Crush Your Adwords Campaigns With This Small Tweak

Crush Your Adwords Campaigns With This Small Tweak

Ever since we started using this technique in our campaigns at East Side Mafia, we have seen increased CTRs, high quality scores and higher ROIs in general.

Before we start, let me state that this is not a magic bullet -- although we find it magical how many of our competitors are not employing this strategy.

The strategy is Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs).

In this post, we will explain what SKAGs are, why you should be using them, and finally, how to create SKAGs in your campaign.

What are SKAGs?

The SKAG is an ad group which includes a single keyword, serving ads specific to that single keyword, for A/B testing.

This may sound crazy and time consuming, but the impact that it will make on your campaigns is substantial, to say the least -- Single Keyword Ad Groups are an essential weapon in any optimizer’s arsenal.

Wondering what SKAGs looks like?

Let’s take a keyword as an example: cheap printing services

The root keyword is added in exact match for higher relevancy: [cheap printing services]. Some experts also add other match types in the same SKAG (us included).

This is how your keyword section will look like.

google adwords SKAG


Let’s assume that this is a new campaign. In which case, you must be wondering, how many SKAGs do I need to create?

In this case, we will refer to “cheap printing services” as the root keyword term, and we will run the campaign.

The next step is to mine keywords in the search results.

For example, if you find “cheap digital printing services” in the search results, the next step would be to extract this keyword and create another SKAG from it, this time with ONLY exact match keywords.

The new SKAG would then look like this.

Google SKAG new Ad group

A sample ad in this SKAG would now look like this, which will be super relevant to the searcher’s intent:

Google Adwords SKAG new ad

IMPORTANT STEP: You now have to add “cheap digital printing services” as a negative keyword in the root SKAG, to prevent them from stealing impressions from each other.

This will save you a ton of time in keyword research as you now only have to start with a few core root keywords and, based on the search term report, create SKAGs from those high volume keywords.

Don’t forget to remove the negative keywords vigilantly.

Watch as your CTRs skyrocket with your new SKAG.

To improve your quality scores, follow this simple checklist:

  • Keep the keywords in headline 1 for more relevance
  • Keep the keywords in the path
  • Try your best to include the keywords in H1 tags in the landing page without interfering with the quality of the copy. If that’s not possible, include the keywords in any of the H-Tags (H1 to H6)
  • Include keywords in alt text of images in landing page

Google Adwords optimizing for quality score

4 Reasons Why You Should Be Using SKAGs

1. Higher Click Through Rates

If the user searches “letterhead printing specialists Singapore,” imagine how many of your competitors will have an ad that looks like this:

granular targeted Adgroup

Imagine what your conversions would be like if you had a landing page with a similarly relevant headline.

The thing is, most of your competitors will be too lazy to create a campaign of this granularity, and this is why you CTRs will skyrocket.

2. Improved Quality Scores

Once your CTRs improve, your quality score will automatically improve -- since the biggest determining factor of quality score is CTR.

To learn more about quality score, check out this in depth article.

These are the things that follow high quality scores:

  • Higher Ad positions
  • Lower CPC (Cost Per Clicks)
  • Higher Impression Shares in General

3. Better Conversion and Easier Optimization of Ad Groups

Now that you have segmented your keywords, you'll be able to ascertain which are the highest converting keywords, and scale your campaigns accordingly.

You will also be able to identify the keywords that have little or no search volume, and divert your focus to the top 20% of your campaign.

4. Higher Conversion Rates

With such a granular campaign, you will be able to create hyper relevant landing pages for your SKAGs.

You will have a pleasant ad scent, resulting in greater credibility and higher conversions.

You don’t want your users searching for “letterhead printing services,” and being led to a landing page that’s about printing services in general.

You want them to land on a page about “letterhead printing services” with samples of the great letterheads you’ve done, a letterhead portfolio, and a price list.

This is a great post by Digital Marketer on ad scent if you would like to learn more.


For everyone running Adwords campaigns, the main goal is to make more money while spending as little as possible on ads.

Running an Adwords Campaign that has the SKAG structure is like using a machine gun against competitors who are wielding sticks.

The main drawback is that it’s incredibly time consuming to implement, and if you already have a campaign running, converting it to SKAG structure will take you months.

For those of you who are familiar with AdWords editor, here’s a great article on how to clone and scale your SKAGs.

After testing SKAGs on more than 200 campaigns, we are convinced that this strategy will improve your overall ROI and save your clients a ton of money on wasted ad spend.

What is your experience with SKAG campaigns? Let me know in the comments below!


It's a competitive market. Contact us to learn how you can stand out from the crowd.

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1 Comment

  • avatar

    Very nicely written and well explained all the concepts in the blog. Quality score is a very important factor to consider when you are running Google Ads. Quality score plays important role to measure your ad CPC. Using your Quality Score as a guiding tool, you can improve your ads, keywords and landing pages over time.

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