The Case Against SKAGs

By Margot da Cunha


As summer is heating up, let’s talk about another HOT and controversial paid search strategy: SKAGs! SKAGs have been a hot topic among the PPC community for some time now. Some would argue that this form of account organization allows you to get extremely targeted with your AdWords campaigns. Who wouldn’t want to keep everything tightly wound together so money is only spent on those searching for the EXACT keyword that speaks directly to your products or services?

While some PPC people love SKAGs, they’re not right for everybody… After speaking with several of WordStream’s most experienced customer success managers and consultants, it was clear that there’s a case to be made against using SKAGs in your paid search accounts.

Before we dive into the case against SKAGs and why you might want to consider other keyword grouping strategies, let’s talk about what in the world SKAGs are!

What Are SKAGs?

SKAG stands for Single Keyword Ad Group. These are just as they sound: One keyword per ad group, with its own set of ads.

The idea might sound a bit nutty, but many marketers find that setting up their ad groups in this manner allows them to keep everything tightly focused.

Back in the day when I worked closely with WordStream customers, I can remember seeing several messy accounts where there was only one or two ad groups with up to 500 keywords in each of them (sometimes even more!). Often these ad groups also only came with a few ads to choose from.

As an example of why this approach doesn’t work, let’s say you’re selling athletic gear at a retail store. Your ad group contains every keyword under the sun related to the products you sell. You might have several ads under this group, but if someone searches for “men’s soccer clothing,” an ad for “women’s lacrosse sticks” could appear. This bad intent match is an instant turnoff to the searcher, and the chances of them clicking on that ad and converting are slim to none.

Taking the complete opposite approach, some paid search marketers implement SKAGs so that when someone searches for “women’s lacrosse sticks” they will only see the women’s lacrosse sticks ad, since that is the ONLY keyword in that ad group with its own set of ads (usually 1-3 ads with slightly varying copy all around that one keyword). Check out the graphic below to see how these compare to tradition ad groups.


In theory, this seems like a good idea, right? There are many PPC people who believe so. SKAG promoters often rave about this strategy. “By pairing your keywords into their own unique ad groups, you can make sure that the keyword you’re bidding on matches the search terms you’re paying for,” says Johnathan Dane, Founder and CEO of Klient Boost, in a post titled 19 Reasons Why SKAGS Always Win.

And yes, on paper SKAGs sound like a great idea. Ads specifically tailored to individual keywords improve ad relevance, lead to higher click-through …read more

Read more here:: B2CMarketingInsider

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