Single Keyword AdWords Ad Groups, Is It Worth It?

You might be doing your AdWords ad groups all wrong. Here’s some insight on creating a better account structure.

When new advertisers start looking into AdWords, they are often unsure how the keywords they picked will work with their ads. Questions pop up such as: How much do I set bids for? Which locations do I target? And so on. I know I was pretty overwhelmed when I started my first campaign in 2010. We pick a bunch of business-related terms, throw them in an ad group, place some bids, maybe make two ad versions, set a budget, and anxiously turn everything on, hoping for conversion. And that’s not unreasonable. Even Google recommends that you “pick 10-20 keywords” per ad group. But truthfully, this whole process is filled with flaws once you dig deeper into the platform.

What’s this Quality Score thing all about?

In AdWords, Quality Score rules above all. And to get a strong Quality Score, your keywords, ads, and landing pages are all taken into consideration. And when you use the “one ad group fits all” method, it’s an easy bet to assume that some of those keywords don’t match up with a corresponding ad or landing page. Sure, you can stick to a theme and try to be as specific as possible. Maybe you’ve even staggered your bids on match types (a whole other blog post). But still, every quarter, that Quality Score floats around a defeating five out of ten. Sad.
This is important stuff. Quality Score impacts ad position, which affects click-through rates and cost per click (CPC). (See the trend here?) AdRank, determined by your Max CPC bid and Quality Score, actually plays a role in the price your competitors pay per click. The Actual CPC is equal to the AdRank of the ad below divided by YOUR Quality Score, plus $0.01. Still, it can be pretty confusing even for seasoned advertisers. For reference, check out the graphic below:

AdWords Ad Rank

In an ideal setting, you’d have complete control over bids for each keyword, as well as modifiers. And to do so each keyword would need to have its own ad group. With Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAG), you can better track Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) per keyword and pause low performers. With a SKAG AdWords structure, you can fit every keyword into every possible ad copy, likely in multiple places, boosting Quality Score as well as click-through-rate.

Is there a downside?

Most advertisers are afraid of the initial setup. Most advertisers are unenthusiastic about tracking hundreds of ad groups in one campaign. It’s easy to understand why. That’s a lot of work on a daily basis, and can be a bit daunting when initially considered. But consider this. Many AdWords accounts are NOT set up with a SKAG structure. This account structure has the capacity to directly affect and improve click-through rates and therefore CPC. Hypothetically, if you were to cut CPC in half, you would earn TWICE the traffic volume from the same campaign. That alone makes this worth the setup effort.

Recently, we implemented SKAGs for a national e-commerce store. The advertiser’s CPC was on the rise and its click-through rates were nothing special. Since it was a slow sales season (non-major holiday), we recommended implementing SKAGs. Here are the results:


This is a snapshot from January to September 2016.
Immediately, you can see that CPC dropped and the click-through rate jumped up about 10 percent. Click through dropped a bit in August, but CPC remained at an all-time low. While this is only a short window of time, it’s clear that the results can be staggering. This specific account is an e-commerce website, so the majority of its sales are during the holiday season—yet another reason to implement SKAGs. This gives us plenty of time to optimize bids, keywords, and remarketing strategy.

Ready to start getting more bang for your buck?

The FirstTracks Marketing team is ready to help you market your business online smarter not harder. Whatever you are spending right now, we can increase your average conversion rates by 20 to 30 percent. If you are ready to take the next steps for marketing your business online please give us a call at 603-924-1978 or fill out our online request form, we look forward to connecting with you soon!

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