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6 Factors to Help You Determine If You Should Bid at Keyword or at Ad Group-Level in AdWords

White Shark Media

12 years ago



On many occasions, you might find yourself in the dilemma of choosing whether to set your bids at the ad group or keyword level. You may

feel hesitant about deciding because you might not know which will ultimately work best for you. Well, this article will help you make quick and effective decisions to get over that dilemma.

But before going into details, I would like to mention that you have to keep in mind that keyword-level bids always overwrite ad group-level bids. This is the case regardless of whether they are higher or lower bids than that of the ad group’s; keyword-level bids always come first when an auction takes place.

For instance, if your ad group’s max CPC is $1.00, but you have established a lower or higher bid than that of a keyword in that ad group, then the max CPC for that keyword will always overwrite the ad group’s max CPC.

So, with no further ado, these are the most often-occurring scenarios that you will come across when working with either account-level or keyword-level bidding:

When to Focus on Ad Group-Level Bidding:

Here is a list of common scenarios when you should choose to use ad group-level over keyword-level bids:

When Launching a Campaign:

At the initial stages of a campaign, it is best to start out with a default bid for all your ad groups. It is definitely not suggested to start tampering with keyword-level bids when you are just launching a new campaign. This is because at this particular point, you find yourself more in a testing phase and you don’t really know what will work best as of yet.

When Keywords are Tightly-Themed in an Ad Group:

If your ad groups are not populated with a lot of keywords (for example, you perhaps may have an ad group that has 5 keywords or less and is very tightly-themed), then it is very likely that they all will work smoothly with the same default ad group bid.

Aiming for Better Overall Position and Traffic:

It is unpredictable what the trend of a specific campaign will be before you start running it. So, if you find yourself launching a campaign and it turns out to have low traffic (lower than what you were expecting), then perhaps you are not properly exploiting the daily budget that you had established for your campaign.

When this happens, one of the easiest solutions after expanding your keyword list is to raise the bids throughout your campaign in order to generate more traffic. This is where ad group bidding comes in handy since it’s so easy to work with.

When to Focus on Keyword-Level Bidding

Keyword-level bidding comes into the picture when you already have your campaign running for a while. The testing phase is over and you are optimizing based on whatever goal you are attempting to reach (whether it’s traffic, leads, sales, position, etc.).

I would not suggest spending too much time working with keyword-level bidding. If you get too granular with this by assigning a max CPC to every specific keyword, then you are basically wasting a lot of time and will at some point lose control over the campaign’s performance and not even know it.

So here are a few scenarios when you should consider adjusting your max CPC at keyword level:

Best Converting or Performing Keywords:

If you are working with conversions, you will of course then have some keywords that perform better than others in the same ad group, or in the overall campaign. This is one of the cases where keyword-level bidding is used most. By bidding higher on the keywords that work best, you make sure that they have a better positioning in order to drive in more conversions.

This also applies not only when working with conversions, but when wanting to do the same for the main keywords that describe your product or service. Additionally, by bidding higher on those, you ensure a better position when they are triggered.

Under First-Page Bid Keywords:

There are occasions where you might find some of your keywords under the first-page bid estimate and the estimated first-page bids are actually higher than the max CPCs you have established for that ad group. In this case, if you want these keywords to perform better (or at the very least appear on the first page), you will then only need to increase the bids to the first-page bid estimate to avoid raising the max CPC for the entire ad group – which might not be required.

Expensively Bad-Performing Keywords:

When trying to reduce your ad spend, or regulate your cost-per-conversion, sometimes you may not necessarily want to lower bids on an entire ad group but rather just focus on the keywords that are the biggest spenders.

These are usually broad-based keywords and perhaps might not be driving the most relevant traffic for you, or not driving as many conversions as expected. This of course is due to a cost-per-conversion that just way supersedes your estimated goal amount. So lowering the bids on these specific keywords before you decide to pause them, will certainly save you some money.

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