When account performance is lagging, it can be overwhelming to identify which levers can right the ship. For fast and efficient changes in performance, the first place you need to check is your ad groups. Below are the top three problems in your SEM performance that can be fixed by reorganizing your account’s ad groups.

Poor CTR

If you have more than approximately five keywords within your ad groups – especially your top spenders – then you are probably in need of some reorganization.

With this many keywords, you are very likely to have some varying tokens among them. For instance, if your company sells kitchen supplies, you might decide to have one ad group for cake pans, cupcake trays, and cookie sheets because they are all very closely related products. However, doing so can drastically hurt your click-through rates because of one thing: the ad copy associated with the ad group.

Imagine a potential customer searching for “cookie sheets” but seeing ads with the following headlines:

High Quality Baking Supplies – On Sale Today

Cakes, Cupcakes, and Cookies – Get Your Pans Here

Cookie Sheets Here – Durable and Long-Lasting

Which of those do you think the user will find most relevant to them? The first ad does not include any mention of the user’s query; even though it is relevant, it does not stand out as easily that the seller has the item the user is looking for. The second ad contains all the tokens of the ad group, but the product the user is looking for is late in the string of irrelevant terms. The third ad, however, contains the user’s query exactly, right up front.

Remember: increasing your click-through rates will also increase your quality score, which will improve your ranking in auctions and decrease your CPCs. (Turns out the top cookie sheet advertisers have figured this out!)

Poor CVR

Even after a user clicks on your ad, they can encounter the same token problem when they hit your landing page. Would the above user want to land on a page that promotes conversions on a wide variety of baking supplies, so they need to search further for the cookie sheets? Even in when the product scope is limited, like the example with the different types of pans, having to scan the page for the product they really want still creates some friction for the user. The best-case scenario is to be directed to a landing page with only the company’s cookie sheet offerings.

While it isn’t always possible to have this many custom landing pages in your site, remember that the more specific the content, the less friction. Less friction means fewer bounces and more conversions (again increasing quality scores!).

Running Out of Budget

Maybe you’ve already separated by tokens in order to optimize your ads and landing pages. You know you are crafting the ideal copy that uses the full query, and sending users to the most appropriate landing page possible (or even making a new one just for this top-performing query). But do you have an ad group that looks like this?

+cookie +sheets

[cookie sheets]

“cookie sheets”

By mixing match types, you are blending two very different efforts: query harvesting (finding new applicable keywords using Broad match or BMM) and query sculpting (making sure your ad ranks highly on your known top performers). Not only does this make it harder to identify your true top performers from a bunch of aggregated tail terms, but you are destroying your budget’s efficiency: when the campaign budget that contains this ad group runs out, then all of these ads stop serving. By not separating harvesters from top performers in separate ad groups in Alpha and Beta campaigns, you are wasting spend on low-priority tasks and missing opportunities on your high-priority keywords.

If poor CTR, poor CVR, and inefficient use of budget are plaguing your account, then the most efficient change is single keyword ad groups (SKAGs). By eliminating the use of disparate tokens and different match types within ad groups, you get better control over your spend and better insight into performance. To learn more about how SKAGs fit into 3Q’s Alpha-Beta process, click here.

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Madeline Fitzgerald
Madeline joined 3Q Digital as Strategy Development Manager in September 2016. She is a Southern California native who graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in English—then rushed right back to the sun and beaches. Outside of marketing, Madeline loves reading, enchiladas, and Oxford commas.