In-Depth Single Keyword Ad Group (SKAG) Strategy Breakdown

Optimizing your website’s Google Ads requires knowledge about how keywords and search queries work. This also entails knowing that you are inserting the right keywords into your ad groups to optimize for clickthrough rate. Single Keyword Ad Groups are a common way of creating results that make your Google Ads more likely to satisfy searcher intent for potential customers.

If you are tired of seeing a low ROAS compared to your industry standard, you need to read this article to learn more about SKAG Campaigns and whether or not they are still the best choice for your business.

What is a single keyword ad group (SKAG)?

Single Keyword Ad Group, are when ad groups in your Google Ads campaigns only have one keyword. This helps with improved click through rate (CTR) and quality score.

What Single Keyword Ad Groups Can Do For You.

Single Keyword Ad Group (SKAG) campaigns are the best way to make sure that your targeted keywords are all performing to the best of their ability. Another benefit of this technique is that you could have an exact match keyword in an ad group and you could track how this keyword was performing quite readily due to no other factors affecting it.

The reasoning behind this technique is that when you only have one keyword, it is much easier to target that one keyword, and not keyword stuff the title and meta description. For example, when you have an ad group with multiple keywords you might not be able to fit them all in your title or meta description without clearly keyword stuffing. Plus having only one keyword means your title will likely contain the exact keyword the user just searched for or a close variant, again helping satisfy searcher intent.

SKAGs still boost control and relevance for internet searches and they will also help achieve better Quality Scores (QS). QS is a major factor in how Google determines ad ranks and using the right SKAGs can make sure that your ad clicks are cheaper, and your targeting is much more effective.

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How do I Manage my SKAGs?

The changes to the way that Google ranks searches have necessitated a different process to identify the most effective keywords for your needs. You can no longer just identify one SKAG at a time and run with that SKAG for a few months as you generate new versions of the same ads.

Now, you will be able to control which ads show up for particular queries but you will not be able to be sure which close variants will generate results. This means that you will have to run a lot of data to double-check the performance of your SKAGs and to see which close variants are generating big results.

The biggest trick here is to avoid adding lots of negative keywords to your optimization as this will just close doors that might generate close variant results. Query management with close variants in the mix is all about making sure that you are using broad and modified broad keywords and phrases just as frequently as you are using specific and targeted keywords.

Do I Need to Manage SKAG Campaigns When Google Automates Them?

Query management is still essential to creating a good ad campaign strategy and managing your SKAGs. Negative keywords are not as important to smart bidding because Google will automatically kick out search values and phrases that are not commonly used. However, you will want to be sure that you are not spending too much on your SKAG campaigns because you are not optimizing your selections.

You still need to identify and use Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) and any other close variant that is generating results for you to control your bids and keep your ad costs down. You want to be sure that you are not trusting Google’s automation to place your ads and spend your money for you. Google cannot know every one of your advertising goals, and it can actually drive traffic toward your site or your business that is not from your target audience through accidental targeting that occurs.

Automations require good data to work effectively, and you need to take the reins of your ad management strategy to make sure that you are sending Google all of the right information to generate the best results for your ad campaign efforts as well as your SKAG management. You should always be running new inquiries and reports to generate course corrections to your target and SKAG management. Allowing Google to do so for you can lead your ad campaign and SKAG efforts well off track.

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You Can Have Many SKAG Campaigns to Boost Sales

If you are worried that you will not be able to manage all of the many potential SKAGs that might apply to your ads, you will need to be sure that you are constantly looking at the data from your ad campaigns to identify effective ad runs.

Being able to target your campaigns through research is very effective when compared to guessing which campaigns are proving effective. Once you know that a SKAG or a close variant is working for you, you can make a new campaign that will serve this part of your audience. Running multiple campaigns makes it far more likely that you will reach all of the people who are interested in your product or your service.

Each campaign should have multiple ad groups. These ad groups will help you to net the results of your various close variants. All of these close variants are linked with keyword searches, so they will act like layers for your SKAG strategy.

Close Variants and How They Affect SKAGs.

Proper SKAG technique has taken a major shift now that close variants have been added to the page Quality Score (QS) rankings. Close variants make it easier for those searching to find your website in some ways, but they can make it harder to target your ads based on SKAGs. You will no longer be able to be certain that your SKAG will generate all of your search results and close variants mean that you need to identify additional search words that must be included to promote your QS ranking.

This is a mixed blessing for advertisers as close variants can be leveraged for added search results, but you need to be able to identify which close variants and which SKAGs are making the difference in your ROAS. Google has not changed how it picks keywords in auctions even though there are multiple possibilities now. This change to add close variants just means that you need to understand keyword optimization like never before.

How Does Query Management Work Using Close Variants?

You might be wondering how you are supposed to track close variants since you can’t control their introduction into your keywords process. Google has asserted that the introduction of close variants has not changed their overall processes much as only 15% of the queries used online on any given day are exact keyword matches anyhow.

This is a bit deceptive, however, because the keyword searches that are used most commonly are linked to the autofill search results. Although the close variants that are typed into the search bar can become popular enough to show up as suggested search phrases.

Google’s algorithm is meant to sort out which keywords should not be given relevance and which ones should be given importance. This can be a tough juggling act at first, especially if you are trying to sort out the right keywords and SKAGs on your own, but you will find that a pattern will emerge that shows which keywords and SKAGs are generating results for you.

Do SKAGs Need RSAs?

SKAGs have always been done to improve the relevance and QS of your ads. That part of the process has not changed, despite close variants. However, you will now have to change the tools that you use to generate effective automated ads like Responsive Search Ads (RSAs). They are more likely to be affected by the changes that close variants bring to the table.

RSAs are very effective and they drive volume and improve relevance, and that is why you should never skip them when you are planning your ad campaign strategy. However, SKAGs used to work best when you used expanded text ads to drive improved search results to your site. The process of using this additional value ad option has changed somewhat with the addition of close variants.

Now, you will need to write to a single keyword without worrying about the triggered cascade of possible close variants that it might generate. You will have to use continued query management to ensure that new queries are moved into Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) that you can use for purpose-written and QS-boosting ads.

Your ad components for your RSA are still the same. You will get 15 headline variations and 4 descriptions. You can use ad text components in these slots to build your ad but you will need to reference the keyword itself as well as the benefit to users who used that particular search. Close variants can make it possible for people who are not looking for this answer to find you when searching, so you want to be sure that you target the information as the right answer to that search query for improved targeting.

The compelling text still matters, but you will need to constantly reoptimize the contents of that text to take care of any possible deviation that is imparted by close variants or other factors that can impact your search relevance and ranking.

What is Search Term Management?

Search term management is the process by which you identify improved or changing keywords and SKAGs that will push your ads to the front of the bidding line. This process also improves the QS ranking of your site and your ads overall, as Google looks for exact answers for the information that is requested in the search bar.

You will need to constantly look for improved search words and SKAGs to make sure that you do not slip down in the QS rankings over time or that you do not start spending too much money on ads.

Many users do not click on sponsored results, so you will need to be certain that you are actually answering people’s questions and that you are making it clear via the right keywords and phrases, that your content answers the need that is being searched for in the search bar.

There are various top search terms and keyword search generators that you can use to optimize your content yourself, or you can choose to work with an expert team who knows their way around optimization processes and SKAGs. You do not want to waste money on lots of poorly targeted ads, and sometimes the cost of having experts work on your ads is well worth it when you start seeing results and saving money on each click.

If you do not feel that you can adequately target your ads alone, you will need to look into working with an expert team who can handle the process for you. As close variants generate new and altered versions of your SKAGs, you need to be able to course-correct them to keep up with the changing lay of the land. This can be a big process if you are not armed with the right tools to take care of this need for your business.

boost profits using skag campaigns

What is a Healthy Account Structure?

This tight bond between keywords and ads is what is referred to by many advertisers as a healthy account structure. Making sure that this relationship exists for your ad campaigns and keywords will make sure that you save money on every click and that you are targeting the right audience with each ad.

Always remember that Google is more than happy to give you bad advice related to your AdWords. Google’s default process for assigning proper keywords and proper search terms is not foolproof and is often influenced as much by negative keywords as by the SKAGs that you should be focusing on. Make sure that you do not let Google influence how you set up your campaign.

Google Makes Money When You are Inefficient

This is one of the key factors that people do not think about when they are trusting Google to guide their campaigns for them. Google makes money when you do not target your campaigns effectively. The more that you have to bid for each ad, the more money they make. You want to be sure that you are keeping some of your money in your bank account and not giving it all away to Google!

AdWords allows you to spread out your advertising dollars over an entire list of keywords and close variants as well as SKAGs to make sure that you get the most bang for your buck. You want to be sure that you use this setup process to make your ad spending effective and efficient over the life of your advertising campaigns.

What Are Tight Ad Groups?

When you are using tight ad groups, you will make sure that your keywords and your ads match almost exactly. This makes sure that your ads are always targeted correctly and that they will not be used to display to approximate searches or queries.

This can save you a lot of money as you develop a one-to-one relationship between clicks, impressions, and conversions. You do not want to have to worry about a lot of negative keyword management and this process of generating tight ad groups will make it possible to avoid negative keyword management almost entirely.

Increase sales using skag campaigns

Single Keyword Ad Groups Are One-to-One

The biggest benefit of SKAGs is that they are automatically one-to-one related to your searches and to queries that are asked of Google. This makes it possible to direct your ads and your content toward the exact matched answer for these queries.

When you search for a phrase online, everyone knows that Google auto-fills common search phrases in the search bar. These common search phrases are the foundation for your SKAGs and your SKAGs should answer these phrases exactly for the best results. You will need to do some research to isolate the SKAGs that are more deeply related to your advertising strategy and content, but this is the most basic way of seeing what SKAGs will generate the most clicks and impressions for your brand.

How do SKAGs Work as Keywords?

When someone is looking for a search term or item online, they will start to type in the phrase that they want to have answered. The phrase will autofill and you will see multiple variants of the same question as well.

There are always three variants to each keyword:

  • • Broad match modified
  • • Phrase match
  • • Exact match

There are also ways to make your keywords even more granular. This is done using long-tail keywords. These keywords are built off of the root keyword. This might be adding a word or two to your base keyword. Adding ‘online’ or ‘best’ can be a great way to create long-tail keywords that will operate like close variants do when isolating your best matches for ad placement.

These variants can be added to your root keyword in your Single Keyword Ad Group. You can have 50 or 100 of these depending on your account settings. This can make it much easier to generate impressions toward a wide range of search phrases and you will see more traffic almost immediately to your site when you use long-tail keywords.

These are the phrases and terms that you will need to adjust as you do ongoing research to promote the right long tails, close variants, and even new SKAGs to secure good ad placements. This is where working with an expert team of advertisers can help you to get the best results out of your ad strategies. 

There is a lot of data that needs to be analyzed to make this process work efficiently for your needs, and an expert team armed with the right tools can make a big difference in your overall ad placement process.

Increase profits using skag campaigns

Some Features That Get Attention

You will want to be sure that you use keywords and phrases in your ad content and you should also use bold type to grab attention. People usually spend about two seconds looking at any ad they see, so you need to make sure that you grab their attention right away and do it effectively.

Bold text, as well as targeted language about your brand and your product, can make all the difference in the conversion rate that you enjoy from your ad campaigns. You want to be sure that you are not only placing ads properly but that you are also making them relevant and attention-grabbing enough to be effective immediately.

Why SKAG Campaigns Work to Increase Sales

SKAGs are so effective because they help you to manage the flow of your ad campaigns very effectively. They make it much easier for you to generate clicks and impressions and conversions, but they also make it easier for you to manage your overall ad campaign processes better.

  • • More Control

Using SKAGs, you can control and be responsive to changes in your ad campaigns. You can also react to changes in the search options and phrases that are trending at the moment. You want to be able to be nimble and responsive when managing an ad campaign and SKAGs make this a realistic goal.

  • • Turn Off Poor Performing Ad Groups/ Keywords

If you are tired of spending money to keep ad groups active that are not generating results, you have the control to do that when you use SKAGs for your ad build. You will know right away which close variants or even which SKAGs are not generating results for your brand. You will be able to turn off any and all keywords or SKAGs that are not productive and channel that money to other needs and other ad groups.

  • • Place Search Terms Into Correct Ad Groups

Sometimes a search term is the right one for the job if it is moved to the right ad group. You can shift and adjust the assignments of your keywords readily when you are using the SKAG method to manage your ad spend. You will be able to see match types and search queries and that information will help you to move keywords that should be effective into other ad groups.

  • • Reporting Metrics Improved

SKAGs help you to generate good data about the performance of your ad spend. You will be able to see all of the details of your ad performance clearly and without confusion about which items are working and which campaigns are falling flat.

  • • Better Quality Scores

Google uses a quality score measurement to identify relevant replies to queries and you want to be sure that your ads and your content are matching up with this QS score. SKAGs make it possible for you to stay right on track with your QS score metrics.

Are SKAGs Still Worth Your Efforts?

Contrary to some discussion that has indicated that SKAGs might be dead, they are still very essential to the ranking process in Google. Your ads will benefit from SKAGs to drive the originating traffic and interest that creates related close variants.

If you are not sure how to generate SKAGs, or to manage close variants and their effect on your optimization process, consider working with a skilled ad team who knows all the ins and outs of these processes. While the lay of the land has been changed by close variants, you do not need to throw in the towel on your SKAG processes.

Refining how you use your SKAGs with the consideration of closer variants and making sure that you constantly re-assess your keywords can make sure that your ad campaigns generate big results at an affordable cost to you.

Google uses a quality score measurement to identify relevant replies to queries and you want to be sure that your ads and your content are matching up with this QS score. SKAGs make it possible for you to stay right on track with your QS score metrics.


Are SKAGs Hard to Set Up?

You will find that the first few times that you arrange SKAGs for your ad campaigns you will need to work out a lot of the details the hard way. After you have used them for a bit, however, the language and logic of SKAGs will become easier and you will be able to apply them easily to your campaigns.

Are SKAGs Effective?

SKAGs are still relevant in the advertising world because they allow you to create instant connections to keyword phrases that would not be possible otherwise. Managing close variants and long tails can be very difficult without SKAGs as the root of your campaigns.

Can I Get Help Setting up SKAGs?

It can be daunting to work with this level of detail in ad strategy, and working with a skilled agency for your ad design can make a big difference to your overall results. You will want to be sure that you set a budget for your ad campaign and then work with a skilled ad agency to get the best results.

Can You Create SKAGs and Then Stop Managing Your Ads?

Despite the effectiveness of your SKAGs, you will still need to reassess and manage the data related to your ad sets. You do not want to miss out on chances to retarget and improve your ad metrics and performance over time.


SKAGs are the right way to target your ad campaigns to be effective and efficient as well as easy on your budget. You will need to leverage data and management processes to make your SKAGs work their hardest for your brand, but with a little practice, you will be able to generate the perfect ad campaigns every time using SKAGs.

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