Single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) are a game-changer for PPC campaigns, offering a sense of control where it’s often hard to come by, Google Ads.
Done right, SKAGs can boost conversions, lower cost per click and cost per conversion, and waste fewer of your marketing dollars. Still, SKAGs are something of a controversial strategy in the PPC community. Some say they’re too time-consuming, while others warn against using the approach until you’ve built up a significant Google Ads dataset.
Here, we’ll look at why SKAGs are a strategy worth trying and how to get started with them.
What Are SKAGs?
SKAGs involve one keyword for each ad group, each with its own set of ads.
Where you’d typically have a whole list of keywords within every ad group, SKAGs only have one.
The main benefit of using SKAGs is that they offer tighter controls over your entire PPC process. See, by grouping your keywords into their own unique ad groups, you can make sure the keywords you bid on match up with the search term you end up paying for.
If that doesn’t quite make sense, here’s a visualization that shows how traditional PPC campaigns compare to their SKAG counterparts:
Why Are SKAGs So Important to PPC?
Generally, a well-executed SKAGs strategy will net you more conversions and clicks due to the close match between intent and keywords used. The logic here is that people click on ads when they’re relevant to what they put into the search bar.
SKAGs Can Boost Your Quality Score
Because SKAGs allow for better targeting, which results in more clicks, the Google algorithm will start favoring your ads over others with a less targeted approach. As Google begins to see that your account consistently delivers relevant results, you’ll start to see lower CPC rates and better placement in the SERPs.
SKAGs are Super Simple
Creating SKAG campaigns can be time-consuming if you have a lot of campaigns to set up, but the reality is that the process is just a whole lot of copy and pasting. SKAGs are really easy to set up and manage (more on that below).
It’s Easier to Write Targeted Campaigns
In the world of PPC, we talk a lot about intent and message match. This means you want the landing page to match what your searchers had in mind. The more keywords linked to an ad group, the higher the chances that some search terms won’t match up with your intended message. SKAGs allow you to create ad copy and landing pages that correspond with each keyword.
Setting Up SKAGs
We just went over the killer benefits you’ll get from using SKAGs to power your PPC strategy.
Now, we’ll dive into how to get started. Though we mentioned that SKAGs are sometimes considered time-consuming, the set-up process is super easy.
1. Identify Your Root Keyword
As you develop your PPC plan, you’ll need to focus in on what you’ll be promoting in your ad content.
A root keyword is a word or short phrase you’ll use as the center of each ad campaign. If you’re an e-commerce retailer, make a spreadsheet of all of the items you’d like to promote.
So one root keyword might be “men’s dress socks,” while another might be “women’s jeans.” Each would serve as the basis of its own ad to a landing page that matches the offer in the advertisement.
Naturally, if you have a massive catalog, you’ll need to come up with a system for mapping out keywords and landing page offers to match.
2. Set Up Your Ad Group
Once you’ve come up with some root words to target, you’ll want to apply the following match types. SKAGs mean one keyword per ad group, but you do have the option to include multiple match types for that one keyword.
Here’s a breakdown of the different match types from Google’s Help center:
Name your ad group and add the keyword of choice.
For best results, you’ll want to use the following match types:
- “phrase match”
- [exact match]
Yes, we are skipping broad match, because it will result in a high degree of something known as the Iceberg Effect. KlientBoost ran a whole post on this topic if you’d like to get into it, but the main takeaway we’d like to hammer in is that regular broad match will give you a similar result as running a 20-word ad group.
There are a couple of benefits in using all of these match types for each root word. The first is that even if someone searches for the longtail version of your root word, your phrase or modified broad match type will ensure that query triggers the appropriate ad.
The other is that leaving broad match off of the list means that you’re getting rid of irrelevant search traffic (people that aren’t interested in your offering but click anyway), which, when these people inevitably bounce away, can hurt your Quality Score.
Wait, Why Not Only Use Exact Match?
Okay, we get it. The whole concept of SKAG seems to center around an idea of 1:1. However, building a strategy around exact match alone means you’re limiting your audience size, which makes it challenging to test results, and ultimately, drive more traffic to your website.
As such, sticking to the exact match, broad match (modified), and phrase match stack strikes a perfect balance between specificity and visibility.
Set Up Your Ads
Once you’ve established your SKAG root words, it’s time to create the actual ads. The main thing to remember here is that you want to create ads that include your keywords.
Be sure to include it in the path URL (landing page location) as well as the headline, as this helps Google’s algorithm to figure out whether your ad is relevant or not.
The second piece of the relevance equation is the landing page. Again, you’ll need to make sure that your landing page both contains the keyword used in the ad and that the messaging matches searcher intent.
Make Sure Conversion Tracking is Set Up
Conversion tracking allows you to identify how effective your ads are when it comes to generating leads, driving sales, or capturing email sign-ups. Without conversion tracking, you won’t be able to find out which ad groups are driving the most sales.
To set up, you’ll need to set a conversion action, which could be a purchase, a call, or an action on your website or inside your app.
Head over to Google’s Help page and they’ll walk you through the process of choosing an action and getting the code set up on your site.
Tracking SKAG Results
Always review your search terms reports. You can find them inside the keywords tab in the Search Terms dropdown menu.
The reason this is important is that you can use this report to identify which terms are working and which ones are not. If one ad group is performing particularly poorly, you can add it as a negative keyword.
Optimizing your campaign isn’t really “a thing” when it comes to SKAGs, because of how they use the keyword match types, so there’s no need to update them with new longtail variations. Instead, do a weekly sweep to check for irrelevant search terms.
Bottom Line: SKAGs Power Performance
At Key PPC, we tend to keep our eye on the prize when it comes to getting the most ROI for your ad spend. We use SKAGs because they allow you to create extremely relevant search queries and the ability to track every single ad group down to the keyword level.
While SKAGs focus on a smaller target audience, they make it easier for PPC marketers to align ads with searchers’ behaviors and intent, reducing wasted marketing dollars and increasing audience understanding.
SKAGs are just one piece of the Key PPC strategy. Contact us today to learn more about how we help e-commerce clients drive sales by getting granular.