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Single Keyword Ad Groups: Still Relevant in 2020?

Single Keyword Ad Groups: Still Relevant in 2020?

blog banner google ads single keyword ad groups

blog banner google ads single keyword ad groups

Google Ads works greatest when your advert can precisely match what an individual is on the lookout for.

That sounds easy, however it’s not at all times straightforward to perform as an advertiser.

There are a ton of various search question mixtures and lots of searches are utterly new, even to Google.

So to run profitable search campaigns, you must cowl a variety of key phrases and, ideally, have a novel advert for every of them.

Doing that successfully requires balancing the granularity of campaigns with the time it takes to create them.

Single Keyword Ad Groups (additionally known as SKAGs) provide a solution to this problem.

But Google Ads isn’t the identical as when that technique first got here out. So in this text, we’ll check out what SKAGS are, if they’re nonetheless related and what different choices you’ve got.

What Are Single Keyword Ad Groups?

If we take a look at all of the alternative ways you’ll be able to manage a Google Ads marketing campaign, it appears a bit like this:

google ads campaign structure spectrumgoogle ads campaign structure spectrum
The spectrum of potential Google Ads marketing campaign constructions

The two extremes are:

  • Extreme 1: Mess – one advert group with all of your key phrases
  • Extreme 2: Single key phrase advert teams – one key phrase per advert group

At one finish you’ve got a marketing campaign with a single advert group with a whole lot of key phrases in it.

A easy instance illustrates the issues with this strategy:

If you promote books and also you add each key phrase that’s associated to your merchandise in just one advert group, you’ve got the identical advertisements exhibiting for each “erotic novels” and “kids books”.

Your advertisements will fail to match what searchers are on the lookout for, which can present itself in a low CTR and low conversion charges.

At the opposite excessive, there are the Single Keyword Ad Groups (or SKAGs) is easy: every advert group incorporates one key phrase and has its personal personalized advertisements. That implies that you’re in a position to create an commercial that 100% matches what somebody is trying to find.

For a very long time, it was an excellent strategy to sort out virtually any sort of marketing campaign. But in the final couple of years, the SKAG technique has develop into rather a lot much less efficient.

Before diving into the small print of what has modified and easy methods to adapt your strategy, I wish to present you an instance.

🚨 The Danger Of Getting Too Granular (Case Study)

The important hazard with the Single Keyword Ad Group strategy is that you simply get too granular and lose management on account of it.

To present you what too granular appears like, we’re going to take a look at the Google Ads campaigns of Rent The Runway.

Rent The Runway rents out designer clothes. They are a fairly large firm and goal key phrases that get huge search volumes.

Below is a listing of various search phrases, the related key phrases and the marketing campaign that serves the advert:

Search question #1: clothes subscription
Keyword: [subscription clothing]Campaign identify: Google – Nonbrand – Subscription-Boxes – Exact

Search question #2: clothes membership field
Keyword: +clothes +membership
Campaign identify: Google – Nonbrand – Subscription-Boxes – BMM

From these two examples, it seems that Rent The Runway has devoted campaigns for precise match and BMM (broad match modified) key phrases. And it’s working fairly properly.

Let’s check out one other set of key phrases:

Search question #three: rental costume
Keyword: [rent a dress]Campaign identify : Google – Nonbrand – Rental – Dress – Exact

Search question #four: costume rental
Keyword: [dress rental]Campaign identify: Google – Nonbrand – Rental – Dresses – Exact – tCPA

These final two examples present the issue that we’re going through with Single Keyword Ad Groups.

It seems that Rent The Runway has totally different campaigns for precise match key phrases for each “Dress” and “Dresses”.

In the primary instance, that’s appropriate, the search question is for “rental dress” and it’s matched with the “Dress” marketing campaign (singular).

But the second instance, additionally for a singular search question, “dress rental” will get served from the plural marketing campaign.

The drawback I’m attempting for example right here is that they’ve taken the time to create two totally different campaigns for singular or plural search queries, however it’s not working as they supposed.

Because each campaigns can present up, it turns into laborious to set totally different bids or assign a unique funds to those campaigns.

And this can be a firm with an enormous advert funds, so in the event that they’re affected by this, you’ll face the identical drawback.

Don’t fear if it isn’t 100% clear but, we’ve bought loads of floor to cowl 🤓

The Benefits of Single Keyword Ad Groups

In this part we’ll check out the largest purpose why Single Keyword Ad teams have develop into so common these final couple of years:

  1. Supercharge Your CTR
  2. More Control Over Your Bids
  3. Easy to Learn and Teach

1. Supercharge Your CTR

When adopting SKAGs, your CTR can go up considerably.

The first purpose for that’s easy: you point out the search question in your advert.

This will make your advert appear much more related in comparison with advert teams which have a variety of totally different key phrases in them.

In the screenshot under, you’ll be able to see the search outcomes for “sunglasses for men”.

google search ads click through rate increasegoogle search ads click through rate increase
Google Search Ads with the highlighted search question

Of these four advertisements, solely 2 advertisers (#2 & #four) leverage the key phrase in the Headline. Warby Parker even makes use of the phrase three occasions!

Also, discover how the search question is bolded in the advert, this will get extra consciousness.

Ad #1 doesn’t point out something about males. This will harm their CTR which impacts the high quality rating and requires them to pay dearly for that #1 spot.

The second purpose the CTR can go up is that you simply’re in a position to tackle the intent behind a search question.

If somebody is on the lookout for “flexon garden hose review”, you realize that they’re nonetheless making up their thoughts about this particular product.

Your advert may tackle this in a few alternative ways in the copy of your advertisements:

  • High-Quality Garden Hose
  • Specifications and evaluations.
  • Large collection of high model backyard hoses.

This enhance in CTR sends constructive alerts to Google and can enhance your high quality rating over time.

2. More Control Over Your Bids

Because you’ve damaged out each vital key phrase and match sort in your marketing campaign, you’re in a position to set a particular bid for them.

You may, for instance, see that a broad match modified key phrase is outperforming its precise match counterpart. This setup lets you alter your bid accordingly.

In some industries, like dietary supplements, CPCs can go into the $5-10 vary. Then you want all of the management you’ll be able to to ensure your funds is spent successfully.

three. Easy to Learn and Teach

When it involves optimizing your campaigns, what to do subsequent is often fairly depending on the precise scenario.

The SKAGs strategy is rather a lot simpler. You can comply with a guidelines on when to separate out additional key phrases and go about your day.

That makes it straightforward to show, particularly in an company setting the place you need most of your Google Ads consultants to comply with an identical strategy.

That’s why I believe this performed a big issue contributing to the recognition of the SKAG technique.

The Downsides of Single Keyword Ad Groups

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The SKAG technique has a few apparent downsides:

  1. Creating Single Keyword Ad Groups is Time-Consuming
  2. Hard to maintain an outline
  3. Slower advert testing
  4. Low search quantity warnings cripple your marketing campaign

1. Creating Single Keyword Ad Groups is Time-Consuming

Setting up your Google Ads marketing campaign with a SKAG strategy takes loads of time, particularly you probably have a whole lot (and even hundreds) of key phrases in your Google Ads account.

First, you’ll must duplicate and tweak all of the totally different advert teams and key phrases.

What is tougher is creating particular advertisements. Ideally, you create 2 advertisements to check in every advert group and for extra common key phrases three.

That is usually a gradual course of, though there are methods to maneuver quicker, particularly when beginning out.

2. Hard to Keep An Overview

Similar to the issue in the earlier part, if the variety of advert teams will increase, it may be laborious to maintain an outline of your SKAG marketing campaign.

Also, you probably have a whole lot of advert teams, every has its personal advert and search phrases report back to preserve observe off. (And act on).

This will not be insurmountable, however these accounts look scary if you open them. This is usually a massive draw back for learners.

three. Ad Testing takes longer

The extra advert teams you’ve got, the extra your site visitors quantity can be unfold amongst them.

That means it should take longer to see which advert performs higher.

One advert group with ten key phrases that get 1000 clicks a month will present outcomes rather a lot faster in comparison with a marketing campaign that has the identical 10 key phrases in 10 totally different advert group.

four. Low search quantity warnings cripple your marketing campaign

This isn’t a lot a draw back as it’s an incorrect software of the strategy.

If you’re a bit too enthusiastic with creating new advert teams, you may find yourself with key phrases that present the standing: “Low search volume”.

google ads low search volume keywords SKAGsgoogle ads low search volume keywords SKAGs
Keywords with “Low search volume” standing

This is standing appears innocent, however right here is what Google says about it:

Keywords marked as “Low search volume” are related to little or no search site visitors on Google (…) For this purpose, Google quickly makes these key phrases inactive in order that they don’t set off your advertisements.

This successfully implies that you gained’t present advertisements for that particular key phrase, which ends up in a variety of wasted effort.

The means round that is to not get too granular. Only break up off key phrases into their very own advert teams in the event that they get at the very least 20-30 searches per thirty days.

Are Single Keyword Ad Groups Still Relevant in 2019?

The downsides I discussed above have at all times been there, however the SKAG technique has taken off nonetheless.

But in the final couple of years, Google has made many adjustments which have had a severe affect on single key phrase advert teams.

The extent to which these adjustments have made this technique ineffective is a scorching matter in the Per Per Click neighborhood.

The core of SKAGS (deal with growing the CTR) nonetheless make sense, however the strategy must be tailored to the present panorama.

So in this part, we’ll dig into what has modified and easy methods to adapt the SKAG technique to make use of this strategy effectively in Google Ads.

Evolving Keyword Match Types

Keyword match varieties are the core basis of Google Search Ads.

They might sound easy, however over the previous few years, there have been many adjustments to what these match varieties truly do.

Let me get you up to the mark with a small overview.

2014: Google introduces shut variants

These shut variants are search phrases which can be related, however not an identical to your key phrases.

Examples for shut variants embody misspellings, singular or plural types, stemming, abbreviations, and accents.

A seek for “garden hose” would additionally set off advertisements for “garden hoses”. This meant that creating particular advert teams for singular and plural key phrases was ineffective.

2017: Expanding precise match

The shut variants replace already broadened the that means of actual match that means, however Google didn’t cease there.

Next, they added reordered phrases and the addition or elimination of perform phrases.

That meant that [light blue jeans for men] and [mens jeans light blue] would set off the identical search phrases (and basically are the identical key phrases).

2018: Synonyms and intent come to precise match

At the top of 2018, Google expanded the precise match sort even additional.

From then on, precise match key phrases may additionally set off advertisements for synonyms and paraphrases AND searches with the identical search intent.

Two examples of that:

  1. robotic garden mower price = robotic garden mower worth
  2. backyard hoses = water hoses

2019: Synonyms and intent come to phrase and modified broad match

Unsurprisingly, all of the adjustments almost about precise match have been rolled out to the opposite match varieties.

These adjustments have elevated the variety of impressions and clicks for many advertisers, which has resulted in more cash for Google.

For retailers utilizing the platform, it has develop into tougher to regulate for which searches your advertisements will present up.

The Consequences For SKAGs

All of those adjustments have made it tougher to get a single key phrase advert teams proper. Here are the issues I’ve seen in my very own campaigns.

Messy Campaigns

The promise of single key phrase advert teams was readability over which advert is matched with which search question.

The adjustments mentioned above have made issues rather a lot messier.

Having a number of advert teams which can be in a position to present for a similar search queries implies that you’ve simply created extra work for your self.

Google will see the key phrases as duplicates and it will likely be laborious to foretell which key phrases will match with the search time period and likewise what bid to affiliate with that.

So whereas your key phrases and advert teams don’t compete with each other (nor do they drive up the worth), it simply makes it rather a lot tougher so that you can handle the campaigns.

Negative Keywords Can Starve Your Campaigns

With the SKAG strategy, you break up off search queries with first rate volumes to their very own advert teams.

Then you add that key phrase as a destructive key phrase to the unique advert group to stop the previous advertisements exhibiting up.

One drawback I’ve run into with extremely granular campaigns is that this filtering isn’t working as anticipated, which resulted in the general variety of clicks happening.

If you’re focusing on excessive quantity key phrases, you won’t discover the distinction.

But for these key phrases that get 20-30 searches a month, too many destructive key phrases can actually starve the account.

Problems with Budget Allocation and Optimization

A brand new argument in opposition to SKAGs in mild of Google’s adjustments is said to funds allocation optimization.

The argument is that in the event you go too granular with skagging (having a whole lot and even hundreds of advert teams in a marketing campaign), your funds will get unfold too skinny.

If you utilize one of many automated bidding methods, Google has a tougher time leveraging its algorithm to resolve what adjustments to make.

I haven’t seen this in my very own experiments, however it’s one thing that I carry on my radar.

The IBAGS Strategy

After declaring all the failings in the SKAGs technique, I’m lastly going to carry some solutions 😎

I’ve been utilizing the SKAGs strategy as quickly as I heard about it. But on account of all of the adjustments talked about earlier than, I’ve tailored my strategy as properly.

This is what has led to the IBAGS or Intent-Based Ad Groups Strategy.

What are Intent-Based Ad Groups (IBAGS)?

The IBAGS strategy takes what labored with the SKAGS strategy and adapts to the altering panorama.

The greatest distinction is shifting the focus from key phrases to intent.

google ads campaign structure intent based ad groups ibagsgoogle ads campaign structure intent based ad groups ibags
Introducing the IBAGS Strategy

Instead of specializing in key phrases, we create looser advert teams that mix key phrases with the identical intent.

Matching a searcher’s intent implies that our advertisements tackle what a searcher is attempting to perform.

Someone trying to find “garden hoses price” or “garden hoses cost” is price-conscious. And our advertisements must have a solution to that.

That means we are able to’t focus blindly on the variety of clicks in the search phrases report, we’ll want to really perceive 😱 what an individual is on the lookout for and whether or not or not that intent is already addressed in our construction.


Before I present you easy methods to implement this technique in your campaigns let’s see how intent-based advert teams stack up in opposition to single key phrase advert teams.

Ad testing Hard Easy
Adapted to 2019 key phrase match varieties No Yes
CTR High Medium
Difficulty to study Easy Medium
Negative key phrases Tons Moderate
Granularity Extreme Medium
Future proof No Yes

How to Create Intent-Based Ad Groups

With all this idea behind us, it’s time to get cracking.

In what follows, I’m ranging from scratch. If you have already got campaigns working, the strategy under nonetheless works fantastic however you will have to adapt it right here and there.

1. Seed Keywords: Foundation

No matter which marketing campaign construction you’re utilizing, you continue to want to begin out with key phrase analysis. (Not going to cowl it right here in element, so go take a look at that article!)

These seed key phrases will populate your preliminary advert teams.

I often go fairly deep with my key phrase analysis, however then gained’t use all the key phrases that I’ve discovered.

I at all times attempt to create advert teams for the classes, manufacturers, and product degree, if the search quantity on the key phrases permits for that.

Here is a fast and soiled examine I did for “garden hoses”:

creating intent based ad groups ibagscreating intent based ad groups ibags
Creating intent primarily based advert teams from key phrase analysis

Just from this checklist, there’s already a tough construction rising. I’d group the key phrases in the identical coloured field into the identical advert group.

So advert group #2 incorporates: backyard hose reel and water hose reel.

Ad group #5 incorporates flexzilla backyard hose.

Further key phrase analysis would present maybe extra detailed searches for the varied flexzilla backyard hoses, these could be additional break up off (ibagged).

One factor to look out for will not be losing effort by beginning out with advert teams which have key phrases that solely get looked for 10-20 occasions per thirty days.

If these key phrases do get fascinating search volumes, they’ll present up in the search report. (I’ll present this under).

I add these key phrases with the three match forms of these key phrases.

So for instance:

  • Modified broad match: +backyard +hose +reel
  • Phrase match: “garden hose reel”
  • Exact match: [garden hose reel]

I didn’t embody the broad match key phrase in the instance. That’s as a result of it’s the least restrictive key phrase match sort, which suggests it should present for a really extensive number of search queries, one thing we’re trying to keep away from with our new construction.

Pro-tip: use the Google Ads Editor to create advert teams and advert key phrases. It’s a lot quicker and makes copy/pasting, textual content changing and spot checks rather a lot simpler.

2. The IBAGS And Bidding Strategy

Intent-Based Ad Groups aren’t very totally different from different forms of campaigns in relation to the bidding technique.

If you’re beginning out, go along with Manual CPC and set a Max. CPC on the advert group degree.

google ads ad group max cpc bids

google ads ad group max cpc bids

After your campaigns have been working for some time, you’ll get extra insights into the efficiency of key phrases and their particular key phrases match varieties in your campaigns.

Then you can begin tweaking these bids accordingly.

google ads keyword level max cpc bids

google ads keyword level max cpc bids

three. Write Ads in your IBAGs

Writing advertisements with single key phrase advert teams was fairly easy. You take the key phrase and repeat it a number of occasions in your advert.

Right now we’ve bought fewer advert teams, however they’re all grouped by intent. This implies that though the precise wording is usually a little totally different, folks trying to find these key phrases basically means the identical factor.

That means now we have to get as particular as we are able to in the advert.

Here is the method that I comply with:

Headline 1

Repeat the primary key phrase.

This makes your advert extra related to your searchers, will increase your click-through price, and high quality rating.

Since the wording of the key phrases inside the advert group adjustments barely: backyard hose vs water hose, for instance, some folks won’t notice it means the identical factor.

This may have an effect on the CTR. To keep away from this you might experiment with Dynamic Keyword Insertion:

google ads dynamic keyword insertion dkigoogle ads dynamic keyword insertion dki
Dynamic key phrase insertion in Google Search Ads

Headline 2/three

Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or differentiator. Can be one thing like “Free Shipping And Returns”.

Description textual content

The description textual content is the half the place you’ll be able to actually play into the intent.

If the key phrases comprise worth or price, discuss your pricing. If they’re class searches, point out the scale of your catalog. If individuals are trying to find evaluations, point out how folks price your product (or your retailer). If you’re writing product-specific copy, discuss the advantages and the options of the product.

Finish with a transparent name to motion (CTA) on the finish.

Display path

The show path is one other place to point out potential guests that you’ve what they want.

I often attempt to reuse the key phrases.

In this advert for “spacex posters”, I attempt to present that I’ve bought an entire class devoted to SpaceX poster:

example display path url

example display path url

In one other instance a retailer exhibits that he has the product somebody is on the lookout for:

google ads display path url

google ads display path url

As a cherry on high of the cake, be sure you equip your advert teams with advert extensions.

Pro-tip: Create at the very least two drastically totally different advertisements for every advert group, that makes it simpler to enhance your click-through price over time. Switch the advert rotation to Optimize.

Pro-tip 2: Ignore the Responsive Search Ads for now. In all my checks they’re underperforming the Expanded textual content Ads.

How to Optimize IBAGs Campaigns

As with all Google Ads campaigns, the true work begins when you’ve launched your campaigns.

Here is how I optimize my campaigns.

Digging Into The Search Terms Report

For most of your preliminary optimization work, you’ll use the search phrases report.

google search ads search terms reportgoogle search ads search terms report
Search phrases report in Google Ads

It’s in there that you simply’ll uncover new key phrases that you simply missed or didn’t come up throughout your analysis.

If there’s some quantity ( > 20 clicks in the final 30 days), add it to your current advert group.

If there’s some quantity however the intent of the key phrase is totally different, you’ll be able to break up it off into a brand new advert group.

You can then add that key phrase as a destructive to the unique advert group.


Here is the Search Terms report (of the final 30 days) for an advert group that incorporates our seed key phrase “robot lawn mower”:

  • robotic Lawn mower – 123 clicks
  • robotic garden mower worth – 42 clicks
  • husqvarna robotic garden mower – 35 clicks
  • honda robotic garden mower – 28 clicks
  • robotic garden mower evaluations – 25 clicks
  • greatest robotic garden mower – 21 clicks
  • robotic garden mower price – 18 clicks
  • electrical robotic garden mower – 15 clicks
  • robotic garden mower comparability – 6 clicks
  • husqvarna robotic garden mower worth – 5 clicks
  • robotic mowers for giant lawns – three clicks

Based on the next report, I’d make the next choices:

  1. New advert group: “cost and price” searches
  2. New advert group: “husqvarna robot lawn mower” searches
  3. New advert group: “honda robot lawn mower” searches
  4. New advert group: “robotic lawn mower reviews”
  5. Add “best robotic lawn mower” as a phrase match key phrase to the unique advert group

The different search phrases have potential, however that’s not exhibiting but.

You’ll additionally discover many destructive key phrases that you simply may wish to exclude out of your marketing campaign. You can do that as properly from the Search phrases Report.


While you’re engaged on refining your marketing campaign construction, you’ll be able to tweak your bids.

At first, your adjustments can be centered on visibility. Raising max CPCs in the event you’re not getting any site visitors, or reducing them when it will get too costly.

But as the times, weeks and months roll by, the precise gross sales efficiency will begin driving your choices.

You may get extra granular and begin to set totally different max CPCs on the key phrase degree.

Once you get a constant efficiency out of your marketing campaign, it’s value it to begin wanting into automated bidding methods like goal ROAS.

IBAGS Ad Testing

Another benefit of the IBAGS strategy over SKAGS is that advert testing goes rather a lot quicker.

If you’ve created two advertisements in every advert group, it’s best to see a transparent winner emerge after 100-200 clicks.

Pause the one which’s underperforming and create a brand new variation of the profitable advert.

If the efficiency of each advertisements (CTR and conversion price) could be very related, it’s in all probability as a result of these advertisements are too related.

Consider pausing one among them and rewriting them a bit extra drastically.

Future-Proofing Your Search Campaigns With IBAGS

Intent-Based Ad Groups are a strong different to Single Keyword Ad Groups. They shift the main focus from key phrases to intent.

This ensures your CTRs, high quality scores, and CPCs are aggressive and provides a solution to Google’s evolving key phrase match varieties.

If used proper, this strategy will enhance the efficiency of your Google Ads campaigns.

Questions? Counter arguments? Can’t wait to listen to them in the feedback 🙂

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