Optmyzr Blog

There's finally an easy way to create & manage SKAGs

Mar 16, 2018
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Frederick Vallaeys

Co-Founder & CEO



Single keyword ad groups—or SKAGs—are an AdWords strategy that puts one keyword in each of your campaign’s ad groups. SKAGs give PPC marketers more control over raising click-through rates, managing bids, and achieving high Quality Scores.

Yet many AdWords accounts are built to match a company’s website structure with as many as 20 keywords per ad group. Why aren’t SKAGs more mainstream? Google doesn’t expressly advocate them, so it’s not a strategy people encounter when they first learn AdWords. In fact, the 20 keyword per ad group guidance comes from Google itself.

That advice can point new PPC marketers in a direction that denies them the benefits of single keyword ad groups. In this post, we’ll lay out those benefits and the fastest way to build SKAGs we developed here at Optmyzr.

Main Advantages of Single Keyword Ad Groups

  1. Higher CTRs
  2. Better Quality Scores.
  3. Easier bid management.
  4. Higher rankings, lower costs.

Let’s look more closely at how SKAGs create each benefit.

1. Click-Through Rates

We know ads matching search queries are more likely to earn the clicks that drive PPC performance. Multi-keyword ad groups make that alignment less likely because one ad can show for multiple keywords. The more that happens, the more clicks you risk losing by having less relevant ads. A single-keyword ad group structure ensures you serve ads precisely matching what a searcher wants to find, especially when using SKAGs and exact match, making your ad more relevant and more likely to get clicks.

2. Quality Scores

Quality Score is Google’s way of showing how well your ad performs in the AdWords auction. Quality Scores are based on your landing page experience, how relevant your ad is, and how likely it is to earn clicks. SKAGs directly make ads more relevant to keywords, which in turn gives them a higher expected click-through rate. Both signals tell AdWords you’ve got a great ad that deserves a higher Quality Score.

3. Bid management

AdWords lets us adjust bids based on demographics and user behavior at the ad group level, which is an important part of optimizing campaigns. But we can’t adjust bids for those factors at the keyword level. Enter single keyword ad groups. Adjusting for demographics and behavior in SKAGs become a keyword-based bid adjustment when there’s only one keyword in the ad group.

4. Rankings, Costs

Each of these advantages—higher CTRs, better Quality Scores, more granular control—combine to earn higher ad placements and lower costs. Single-keyword ad groups are the best way to achieve all three at once and give your PPC campaign a leg up on competitors running less sophisticated campaigns.

Setting up SKAGs the easy way

If single-keyword ad groups are so great, why don’t more people use them? Most PPC marketers say they don’t have the time to create individual ad groups for campaigns with hundreds or thousands of keywords. The usual advice is to build them incrementally across your account. But that takes time—time that your ads aren’t reaching their max potential.

The easiest way to set up single-keyword ad groups is with the Keyword Lasso tool in Optmyzr. The Keyword Lasso automatically finds new keywords and implements them in a single-keyword ad group structure.

Step 1: Select the campaigns and date range you’d like the lasso to analyze. You can enable the Turbo Mode to remove the data threshold and see all the search terms that received traffic, even if some of them don’t have enough data for our system to identify them as statistically relevant.

Step 2: Define the strategy you’ll want to get recommendations on, and how the tool will filter the suggested keywords. You can choose to see recommendations based on search terms with the highest CTR, most conversions, or a custom metric like impression threshold or cost. You can also choose to see the top suggestions based on Optmyzr’s algorithm.

Step 3: Select the metrics you want to view in the Keyword Lasso report or search for specific suggestions if you have a high number of recommendations.

Step 4: Select the recommended keywords you want to create SKAGs for and pick their match type. Note that you can add the same keyword in multiple match types, and each match type will get its own ad group. You can also choose to add the suggestions as negative keywords.

Step 5: Select “Create SKAG” and choose campaign to put the SKAG in. You’ll be prompted to create an ad group name template, we suggest naming the ad groups by their keyword for simplicity. After hitting the “Apply” button, your recommended search terms are now uploaded as SKAGs!

Now that your SKAGs are live, you can run other One-Click Optimizations such as bid adjustments or A/B testing across your search, display and shopping campaigns.

Working with other structures

I’m a fan of the alpha-beta campaign structure coined by David Rodnitzky. The alpha-beta methodology uses broad match to discover top-performing keywords (the beta) and exact match campaigns to leverage them for maximum performance (the alpha). Alpha-beta and SKAG structures don’t compete with each other. In fact, SKAGs are a great strategy to implement within your alpha-beta campaigns.

Alpha-beta is a great way to gain insight on daily performance changes and optimize budget toward the alpha campaigns that generate conversions. Single-keyword ad groups work great in the alpha-beta structure because they isolate ad group and keyword performance. Often times, with multi-keyword ad groups, decisions are made at the ad group level without a clear understanding of what ads perform best with what keywords. SKAGs inject that clarity into the alpha-beta approach.

Wait…what about testing?

Testing is a vital part of AdWords success no matter how you structure your accounts. Having multiple ads to a/b test within an ad group won’t disrupt your SKAG strategy. It offers the same benefits a/b testing would offer if you had multiple keywords in one ad group.

The alignment between ads and keywords opens up other testing possibilities. We mentioned earlier that SKAGs let you make defacto keyword-level bid modifications for devices and locations. Both options can be tested with SKAGs, so you not only do the modification but test how they perform at the keyword level.

For PPC marketers starting a new paid search account, or looking to take their existing account to the next level, single-keyword ad groups offer a great path to success. They make it possible to achieve better alignment between ads and search queries, leading to higher Quality Scores and more opportunities to test and optimize.