting more than one keyword in each ad group means the keywords are all competing to be relevant for one ad. With one keyword per ad group, your CTR takes off because your keywords are so tightly connected to the search term.
  3. Quality score goes up: as keyword relevancy and CTR goes up, so will your quality score.
  4. Reduced Cost Per Click: quality score influences the price it costs for your ad to be shown. With a higher quality score, your CPC will go down.
  5. Reduced Cost Per Conversion: pretty straightforward, if your Cost Per Clicks are going down, your Cost Per Conversion will be going down as well.
  6. You set a strong foundation for your campaign structure: with SKAGs it is easy to decide how to group your keywords, you don’t need to think about it. And when you want to add more keywords, you are just adding more ad groups. This simple and clean account structure makes maintenance easier.
  7. Better positioning: abetter CTR and Quality Score also help you to get better positioning.
  8. Find and solve issues faster: because of the simple campaign structure, it will be easier to diagnose usual issues, such as why certain ad groups or keywords are not performing.
  9. Better control over your negative keywords: you can be more precise with your negative keywords at an ad group level because in your ad groups you will have one keyword (in 3 or 4 match types).
  10. Profits are going up: when your costs are decreasing and your campaign performance is increasing, you are making more money! 💸

But there are a few drawbacks when working with SKAGs:

  1. These campaigns take a long time to build: by putting a single keyword in each ad group instead of grouping keywords, it will take longer to build up campaigns with this method. This is a big hurdle holding marketers back from using SKAGs.
  2. SKAGs can be hard to maintain: you have to make sure your short-tail keywords aren’t stealing any impressions from your long-tail keywords; you have to add negative keywords on the ad group level; testing new keywords takes longer because of the setup time required; bulk editing your ad texts takes longer — all this makes maintenance more time consuming.
  3. Too much data: your data can get spread thin when testing because you have so many ad groups.

How to create your own SKAG campaigns

A quick rundown of how to build up SKAGs:

  1. Start with keyword research. There are a million tools to help, but ones that stand out are: Moz’s Keyword Explorer powered by Clickstream data (for keyword planning) Spyfu (for competitor research) and Spintax (to help find all the variations for long-tail keywords). As a note, Google’s own Keyword Planner is becoming increasingly unhelpful.
  2. Put one keyword per ad group and put each keyword in the three match types: [exact match] “phrase match” and +broad +modifier. Generally it is best to avoid the fourth broad match type because it can cannibalize your other match types.
  3. Write the copy for your and make sure to include your keywords in the headlines and body. The power of SKAGs lies in the ability to be hyper-focused by creating a perfect match between the search term, the keyword, the ad, and the landing page, so make sure the keyword is in your ad text. At least 5 ads per ad group is a good start. Use the same ad texts in each ad group for testing.
  4. Bids, budget, targeting and other campaign setup specifications should be set as in any other campaign structure.
  5. Run the ads and later look in the Search Terms report for new keywords and negative keywords. Assign relevant negative keywords on the ad group level. And for new keywords, create new SKAGs like before. And repeat!

In the end, you just want to get a better ROAS for your client or brand. SKAGs will definitely help you achieve that and to keep your sanity when it comes to testing and organizing your campaigns.