SKAG structure to optimize performance

In this article we talk about a technique that uses that same principles but focuses on ad groups instead of campaigns. We’ve tried both, and the Alpha/Beta structure is method we like to use. Because budgets live at the campaign level we like the ability to strategically allocate budget between the hunting (Beta) and farming (Alpha) campaigns. However, many people find it easier to focus on ad groups instead.

Campaign organization

Step 1: Create different campaigns based on business value

When building out a campaign structure, we recommend that your first consider the business value of the products or services being advertised. Create separate campaigns for items with different business value. Doing this helps clarify the ROI of the campaigns and makes it easier to allocate budget. For example, Faber auto repair might prize transmission repair and body work because they represent the highest profit margin. Create a campaign for these topics, and a second campaign for all others. You now have two campaigns: Faber HiValue and Faber MdValue. Note: Create more campaigns if it makes sense. The idea is to create tiers of business value, but keep it manageable. Typically two or three campaigns is sufficient.

Step 2: Create different campaigns based on device and network

We recommend you also separate campaigns based on device and network. To keep things manageable, it’s usually best to begin with a search network (not display network) campaign that targets desktops (not mobile). Later you can add additional campaigns for mobile devices and the display network. It’s a good idea to name your campaigns using a system that helps you keep track of this: Faber HiValue|D|S Faber MdValue|D|S Where D=desktop and S=search. Note that business value and mobile/desktop divisions are sometimes the same. For example, to a tow-truck service a mobile customer is likely more valuable. In this case the high value campaigns will also always be mobile campaigns.

Step 3: Create different campaigns based on location

Location targeting is defined at the campaign level, so if you are targeting different locations you need to create separate campaigns for those as well. For example, Faber auto repair might want to bid out of state searches way down vs. local searches: Faber HiValue|Local|D|S Faber MdValue|Local|D|S Faber HiValue|visitors|D|S Faber MdValue|tourists|D|S

Introducing SKAGs - a way to organize ad groups within your campaigns

A SKAG of penguins. Get it? They are all alike? Look, it’s hard to find a image that matches the topic of a “SKAG” SKAG is an acronym for Single Keyword Ad Group. The idea is to build ad groups that are as specific as possible so that you can refine ad copy and landing pages for them.

Step 1: Identify your root keywords and variations

The technique is to identify your root keywords, which are the shortest keyword you are willing to bid on. For example, if you are an auto repair shop, you might decide your root keyword is “auto repair.” You build out your SKAGs by placing your root keyword into an ad group with three match types: broad modified, phrase, and exact. We suggest you don’t build out separate ad groups for each match type. It’s an administrative headache keeping track of everything and building out meaningful reports for a keyword combination. Your ad group in the end would contain: +auto +repair “auto repair” [auto repair] Build out additional ad groups with variations of the root keyword. For example, a second ad group might be: +car+repair “car repair” [car repair] And a third might be: +auto +shop “auto shop” [auto shop] And so on. As you create ad groups and ad your keyword variations to them, make sure you use the keyword to name the ad group. This way it’s easy to keep track of which SKAG is which. Who wants to lose track of SKAGs? It’s so embarrassing.

Step 2: Run your campaigns and take a look at the search queries

Run the initial campaigns your built in step one for at least a week, preferably two. The broad modified keywords that you created should attract lots of different variations of the keywords. If the variations are not relevant, add then as negative keywords to the ad groups.

Step 3: Create additional SKAGs based on high performing search queries

The auto shop might attract valuable search queries such as “toyota auto repair” ¬†You can now ¬†create a new SKAG based on that keyword, like this: +toyota +auto +repair “toyota auto repair” [toyota auto repair] Step 4: Refine the ad copy and landing pages for the new SKAG As you build out new SKAGs, they will become more and more specific. Your ad copy and landing pages should follow suit, which ensures that your campaign maintains a high relevance and thus a high Quality Score. This brings all sorts of goodness, including higher ranking, higher CTR, and cheaper CPC. We suggest keeping the keyword in the headline 1 (if necessary headline 1 and headline 2) of the ad. This ensures you maintain relevance. Step 5: Add a negative keyword for the new SKAG into the original ad group You don’t want your ad groups competing with one other, so you need to make sure that all traffic associated with “toyota auto repair goes to your new SKAG, and not the original one. To do this, you add “Toyota” as a negative keyword to the original ad group.