With competition constantly heating up as more advertisers push budgets into PPC campaigns, and platform updates like close variant matching killing off your long-tail advantage, it’s getting harder to find the sort of high-performance keywords that can drive big results for your campaigns.

When the quick wins and easy performance gains stop flowing, PPC managers often look to new niches and ongoing keyword expansion, including longer four, five or even 6 word keyword variations to capture incremental impressions. The problem with this approach of ongoing expansion is that as you dig further and further down into longer word combinations the incremental impression gains get smaller and smaller, as does the return on hours spent in the account generating new keyword and ad copy combinations.

The solution… Dig UP!

Maybe your most valuable keywords have been sitting in your account since it’s inception. Those high volume “head” terms that were paused eons ago because they were unprofitable, too expensive, or simply weren’t converting. These single word keywords form part of almost every industry vertical – “watches”, “Japan”, “coffee” – but are often untouched by advertisers.

There may be hope yet for these long forgotten keywords. Here are five tips to revive your high volume single-word keywords.

Isolate The Keyword

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Place the keyword in it’s own ad group, or if your campaign is running on a restricted budget, even it’s own campaign. Doing this will allow you to write tailored ad copy and sitelinks for the keyword, as well as keep a close eye on performance and results. High volume, single word keywords often don’t behave like regular keywords, they can be a bit temperamental and like their own space.

Always Use Exact Match & Include Negatives

Make sure you use an [exact] match type to ensure only the keywords is only triggering for the exact word you are targeting. Using a broad or phrase match type will trigger impressions on semantically similar words, or longer search queries that include the keyword.

Additionally, add the keyword as a campaign negative exact keyword to all of your other campaigns or similar ad groups. Since you want searches for the keyword to trigger impressions from only your isolates campaign or ad group, adding the keyword as a negative to your other campaigns or ad groups that contain similar keywords will ensure they don’t cross-match from any broad keywords containing the word and throw off your results.

Improve Ad Relevance & Quality Score

Quality-Score

Often the Quality Score bottleneck with these types of high-volume, single word keywords is ad relevance. No matter how many different headline and description line variations you try, the ad relevance never seems to improve.

Since Quality Score has such an impact on Ad Rank, and in turn ad position and CPC, increasing a keyword’s Quality Score even a few points can make the difference between a highly profitable keyword, and a highly unprofitable one.

Use Single Word Headlines

The best solution is often the simplest. Single word headlines work well for single word keywords because they catch a users eye with exactly what they are searching for, in big bold blue text, which also helps with clickthrough rate, and overall quality score. Keep the rest of your ad copy fairly general, and make sure to include the keyword once in both your description text and display URL to help with ad relevance.

Using this method I have seen high volume single-word keyword increase their ad relevance from below average to average and keyword Quality Scores increase from 3 or 4 to 6, 7 or even 10 in a number of days.

Keep Users On Their Journey With Sitelinks

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One of the main issues with high volume head keywords is that users are usually at the very beginning of their search journey, and will likely refine their search query and search again if they don’t find what they are looking for in the first few results.

Make sure your ad includes at least 4 sitelinks to different top-level, general categories within your website. This helps users along on their search journey, without the need to refine their search query. Avoid using sitelinks as additional lines of ad text to include USPs like “free delivery”, put that in your ad copy instead. For example, a website selling watches might include the four sitelinks: Watches For Men, Watches For Women, Gold Watches, and More Watch Styles.

Wherever possible, give users the opportunity to continue their journey without having to refine their search query.

Set A Profitable CPC Bid

The final step in optimising high volume single-word keywords is to set a profitable maximum CPC bid. If you follow the method above to increase a keyword’s quality score to 7 or 10, you should be able to find a Max CPC bid that is competitive, generates sales/leads, and is most importantly, profitable. To do this, all that is required is a reasonable conversion history and a simple formula:

Max CPC Bid = [Keyword Conversion Rate] * [Target Cost-Per-Sale]

While you may lose some impression share using this method, as long as your keyword maintains a constant conversion rate, it will remain profitable.