The Single Keyword Ad Groups Strategy (SKAGs)

One way marketers boost their performance on paid search campaigns is to use the single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) strategy. This helps increase your relevance to search terms by creating laser focused ad groups.

In this short guide, I’ll provide the basic information about SKAGs and how you can implement it to achieve the best results possible for your Google Ads.

Let’s go into the details.


Single Keyword Ad Groups


What is SKAGs?

SKAGs is an acronym for Single Keyword Ad Groups. The SKAGs strategy is a Google Ads strategy that involves targeting a single keyword in your ad groups.

Why would marketers do this when Google allows you to target multiple related keywords in an ad group? By targeting a single keyword, you can create ads with an ultra-relevant copy for searchers. For instance, you can have this keyword in your headline, URL, and description.

Since you’re creating ads to meet searchers’ intent for a keyword, you can increase click-through rates for your ads. Fortunately, relevance and CTR are vital criteria for raising your ad quality score. Consequently, a good quality score means you’ll win more auctions and pay less for your clicks.

Lastly, A/B testing is vital to improve any ad campaign. With the SKAGs strategy, tracking your test results is easy since there’s no keyword overlap.



How to build SKAGs

If you have already run Google Ads, then you might run into some small issues building SKAGs. Here are some vital steps to consider before building them on your own:


Uncover your most important keyword

If you’re targeting a single keyword, then getting that keyword right is critical to your ad group’s performance. What keywords do your prospects use when they need your product or service?

Another criterion that will affect your target keyword is your advertising goal. For example, are you looking to increase brand awareness, acquire leads, or boost sales? Likewise, at what stage of the sales funnel do you want to acquire users?

Engaging in keyword research will help uncover keywords, their search intent and the type of content that is successful with the specific keyword. Of course, there are many keyword research tools for your ads.

Luckily, Google has a native research tool: Google Keyword Planner. First, this tool has a keyword discovery feature to find relevant keywords. Second, you can obtain historical metrics for your keywords and forecasts of future performance.

By using this tool, you’ll find metrics such as average monthly searches, impressions, click-through rates (CTR), average cost-per-click (CPC). As well as being able to use an input keyword to discover more keywords, there’s the option to use a website. So if there’s a high-performing competitor you want to emulate then you can enter their website or a page URL to discover valuable keywords. Furthermore, other tools such as SEMrush and Ahrefs help with keyword research.

Once you uncover the best keyword according to your metrics, you can use it as the root keyword for your ad groups.


Create an ad relevant to your keyword

After settling on a target keyword for your SKAGs, creating your ad is next. You’ll find many ad types for Google ads, but we’ll dwell more on search, shopping, and app ads.

Some elements of your ads include:

  • Text: this includes your headline and description. Here you can include your target keyword to make the ad relevant and compelling to a searcher.
  • Landing page URL: this is the page a searcher will land on if they click on your ad. You can have your target keyword in the URL too.
  • Images: if you’re creating a shopping ad, you’ll need to upload images of the product you want to advertise. 
  • Ad extensions: these allow you to include more information below your ads, such as phone number, location, offer, and sitelink.

While creating your ads, staying true to your business’s branding is vital. Also, focus on the intent of the keyword you have chosen. What do you think people are looking for when they search for your keyword? If you’re not sure, then search for it yourself and see what the top results have in common. 

The whole point of SKAGs is to really focus. If someone’ss search includes “best” then focus on your features. If someone includes the word “value” then they are probably thinking about price.

Make your ads be the answer to their search.


Launch A/B tests on ads to improve performance

Even after following the best practices in creating your ads, you can’t completely predict how searchers will react to them. That’s why A/B testing helps to get better results from your campaigns.

Initially, you can perform comprehensive testing on your ads. For instance, you can test two ad variants with significant differences. The headline and description can be different.

With testing, you have to allow ads to run for a period to obtain statistical significance. Then, after determining the high-performing variant, you can perform further testing. This will include making small changes to your ads each time to see what works.

Frankly, you can’t stop testing as long as you run ads. Another advantage of A/B testing is that it can help you discover poor-performing ads and shut them down.


Create more SKAGs as you discover more valuable keywords

As you run your SKAGs, you’ll discover more related keywords to your target keyword by looking at the search query report. Unfortunately, some of these keywords won’t convert with your current ads. 

If it’s clear that the searcher’s intent for some keywords doesn’t fit into your current ads, you can launch another SKAGs with the keyword. However, when creating the new SKAGs, you should enter the root keyword from the former SKAGs as a negative keyword to avoid keyword overlap.

Due to changes in Google Ads meaning that even Exact Match isn’t exact, ensure you’re not creating ad groups with very similar keywords. Otherwise, both ad groups could be bidding for the same keyword.

For example, if you created an ad group each for the keywords “Texas Restaurants” and “Restaurants in Texas”  Google Ads would likely not distinguish between the two searches and so show both your ads for either. In such a case, having a SKAG for both keywords is pointless.

Another point to remember is that using only the SKAGs strategy can be stressful just because it generates so much work. Therefore, it makes sense to only use it for top keywords where you want to satisfy the searcher’s intent. Then target the rest of your keywords in the normal way.



Creating relevant ads is the top priority for any marketer running Google Ads. After all, that’s how you can increase clicks, conversions, improve your quality score, and spend less money.

This is why SKAGs is a strategy you should test out in your Google Ad campaigns. Go through this guide and implement these tactics today!

About Daniel Halberstadt

Daniel Halberstadt is the Head of SEO at Adspace, a growing digital marketing agency based in Austin, Texas. He has over 4 years of experience as an SEO specialist and writer. When he is not sitting at home helping companies grow their organic search traffic you can find him at the gym lifting weights, or hiking in the Andes.