Keyword, You're a Loser! Separating Winners and Losers in Googles Ads with X-Alphas® Script


Within an online campaign, the holy trinity would be stability, predictability and account manageability. How can you create an account that is exceptionally stable, predictable and manageable in a world of changes happening every second?

The Greatest PPC Search Stability Problem

The most significant problem within search campaigns when creating stability is the ability to judge if a keyword is a loser or a winner.  Within these keywords, you have four match types that we rank here based on stability:

  1. Exact match

  2. Phrase match

  3. Broad match modified

  4. Broad match

The more exact match keywords you have within your Google Ads Search account, the more stable and predictable is your account. Although exact match is exceptionally stable, the drawback is keyword growth/exploration. It's unfavorable to have an account that only has exact match keywords leading you to 0% keyword expansion. To compensate for the exploratory issues of exact match we also keep phrase match and broad match modified keywords in the exploratory (Beta) campaigns. Beta campaigns allow for us to keep exploring new valuable keywords all while controlling the overall spend for keyword exploration.

Why SKAGs (Single Keyword Ad Groups) Aren’t Typically the Solution

The key is having stability and predictability while keeping everything manageable. SKAGS should be used in particular cases only.  One of these use cases would be using the top converting keywords and converting them into SKAGs. SKAGing the entire account gives you the ability to have exceptional control, but you also lose lots of predictability which would come from grouping similar keywords in one particular ad group to acquire data much faster.

Let’s say you have an account with 5,000 keywords with 5,000 clicks per month. If you choose the SKAG route, then you have 5,000 ad groups with 10,000 ads being a/b tested. For a single account manager to test 10,000 ads will be a feat in its own, but you also have to deal with massive data segmentation.  The ad group to click ratio at 1:1 leaves you with massive predictability loss. The loss in predictability is why SKAGs must be used sparingly and with keywords that are highly important and have large volumes.

X-Alphas® Solution to separating winners from the rest

Through years and hundreds of millions of dollars of testing at SalesX®, we have found X-Alphas® to be the ultimate solution for providing stability and predictability, all while remaining manageable. With SalesX’s X-Alphas® process we keep the exploratory keywords as stable as possible by segmenting them into a specified Beta campaign. We run our ORCA™ (Optimization Recurring Checklist for Ads) process weekly which adds all negative search terms within the SERP report along with bid adjustments and ad testing thus creating the most stable exploratory environment possible.

Once a keyword within the Beta campaign produces a conversion, the converted search term is then sent for approval to the account manager to be pushed into its respective Alpha campaign. The Alpha campaign then becomes 100% exact match, with 100% converted keywords in the past. To avoid losing any predictability we also import the converted term to its respective ad group relative to the Beta campaign.

The X-Alphas® process leads to a cleaner text ad a/b test, extremely stable campaign, and highly predictable results.

Benefits of X-Alphas®

  1. Account Stability

  2. Account Predictability

  3. Manageable Account

  4. Manageable Growth

  5. Great for Limited Budgets

  6. Great for Quality Score and Massive CTR Improvement

How to Build a Stronger, More Effective PPC Team


Contributor Frederick Vallaeys believes the PPC professionals with the strongest knowledge of paid search fundamentals will have the best opportunities for successful campaigns and solid career growth.

I've been doing pay-per-click (PPC) since 1998, when virtually every setting was manual. While it was painful to manage everything by hand, it forced me to learn the ins and outs of PPC, and that helped me build a successful career. 

Today, with automation playing an ever-more-important role in PPC, new account managers don’t have to learn all the fundamentals because tools handle the details. 

But as humans learn how to co-manage accounts with artificial intelligence, I believe that those with the strongest fundamentals will have the best opportunities for career advancement.

Automation erodes expertise

Remember the days when photography was an expensive hobby? Before digital, every time you clicked the shutter, you used another frame of film. To see the result, you’d spend more money to get the roll of film developed and printed. And not only was it expensive, it was also slow, with most labs taking an hour or more to turn the film into a print.

In the pre-digital days of photography, it mattered that you understood how to frame a shot and set the right exposure to get a beautiful photo. If the photo you took didn’t look amazing, there was very little you could do easily and cheaply to turn it into a masterpiece.

Compare that to today, where everyone has a decent camera on their smartphone and hobbyists have mirrorless cameras that can shoot 60 frames per second. Results are instantaneous, and all the computing power in the camera almost guarantees correct focus and exposure.

In PPC, where Google is pushing really hard to automate as much account management as possible, we run the risk that new PPC professionals will grow up in an era where they do nothing manually and never learn the fundamentals.

When the machine learns too slowly, results suffer

So, why does it matter if the person you hire to manage your AdWords doesn’t know the fundamentals? Even my 4-year old takes great photos, after all. But there is a key difference between taking photos without knowing what an f-stop is and running an AdWords account without knowing how a cost per click (CPC) is calculated.

With photography, we can take shots with ten different exposures in one second, knowing that at least one would be great. It costs nothing to throw away the nine bad photos, but if we’re lazy as account managers and we do nine pointless experiments in AdWords, those clicks cost real money.

I’ve made the point before that testing the right things is what will set great agencies apart from mediocre ones. In PPC, that means that fundamentals still matter so that you can set up a reasonable test that gets as much as possible right, leaving fewer variables to test. This helps find winning tests more quickly, and that can make a huge impact.

When humans rely too much on machine learning, we run into the following issue. Google doesn’t care if it takes ten clicks before their bidding model starts to make good predictions; they still make money on every one of those clicks. 

But advertisers should and do care about the amount of investment required to get to a stable situation where machines deliver predictably good results. This matters even more for small companies that may not have the cash flow to wait it out.

The more humans can help machines go in the right direction, the more money is saved and the happier the advertiser will ultimately be. Doing all that requires knowing the fundamentals.

Be sure to read the entire article on Search Engine Land.


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