The strategy of using single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) in AdWords is hardly anything new. But with advertisers still trying to get to grips with the loss of right column ads, there’s a renewed emphasis on getting the most from your best performing keywords.

Which means SKAGs could be more important than ever in trying to maintain your ROI following the latest changes to AdWords. So here’s a reminder of why SKAGS are so valuable and how you can use them to get more magic out of your best performing keywords.


What are SKAGs and why are they so important?

Single keyword ad groups are precisely what they sound like: ad groups that only contain one keyword. That was easy. Now, as for why they’re so important, the answer all comes down to relevance. The more keywords you have in your ad groups, the far wider user intent can be when your ads are triggered.

When you use SKAGs, however, only searchers who are looking for precisely what you’re offering see your ad. Which means higher intent, more relevant ads, better Quality Scores and higher conversion rates. And those are all very good things indeed.

Here is a rundown of the major pros to using single keyword ad groups:

  • Lower CPCs*
  • Lower costs per conversion
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Improved Quality Score
  • Higher average position
  • Higher conversion rates

*Just what you wanted to hear after Google ditched right column ads

There are some cons to using SKAGs, though:

  • It’s more time consuming to manage an account with many SKAGs
  • You have to create considerably more ad groups to cover different intents
  • You also have to create and maintain more landing pages

So, as you can see the pros of using SKAGs make a pretty compelling argument. The cons, on the other hand, mostly come down to involving more work and taking more time. Boo hoo.


When should I use single keyword ad groups?

Okay, so that’s enough SKAG love for now, because we need to make it clear there’s a time and a place for single keyword ad groups. These are for your high-intent searchers who are looking for a specific product, service or perhaps even some form of content. These are users who know precisely what they want and they’re ready to convert the moment you show it to them.

And that’s the aim of the game with SKAGs: to max conversions and get the most from those high-performing keywords.

On the flipside, you probably don’t want to be using SKAGs for campaigns where the goal isn’t conversions. One example would be a campaign designed to purely to drive traffic or increase brand awareness, when you want to capture a broader range of search intents.


How to craft your single keyword ad groups

Once you’ve determined the keywords worthy of SKAGs you’ll generally want to create two separate ads per group. These ads want to be distinctly different so you can compete them against each other and refine them over time. The format of these ads wants to look a little something like this:


  • Headline: Your headline including the all-important keyword
  • First description line: Pinpoint the benefits and features of what you’re promoting
  • Second description line: Capture that final most, important benefit and follow with a call to action
  • Display URL:com/keyword


As for your keywords, you’ll want to go ahead and set them up like this:


  • +your +keyword (Broad match)
  • [your keyword] (Exact match)
  • “your keyword” (Phrase match)


And the structure of your SKAGs should end up looking something along the lines of:


How many single keyword ad groups should I use?

This is the tough question to answer in all of this. We’ve almost entirely overhauled accounts before to run a majority of single keyword ad groups to great effect. Other accounts call for a more minimal approach to using SKAGs and it all comes down to the goals of your campaigns and overall account.

What we can say, though, is there are few account types out there that can’t benefit from using single keyword ad groups and the perks that come with them. Set up correctly (and with the right quantity), these things can do wonders for conversion rates, relevance and those constantly rising CPCs – amongst other things.

So, if you haven’t already, delve into the art of single keyword ad groups and see what they can do for your AdWords account – particularly since Google dropped those right column ads.