How to Use SKAGs to Increase Profitability

Welcome to the Single Keyword Ad Groups World 


That’s the kind of word you know in theory what it means, but you can’t actually explain it. Like pungent. Or gibberish. 

Until you become a marketer and start dealing with Google Ads, then the word GRANULARITY becomes Jay-Z to your Beyonce.

In Google Ads, everything starts and ends with granularity. It makes campaign optimization more effective with better tracking. And the best way to get to that granularity is to use SKAGs – Single Keyword Ad Groups.

By using SKAGs, you will be able to increase CTR, average positions, quality scores, all while lowering your cost per click. That’s why in this blog we’re going to do an in-depth analysis of this technique.

What Are Single Keyword Ad Groups?

Rome wasn’t built in a day (but they were laying bricks every hour), so we, just like the Eternal City, are going to take our time in explaining SKAGs.

So, let’s start with the first brick, and that is understanding what Single Keyword Ad Group really means ( Just in case you only think you know what that means. Like pungent).

The name is pretty self-explanatory. SKAGs are ad groups made out of single keywords.

If you haven’t used this technique, then I’m sure by now you are asking yourself two questions:

1. Why would I put only one keyword in an ad group?
2. How can I use the word pungent in a sentence? 

Luckily for you, we are here to answer your (first) question (on the second one we are still brainstorming).

By putting your keywords into their unique ad groups, you are making sure that the keywords you’re bidding on match the search terms you’re paying for.

Also, this approach doesn’t bring good results only for Google Ads. It works great for display networks, as well as social media. You can use this blueprint to optimize your PPC campaigns for Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Ads & Search Terms

Let’s look at this from another angle; we know that most of the search terms that are triggering the ad are completely irrelevant to what the ad is offering.

For instance:

Look at the search terms on the left, and the keywords on the right. Not very relevant to each other, right?

The ad is specific to the keyword “bamboo sheets”, but not all these queries come from people with the same intent or interest level. This campaign isn’t going to bring us money unless we are a sheet store CasaMille in Mexico (in that case may I have two tacos and a margarita, por favor). Then good for us.

If not, these wasteful campaigns just drain our ad spend without generating actual conversions and revenue. And we are bleeding money.

But that is exactly why SKAGs are the best thing that happened to us ever since high waist jeans came back in style.

By building SKAGs, we match our chosen keyword in an ad group with a correlating search term generated by that keyword.

As soon as we match our search term with our keyword, we are able to create ad copy that is insanely related to the search term, as well as user intent. This is allowing us to create a copy that will simply call out to the end-user, bound to generate user interest.

As a direct result, our CTR increases, because we have only one keyword in an ad group. And then the quality score will be higher, cost per click will be lower, ultimately leading us to both lower CPA and more conversions overall. 

Yap, we are huge fans of SKAGs.

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Different Match Types & Campaigns

Here at Diligent, we decided to focus on three distinct SKAG campaign types – ResearchExact and Converting.

Research campaigns have keywords in Phrase and Broad Match Modifier(BMM). These are short tail keywords, and their goal is to generate search terms that you will later use to place your ads. In some way, we can say that they act as scouts, figuring out what search terms your targeted audience actually use. To avoid impressions going into the wrong campaign, you just need to negative-match exact and converting search terms. 

Converting campaigns consist out of exact match search terms that earned conversion in Research campaigns. In a converting campaign, we switch our focus solely on search terms that work. That means we are focusing on search terms that are bringing the holy grail of our niche, that being, of course, conversions.

Exact campaigns consist of relevant search terms from Research campaigns that didn’t convert. This is an excellent way of increasing granularity(there’s that word again). In addition to that, by doing this, you will ensure that every single search term that is relevant is adequately used to provide you with the best possible results you can get from your ads. 

Two Things You Need To Get Started With SKAGs

There are only two things you need before you get started with SKAGs and those are Google Ads Editor and root keywords

What are root keywords?

Root keywords are the shortest tails of those keywords that you are going to bid on. 

Let’s say that you’re a pet transportation company and you want to start utilizing SKAGs. The root keywords would look something like this:

Pet Transportation

Pet Moving

Pet Relocation

Pet Shipping

Pet Driving

You classify these keywords as root keywords because you are not going to bid on just the words “pet” or “transportation” by themselves.

The next step is taking all of the root keywords and then multiplying them with any other synonyms you could think of. 

In the example of our pet shipping clients, you would take away the word “Pet” and replace it with “Animal”.

Animal Transportation

Animal Moving

Animal Relocation

Animal Shipping

Animal Driving

If you have any additional synonyms, you should keep doing the same thing. The best part about this is that you won’t waste time on keyword research – you can just research the synonyms that you actually need. 

After you’ve dealt with root keywords, you should move onto Google Ads Editor. 

Creating A Single Keyword Ad Group

So, let’s continue laying these bricks we talked about at the beginning.

First thing you need to do is creating your first SKAG in Google Ads Editor, by using broad match, phrase match and exact match on the same keyword. On our “pet transportation” example, it would look like this: 

+pet +transportation – broad match

“pet transportation” – phrase match

[pet transportation] – exact match

When it comes to SKAGs, this is one of the most important things we need to do. Because even though someone might search for a longer tail version, the search term triggered by anything but an exact match will still be the most relevant ones in your account.

The other reason why you need three match types is to avoid data dilution as much as possible. 

The second thing is setting all your bids at the same amount. You can easily adjust the bids later when the performance data starts to come in.  

In our third step, it’s time to switch our focus to creating ads. You should remember a couple of things you’ll need to do, in order to get the most out of your ad placement:

    When you are writing ad copy, the first heading (H1) should be the keyword that you bid on. Also, it’s a good practice to put it into the path/URL.
    They are used for promoting your product or service. So what you decide to write here is totally up to you, just remember that the ads are different enough to split test.

In the end, you can just copy-paste ad groups so you don’t have to re-write them. You only need to manually create the first SKAG, after that you can simply clone them and replace, for example, “pet” with “animal”.

The Best Practise When It Comes To Managing SKAGs

Now that we know how to create SKAGs, let’s ensure you are doing everything right when it comes to managing them. You should take the following steps:

  • Approximately 2 or 3 times a week, you’ll need to download all search terms from all campaigns.
  • You’ll need to filter out the search terms that had more than 0 conversions and copy them on a different list. Later on, you will create new SKAGs in Converting campaign, adding these search terms as exact match keywords.
  • All of the search terms that had 0 conversions should be noted one by one, adding only the relevant ones as exact match keywords in Exact campaigns.
  • You will need to add all negative keywords from non-converting search terms to a negative keyword list. 
  • At the end of the process, you’ll add all new converting and exact keywords as negative exact match keywords into research campaigns.

Why are we number 1 fans of Single Keyword Ad Group?

I’m sure you realized by now we are huge admirers of SKAGs. There are plenty of reasons we love using them, but here we are going to share with you the top ten.

  1. Improved click-through-rate

    Because your ad will exactly match what the searcher wants to find, it will be more relevant and probably get more clicks. That will skyrocket your CTR, and when that happens, we all know (and love) what happens next.

  2. Improved Quality Scores

    As we all know, Quality Scores is determined by ad relevance and expected CTR. And because by now, we have improved those factors by using SKAGs, we have also improved QS. Well isn’t this a textbook example of the domino effect?

  3. Lower Cost Per Click

    So, now that we have a better Quality Score, we also get a cheaper CPC, even without lowering our bid. Remember how we talked at the beginning about bleeding money? Well, we are now patched up and stronger than ever!

  4. Lower Cost Per Conversion

    We don’t need to explain these in detail; it’s pretty simple. When you lower your CPC, you ultimately reduce your cost per conversion. See, dominoes again! (Dominoes. Not Domino’s. Stop thinking about pizza.)

  5. Improved Average Positions

    I read somewhere it’s better to bleed than to sweat. Well not in this case! (or in any, for that matter) Firstly, we stopped the bleeding with SKAGs and secondly, Google recognizes when we are working hard. We improved our CTRs and Quality Scores and now Google is rewarding us for higher average positions.

  6. Increased Conversion Volume

    Higher CTR equals more clicks. More clicks equals more conversion.
    Aren’t you just in love with the simplicity of this sentence? Whoever said that it can be luxury in simplicity was damn right!

  7. Better control of your Landing Page Experience

    This is where granularity kicks in. Because you’ll have a better understanding of the users who are clicking on your ads, you will be able to provide a personalized experience on your landing page for them. When it comes to techniques that work well when it comes to landing pages, we suggest you read our blog about the Breadcrumb Technique.

  8. A faster way to solve issues

    The campaign structure by itself is pretty simple because every ad group has only one keyword in it and because of that it’s quite easier to diagnose usual issues, such as why certain ad groups or keywords are not performing.

  9. Better control over your negative keywords

    This is the result of the same thing that is listed above. Because you have only one keyword ( in 3 different match types) per ad group, you can be more precise with your negative keywords.

  10. $ SKAGs help you make more money $
    Yes, we are all very enchanted by the beauty of Digital Marketing, but let’s be honest- we all care about making more money.  So there is an essential thing when it comes to the benefits of SKAGs, and here it is: When your costs are decreasing, and your campaign performance is increasing- that’s when you’re making more money, and that is precisely what the SKAGs are doing.

The Downside Of Using Single Keyword Ad Groups

Although it would be quite nice that there are no cons to this method, the reality of life (and Google Ads!) is that there’s a con to everything.

We are going to present to you a few negative effects of SKAGs. Like in every fairytale, the good always wins over the bad, and in our opinion, here, the good side wins by a landslide.

But, let’s see the bad side too:
1. Data Dilution is one of the biggest negative sides of SKAGs. Because you create a considerable number of ad groups, it takes you more time to test it. But on the other hand, the testing results are going to be way more accurate than before. 

2. Another thing that will take up a considerable chunk of your time is the actual creation of the ad groups, as opposed to just adding keywords to an existing group. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time creating ad groups for nothing, you can use your top 5 keywords to test SKAGs out. 

What Is The Summa Summarum In The Case Of Single Keyword Ad Groups?

In this blog, we have built your knowledge of SKAGs brick by brick so now it’s time to step away, see the results, and enjoy the view.
But before we leave you to roam in Rome, let’s do a quick revision of what we’ve learned so far.

It’s true.
Single Keyword Ad Groups require more effort and more time.

Isn’t that the case with everything good?

Single Keyword Ad Group approach is one of the best ways to elevate your click-through-rates, quality scores, and most importantly – your profit.

With everything we learned in this blog, the money is just waiting for you to get it!

So, don’t snooze, and you won’t lose. 🙂

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