Adwords: one keyword per adgroup

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In adwords...

Question: what are the negatives of putting one keyword per adgroup?

Background:

I run my own adwords for my own small business consulting company.

I'm a database guy, so I have set up things the way I'm accustomed to. Automated analysis, automated ad creation, large keyword lists, etc. It's easy for me to set up these kind of things, and then set up my own keyword groupings, adgroup groupings, etc, to analyze performance. I download google analytics data and pump it through my database. It's easiest for me to set up a unique adgroup with each keyword.

Whenever I talk to people in the industry, they tell me my campaigns are way too complex, and I have too many adgroups, and I should combine 10-15 similar keywords and put them in one adgroup. Everything I read in blogs and forums on the internet agrees with this. But why? I've never heard a solid reason, other than "it makes it too difficult to manage". But if it's easy for me to manage, are there other reasons?

possible reasons:
1. Having low impression adgroups have a crossover effect and hurt the QS or impression share of other adgroups?
2. Putting the same ad in multiple adgroups has a negative effect on QS or impression share? (ie i will sometimes run the same ad across mutiple adgroups that have the similar keywords)
3. Google doesn't like it for some reason and will penalize you somehow, if you don't structure your campaign the way they like?
4. An adgroup can gain traction and keywords in it work together in a synergistic way. ie a keyword that has strong impressions and CTR when combined with other keywords, the other keywords will find favor from google, in terms of QS and how often Google serves them. And if they were all separate, those other keywords might not ever catch on with Google. Is this possible?

I finally broke down due to everyone telling me I was wrong and changed how I did things and tried to combine some keywords together in adgroups, so it wasn't just a 1:1, but I haven't seen any change. And I'd like to go back, because this creates manual processes for me.

Any insight to this?
#adgroup #adwords #keyword
  • Profile picture of the author dburk
    Hi paultaylor,

    I used to be an advocate of 1 keyword per ad group, and while automation does make it manageable, I eventually abandoned that model and I will list a few reasons here:

    Aggregating data - While you can aggregate data within your own database, you have to do extra work to configure the keyword data sets that you want to aggregate, so you are doing that work either in your ad groups or after the fact in your database reports. So you don't save any labor, but you lose data because there are some things that Google will only report after you reach a threshold of volume. You get extra data from all of those aggregated groups that wouldn't have reached the threshold when split into multiple ad groups.

    Faster optimization - When you use some of the internal tools and features in AdWords, like optimizing better performing ads, the optimization occurs faster when nearly identical keywords are combined into the same ad group.

    Simplification - Splitting and then re-aggregating data on the backend requires time to setup for each and every new report that you want to create. AdWords already provides the reports split by keywords so you are just doing work that has already be done. And again there is some data particularly within segments that would require quite a bit of work to setup and compile within the backend reports and it is already there if you have aggregated ad groups.

    I do not believe that trying to include a specific number of keywords within an ad group is a good idea either. I only combine keywords into the same ad group when they are nearly identical in user intent and will have the identical ads and landing pages. Many of my ad groups have only 2 or 3 keywords, while others might have as many as 30 or 40, it all depends on what works best for the campaign. I try to be as granular as I can be as long as it can improve results.

    For me it is not about what is easiest to manage, but what gives me the best end result, I am happy to do extra work if there is a payoff that merits the work.
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    • Profile picture of the author paultaylor
      Originally Posted by dburk View Post

      Hi paultaylor,

      I used to be an advocate of 1 keyword per ad group, and while automation does make it manageable, I eventually abandoned that model and I will list a few reasons here:

      Aggregating data - While you can aggregate data within your own database, you have to do extra work to configure the keyword data sets that you want to aggregate, so you are doing that work either in your ad groups or after the fact in your database reports. So you don't save any labor, but you lose data because there are some things that Google will only report after you reach a threshold of volume. You get extra data from all of those aggregated groups that wouldn't have reached the threshold when split into multiple ad groups.

      Faster optimization - When you use some of the internal tools and features in AdWords, like optimizing better performing ads, the optimization occurs faster when nearly identical keywords are combined into the same ad group.

      Simplification - Splitting and then re-aggregating data on the backend requires time to setup for each and every new report that you want to create. AdWords already provides the reports split by keywords so you are just doing work that has already be done. And again there is some data particularly within segments that would require quite a bit of work to setup and compile within the backend reports and it is already there if you have aggregated ad groups.

      I do not believe that trying to include a specific number of keywords within an ad group is a good idea either. I only combine keywords into the same ad group when they are nearly identical in user intent and will have the identical ads and landing pages. Many of my ad groups have only 2 or 3 keywords, while others might have as many as 30 or 40, it all depends on what works best for the campaign. I try to be as granular as I can be as long as it can improve results.

      For me it is not about what is easiest to manage, but what gives me the best end result, I am happy to do extra work if there is a payoff that merits the work.

      Thanks. You've given me some good things to think about. But I think this still comes down to reporting and preferences in the way of how you want to do them. If I like doing all my reports in my database, including optimization analysis, and I prefer 1:1 kw:adgroup for that, then it really doesn't matter, right? I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything that would hurt the performance other than just my own convenience in setting things up and analyzing.
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      • Profile picture of the author dburk
        Originally Posted by paultaylor View Post

        Thanks. You've given me some good things to think about. But I think this still comes down to reporting and preferences in the way of how you want to do them. If I like doing all my reports in my database, including optimization analysis, and I prefer 1:1 kw:adgroup for that, then it really doesn't matter, right? I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything that would hurt the performance other than just my own convenience in setting things up and analyzing.
        Hi paultaylor,

        I felt the same way until I realized that there is some important data I needed for my automated bid adjustment algorithms that I was not getting because of the one keyword per ad group. If you are not in a competitive niche then it might not matter, but for me it was absolutely critical for hundreds of campaigns. At first, I wasn't even aware of it, but a few years back when I ran out of room on an account and needed to ad more ad groups, I had to restructure. Suddenly I was seeing data that was not available before aggregating the ad groups. That data allowed me to take it to the next level and now we dominate that industry niche despite massive competition.
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        • Profile picture of the author paultaylor
          Originally Posted by dburk View Post

          Hi paultaylor,

          I felt the same way until I realized that there is some important data I needed for my automated bid adjustment algorithms that I was not getting because of the one keyword per ad group. If you are not in a competitive niche then it might not matter, but for me it was absolutely critical for hundreds of campaigns. At first, I wasn't even aware of it, but a few years back when I ran out of room on an account and needed to ad more ad groups, I had to restructure. Suddenly I was seeing data that was not available before aggregating the ad groups. That data allowed me to take it to the next level and now we dominate that industry niche despite massive competition.
          What kind of data do you mean exactly? What data am I missing right now? I LOVE data! I'd be very sad if I was missing out on critical data...
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  • Profile picture of the author AnthonyCapetola
    Put simply you really aren't diversifying campaigns enough with one keyword per Ad Group. There could be so many profitable (and not so profitable) keyword combinations and variations that you are literally missing out on potential traffic.

    It goes against Best Practices, plain and simple.
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    • Profile picture of the author paultaylor
      Originally Posted by AnthonyCapetola View Post

      Put simply you really aren't diversifying campaigns enough with one keyword per Ad Group. There could be so many profitable (and not so profitable) keyword combinations and variations that you are literally missing out on potential traffic.

      It goes against Best Practices, plain and simple.
      I think you misunderstood. I could have a very diverse campaign with thousands of keywords and every combination you could think of, while employing this tactic of one keyword to one adgroup.
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  • Profile picture of the author ChrisBa
    I've done this before, the upside is you can really design an ad catered to the keyword in the adgroup. It is a lot of extra work and maintenance. I also think unless they are very high traffic keywords it might not be worth it. At the same time, it's always worth trying something IMO (if you havent already)
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  • Hi Paul.

    I have never used the one keyword per ad group method. It never seemed to make sense to me as I see no benefit to do so.

    What would be the benefit of having "round plastic widget" in a separate group from [round plastic widget]? They are essentially the same keyword. Just that the phrase match would include searches on things like "red round plastic widget". The word "red" is not primary in my view and should not affect results, especially if you have exactly the same ad.

    For that matter, if you use the broad match, is there really much of a difference between "plastic widget that is round" and "plastic widget round" to the main keyword? I think not, yet I see many use all these variations with stop words such as a and the thinking it will help them get better QS or lower CPC. It's a lot of work for little returns as there may be no impressions on those. Sure, you can automate this but before doing that, I suggest starting with the basics and finding out if there is a need for some of these longer tails.

    Speaking of ads, what would be different in your ad to distinguish the phrase from the exact match? There is none. Yet, I see advertisers do this and have the same ads for both types. It would make more sense to have different ads as you'd be done more testing. This means of course more work in creating and managing but that can be manageable.

    dBurk in his first point is also one of mine. I'm a database guy myself and while I could aggregate the data fairly easily, I don't want to especially if I don't need to.

    But simplification is also a big reason. Keep things simple, it will be less headaches.

    You mention the QS aspect. The QS may be different between the two groups but I think that would be an illusion (if you use the same ads). The QS in a group with same keywords in different match types would be the same as that's how Google does things, they are treated the same. Also, technically it's not a keyword QS, it's a keyword-ad QS. Your QS is different for each keyword and ad combination.

    You can have one keyword per group if you don't mind and I don't believe Google would penalize in any way. The Adwords system will just chug along with the information it has. I just don't see the point as there is no benefit in my mind but to each their own.
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  • Profile picture of the author ppcmanager
    One of the problem you might encounter by using this strategy is that if your daily budget is low, and the number of ad groups is very high - the impression share within your account might be too variable or inconsistent.

    Infact, one of the official Adwords reps told me this for an account, as the keywords weren't generating a lot of impressions inspite of bids, quality score & search volume all being above the required levels.
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    • Profile picture of the author paultaylor
      Originally Posted by ppcmanager View Post

      One of the problem you might encounter by using this strategy is that if your daily budget is low, and the number of ad groups is very high - the impression share within your account might be too variable or inconsistent.

      Infact, one of the official Adwords reps told me this for an account, as the keywords weren't generating a lot of impressions inspite of bids, quality score & search volume all being above the required levels.
      My gut feeling is that this might have happened to me. However, I was never constrained by budget. I always set budgets much higher than I would ever get close to with actual clicks. Would adwords restrict impression share in this case?
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      • Profile picture of the author dburk
        Originally Posted by paultaylor View Post

        My gut feeling is that this might have happened to me. However, I was never constrained by budget. I always set budgets much higher than I would ever get close to with actual clicks. Would adwords restrict impression share in this case?
        Hi paultaylor,

        It's possible they might limit your ad spend, especially if it is a new account, or an account that doesn't have a history of ad spend that high. Regardless of what you set your budget limit to, Google will have an internal number that equates to a line of credit for the account. They will not allow the amount you owe them to go beyond that amount without getting paid. Over time that amount will grow as will your ad spend.

        Think about it. They are not going to let anyone who wants to get served $200,000 worth of ads and then try to chase them down for thr payment. Every account will have an internal credit limit and your ad spend will not be allowed to exceed that limit until after they have received and verified payment.

        Have you checked the impression share percentages in your reports? Are they all at 100%?
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  • Profile picture of the author Marty Foley
    Hi Paul.

    My thoughts are along the same lines of several in this thread...

    It's all about 80/20 and spending your time where it's most productive. In this scenario it boils down to finding the sweet spot between keyword search volume and performance.

    Better performing keywords with higher search volume are worth the extra time investment involved in using them individually in their own ad groups. This gives better control over bidding, ad relevance, negative keywords used, etc. Lower volume keywords rarely warrant their own ad groups, though automation can make it more feasible, easier to manage.

    ~ Marty Foley
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  • Profile picture of the author amcg
    It's all about 80/20 and spending your time where it's most productive. In this scenario it boils down to finding the sweet spot between keyword search volume and performance.
    This. I think there is the danger of falling into the trap of investing too much time in individual ad groups when it would be better of focusing on keywords across the range of groups.
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