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You’re Doing AdWords Wrong (Here’s How to Make It Right)

Growing up, I wasn’t the type of kid who knew how to fix things. I wasn’t into cars or building tree houses and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why my Discman kept skipping (yes, it was because I was moving). But there was one thing I was amazingly good at: making Nutella sandwiches.

Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that I do my best when I play to my strengths. Google AdWords is fortunately one of them. The other is making the occasional grocery store run in a highly effective manner. Let’s just say I still know how to get the essentials.

nutella-johnathan-dane

And although I know you’re not a beginner when it comes to AdWords, I can’t tell you how many high-budget AdWords accounts I’ve seen ($100k – $500k/month) that are set up in a way that just makes me super sad.

You can optimize your landing page all you want, but if you want to get the highest ROI from your PPC campaigns, you should also be optimizing the setup of your AdWords account.

Not only will the ideas I’m about to share improve your CTRs, Quality Scores, ad positions, impression shares, chances of dating and lower your cost per click, it will also help you improve your conversion rates.

Get ready to have your mind blown.

54zhb1

Here are three AdWords mistakes that are hurting your conversion rates… and how to fix them.

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1. You’re not using single keyword ad groups

One major obstruction to AdWords performance is when people decide to bundle 10 – 20 keywords in a single ad group. Many people do this because all those keywords fit a common theme.

Sadly, it’s actually recommended by Google to do it this way within the AdWords dashboard:

adwords-keywords

What Google fails to mention is that having that many keywords per ad group can make search-to-ad message match hard to achieve.

Message match is when the search term matches with the ad, and it’s ideal because achieving it means that Google bolds your ad copy to stand out. In the split second it takes someone to decide which ad to click, yours becomes instantly more relevant.

But when you have that many keywords per ad group, you can never have a 100% message match between the keyword you’re bidding on and the ad that is being triggered to show.

If you have 10 – 20 keywords per ad group like Google suggests, you’ll end up with a situation like this:

50-to-1-Ad-Group
Can’t believe I actually found a Nutella ad.

The keywords that are pointing to this one ad could be:

  • Nutella cookies recipe
  • Nutella recipes
  • Nutella brownies recipe
  • Nutella cake recipe
  • Nutella hot chocolate recipe
  • Nutella frosting recipe
  • Nutella cupcakes recipe
  • Nutella ice cream recipe
  • Nutella crepe recipe
  • Nutella cheesecake recipe
  • Nutella recipe book
  • Nutella recipe book urban outfitters
  • Nutella recipe brownie

As you can quickly see, not all these keywords that you’re bidding on would be relevant to that one ad. In an ideal world, when someone types in “Nutella cookies recipe,” you’d want an ad that has the following headline: “Nutella Cookies Recipe.”

So how do you go about perfecting your message match? The answer is SKAGs.

What are SKAGs?

Single keyword ad groups (aka SKAGs) allow you to control the message match between the keyword and the text ad because only one keyword will trigger that specific ad.

When you only have one keyword per ad group, your best bet will be to make your ad super specific to that keyword. This means that your ad for the keyword “Nutella crepe recipes” could and should look like this:

New-Ad

The reason why this ad is better and more relevant is because you have the keyword you’re bidding on in the ad itself. Perfect message match.

Higher relevancy = higher click-through rate = higher Quality Score = lower cost per click = lower cost per conversion.

I’d recommend having at least two drastically different ads in each ad group that you test against each other that follow the format below:

Headline: Include keyword in headline
Description line 1: Talk about benefits and features.
Description line 2: Talk about benefits. Call to action!
Display URL: YourDomain.com/Keyword

When you create single keyword ad groups, your layout of targeting should start looking like this:

Keyword-Ad-variant

And when it comes to keywords and match types, try setting them up like this in each ad group:

Keyword:
+nutella +cookies +recipe
[nutella cookies recipe]
“nutella cookies recipe”

How SKAGs impact your click-through rates

Here’s an example of what happens to your click-through rates when you continually create single keyword ad groups (screenshot pulled from one of my clients’ accounts):

improved-ctr

Your click-through rate slowly starts to grow as your relevancy between keyword and ad increase.

Here’s what happens to your click-through rates when you don’t:

worsened-ctr

The multiple keywords in your ad group ultimately hurt your performance and relevancy, bringing down your click-through rates and Quality Scores (and adding more just makes it worse).

Here’s another example of a complete single keyword ad group overhaul for the entire account. Notice the spike in click-through rate and the ongoing improvement of it as well.

skag-overhaul

You may be thinking, “Well crap Johnathan! I have like, a bazillion keywords, and I use dynamic keyword insertion for almost all of my ads! I can’t do this!

200

And all I’ll say is, “Can you afford not to?”

2. You’re not focusing on ad group level negative keywords

With PPC, there’s nothing worse than not knowing what you don’t know.

Inside your AdWords account, you most likely have short tail and long tail versions of different keywords. What you may not know is that your shorter tail keywords could be stealing away impressions from your longer-more-specific-tail keywords. Usually, this happens because AdWords doesn’t know how to correlate the search term to your long-tail keyword because of the match types you’ve chosen.

This is a problem. You don’t want your newly-created SKAGs to go to waste, right?

To avoid this scenario, we’ll need to take a very close look within your search term reports and make sure that each search term corresponds with the exact same keyword.

Using ad group level negative keywords

One of the things I always strive to do is to get all AdWords accounts to have at least 25 search terms (from highest impressions and down) in a row that are pulling from the exact same keyword. When that happens, your search term report starts looking like this:

Search-Term-Report
Notice how the search terms correspond perfectly with the exact same keywords?

To make this (almost ludicrous) level of granularity happen, you’ll need to start adding ad group level negative keywords (not campaign or account level negative keywords) when there’s a discrepancy between keyword and search term. This will then prevent your short tail keywords stealing away impressions from the longer tail ones.

When you look at your search term report and see search terms that you want to show for but don’t match up exactly with the keyword that you’re bidding on, you’ll want to add that search term as an ad group level negative keyword (from the current ad group) and then create a new ad group for it.

Ensuring the right ads are being triggered to show

To make sure your keywords are triggering the right ads to show, you should frequently perform keyword diagnoses. To do this, you’ll want to be at the keyword level view within your AdWords account and click on the “Details” button and then “Keyword diagnosis.”

keyword-diagnosis

Sometimes you’ll find that negative keywords, bids that are too low or internal competition are preventing certain keywords from triggering corresponding ads. No matter the source of the problem, identifying the issue gives you the information you need to optimize your ads and make them hyper-relevant.

As you continue to do this over time, your Quality Scores, click-through rates and average ad positions will start going up because you’re granulating and improving relevancy.

3. You’re not using dynamic keyword insertion

Now that you’ve done your part on the AdWords side, it’s time to start capturing the traffic on your landing pages. Remember the day you created landing pages for every single keyword? No? I sure do.

Well, luckily, you may never have to go through that.

With dynamic keyword insertion, you can essentially take any text on the landing page and change it out with what you specify in the URL parameters. This allows you to create one landing page around a service or product theme and then change the headlines and calls-to-action to fit the keyword that the visitor searched for.

This will also have a positive impact on your landing page Quality Scores as Google sees that your page is very relevant to the keyword you’re bidding on.

With dynamic keyword insertion in place, your PPC funnel could essentially look like this:

Keyword-Ad-LP
By the way, that’s a horrible landing page. No call to action at all. What is that? A parchment?

A PPC funnel structured like this results in ads and landing pages that are extremely relevant to what people are searching for. Here’s that magic equation again:

Higher relevancy leads to more conversions

This trifecta of strategies will make ads more relevant to your leads and will result in increased conversions. It’s a win-win.

SKAGs, ad group level negative keywords and dynamic keyword insertion work together to improve the relevancy of the ads seen by your visitors and give visitors a consistent experience.

Combined, these three steps will make your AdWords campaign optimization efforts more accurate than a Stormtrooper trying to do its own laundry.

stormtrooper-laundry

So there you have it: a brand new way to structure your AdWords account. I’d love to hear how your initial tests go.

Do you think this will help with your PPC performance? Why or why not? Please comment below!

— Johnathan Dane


nutella-johnathan-dane

About Johnathan Dane
Johnathan Dane is the founder of KlientBoost, a California-based PPC agency that's on a mission to grow companies. He's been interviewed by Google and has a German Shorthaired Pointer named Tanner. Connect with him on Twitter.
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Comments:

  1. www.guzelcilt.org

    Thank you very much,I think this is the best free strategy I ever read.Thank you for your sharing.
    On my site I sell only one product,I will use your advice.You think I should do otherwise?
    Thank you .

    (-1)
    Reply
  2. Pim

    Dead Johnathan,

    In 2014 I’ve read this post and took notes. Because of my notes I could search back to your post. My question is: Is this strategy still relevant today?

    Did you update the post along the way?

    Thanks in advance. Really like how you structure everything.

    – Pim

    (1)
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    • Pim

      Whoops, should’ve been DEAR Johnathan. Sorry about that :’)

      (1)
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      • Johnathan Dane

        Still as relevant as ever :)

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        • Pim

          Hi Johnathan. Thank you for your reply.

          What I also notice is the following.

          AdWords is telling me that my bid on keywords is too low to show my ads on the first page in the serps. But I see my ads in Google and I receive views and clicks.

          So, like what you said already, you have to take Google’s advice with a large grain of salt.

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          • Gosu

            Hi,

            very interesting article, thanks for that.

            One Question: I’m currently searching for information regarding same keyword, with different match-types in the same adgroup. I used to do it like you suggest: exact, phrase, bmm in the same adgroup. The main reason I did it this way was, that once someone told me that Google ranks relevance like this: exact>phrase>bmm

            A few days ago, someone else told me that keyword match type has no impact on quality score/relevance whatsoever… and suggested that it would be more/most beneficial to build seperate adgroups for exact/phrase/bmm keyword (this is super granular of course, but hardly feasable for multiple clients with big adwords structures).

            Perhaps you can clear things up.

            Thx&Regards,
            gosu

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            • Bill

              I JUST read the same thing and I am now slightly confused. The article I read even suggested using negative exact match for the phrase match ad group. Ex:

              Ad Group #1:
              [fix golf swing]
              [golf swing fix]
              etc.

              Ad Group#2
              “fix golf swing”
              -[fix golf swing]
              -[golf swing fix]

              Is this necessary or even helpful?

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  3. Nicolas Colombres

    This article should be in the front page of Google Adwods official page. Google sometimes “sells” a fish that is not true.

    Thanks for this awesome insights/tips.

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    Reply
  4. panthomas

    Nice writing, good stuff! Thanx!
    I am wondering why do you set 3 different match types for each keyword. Does it help anything or is it just for testing purposes and you eventually leave just one after while?

    (0)
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    • Johnathan Dane

      Thanks man :)

      Eventually you will start refining all ad groups and extracting search terms to create new ad groups and then adding ad group level negative keywords.

      If you start with single keywords with just one match type, then you’re limiting yourself with less impressions to begin with. Over time, the 3 keyword match types will basically become more and more exact match search terms.

      :)

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      • Marib

        Hi Jonathan!
        Then aren’t different match types within an ad group competing with each other?

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        • Guido Pettinari

          Hi Jonathan! I have the same doubt as Marib: don’t you risk that the PM & BMM will cannibalize your exact match? Or maybe you just let it run for a few days and then refine? Thanks!

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  5. Brian

    Wow great article!

    There is one thing I can’t seem to grasp.
    How do you know when or where to place a keyword as a negative?

    I have one keyword phrase (kw) I use in a broad match modifier (BMM) and it’s in every variation of other kw’s imaginable supplied by the BMM. Now, do I want to add a suggested kw from adwords in the BMM to the negative list in the BMM to force Adwords to place it in Phrase or Exact match? Or do I manually break it out and place it there myself? Or do I wait until it’s in all three ad groups and negative list the one’s that aren’t performing in their respective ad groups?

    This is the area that’s unclear in all the articles I’ve read. Yours however is the closest answer I’ve seen.

    Regards,
    Brian

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Thanks Brian! :) Let me see if I can answer that for you in a clear and easy way.

      In this example of SKAGs, you never want to add any additional keywords to an ad group. Each ad group should always have this keyword setup:

      +nutella +recipes
      “nutella recipes”
      [nutella recipes]

      The only thing you should do is add negative ad group level negative keywords to this ad group.

      Let’s say your search term report shows that after ‘nutella recipes’ the next highest popular search term is ‘nutella cake recipes’.

      Because the ad group of ‘nutella recipes’ originally triggered the ad to show for the search term ‘nutella cake recipes’, you’ll want to add the word ‘cake’ as an ad group level negative keyword to the ad group of ‘nutella recipes’ AND THEN create a new separate ad group for ‘nutella cake recipes’ with the same SKAG blue print:

      +nutella +cake +recipes
      “nutella cake recipes”
      [nutella cake recipes]

      Hopefully that makes it easy! :) But do let me know if you need further clarification.

      P.S. I should get Nutella to sponsor this blog post. They’re getting too much free endorsement ;)

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      • Brian

        Thank you Johnathan for that clarification!

        It all made sense after I read it and then implemented your recommendations. Very nice results. Actually, excellent results. I’m right there with my big competitors that have very deep pockets. I’ve watched them for years beat us all up in adwords real estate. Since I used your advice they haven’t budged me from my NEW rank. In fact, I out rank them 40% of the time and we all use the same highly competitive kw’s. It also has only been 3 weeks since implementing full changes.

        I must say you know your stuff and the newsletters are very informative too. I’m intrigued with your product offerings as well. If the product is as great as your advice I can’t see why I won’t be a paid subscriber in the very near future. Keep up the great work!!!

        Regards,
        Brian

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        • Brian

          Hello Johnathan,

          This article is timeless. Almost a year later and I still had to come back to re-read it AND this is the reason WHY:

          Around Feb. 18 – 24 Adwords changed the ad layout removing the sidebar ads.

          Within a week I noticed ~ EXACT match started showing up in PHRASE match and Phrase match close variants started showing up in the broad match modifier. Am I internally competing against myself? (I believe so)

          The only thing I did differently was I had paused the BROAD match modifier. Big cash burn. Then when I noticed the above happen I paused the EXACT match due to not wanting to compete against myself. Since then the EXACT match has been running a muck in my phrase match. Great CTR’s but the PHRASE match has taken a back seat to the EXACT match. But the PHRASE match does have fantastic CTR’s too. Or at least when it was just phrase matching – no exact matching in the phrase match.

          SMX 2016 people love the SKAG structure but there was a little more emphasis on KW’s having to be in its own ad group as per BROAD, EXACT or PHRASE. Was Google there and made changes so that their ROI is better by watering down your structure making us advertisers pay more? Because it certainly isn’t in favor of my ROI at this time.

          Or did I miss something else here? My KW’s are highly coveted in my industry. Could it be that Google is trying to make us compete harder to up the CPC cost?

          Has google become biased to allowing the SKAG structure?

          I have my structure exactly the way you layed yours out. Been running it for 9 months straight with trimming the fat for high relevance. QS is 8/10 and 10/10 BUT most importantly the CTR is up 300% – 700% – astounding results.

          Have you seen any changes in your accounts as outlined above for Google slipping in these Mis-matches?

          Thank you for your time.

          Regards,
          Brian

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  6. Chrissie

    Brilliant, very easy to follow article. A novice to this and hate to ask you to do my work for me, but my head is starting to hurt and you seem rather accommodating. I’ve done exactly what you said: I have 3 Ad Groups with the following, however I am still getting conflicts – triggering other ads. Can you spot anything obvious?

    +sylvanian +families +sale
    [sylvanian families sale]
    “sylvanian families sale”

    +sylvanian +families +caravan +car
    [sylvanian families caravan car]
    “sylvanian families caravan car”

    +sylvanian +families +caravan
    [sylvanian families caravan]
    “sylvanian families caravan”

    I’ve put ‘car’ in the negative keywords for group 1 and 3 at ad level??? And an obvious rookie question, by putting ‘car’ will that affect the word ‘caravan’.

    Thanking you in advance.

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    • KlientBoost

      Hey there Chrissie :)

      You only want to put in the ad group level negative keyword of ‘car’ (broad match) in the ad group: Sylvan Families Caravan so it doesn’t steal impressions from the SKAG – Sylvan Families Caravan Car.

      No need to add it to ad group 1, and to answer your question, the negative keyword ‘car’ will not prevent ‘caravan’ from showing.

      You may have added the negatives as campaign level instead of ad group level or you have a negative keyword list in your shared library that is preventing your ads from showing when doing a keyword diagnosis.

      Hope that helps :)

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  7. Qaz

    Great overview John, sometimes people over complicate Adwords but from an account strategy point of view it really is “as simple as that”

    However, it looks like Google might be directly targeting this with the recent exact match not being exact match changes!

    I do have one big issue with this strategy, I often end up with lots of low volume keywords, which can often not be healthy for your account/overall QS – how do you get around this potential issue?

    Cheers

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Qaz :)

      I wouldn’t recommend doing this for ALL your keywords (to begin with at least). Even with the campaign default setting of allowing the variants and close matches to come through, you still have just as much control as before. In fact, many of our accounts and clients are purposefully set to allow those variants.

      Even if you have low volume keywords, you’ll still see a jump in QS. I would recommend starting first with your top 5-10 volume keywords and see the results. Then you can just pour a cup of your favorite drink, turn on your tunes, and go down the list :)

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    • Pierre-André DEWITTE

      As far as I know, low volume keywords have no negative effect until they have a good QS (cross-checked information from official Adwords forums, blogs, etc.).
      Personnally, I encounter sometimes low volume keywords with a QS of 8 or even 10.
      If these keywords don’t make your average QS down, I would keep them active.
      To make sure these keywords triggers an ad impression as soon as the search volume rises, you can put them in a specific adgroup with higher auction. Even if the auction is higher that your average desired auction, as the volume is very low, it won’t cost a fortune :-)

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  8. Upenyu

    Is it true that Google is abandoning axact keyword match and will feature ads according to relevancy, mispelled words etc?

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    • Pierre-André DEWITTE

      Yes Upenyu, but when we look more closely, keyword exact match is already opt-out by default since 2012. Since 2012, when you create a new campaign, by default, you target misspelling copies, plurals, and “very similar searches”. But for now (end of september, more exactly), you won’t be able to choose.
      IMHO, it’s a good thing to automatically target misspellings and plurals (we save time), I don’t know many advertisers who really want to target specifically singular rather than plural (or vice versa).
      The only case that make me say that this change is a bad thing is the change about the delibarately vague term “other close variant” !! What is a “close variant” ?! We’ll have to be very carefully after this Adwords update, and check search termes of each our exact keyword to make sure Adwords doesn’t include some aberrant keywords in its “close variant” logic.

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  9. Adam Lundquist

    Hi Johnathan,
    This is a great article:-) First off, that headline grabbed me, second off I love Nutella, thirdly I am a big fan of SKAGS. They can be a pain to setup, but they are worth it in the long run. In my view you are getting paid to do the work (if you do this for a living) so you may as well do it to the best of your ability no matter how big a PITA it is. My questions to you is – why are you including phrase match? Doesn’t BMM basically give you everything that you need with that?
    Again great article for my Friday:-)
    – Adam

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Haha thanks Adam! :)

      You’re absolutely right about the phrase match, and many times, you’ll find that the phrase match keyword is what gets the lowest amount of impressions between the 3 match types.

      I personally like to include it because I’ve seen many times that the phrase match keyword just has a way better conversion rate than the broad match modifier (BMM). Obviously the BMM has phrase match and other broad match modified search terms, so the results are all jumbled and isn’t crystal clear.

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  10. Bahador

    Great post and I’m already seeing the boost in QS since last week! Two questions:

    So your recommended order for match types is Broad, Modified Broad, Phrase & Exact Match? Don’t you think it would be better to use the broad match in a separate campaign for keyword research?

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  11. Richard

    I’ve been using SKAGs for some time with good success. I have a couple of questions, at least for now.

    BACKGROUND: In my Adwords account, I have this structure:

    Account
    Campaign 1:
    Ad Group 1: – Broad Match (for search term mining)
    Ad Group 2: – Broad Match Modifier
    Ad Group 3: – Phrase Match
    Ad Group 4: – Exact Match
    Campaign 2:
    Ad Group 1: – Broad Match (for search term mining)
    Ad Group 2: – Broad Match Modifier
    Ad Group 3: – Phrase Match
    Ad Group 4: – Exact Match

    QUESTION 1: I understand from your very helpful post that putting the Broad match keywords and related ads into separate campaigns can help you pay closer attention to them. But, I don’t understand how the Broad Match keyword being in the same campaign with the other match types cannibalizes budget from the other match types. Wouldn’t it do the same thing being in another campaign? Maybe you’re talking about per-campaign budgets and not the account-wide budget. Please clarify this for me.

    QUESTION 2: Please explain the advantages of including the three match types in one ad group versus creating an ad group for each match type as I have been doing.

    Thanks.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Thanks Richard :)

      Answer 1)
      When it’s account wide, you’re right. When I know I can expect a certain campaign to perform a certain way and be consistent, then I choose to have the regular broad match keyword in it’s own campaign not to disrupt the other campaigns I know are solid.

      Answer 2)
      If you do it the way you mentioned, then I feel like it’s much more overkill than the ROI and time I can expect from it. You have 3x more ad groups on top of already using SKAGs plus the potential of 6x more ads you have to control and test.

      The extraction of search terms from the 3 match type SKAG has proven to be a lot less of a time commitment and faster results :)

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  12. Liana

    Hi Johnathan!

    Thank you for your post! I just set-up a campaign following your instructions & I can’t wait for the results. I also have a question : You bid for every keyword matching type differently I guess right ? In my campaign I’m bidding more for the exact matching type, middle for the phrase & less for the Broad Modifier. Thank you in advance :)

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    • Johnathan Dane

      That’s a great strategy Liana, but it won’t be a perfect bidding scenario like that across all your keywords.

      I recommend setting all the bids the same to begin with, and then when the data comes in, adjust bids according to avg position, cost per conversion, etc.

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      • Liana

        Thank you for the answer! This is exactly what happened! When the data came in I had to make adjustments. A last question :What was your campaigns’ CTR after the first week? Thank you!

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  13. Marty

    Hi Johnathan,

    This is a great post and has been extremely helpful. I have a couple of questions:
    1) Does this strategy need to be adjusted for close variants with low volumes? If you have a low volume exact match (close variant) should you add it as a negative keyword or leave it as is?
    2) I’m a little confused around phrase matches. If your phrase match is shorter tail e.g. “nutella cookies recipe”and you’re pulling in relevant but low volume phrases “nutella cookies recipe for thanksgiving” should you make those longer tail phrase matches negative keywords?

    My underlying question is, if you are pulling in low volume but relevant search terms using this strategy do you add these terms as negative keywords or leave them as is (since you don’t add any new keywords with this strategy)?

    Thanks!

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey there Marty! :)

      1) Leave as is. ONLY build out SKAGs from search terms that have enough impression volume. Otherwise you’re just spreading yourself too thin.

      2) The only reason you add negative keywords in your example is for “ad group level negatives”. You don’t want to add them as account level negatives, since you’d be shooting yourself in the foot.

      If there’s enough impression volume over time (say, 60 days) for the search “nutella cookies recipe for thanksgiving”, then I would definitely build that out as it’s on SKAG.

      The impression volume depends on your overall account. If “nutella cookies recipe” get’s 1,000 impressions/day and ““nutella cookies recipe for thanksgiving” only gets 4 impressions/week, then I wouldn’t create a SKAG for that until I’ve taken care of higher volume search terms first.

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  14. Jon

    I get duplicate errors using the Adwords editor when adding exact and phrase match types within a group, modifier is okay because the editor allows the + symbol. Any suggestions adding all 3 match type with the Adwords editor?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      You’ll always get that yellow warning sign in AdWords Editor :) Just go ahead and ignore.

      Between you and I, it’s Google trying to stop you from saving money ;)

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  15. Amy

    Thank you, I started implementing this but in some of my campaigns it will say the ads for the particular ad group is not running because it is too similar to other ads in the campaign. So let’s use your nutella example..say I made the ad groups:

    +nutella +cookie +recipe
    “nutella cookie recipe”
    [nutella cookie recipe]

    +nutella +christmas +cookie +recipe
    “nutella christmas cookie recipe”
    [nutella christmas cookie recipe]

    I am pointing these two groups to similar or identical ads. Is this okay to do? Because Google is telling me it isn’t… It seems even separating them into different ad groups makes them still want to compete with each other

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Did you try adding ‘christmas’ as an ad group level negative keyword to the nutella cookie recipe ad group?

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      • Amy

        Worked like a charm and I am already getting click- throughs and impressions. This tutorial was a life saver! What is an address I can send you some nutella Christmas cookies to thank you?! lol

        (1)
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        • Johnathan Dane

          After getting banned from Costco from buying too much Nutella, your comment just made my day!

          1931 Newport Blvd, Suite E,
          Costa Mesa, CA 92627

          ;)

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          • Amy

            Hi John, sorry the xmas cookies didn’t come, I didn’t realize you replied with an address…they are totally coming your way!

            After implementing this I am wondering if you have any articles or know of any on how to manage a campaign set up in this way. I guess the one thing I am confused about is if a low performing ad group should be paused or removed – can a low performing ad group effect the quality score of other ad groups and keywords in my campaign?

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            • Johnathan Dane

              A low performing ad group could negatively impact the health of the overall account.

              BUT (with a huge emphasis on the “but”), you can have very low quality score keywords that still convert well (like bidding on competitor names for example) that you should not pause because of that.

              In your new SKAG that’s performing poorly, you can look into the keywords and lower bids and pause an underperforming ad variant, before you pause the entire ad group.

              You could also focus on improving conversion rates with landing page testing for example so the high cost per conversion you may be experiencing now would go away.

              I would recommend sorting your ad groups and keywords by highest cost and make your improvements one by one going down the list :)

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    • honeysoni

      if I use different maych types for same keywords

      +nutella +cookie +recipe
      “nutella cookie recipe”
      [nutella cookie recipe]

      it shows conflicts when hover to one of the keyword bubble
      saying ad not showing wiyj readon below
      ‘Another creative in the ad group was selected over this one.’

      Does it lower the quality score of other match type keyword?

      Thanks

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  16. Jamie

    Hi Johnathan

    How do you create SKAGs for keywords which use the same words in a different order?

    For example:

    Ad group 1
    +broken +widget +compensation
    “broken widget compensation”
    [broken widget compensation]

    Ad group 2
    +widget +broke +compensation
    “widget broke compensation”
    [widget broke compensation]

    The variation broke/broken shouldn’t matter as it is a close variation. But the word order does matter.

    Following your system above, both those ad groups are required. However, the BMM will compete against one another.

    In this situation, would you just remove the BMM from one ad group, so it is only in one?

    Thanks

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Most definitely :)

      You’ll find that each variation of a keyword (even plural and singular versions) have different conversion rates and conversion costs. Wouldn’t you want to be able to control the bids?

      I wouldn’t remove BMM for either ad group. If one ad group is stealing away impressions from the other, then I would add “widget broke compensation” as an ad group level negative to the Broken Widget Compensation ad group.

      Make sure you use a phrase match negative in this situation.

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  17. Aaron Bhawan

    Do the rules change regarding the number of ads per ad group when running a display only campaign?

    E.g. You’ve created 30-40 image ads of various dimensions. Should you place them all under one specific ad group (e.g. keyword targeting), with that ad group falling under your display only campaign.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      This post doesn’t really apply to the Display network, but great question :)

      I would recommend you start by using multiple display layer targeting (contextual and topics and demographics for example), then granulate your ad groups later once you see what is performing best.

      You can use the dimensions tab and the demographic overview to determine this.

      The idea of granularity still applies :)

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  18. Zak P

    This article was amazing, simple, and made me rethink my whole AdWords approach. Awesome job! Now that i’m done stroking your ego ;)…

    I wanted to know if you are creating the ad as a “Dynamic Search Ad” which will replace the Headline dynamically.

    I’m still somewhat new to AdWords, and I’m not sure if that feature needs to be enabled on each ad in order to push through the search query to the dynamic landing page?

    Awesome job and thank you for this Jonathon!

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Zak, and thank you! If I could throw in a heart-eyes emoji, then I would ;)

      Dynamic Search Ad and Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) are two different things. I think you’re talking about the latter in this case.

      To answer your question, you shouldn’t even care about DKI in the ad or on the landing page right now. Focus solely on the fundamentals and manually write out the ad headline with the keyword included (if character spacing allows).

      Once you see that working well, then experiment with DKI in the ads and DKI (also called Dynamic Text Replacement) on the landing pages .

      Hope that helps! :)

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  19. Dwayne

    I like your strategy, however for big accounts with hundreds if not thousands of keywords, this would be almost impossible to do. Groupings is the solution in my opinion…

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  20. Ravindra Reddy Chitla

    Hi Johnathan,

    It’s timely article. I have been working on search impression share and CTR’s this week.

    I got a problem, which was not even solved by google’s team. The problem is that around 50% of our keywords are conflicting with other keywords in the same or other campaigns (all the keywords that I have taken were unique). The error message is something like “this keyword is triggering ads with other keyword in xxcampaign–>xxadgroup”

    Google’s suggestion is just pause all the conflicting keywords..do you agree with that? or you got any fix?

    Thanks,

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    • Johnathan Dane

      That makes no sense for Google to recommend that!

      You’ll want to start using ad group level negative keywords to reduce the internal competition. But be careful. Once you add one negative keyword, you might find you’ll have to add multiple more simply because your short tail keyword ad groups are the ones stealing those impressions.

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      • frank

        Jonathan, can you give a few examples of the conflict that might exist and how to fix it using neg keywords in ad groups? Thanks

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        • Johnathan Dane

          Sure things Frank :)

          Let’s say you have two single keyword ad groups.

          Ad group #1 is: vanilla ice cream
          Ad groups #2 is: organic vanilla ice cream

          You’d want to add the ad group level negative keyword of ‘organic’ to ad group #1 so it doesn’t steal away impressions from ad group #2 since it’s a shorter tail keyword that will most likely get the most impressions.

          You can also take a look at some of the other comments where people had the same question you did.

          Hope that helps!

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  21. Matt Rouse

    We have been testing a very similar strategy lately and it is working, nice to have someone confirm that we were already heading the right direction! One other big jump we noticed in CTR was adding spanish to our languages, even with only english ads for areas with a large hispanic population.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      That’s awesome Matt!
      Try allowing all languages now :) You still have the filter of the language of your keywords, but you will prevent your ads from showing if the default language setting or Google domain (google.de for example) is set to something else.

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  22. Matt @Leansafes

    I’ve been wasting a ton of money on Adwords without seeing much return. So thanks for this tutorial Johnathan :)

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  23. Simon

    Great post – your idea to create negative kw lists at the regarding ad group level from results on the SERP is spot on. Great post overall.

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  24. Manuel Cobos

    Great Post, thanks Johnathan

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  25. Lidia

    Hi Johnathan!
    I have so many products, countries, campaings and KW that SKAGs are way beyond impossible for me. I’ve chosen to segment my KW in groups of the same KW including variants of the same KW, grouping them by KW not by theme.
    I use DKI on the titles and URLs to get relevance. Of course, the KWs on an Ad Group are negative in all the other groups.

    What do you think about it? Is there any better way to manage my KWs?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Lidia :)

      Yea, we’ve run into that problem ourselves as well many times. I feel your pain!

      Here’s the only thing I recommend you do: Take your top 5-10 search terms (from your search term report) and create new ad groups for them with no DKI in the ads.

      Then compare everything as before. Your DKI could already be doing just great for you, but you may be losing out on click share due to short tail search terms that result in short tail/boring ad headlines.

      If you find that this does produce better results, then you have all the proof you need to start your long journey to transform your entire account :)

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    • Iain Dooley

      The good news is that actually doing the work is very easy and hence very easily outsourced.

      Organising your campaigns like this is so valuable it’s worth paying someone to do it for you.

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  26. PK Bibi

    Well Jonathan, this was all good while it lasted.
    To spice things up, Google are throwing another spanner in the works in few weeks’ time when they make “Search Network with Display Select (SNDS)” mandatory.
    Ad groups with single phrases don’t generally tend to work well on the Google Display Network (GDN).
    What would your thoughts be on using SKAGs when this happens?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      It’s all about control.

      By not doing SKAGs (even for display), you’re giving up control by having multiple keyword triggers with the same ads. It can definitely work, just like not using SKAGs can work, just not the best way of improving performance.

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  27. Peter

    Great post John.

    I’m wondering, if the idea of this way of setting up the AdWords account is to ensure that the search term is matched with the right ad, why include any other keyword match type than exact in the ad group? Won’t using modified broad match mean that you could end up with a search term triggering an ad which doesn’t have the keyword within the copy?

    Also, within this sort of granular account set up, what would your approach be with the use of broad match keywords for looking for new opportunities?

    I work with an account with a narrow enough focus that I could manage using SKAGs across the account.

    Thanks!

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Peter!

      You’re right on point. The reason for why you would want to use broad match modifier and phrase match keywords is because it would take you 328 times longer to figure out all the exact match variants you want to bid on.

      BMM and phrase match allow to act as keyword mining tools to further create new ad groups for once you look at the search term report. That’s when you start seeing up upward sloping trend in your CTR for example.

      It’s a great idea to use regular broad match keywords once you’ve hit an impression and click ceiling with the 3 match type setup. I treat broad match keywords as pure keyword mining tools, and then extract what they might generate in the search term report.

      Keep a close eye on them though ;)

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  28. Rob

    Great post Jonathan. Luckily the accounts I manage are small enough to be able to use SKAGs. And manage the landing pages. Otherwise the Unbounce product with DKI on the landing pages is invaluable.

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  29. Marian

    Great tip indeed, well detailed, very helpful and easy to understand. Worth sharing to others. thanks…

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  30. Jon

    So….you’re one of those types with 500 AdGroups per campaign. Gross….

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    • Nick

      haha… Just 500 Adgroups?! I have created spreadsheets with over 100k Adgroups and had to split campaigns due to the Adgroup number limitations.

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  31. Mark

    Hi Jonathan,

    Do you think Unbounce’s DTR feature helps the “Landing page relevance” factor of QS?

    I’m trying to figure that out.
    Thanks!

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Mark,

      Are you talking about the dynamic text insertion feature? If so, yes, we’ve seen that work for improvement in QS.

      However, sometimes it doesn’t change the Landing page relevance portion, just because that measure is not entirely accurate. And not to mention, are very scary metric to be focused on :)

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  32. Timur

    Great article Jonathan! Thanks a lot!

    Could you please clarify for me for negative keywords.
    I have two ad groups:
    [real estate in montreux]
    “real estate in montreux”

    Second ad group:
    [real estate in montreux switzerland]
    “real estate in montreux switzerland”

    How should I add neg. keyword in ad group?
    for the first group: switzerland or real estate in montreux switzerland?

    Thanks for your answer!

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  33. Johnathan Dane

    To make it easy, you should just add the negative keyword ‘switzerland’ in the first ad group.

    Hope that helps :)

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  34. Ian

    Really sound and informative article.

    I can only really back this up.

    Since making the move to much smaller, focused and keyword targeted adgroups, conversions (and click throughs) have seen a decent level of improvement.

    Yes, it of course takes more time, but it is the results that matter, and I think it gives you more control in the long run anyway.

    Again, fantastic article.

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  35. Oksana

    I found the way to automate Google AdWords when it is really hard to create, edit, start and pause them manually. See examples here http://blog.adpwr.com/google-adwords-automation-examples-that-you-can-do-too/?utm_source=unb&utm_medium=article&utm_campaign=adwords

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  36. Metis

    thank you very much. it is very helpful.

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  37. Mandeep Hooda

    Great post Johnathan Dane, relevancy and different ads testing give you a analysis on your Adwords account. Yes, you are true 2-3 ads should be live for 10-20 keywords for best search query matching.

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  38. Popüler filmler

    thank you very much. Very nice article

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  39. Nick

    Hi Jonathan, So I’m now creating SKAGs. My question is that for my exact match ads should I use KeyWord insertion for the title or set the exact match as the Title? Will either method alter the QS?

    Cheers

    Nick

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey there Nick!

      You’ll want to have your keywords in the SKAG be exact match, phrase match, and modified broad match for the same keyword.

      Don’t use DKI for the ad headline just yet. Depending on the length of your keyword, you can add supporting words around it, in the headline.

      Let’s say you’re selling yo-yos and your keyword is ‘buy yo-yo’ – your headline could be:

      Buy Yo-Yos Right Here – as an example.

      Hope that helps!

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      • Nick

        Hi Jonathan

        Thanks for your reply. My IT people set up an access database that creates all the different variations of SKAG AdGroups and spits out a CSV so I can upload them. Currently it uses DKI for the headline with the same fallback text is the keyword is too long.

        If it’s better to match the keyword up to the headline then I can have it so the database works out if the character length of the keyword and if it’s more than 25 to use DKI and if not to only use the keyword.

        Hope that makes sense. :-)

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  40. Razvan

    Hello Johnathan,

    Thank you very much for the tip, I believe it is very helpful. Just have 1 question.

    What if you have SKAG – nutella cookies recipe -, but you have in another ad group (lets call it ad group no.2) the keyword “nutella cookies recipe for children”. Would you recommend to move the keyword “nutella cookies recipe for children” to the SKAG mentioned before?

    I am facing this current situation and I don’t know if I should add nutella cookies recipe as a negative keyword to my ad group no.2. I could only ad exact match negative keyword so I wouldn’t affect my other keywords.

    1. Add “nutella cookies recipe for children” to SKAG?
    or
    2.Add only exact match negative keyword to ad group no.2

    Thank you.

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  41. Johnathan Dane

    Yes to both :)

    But only if you’re getting enough impressions on that new “for children” keyword.
    If the search volume is low, then there’s no point going through the motions of adding it.

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  42. Nora Atanasova

    Great article, Johnathan Dane.
    What do you think of separating the keywords by match type too. For example the Modified Broad Ad Group + nutella +cookie will have as negative keywords “nutella cookie” and [nutella cookie], the ad group “nutella cookie” will have as a negative [nutella cookie].

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Nora! And thank you :D

      You’ll eventually get to that point of extracting new search terms and creating new SKAGs with them, so the answer is yes :)

      But I wouldn’t waste time doing it until the search term report tells you it’s necessary.

      Hope that helps!

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  43. David

    Thank you, Johnathan!

    I recently started with Adwords and was having a tough time trying to catch up with my competitors. I had a couple of sessions with google training team that went nowhere. it seems that many of these guys haven’t been working with google but for a few months. 10 minutes with your article and a few SKAGs later, and boom! My ads are consistently at the top of google search. Now google want’s me to increase my advertising budget because of all the potential clicks I’m missing. SKAG is the perfect solution for me considering my services are very localized, I only created a hand full. Thanks!

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  44. bruno

    Hi Johnathan, great article.
    I have one question, I did the SKAG and is working correctly, the only thing is that on the group I have the same keywords but with broad match, when I run the keyword diagnostic it says that they are excluded because of the negative keyword I put (in exact match).
    What should I do?

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  45. Johnathan Dane

    Hey Bruno! And thank you :)

    You don’t want to put the same keyword as a negative keyword in that ad group. Then you’re telling Google you don’t want your ads to be triggered if someone types in the broad match keyword as is, but only if the search term is something else (longer tail search term for example).

    Hope that helps!

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  46. Brett

    Thanks for a great article. I’ve always advocated “be as specific and relevant as possible”. You’ve made that an actionable recipe. One question about using regular Broad Match as a keyword miner. Why a separate campaign? I can think of lots of reasons myself but I’m very interested in your explanation. Thanks.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Heya Brett :)

      Two biggest reasons for a separate campaign is that it won’t cannibalize any budget from other keywords in the campaign.

      The other reason is that if it’s not a separate campaign, then I won’t sometimes remember that it’s hidden as a separate ad group and keep a close eye on it.

      Separate campaign allows me to scan it from a top view when I log into an account.

      What are your thoughts? :)

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  47. Andrew

    Thank you very much,I think this is the best free strategy I ever read.Thank you for your sharing.
    On my site I sell only one product,I will use your advice.You think I should do otherwise?
    Thank you .

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  48. Chad Musgrove

    Everything you said makes perfect sense, but I was dreading going through and doing it as I typically set my Campaigns by the cities (so I could write ads relevant to each city) and a lot of my accounts have more than 10 campaigns each with 10+ adgroups (broken down by the service). My current strategy works well with most of my accounts – resulting in above average CTR’s and Conversion Ratio’s however I have a plumber in a major city and the CTR’s have been abysmal to date.

    We are not targetting general plumbing jobs / terms, so that helps. We are targetting Hydro Jetting, Sewer Replacements and other high paying jobs.

    I am going through now and setting up my SKAGS for each as you outlined and realized that this is not as daunting of a task as I originally thought. I can just setup the SKAG in 1 of the campaigns and then copy / paste the ad’s and the keyword’s into all the other campaigns! :)

    Thanks for the pointers (and your willingness to share them.) I’m excited to see the results of this work. (not to mention that the customer is more than willing to double his budget if I can get the ROI! ) :)

    Regards

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    • Johnathan Dane

      That’s flipping amazing Richard! :D

      Not sure if you use AdWords Editor, but that would save you some time as well. And to take it one step further, you can export everything via CSV and work some Excel magic to make it even quicker. Just pay very close attention to all the changes you’ve made before you upload them.

      Also, if the keywords you’re creating SKAGs for have very low impression volume, then it might not be worth your time to keep granulating out.

      Something to keep in mind! :)

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  49. Mark

    Hi Johnathan,

    I’m torn over the use of SKAGs due to the dilution of data. Because keywords are split out so granular it can be difficult to see the data to make bidding decisions.

    If you created 100 adgroups for 100 keywords relating to Nutella and each adgroup only received 1 click, overall Nutella has generated 100 clicks. If only 1 conversion is received out of the 100 clicks, one adgroup is going to look great whilst the remaining adgroups will only have one click which isn’t really anything to write home about.

    Now if the keywords had been split in the traditional sense and all 100 keywords were put in the same group (yes I know this is stretching the boundaries for adgroup limits) you would quickly realise Nutella is converting at 1%. You can then make an informed bidding decision on this group.

    Creating an ad to suit 100 keywords would be difficult but with the use of a DKI title the ad could read;

    {KeyWord:Nutella Cookie Recipes}
    Win Back Your Husbands Love.
    Voulez-vous Coucher? Download Now!
    tellamom.com/{keyword:nutella-recipes}

    Of course a couple of draw backs with using DKI is that the keyword could be too long to fit in the title so the default keyword is shown. However I did read recently a note from Google (I’ve forgot where) that they have extended the ad title for DKI ads to 35 characters. And guess what Google finds to be the optimum search query length – correct, 35 characters.

    The other downside to DKI is head keywords ie. Nutella. The ad would suck with the title “Nutella”. A new adgroup could be created for the head term or you could just let it ride. After all, head terms aren’t the best converters so you probably won’t sweat the lower CTR.

    You could even take this a step further and change the destination URLs at keyword level, or be really smart and make the ad destination URL dynamic to link to the correct page.

    Have you noticed a considerable difference in CPC and CPA between SKAGs and non-SKAG campaigns? The image used above shows a decline in CTR for the non SKAG campaign, but were the ads using DKI?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Mark!

      Yea, you definitely wouldn’t want to create SKAGs if there’s not enough impressions or clicks behind those keywords. If you can’t be actionable behind the data, then there’s no point in having it.

      To answer your question, we’ve seen a very strong increase in performance using SKAGs compared to the non-SKAG usage before, even on the CPA and Conv/Rate side of things :)

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  50. Mary

    I use goomito marketing for my sales site because it is cheaper so I have more clients and I’m happy

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  51. Lance

    Thank for the great info, however i don’t understand your way of setting up keywords. For example: +stella +cookies +recipt will have keyword conflict with “stella cookies reciept” and [stella cookies reciept] and sometime keyword will not show. So what is the purpose of doing single keyword when you are using broad modify.

    Also it’s important to create Landing page to have your bid Keywords to be on the headline?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Lance :)

      They won’t have a conflict so to speak, but they’ll overlap each other and the search term report for each will show the search terms as they should be. There will be a conflict if you have a shorter tail SKAG like “cookies recipe” in another ad group since it could steal away impressions from the SKAG of “stella cookies recipe”.

      And using a headline with the keyword is not a bad test, but doesn’t always work :)

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  52. Colm

    HI, great article and makes for a lot of sense. Just a point of clarification on the different match types. Correct me if I am wrong but I would think that only one match type in a particular ad group would be better rather than all 4 so you can see the exact traffic for that keyword and not have it split up. I usually start with a broad match modifier and so long as I am getting an ok CTR then I will stay there. If not then I will move up to the next one, phrase match and so on to exact match. I also think a broad match modifier is the best for pulling in the long tail search terms so as to add as negatives and open new ad groups with as per your suggestion which I think is really great and vital for a successful adwords campaign. I will start implementing that as of now.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Colm :)

      You don’t want all 4 match types, just 3 (not regular broad match).

      And you’ll find that each of the 3 match types perform differently with different CPCs, different conversion rates, etc so you can bid on them differently, in the same ad group.

      If you try to create single keyword ad groups for each match type, then you’re spreading yourself too thin and will have a monster of account to try to optimize.

      Try for yourself :)

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  53. Nick Simpson

    Hi Jonathan

    Well I tried the SKAG method but it doesn’t seem to really work. We sell printers and copiers and all the various consumables so have over 4000 products.

    With my access database to generate the Campaign I took one consumable, entered the various printers/copiers it fits into, mixed into that different possible words (i.e. toner, ink, black, etc) and ended up getting 381 different keyword combinations.

    The database then creates 381 Adgroups as an exact match to those keywords.
    It then creates 381 Adgroups with those same keywords but set to phrase match.

    So I end up having an Adgroup for both the exact and phrase match of the same word. To stop any of the phrase match Adgroups from appearing when there’s an exact match Adgroup the database puts 381 negative keywords inside each of the 381 phrase match Adgroups.

    I end up with a campaign with:
    762 Adgroups
    762 Keywords
    145,161 Negative Keywords

    The reason why SKAG doesn’t work like this is that many of the keywords are flagged by Google as having a low search volume so they won’t appear (even though I think people do type these exact phrases). My phrase match Adgroup also won’t show up when that exact phrase is typed in because of my negative keywords.

    I’ve tried this method now with a dozen or so products but it’s just not working so I’ve paused everything now.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

    Cheers

    Nick

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    • KlientBoost

      Hey Nick :)

      Completely understand the frustration, and hopefully this is all you have to do:

      Look at your search term report for the past 3 months and create 5 SKAGs from the search terms that have the highest impressions.

      Keep all 3 keyword match types in one ad group (not an ad group for each match type), and then make two ads where the headline and display URL are specific to that keyword and the only thing different between the ads are description line 1 and 2.

      This will prevent you from the low search volume alert you’re getting since you have the proof that those 5 search terms have tons of potential traffic. Creating that many ad groups will always lead you to the point of diminishing returns.

      Hope that helps! If not, let’s roll up our sleeves and dig deeper into this together :)

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  54. AM

    Hi

    Thank you, this has been so helpful. I wondered if you could clarify this for me if you have time please?

    I have a product which we are advertising to 45 locations on Adwords. To use SKAGs, would I need the following Ad Groups PER keyword?:

    Keyword x BMM
    Keyword x Phrase match
    Keyword x Exact match
    Keyword [location] x BMM
    Keyword [location] x Phrase Match
    Keyword [location] x Exact Match
    The last 3 multiplied by 45 to cover each location.

    Which if I have 4 keywords, could potentially leave me with 138 Ad Groups altogether.

    Is that right?!
    Thank you
    Aimee

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    • KlientBoost

      Hey Aimee!

      First rule of thumb: Don’t create any SKAGs unless your search term report shows you which ones to create.

      It can seem daunting to potentially have to create that many SKAGs with the 3 keyword match types in each one:

      +keyword
      “keyword”
      [keyword]

      But if it works for your top 5 search terms, to then extract and create SKAGs with, then you have a reason to continue the fruitful journey :)

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  55. telef

    google has abandoned the other match type. But the choice selection for exact, phrase or broad is still there. With the latest changes what should I choose: broad, exact or phrase?

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    • KlientBoost

      Broad match modifier (BMM) is still there :)

      Just put a “+” in front of each word in your broad match keyword.

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  56. Vasil Bekyarov

    I’ve been wasting a thousands of money on Adwords without seeing result. From this article I learned a lot of things, thank you!

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  57. Jason Puckett

    One of my biggest challenges with SKAGs is running ad tests and aggregating the data across a bunch of low volume ad groups. Has anyone used AdBasis?

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  58. Filmkupu

    Thank you!

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  59. Stuart Davenport

    Really Good article – I was getting increasingly uneasy about how my different keywords were clearly taking traffic from each other which was pointed out to me by the fact that my search terms report was a complete mess and not telling me anything at all. Gives me a way to clean up and get some actionable data. Also have experimented with DKI but now have a proper way to implement it – Thanks :-)

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  60. Ashutosh Kumar

    hey Johnathan
    After reading full post i got many ideas about using keyword usage in Adwords, Actually your idea to create negative keywords lists at the regarding ad group level from results on the SERP is spot on. I thank google for such a great post suggestion actually i was worried about the low click rates , I was about to start the campaign but thought to learn some secret things about keywords. This post is overall 100% helping for me really loved this :)

    thanx

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  61. Roshan Mohnani

    Thank you Jonathan – can’t believe how much you’ve simplified this for us … can’t wait to try it out.

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  62. Ninh

    Hi.
    I want to ask is: if used, each one format skag keyword matching text will use 1 ad or keyword to your ad text 1 includes 3 types of keyword matching

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey there Ninh :)

      You’ll want to follow the recipe in the article to a T :) Otherwise it can get messy and overwhelming quickly.

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  63. Kevin

    Hi Johnathan,

    I stumbled on your article while we were overhauling our adwords campaign, and I think we are going to move forward with SKAGs. Is there any way to tell just how much google will allow your keywords to vary without live testing?

    For example, I’m trying to figure out if I should separate keywords containing “telecom” from keywords containing “telecommunications.” When I search “telecommunications,” “telecom” is always bolded in the search results. But when I search “telecom,” “telecommunications” is not bolded.

    Oddly enough it seems like “telecommunications” could include “telecom,” but not vice versa. Obviously these could very easily cannibalize each other, and with the words so close I’m afraid to use negative terms as well.

    Thank you for the great read!

    – Kevin

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Give it a shot on just a few keywords to begin with and see what happens. If there’s no search volume behind the search term that doesn’t match the keyword that triggered it, then there’s no need to create a SKAG from it.

      If there is a big difference in search volume between “telecom” and “telecommunications” then don’t worry about Google bolding anything, worry about the CTR and all other metric improvements :)

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  64. Mads

    Love this blog post! One question. Some people suggest dividing your ad groups into broad and exact keywords matches. For instance:

    Ad Group 1 – +Cheap +Computers
    Ad Group 2 – [Cheap Computers]

    What’s your take on this? I’ve been looking through the different comments, but I didn’t get a definitive yes or no.

    Mads

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  65. David

    When we are creating SKAGs you say to put all three types of search matches (+nutella +cookies +recipes / “nutella cookies recipes” / [nutella cookies recipes]), but should we also add singular/plural variations to phrase and exact matches (“nutella cookies recipe” / [nutella cookies recipe])?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      No need for that since Google automatically will show for plurals and singulars.

      If there are enough impressions for each type of keyword, then I’d recommend splitting them up in their own SKAGs and then using ad group level negatives to stop the internal competition.

      That way you have control over the bidding and can see how they differ in performance :)

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      • David

        That is true about broad search but not for phrase and exact. At least this is what google support told me.

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  66. Staffan

    Thank you for this great post! We have the issue of having hundreds and hundreds of keywords in every one of our hundreds of ad groups… I have just been assigned to manage it all and clear up the mess. I started creating SKAG’s but found that the bid is really hig for the keywords compared to the group the originated from. How is that and will the bids be lower in a few days?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      It’s most likely because the old ad groups were showing for a ton of different search terms, and maybe you were using regular broad match in the old ad groups?

      That could be the reason for why as you saw an avg CPC on a bunch of different search terms in the past, and now you’re being more focused and hence, the competition is higher for that keyword.

      Not to worry though, if it is a keyword you want to bid on, then focus on improving the CTR to drive the quality score up and the avg CPC down. But more importantly, start improving the conversion rate on the landing page so you can easily afford bidding more aggressively in the near future :)

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  67. Richard Hale

    Brian, impressive insights and great information. I manage several accounts and I use a similar strategy. I try to explain how important the landing page is and how everything relates. I’m going to point to them your article cause I’m tired of explaining it!! LOL. I couldn’t agree with you more and your extremely helpful advice. I think so many focus on one element or the other, overlooking the whole system and how the “process” works. Appreciate it all Brian, very helpful!

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  68. Garry

    Johnathan, great tips for me as I’m new to this PPC game. I’ve gone ahead and set up all of my campaigns with the structure you recommended, and I seem to be getting a fair number of impressions, which must be good!! I’m only 2 days in, so still early days. My question – I’m guessing there is no numerical limits to the number of ad groups in each campaign, and would you recommend ALL ad groups are constructed in this format?? I have nothing to compare against so I have no guage as to whether I have got it right.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Garry :)

      And thanks for asking.
      You’ll want to allow your impressions from your search terms dictate whether or not you create new SKAGs for them.

      If you’re only getting 5 impressions a month on that keyword, then it may not be worth spending time on, compared to for example of optimizing your landing page instead.

      The goal with SKAGs is to have a rock solid foundation and blue print so you can set it up to begin with, and then start the a/b testing on the landing page side :)

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  69. Gideon

    Hi, great article! A question that came to me: Is the quality score (or ad relevance) influenced by whether my keyword appears in the headline or in one of the description lines?
    Thanks!

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Great question Gideon :)

      We’ve seen that your keyword is better off to be in the headline because people sometimes take a quick second to click on the first ad without reading all 11 ads on Google completely before they click.

      This then helps giving your a stronger click-through-rate which is the biggest part of a great quality score.

      So to answer your question: Keep the keyword in the headline.

      But never say never. Try both, or mix it up and see for yourself.

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  70. Andy

    What if I have a long tail keywords of more than 25 characters, So how to add them in Title to have relevancy and also If I have more than 35 characters and I concluded the Keyword in both description lines 1 & 2 and still not getting relevancy..

    please give the way,

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    • Johnathan Dane

      You’re going to have to take the most important part of that long tail keyword and include it where you can.

      Sometimes we splice up the long tail keyword and use part of it for the headline and the other part for the display URL or the description lines :)

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  71. Ben

    Awesome article! I have yet to embark on my first PPC campaign (about to within probably a few days). Glad I found this John it makes a whole lot of sense. Thank you for sharing this.

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  72. Harish

    Great article, really this article help me lot start my first adwords campaign. I am very confuse that how many keyword should i us for single ad but now i got the things.

    John can you help me to choose first ad title for my first ad ? My website give online flight ticket booking service.

    Thanks in advance

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Depends on what keyword is in your ad group :)

      If the keywords are:
      +online +flight +booking
      “online flight booking”
      [online flight booking]

      Then your ad headline and display URL should include: Online Flight Booking

      With an extra word or so before or after the keyword in the headline and display URL if you have room :)

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  73. Escortmob

    Thank you very much.

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  74. Ryan

    This is a great post, and these strategies will absolutely work well with higher volume campaigns with a lot of traffic where you can create SKAGS based on very measurable results on specific keywords.

    What about with lower volume, local campaigns? I find that exact match, and even phrase match rarely generates any traffic. In fact, the vast majority of my volume comes from BMM or pure broad match, even. Of course, aggressively adding negatives is required, but this seems to be the only way to get any volume.

    Of course, because a lot of this traffic is less qualified, it doesn’t convert well, so I find myself reducing bids pretty significantly to keep CPA in line.

    Do you still feel that the strategies outlined in this article apply to lower volume local campaigns, or to verticals with very little traffic generally, where a certain number of keywords are regularly generating the majority of your conversions?

    Thanks!

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Yes, absolutely! You’ll want to consider multi intent keywords instead of using regular broad match then. See my webinar on it here: http://grow.kissmetrics.com/webinar-105

      You may be in a position where you have to balance high volumes of low quality traffic with low volumes of high quality traffic.

      I would prefer the latter and then focus my time and efforts on improving the conversion rates on my landing pages :)

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  75. Jon

    Great post Johnathan, If you have very similar keywords would it be just as effective to place them those into one ad group theme like the example below, and use just the common keywords (nutella cookies) for the headline and display URL?

    EXAMPLE AD GROUP THEME 1:
    +nutella +cookies +chocolate
    “nutella cookies chocolate”
    [nutella cookies chocolate]
    +nutella +cookies +oatmeal
    “nutella cookies oatmeal”
    [nutella cookies oatmeal]
    +nutella +cookies +vanilla
    “nutella cookies vanilla”
    [nutella cookies vanilla]

    Then the 2nd ad group theme might be something like “nutella recipe”.

    Thanks!

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Thanks Jon :)

      “Themes” are extremely dangerous, and you want to avoid them at all costs. You will find much better success with creating SKAGs with each of those specific keywords in their own with corresponding headline and display URLs.

      Btw, why aren’t Nutella cookies a thing?! Your comment is making me extremely hungry for dessert right now lol

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      • Jon

        Lol, well you started, and I just had some brownies so it sound like a good example at the time. Thank you for the explanation and fast reply.

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  76. David Saba

    What if you are bidding for a highly competitive term.

    For example, in my case im bidding for “Sell My House Fast”, all my competitors are using the same title in their ads “Sell Your House Fast”.

    Is it still smart to use your keyword in the title of your ad, or is it better to break with the pattern, so your ad gets clicked more?

    I feel that if I break the pattern, my ad might get more clicks since it looks different. Do you think this is true, or should I just try to outbid my competition?

    In my example, I’m saying “Instant Cash Offer” in the ad title, and to stay relevant, I include my main keyword, “Sell your house fast” in the first or second line of the body of the ad.

    My goal is to generate as much qualified traffic to my website, needtosellmyhousefast.com

    Also, what do you guys think of my landing page: http://www.needtosellmyhousefast.com/cash-offer

    I made it very lightweight so it loads fast on mobile.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey David!

      If that’s the case then I would definitely recommend switching things up like you mentioned. Looks like your competitors also read this post ;)

      Keeping the keyword in the description would be the next best thing to still stay relevant.

      In regards to your landing page, you’d get a lot better performance if you did a two step form instead of the one step you have now.

      You can read about that strategy here: https://klientboost.com/cro/multi-step-landing-pages/

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  77. Simon Hill

    One of the issues with this is that there are certain requirements around ad group volume to have some of the Adwords features work.
    Like Google call tracking for example. They will only bother swapping out your original number for a Google forwarding number on ad groups which meet a minimum threshold for traffic and impressions. If all your adgroups are SKAG’s, theres little chance these features will ever fire in your accounts.
    Also writing new ad copy once a month for over a 10,000 adgroups (say for ecommerce campaign) can be tiresome.
    Another downside is your Ad creative A/B tests will take a lot longer to reach statistical relevance, so how quickly you can improve ad copy will be limited.

    While it’s a great idea, I dont think it is always required as a best practise. All things are a trade-off.

    Phrase and broad match we don’t even bother with anymore. The only time we use phrase and broadmatch is in negative lists where they make sense.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Simon :)

      Actually never ran into that situation, is that an Australian thing?
      Also, you would never want to continue to build out SKAGs when it comes to diminishing returns. Only focus your time on the keywords that actually give you volume.

      The new ad copy testing should actually be quicker and easier to test. If you follow the recipe above, then you’ll get faster results since you can run the same test in multiple ad groups at a time.

      We still use this recipe for high volume accounts and have never found the upside be less than the downside, but like you said, there are never any absolutes :)

      Thanks for chiming in!

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  78. outbound batam

    Great post Johnathan

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  79. Joyce

    Hi Jonathan,

    Great Article!

    I have question that I know you can answer quickly.

    I am now using your SKAG strategy, but I am not sure if I am doing it right when adding a negative keywords. Within an ad group search term, I excluded or added a whole search term as an exact match negative keyword, then created a new ad group for that same search term.

    Thank in advance.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      You’re doing it right :)

      You just want to make sure you’re adding the negative keyword as an ad group level one.

      You have 3 options on where to add negative keywords. They are:
      – ad group
      – campaign
      – negative keyword list

      Always choose the ad group level when extracting :)

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  80. Vineet

    Very nice info. I would like to prefer it. Thanks for providing.

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  81. Chris

    Great article! I am new to adwords but want to try your method. Could you explain or show me exactly what you me by +keyword +keyword2 [keyword keyword2] “keyword keyword2”. How exactly will this look in my adwords when I implement this?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Chris :)

      Each ad group you have will simply have the same keyword, but 3 different match types. Let’s say you’re selling balloon animal services, your keywords will look like this in your ad group:

      +balloon +animal +person
      “balloon animal person”
      [balloon animal person]

      Hope that helps :)

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  82. Hdfilmcix

    Chocolate so much eh. I Pyrid who loves to shop at the store. But I do not recommend to consume products that contain so much sugar. unhealthy

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  83. Emily

    Hey,

    Thanks for this really helpful article. I was just wondering how granular the SKAGs should be. For instance, if I want one SKAG to be “Car Rental NYC” would it be OK if the keywords in that single ad group included the following: “Car Rental in NYC”, “Car Rentals NYC”, “Car Rentals in NYC”.

    Thanks,
    Emily

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Emily :) And thank you!

      You should get as granular as you can, until you see that you’ve reached a point of diminishing returns.

      Remember that search visitors decide in a split second which ad to click, so I would recommend you give those keywords you mentioned their own SKAGs and see how it goes.

      You can always split test and come back and let us know the difference in performance ;)

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      • Emily

        Thanks for your quick response! I will get granular then. Was also wondering what your opinion of “Callouts” was? I feel like they may distract the user from the precisely relevant messaging of each ad, but on the other hand, I see that a lot of people claim that they boost CTRs.

        Thanks.

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  84. Sam

    Johnathan,

    Awesome article! I have 2 questions, if you don’t mind:

    Say you are just setting up your first campaign (10 keywords) and you pick the top 5 words or so to do SKAGs based on volume.

    blue widgets
    best blue widgets
    blue widgets software
    blue widgets program
    buy blue widgets

    I know you would have negative matches for (best,software,program & buy) in the blue widgets SKAG, but what about the other keywords I am targeting. For instance, my 6th and 7th keyword may be “blue widgets sale” and “purchase blue widgets” Would I go ahead and add “sale” and “purchase” as negative keywords or wait until I review the report in 30 days and then separate them out?

    Also, how do you typically setup your bidding for BMM, phrase and exact when using this strategy in a new campaign? I assume you want to keep the BMM lower so you don’t blow through your budget?

    Thanks!
    James

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    • Johnathan Dane

      I would actually wait for the search term report to show the discrepancy before I add any ad group level negatives :) That way you don’t have to deal with a dreaded spiderweb every time you create a new SKAG.

      And I would keep all the bids the same to begin with, and then let your CPA numbers tell you what to do from there.

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  85. Tim

    Hi

    i have a campaign going at the minute with 3 ad groups and it goes as follows;

    ad group 1 – same day courier leeds
    +same +day +courier +leeds
    “same day courier leeds”
    [same day courier leeds]

    ad group 2 – same day courier barnsley
    +same +day +courier +barnsley
    “same day courier barnsley”
    [same day courier barnsley]

    ad group 3 – same day courier barnsley
    +same +day +courier +rotherham
    “same day courier rotherham”
    [same day courier rotherham]

    now when i use the ad preview and diagnosis tool everything shows unless i try to search for a broad match modified version of Rotherham, so if i search for same day uk courier rotherham it cannot show and says its due to other keyword stopping it. but it does not do this on other 2 ad groups, why could this be?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      The ad preview and diagnosis tool is notoriously buggy. More importantly, are all your match types getting impressions inside AdWords?

      If not, then don’t be afraid to physically search for your ad on Google. You can afford an extra impression :)

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  86. Jon

    Post on October 18, 2015 has been resolved, just ignore the errors. I do have anther question though. After uploading all 3 match types I noticed that the exact match “first page bid estimate” is quite a bit higher than phrase and bmm. So will being below first page bid on all of the exact terms have any negative impact on my campaign?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      I’d care more about your average position for those exact match keywords, are they below first page? If so, then I’d increase my bid.

      But most of the time you’ll get those warnings even if your average positions is a 1.3.
      Safe to ignore.

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  87. Andres

    Thank you for these tips. Also is very useful to use Matching Types and Automated Rules. Using easy tool I succeed to increase clicks and conversions for several times http://adwordsgenerator.com/
    What do you think about this method ?

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  88. Sam

    I got my SKAGs created, but my quality score is still 5/10 even with perfect message match.

    I get above avg for both landing page experience & ad relevance, but it says my expected click through rate is below average. Is this just Google’s way of telling me I need to raise my bid? I am biddingg enough to be on the first page, avg position is around 3.

    Am I missing something?

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  89. Gav

    Hi, love the article and and just about to test it…

    My main keyword is ‘architectural visualisation’ I’ve been paying as high as £6 per click just to get near third place..

    I obviously didn’t keep it there long and have reduced it now below first page bid as at those costs it just isn’t sustainable for me as a one man operation.. I’ve spent near £150 in a very shirt time and haven’t had one inquiry thus far.

    I know and expect low volume, but im hoping that if i adapt to this method perhaos it might suit my needs better?

    Many thanks for the article and hopefully some short advice to help my situation.

    Best regards

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    • Johnathan Dane

      It should allow you to pay less per click and thus get more clicks from your daily budget.

      If you know your search terms are solid and you’re getting at least 10 clicks/day from your PPC campaigns, then look to your landing pages. Change your offer, lower the threat. There are tons of things you can do there.

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  90. andy

    If you are creating single keyword adgroups, why are you doing keyword insertion? Keyword insertion solves the problem you bring up in #1. If you create tightly related ad groups and use keyword insertion you can save your account from becoming a mess. Also how many small businesses have the budgets to be spending time on SKAGs? It’s just not efficient management and I think this type of advice is too deep down the rabbit hole for someone running their own campaigns.

    Unless you have a ton of money to spend testing ad copy and landing pages behind SKAGs and the time to do so I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time. I have plenty of 10 quality scores without exact matching keywords to ads. Overall relevance, your offer, and relative CTR all matter more to PPC success.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      I don’t think anyone talked about doing keyword insertion :)

      You bring up some good points on the fact that it takes time, but don’t all things that are worth doing?

      The numbers speak for themselves. And so do the comments from this post on people who have benefited from SKAGs.

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  91. Sarah

    Jonathan you’ve saved the day with this article. I’m all aboard for SKAGs just stuck on landing pages.

    How many landing pages?

    I have about 25 SKAG ad groups. Maybe need 18 different landing pages to address different keyword focus. For example 1 landing page that really sells eye surgery keywords, and 1 landing page that really sells the recovery time focus, etc.

    Is this right? Or do you send all 25 SKAGs to 1 Landing and make sure all keywords are addressed on 1 page?

    I don’t think 1 general landing page talking about the Dr. and laser surgery is right, but I don’t want to create 25 different landing pages.

    Help! Been stuck for a week. Also just signed up for Unbounce. thx

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Sarah :)

      Thanks for the awesome note, and great to hear you making progress!

      You can probably save a ton of time using Unbounce’s Dynamic Text Replacement feature: http://unbounce.com/dynamic-text-replacement/

      This only works for text, so if you have to change up the visuals, then start with the keywords that have the most traffic and see if making unique landing pages is worth the effort.

      Let me know if you need any additional help :)

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  92. Suzie

    Hi Johnathan,

    Thank you very much for the in-depth tutorial. Very very helpful.
    I have a quick question
    How does Google treat two words ..example: “newsgroup” Vs “news group”
    Should I just create separate SKAG’s for each word?
    like “newsgroup server” [newsgroup server] +newsgroup +server
    and “news group server” [news group server] +news +group +server

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  93. Johnathan Dane

    Hey Suzie :)

    Google will treat them as one in the same, but if there’s enough impressions for each, then I would eventually create separate SKAGs for them as I have seen difference in cost/conversion for plural and singular keywords.

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  94. Anjum Bhat

    Hi Jonathan,
    Instead of concentrating on SKSG’s why not use multiple variartions of the keyword and match them with either phrase or exact match, will the same result not be acheived?
    Thanks

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  95. Si Brooks

    Absolutely brilliant article!

    I have a question though. When writing an Ad you stated that the keyword you are targeting should be included in the display URL, what would you recommend if the keyword is too long to fit?

    Thanks!

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Thanks Si :)

      If that’s the case, then you can split up the words of your keyword so combined, your headline and display URL include the entirety of it.

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  96. Tedd

    I still don’t get the benefits of one keyword per ad group strategy.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      All about control :)

      If you allow too many search terms to cost you clicks from one keyword, then you’re allowing uncontrollable variables to continue happening.

      Also, many of those search terms will perform worse compared to others, so if you don’t extract with SKAGs then you can’t lower the bids on them specifically.

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  97. kral oyun

    Google will treat them as one in the same, but if there’s enough impressions for each, then I would eventually create separate SKAGs for them as I have seen difference in cost/conversion for plural and singular keywords.

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  98. komedi filmi izle

    Hi Jonathan,
    Instead of concentrating on SKSG’s why not use multiple variartions of the keyword and match them with either phrase or exact match, will the same result not be acheived?
    Thanks

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  99. Thomas

    Hey Johnathan,
    I’ve read through the comments and through your article thoroughly.

    I have also set up the SKAGs as told in the article.
    Now I have two questions:

    I have really low search volumes and keywords I’m using are synonyms for each other.
    1.So after some time I think if you set up the keywords like in your example the keywords are bidding against each other, aren’t they in the screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/4T1m2Yg.png
    The impressions are really low as I’ve paused the exact match and phrase match for some time.

    2. How should you exclude search terms on campaign level ?
    Should you exclude them with
    [keyword] exact match
    “keyword” Phrase match
    keyword Broad match

    3 When setting up the keywords with
    “keyword”
    keyword
    +keyword
    they are delivered way broader than I wanted as the ads are often shown with non relevant terms. After some months I also know which keywords bring conversions. Aren’t we “overfishing” if we keep the ad groups like that.
    Wouldn’t it be better to go to “keyword” only and pause the other two after some time :)

    Thanks for your input Johnathan
    Yours Thomas

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Thomas,

      It looks like you may just have a low volume keyword you’re trying to show for. And in the example screenshot, it looks like your broad or exact match term is gobbling up all the impressions.

      That could very well happen depending on the keyword.

      With regular broad match, you will get non-relevant searches coming through, so in a sense, you’re not overfishing with the 3 match types I mentioned, and if there’s enough search volume behind a certain keyword, then each match type will give you a nice set of data to work with :)

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  100. Geoffrey Jones

    What would be the difference of using a 2 step form vs a 1 step form. I would think that using a 1 step for should convert better. Also should I strategically try to include as many keywords as I can in the title that are also on the landing page? If so what should I do to my landing page to lower the cost of my CPC?

    My site is http://www.investorwize.com

    My landing page is
    http://www.investorwize.com/get-an-offer-fast/

    I am targeting the keywords for Sell your house fast with different variations for locality.

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  101. Lucas

    Hi Johnathan, great post. Just a couple of follow-up questions:

    1) Based on your strategy, when someone searches for “nutella cookies recipe”, doesn’t it technically matches with all three keyword match types? If so, will all 3 keywords enter the auction simultaneously during the search, thus compete against each other and self-inflate the CPC?

    2) How would you advise brands that sell a single product/service adopt your strategy? For example, there is a watch repair company that provides on demand watch repairs (goes to client’s home) in San Francisco, Mountain View & Palo Alto. How should the company structure its campaigns, adgroups and keywords?

    Thanks Johnathan!

    Lucas

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hey Lucas :)

      Usually Google will give the impression to the keyword that matches to it in the closest way. You’ll see this happening from the individual search term reports per keyword. So the answer is no.

      Also, your CTR will increase, with higher quality scores, and then lower CPCs.

      For your second question, it’s the same set up. Maybe start bidding on a few root keywords with modified broad match, and let your search term report decide on which SKAGs to create moving forward.

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  102. Mike

    Hi Jonathan,
    I have really appreciated your thorough answers and have read through them all. I had lots of questions come up and had most of them answered as I read. The only question that remained at the end was: “What is the short term impact on QS if I take a keyword in a tight group of 4 keywords that are all performing well with a QS of between 7-10 and move one of the keywords into its own ad group? How long does this take to bounce back?
    Thanks.

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Haha thanks Mike :) That hints towards writing a follow up post for this.

      So you might find a small dip in QS when migrating away, but the increased CTR (and accompanying conversion rate increase, if you do your message match right) quickly obliterates any past concern about a QS you once had.

      Try it with a few and see what happens.

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  103. John C.

    AWESOME article. Seriously. Question about geo targeting within SKAGs:

    If I am a roofer in San Diego, and I see that the search term “roofers in san diego” is my highest converting keyword, I believe you would suggest the following set up:

    +roofers +in +san +diego
    “roofers in san diego”
    [roofers in san diego]

    (if that’s incorrect please let me know…i’m not sure if the word “in” matters)

    My question is about the term “san diego”. Is your suggesting to omit geo terms within keywords since the Adwords location preferences will serve the ad based on those parameters? This made me think when I saw my keyword report with the searches for “roofers” and “roofers san diego”. I don’t know if they are the same.

    The quick follow up question is that if “roofers” and “roofers san diego” ARE two separate SKAGs, how should I handle that when there are 50 cities within San Diego?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      You SHOULD create them as separate SKAGs, and for the non San Diego SKAG, test out the headline space to be local or not (even add in other benefits), since you have that freedom.

      You should not create 50 SKAGs because of the 50 cities. Only create them if your search term report shows that there are impressions for them.

      Hope that helps :)

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  104. KJ

    Thanks for the great ideas and explaining it out! I implement this a while back and everything feels cleaner. The only concern I have is that before in my previous structure, I was able to use Conversion Optimizer.

    Is there anyway to use Conversion Optimizer in this plan?

    What bidding strategy do you personally use / recommend?

    Thank You!

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    • Johnathan Dane

      You should still be able to use Conversion Optimizer since it’s campaign specific. You may have to wait to get 15 conversions within 30 days before it’s available to use in that new campaign :)

      You can read more about the AdWords bidding strategies that make most sense to your business here: https://klientboost.com/ppc/adwords-bidding/

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      • KJ

        thank you very much. I’ll check out those resources. Is there any risk of broad match or phrase match cannibalizing exact match. My guess is it wouldn’t, but not sure if there’s any edge case scenarios we need to look out for.

        I remember before following your plan, a different strategy would create separate adgroups for each match type and then set negative keywords in the broad match group so it wouldn’t cannibalize the exact match keywords.

        Thanks!

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  105. Manikandan

    Hey Hi Johnathan Dane,
    This is the first time I am reading a Crystal Stuff related to AdWords in Internet, which clearly states “”how wrong we are dealing with AdWords””. Thanks for all your suggestions. Will definitely undergo it and make my own experiment and come again with the results here. Keep posting !!!

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  106. Jonathan

    Hi Jonathan
    Thanks for the insightful post!

    This is exactly what we tried back in the early days of ppc (early 2004), but then came across the keyword insertion tool to get around this – which we found very effective.

    So we decided to test this concept again last week and compare it our normal campaigns that just use the insertion tool on the headline and first line of the description. We copied the campaigns exactly and added negative keywords as well as suggested in your article. The ads were composed manually without DKI.

    Interestingly though, so far there seems to be no difference between using the insertion tool and 1-keyword per adgroup. Click volumes are about the same. The CTR is actually a bit lower on the 1KA vs DKI. The CPC is also actually higher on the 1KA vs DKI.

    Perhaps we are missing something here – but it seems the keyword insertion tool is doing it’s job just fine (actually slightly better)? Perhaps the CPCs will come down in time, but we have never actually found this to be the case in our experience.

    Thanks

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Hello Name Brother :)

      DKI can be great and something that should be up your sleeve to use. It sounds like your SKAG is using 1 keyword with 1 match type and not 1 keyword with 3 match types?

      Irregardless, if both ad groups are set up as SKAGs, then the headlines can always be changed and tested. The keyword of the SKAG doesn’t necessarily need to be in the headline, which I spoke more about here, talking about visitor’s end goals: http://unbounce.com/ppc/write-high-performing-adwords-ads/

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      • Jonathan

        Hi Jonathan

        Many thanks for the quick response! We did in fact use all 3 match types in each adgroup of the SKAGs.

        The original non-SKAG campaign that used keyword insertion tool had around 1000 keywords per adgroup, and google just did its magic by placing the keyword in the headline and desc1 when the ad was triggered. This performed as well (in fact better) than reducing the whole thing to tens of thousands of SKAGs.

        We would love to able to reduce our CPCs and/or get more clicks by using SKAGs but it seems to have made no difference:( Perhaps we missing something / doing something incorrectly.

        Thanks

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  107. Martin

    Hi Jonathan,

    great article, I’ve implemented the SKAG setup for a customer account already. It’s a very small niche market not generating much impressions. The CTR was rising almost instantly, but the impressions were down really badly, also no conversion due to the minimal number of clicks.

    I just added Broad Match to the short tail keyword-adgroup and the impressions go up again. I will filter the noise with negative keywords, so relevancy is still good.

    I think your strategy is good for high volume sarches, for smaller markets it seems to me that SKAGs +Broad Match +Negative Keywords works better than Modified Broad Match.

    Did you experience similar things?

    Thank You again for this great post

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    • Johnathan Dane

      Put your broad match keywords in their own campaign so it doesn’t cannibalize the rest of the account.

      This strategy works for all sizes of accounts, but you do need enough traffic to get some conversions trickling in :)

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  108. Rebecca Rowley

    Hi Jonathan! Thank you for this wonderful article! i’ve been wasting too much money on Google Adwords in the last few months for my jazz band services and am so happy to have made the changes you’ve suggested. hopefully things get better from here on :)

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  109. Ranjan Jena

    Thanks for sharing this best-practices, and esp., SKAG strategy & it’s importance.

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  110. JOHN LEE

    Thank you for the post.
    What kind of match type we should use the group level negative keywords?

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    • Johnathan Dane

      No problem John :)

      If you’re using regular broad match modifier as “positive” keywords (as the post says to do), then you can use regular broad as ad group level negative keywords.

      If you don’t use broad match modifier, then use phrase match negative ad group keywords.

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      • John

        thank you for you kind advice. i am using three type positive keywords in each SKG which included:bmm, exact and phrase. based on your advice i believe board match negative keyword should work for me better? thanks again!

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  111. Fahad Shahnawaz

    Great article, i tested the same scenario for my campaign but the keyword i wanted has already a low search term.

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  112. Lewis

    Good info resource and relatively up to date. Thanks!

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  115. NK

    Hey, great post! I have a few questions if you get a chance:

    1. Is it still beneficial to create SKAGs if you will be using the same ad copy for each SKAG? For example, let’s say you are running a branded campaign and have several branded keywords you want to target:

    brand
    brand variation 1
    brand variation 2

    If I separate these into SKAGs but use the same ad copy, is there still a benefit? I realize it is ideal to have ad copy that matches the keywords searched, but there are a few instances where it may be the same.

    There are also instances when the keywords are too long to fit in the ad copy. Is it still beneficial to give them separate SKAGs even though the ad copy will be the same as shorter variants?

    2. Do you include separate ad groups for singular and plural? Since Google shows ads for close variants, there isn’t technically a need, but do you do it anyway? If so, are you competing with yourself at all (even after adding negative ad-group-level keywords) since close variants could technically be shown for each?

    Thank you.

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  116. Jim

    Hi Jonathan – great article but does this approach not mean you can have thousands of Ad Groups in your account?

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  117. Steve Cadman

    Brilliant advice, I wish I’d seen this $500 ago!

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  118. BSV

    I can’t seem to find the answer, but should I set up two ad groups for -er and -ing words using this method? I.e., “widget manufacturing” and “widget manufacturer” if I am the maker of widgets? Thanks for the super helpful article!

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  119. John

    1) So do you still add the + modifier to all words in long tail keywords, or just the main keywords?
    2) Are long tail keywords becoming a thing of the past because of the way BMM can match a wide variety of long tail keywords?

    EXAMPLE:
    +how +much +are +blue +widgets

    Then how would you add the negative keywords for the main ones: (+blue +widgets)

    Thanks

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