How Many Keywords per AdGroup?? (Hidden Costs of Google Adwords – Post #3)

As discussed in previous posts, if you are using Google AdWords, or plan to use it, you need to be aware of some of the default settings and features that will cause you to pay more for each click, and how to avoid those hidden charges.


The number of keywords or keyword phrases in each of your ad groups is yet another small feature that can have a BIG impact on your bottom line. (If you’d like to see how much of an impact, check out the Google Adwords Tax Calculator.)

Let’s say you have 1,000 keywords defining your products or services. You’ve put them all into one ad group and now you need to create ad copy. You should create multiple ad copy for testing and targeting. Your ad copy should reflect your keywords, but since you have 1,000 keywords stuffed in one ad group, it is impossible for your ad copy to be targeted to a specific product or service. If your ad copy doesn’t target your keywords, which should reflect the content on your landing page, your click-through-rate will decrease, which will cause your cost-per-click (or CPC) to increase.

Sadly, nothing is simple. Let me explain further.

The reason that stuffing all 1,000 keywords into one ad group will decrease your click-through-rate, is because if someone Googles your keyword, and your ad copy appears, the relevant keyword (if it’s in your ad copy!) will be bolded, which guides people to click on your ad. Testing has proved that if ad copy is relevant to what the searcher is searching for, the searcher will be more likely to click on your ad.

Not writing relevant ad copy decreases your click-through-rate, which will signal to Google Adwords that your ad is not relevant, causing your cost-per-click to INCREASE. Totally not cool.

To avoid this debacle, it is generally good practice to limit the number of keywords per ad group. There is much debate over the “right” ratio of keywords to ad group, but a good rule of thumb is to only cover the keywords of the landing page to which you are directing traffic. Which brings us to another point: Deep Linking! Don’t send searchers to your home page (unless they are seeking your brand, specifically) — send them to a specific product/service page.

For example: You are a baker and you offer five products (pastries, pies, bread, cakes, and muffins). One of your keywords is “blueberry pie”. When someone searches for “blueberry pie”, you do not want them to see ad copy that reads:

Get a bunch of baked goods here
The best bakery in Pittsburgh

Instead, your ad copy should reflect the content on the page that you are sending your paid visitors to. For example:

Our pies taste just like Grandma’s
Apple, Cherry, & Blueberry Pie -

This way, when someone searches “Blueberry Pies” – they will get precisely what they asked for, be more likely to click on your ad, and, if your website is enticing enough, be more likely to EAT YOUR PIE. Win!

All of this was a round-about-way of explaining WHY you don’t want to have all your keywords in one ad group, nor do you want to have keywords pertaining to your pastries in the same ad group as keywords pertaining to your blueberry pie.

You could even break it up further and have a landing page on your website for blueberry pies, apple pies, and cherry pies with three separate ad groups that reflect only the keywords and ad copy for that particular type of pie.

Takeaway: If you can break down each ad group to only hold 10-20 keywords, you’re doing pretty darn good.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the “right” number of keywords for an ad group, or about your experience on “The Hidden Costs of Adwords”!

If you’re really into Adwords, be sure to read my other two posts on The Hidden Costs of AdWords – In the first post I show you why keyword matching is important and in the second post, why you should be using negative keywords.

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4 Responses to “How Many Keywords per AdGroup?? (Hidden Costs of Google Adwords – Post #3)”

  1. Gerillapop Says:

    Totally right!
    I “inherited” an AdWords account with 3 ad groups and about 5000 keywords. I separated the keywords to smaller ad groups, and ended up with an increase of average quality score of 6.8 (used to be around 4.3), and my average CPC decreased more than 50%.
    This is a really valuable piece of advice, you out there should totally take it!

  2. pay per click program Says:

    Your Pay per click tips are helpful and will surely assist all in the Search Marketer game. Please keep it coming.

  3. Priya Singh Says:

    Nice explanation on using keywords in ad copy. I am pretty interested in sharing my experience on this. I also use to follow the same practice of using similar sounding keywords in same group. But one day by mistake I kept one specific keyword “nainital tour packages” in a general group “Nainital”. I am habitual of keeping keyword insertion in the ad copies. After 5 days of performance I checked the keyword list and was surprised to see that most of the keywords in the general group were inactive but the specific keyword was getting sober impressions and clicks with good CTR at given bid. Even the ad copy didn’t had “nainital tour packages”, but the keyword insertion worked for it.

    Another surprising thing happened, when I shifted the specific keyword in its specific group where ad copies had keyword insertion as well as the keyword “nainital tour packages” was used. But the keyword went inactive in this group.

    I really don’t trust the best practices specified by the search engines themselves to achieve best performance. It just require test! test! & test!

  4. Chad Walls - Adwords Calgary Says:

    I am still a novice when is comes to Google Adwords but think it is best to keep the number of keywords in each ad groups down to a minimum. From what I understand each key phrase is a different market and adding key phrases that deviate from the central theme will decrease relevance and lower the click through rate. In fact when you discover keywords that convert well you should separate it into its own ad group or campaign. Besides, it doesn’t cost anything to create a new campaign and it will help reduce the CPC as the new ad will be highly relevant for that particular keyword that might become the mainstay of your overall adwords campaign.

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