Do Duplicate Keywords in Your Campaigns Hurt Your Bids?

Hey Roy, we are getting an audit from a paid search agency and one of the comments from the audit was that we have "many duplicate keywords in each ad group, which makes you outbid yourselves" and I was wondering if that is accurate? Sincerely,


Jeff, that’s a common misconception–each account is evaluated for which single bid (Campaign, Ad Group, and Keyword level) will actually go to auction.

When you have duplicate keywords (two or more keywords that match to the same query), there’s a lot of logic that happens such as:

  • Which campaign is the ‘most restrictive’ (such as one only being a smaller geography, different times of day, etc)
  • What’s the highest ad rank?
  • Are there exact match versions?
  • Do the exact match versions have higher or lower bids than other versions?
  • Doe the exact match version have higher or lower ad rank than other versions?
  • And so on...

Google then decides and only submits one into the auction; so you don’t drive up your own costs.

That’s why it’s impossible to have two ads in one SERP–Google won’t let you actually have two bids in the same auction. There are slight advantages to word-order matches, even outside of phrase match.

The reason not to use duplicate keywords is that it’s harder to set the correct bid/test ads/landing pages/etc when the same keyword is in multiple places in the account. It’s just much easier management and better decision making when you have the keyword in one place (some exception being things like managed/discovery structures or ISO campaigns.

I'd be very cautious in working with an agency that is using that line of reasoning in their audit.  We also offer a free AdWords account review, I hate the word audit, if you'd like another pair of eyes to have a look.  It's no obligation.  I also recently published a book Getting Started with AdWords Guide for E-commerce that may also help.

As always, thanks for the question.  Drop me a line if you have any others.  I love to talk shop.

Up and to the right,