What are keyword ad groups?

Keyword ad groups, by their very nature, encase which keywords your ads will show on, what your ad will say when it shows, and where the user will be taken once they click on it.

So, in essence, you are deciding who to advertise to, what to say to get them to react to your ad, and how you will make your final pitch at gaining a lead, sale, or interaction.

By keeping your ad groups tightly focused on a single message or theme you eliminate any chance of confusion or mixed messaging.

Why use keyword ad groups?

Selecting the right keyword list for your campaign can help you show your ads to the right customers. Your keywords should match the terms your potential customers would use to find your products or services.

How to create keyword ad groups

You will need your keyword research to create your ads keywords list.

1. Think like a customer when you create your list

Write down the main categories of your business, and then write down the terms or phrases that might fall under each of those categories. Include terms or phrases that your customers would use to describe your products or services.

2. Select specific keywords to target specific customers

Select more specific keywords that directly relate to your ad’s theme if you want to target customers who may be interested in a particular product. Using more specific keywords would mean that your ad only appears for terms that apply to your business. But keep in mind that if the keywords are too specific, you might not be able to reach as many people as you’d like.

3. Select general keywords to reach more people

Select more general keywords if you’d prefer to reach as many people as possible. Keep in mind that you might find it difficult to reach potential customers when adding very general keywords because your ad could appear for searches that aren’t always related to your business. Also, more general keywords can be more competitive and may require higher bid amounts.

Test general keywords, and then decide which ones give you better results. No matter how general your keywords are, they should always be relevant to your ads and website. However, you should avoid using duplicate keywords in your account because Google shows only one ad per advertiser on a particular keyword.

4. Group similar keywords into ad groups

To show more relevant ads to potential customers, group your keywords and ads into ad groups based on your products, services or other categories.

If instead, you add all your keywords and ads to one ad group, a customer searching for “women’s evening shoes” may see your ad about “men’s tennis shoes”.

5. Pick the right number of keywords

We recommend 5 – 20 keywords per ad group. Although, you can have more than 20 keywords in an ad group if you want. Remember, each ad group should contain keywords that directly relate to that group’s theme.

Your keywords will automatically match variations such as possible misspellings or plural versions. So you don’t need to add those.

6. Choose keywords that relate to the websites or apps that your customers see

On the Display Network, your keywords allow your ads to show on relevant websites or in apps. Choose keywords that are related to each other and that are related to the content that your customers browse.

For apps, Google Ads may extend the scope of your keywords in order to match your ads to more relevant search terms.

Since your ads are matched to relevant websites using your keywords, all keywords used for Display Network campaigns are considered a broad match. You can fine-tune your keywords by excluding certain keywords from ad groups that target the Display Network.

7. Broad Match Modifier (BMM)

In short, by adding a simple “+” before a word in your broad match keyword, Google requires that word (or a close variation) to appear in the user’s search query.

By requiring the actual word to appear in the user search query, BMM is a much safer option for those who have been worried about the pitfalls of using Enhanced Broad Match (EBM). BMM is still a wider net than phrase match, but not nearly as wide as EBM, which requires diligent search query mining to minimize the risks.

Start experimenting by:

  • Creating new ad groups for keywords that you want more exposure on using the “+” modifier
  • You will want to set a lower CPC for the BMM version of your keyword to minimize ad-poaching
  • Take advantage of the new Google Analytics AdWords reports and watch your search queries closely for negatives
  • Cool tool to analyse your existing Ads Account: Free Google Ads Performance Grader 


By creating new BMM ad groups, the results will be easier to compare to those of your existing ad groups. You will also get the added benefit of having your user search queries segregated from your existing ad groups, making it easier to mine for negative keywords (which will still be necessary).