What are Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGS) and What Can They Do for Me? | Spaceboost Blog
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SKAGS Best Practices

What are Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) And How to Use Them

Launching and optimizing new PPC campaigns can be overwhelming. Many advertisers struggle when choosing the match types of the keywords for which they want to bid and how to find the right bidding strategy to optimize them. Here I’m going to lay out the case for Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) and the Tiered Bidding Strategy which, when properly used, can drive higher CTRs, lower CPCs, and higher Quality Scores!

A Single Keyword ad group (SKAG) is an ad group that contains only a single keyword, and which is usually set up with different Match Types. In this article I’ll cover how and why SKAGs are a high-value PPC tactic, including a step-by-step look at the different Match Types – Broad Match, Broad Match Modifier, Phrase Match, and Exact Match – and how to use them to create an efficient and optimal bidding strategy and campaign structure.


Esquema Account Structure 1 - What are Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) And How to Use Them

A well-executed SKAGs-driven structure can drive higher CTRs, higher relevancy scores, and lower CPAs.


Google Ads Match Types Best Practices


Having a whole adgroup for just a single keyword may seem excessive, but in fact it allows you to work to find the perfect ads for each keyword.

If you create several SKAGS, you can refine and create extremely specific ads for each keyword that are relevant to long-tail and high-value audiences. It also allows you to optimize towards the specific ads that work, and drives higher relevance, especially if you create specific landing pages for each adgroup.

These are the keyword match types – explained – that you can use for a single keyword in a SKAG.


Broad Match

Broad match keywords will cover up a lot of search terms so it will bring the widest reach, but the least relevance. These keywords will match to misspelled search terms, synonyms, related searches, and relevant variations . Hence, the keyword “motorcycle shop” as a broad match keyword would match to any search terms that mentioned “motorcycle”, “shop”, or any synonyms or related terms as determined by Google.


Broad match - What are Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) And How to Use Them

Search terms that could trigger the keyword “motorcycle shop”:


–        motorcycle store

–        bike stores

–        mountain bike shops.


Broad Match Modifier (BMM)

The BMM keyword + motorcycle + shop will only match to search terms that contain both the word motorcycle and the word shop, or close variants.  The order of the search term does not impact the matching to the keyword.

Broad match  - What are Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) And How to Use Them

Search terms that could trigger the keyword + motorcycle + shop:


–        motorcycle repair shop

–        shop for a motorcycle


Phrase Match

A search term will trigger a phrase match keyword if it contains all its words in the same order without any other word in between. Additionally, the query can have more words before or after the phrase.

Phrase match - What are Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) And How to Use Them

Search terms that could trigger the keyword “motorcycle shop”:


–        motorcycle bike shop

–        motorcycle shops in London


Exact Match

Exact match keywords brings the highest relevance but covers the least ground in terms of queries, as only search terms that exactly match the keywords will trigger the ad. Hence, all the words need to be present without additional words before, after, or in between.

Exact match - What are Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) And How to Use Them

Search terms that could trigger the keyword [motorcycle shop]:


–        motorcycle shop (or close variants)


Tiered SKAG Bidding


Now that you have set up your ad groups with a single keyword with different match types, you must be wondering how to bid for them. That is when the tiered bidding strategy comes in handy:


–        Exact Match will have the highest bid

–        Phrase Match will have the second highest bid

–        BM or Broad Match will have the lowest bid.


The logic behind this bidding is that your Exact Match keywords are likely to have the highest quality score and conversion rate. They should have the highest relevancy as they would exactly match the search query, resulting in a higher CTR and lower CPA. Phrase Match keywords would normally follow suit in relevancy and CTR, and thus will have the second highest bid. BM or Broad Match keywords will be the least relevant, but will bring an important volume of traffic to the ad group. However, you need to closely monitor them, adding negative keywords when you see search terms that are not relevant.


The Benefits of a SKAG PPC Strategy


The SKAGs strategy increases the control you can keep in performance at the keyword level, by funneling queries to the correct keyword in each case. Your exact match keywords will be shown consistently and phrase and broad match keywords will support the exact match in catching search terms that you have not thought of or added yet in any of your Adgroups. This means that the tiered bidding strategy will not only allow you to properly optimize your ad groups, but will also bring you new keyword ideas to add (and create new Adgroups with the same logic). As you can imagine, it is an easily replicable (and hence scalable) strategy that you should try in some of your Adgroups.

So create, launch, monitor and scale! The Tiered SKAG Bidding Strategy is what you need to level up your PPC Performance, and if I can recommend 1 tool to help, Spaceboost’s Structure Generator is basically your own personal SKAG generator, using your product catalog or website to create massive PPC structures! 


Santiago Contreras
Spaceboost Guest Contributor, Account Executive at RocketROI.
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