How Using N-Grams Can Help You Reduce Wasted Spend in Your Google Ads Account   

If you don’t know what’s working and what’s not, you will never be able to grow. 

It’s our simple rule for life, for business, and especially for PPC. You can’t just coast and make decisions based off of education guesses or intuition or even best practices…you have to make an intentional effort to dig deep into the available data and understand your performance. Ignoring the data means you’ll forego opportunities to optimize, and ultimately, revenue. 

And revenue is something you don’t want to miss out on! Your advertising budget is valuable, and you want it to be spent on high-performing keywords and campaigns that convert. When you analyze keywords and search queries (keywords being what search marketers target, and search queries being the terms people use to search online that include keywords), you see what these high-performing keywords are, and you are able to cut the low-performing or unnecessarily expensive ones out so your account can become the revenue machine you need it to be. 

N-grams are great tools you can use to optimize your keywords and reduce wasted spend! 

What are N-grams, and how do they work?


N-grams are phrases made up of words or word combinations.

A 1-gram is one word phrase, a 2-gram (bi-gram) is a two word phrase, a 3-gram is a three word phase, and so on. 

For example, the phrase “free skin care consultation” can be broken up into a variety of n-grams. If N=2, the N-grams would be “free skin”, “skin care”, “care consultation”. If N=3, the N-grams would be “free skin care” and “skin care consultation”. 

Combined words may perform better than individual words, and N-grams are able to show you this insight (“free” might not perform well in most searches, but “free consultation” may have a high conversion rate). 

Daniel Gilbert, the CEO of Brainlabs, created an automated script that creates reports showing you the comprehensive performance of N-gram phrases within longer search queries. This script adds up the clicks, impressions, cost, converted clicks, and conversion value of each n-gram and also shows you the click-through rate, cost per click, conversion rate, and cost. You can visualize all of this data in one place. (And the script is free!) 


How can they enhance your PPC performance?

N-grams allow you to take a granular, data-driven approach to your keyword strategy, because they show you the impact of different search queries that reflect user intent. 

For large accounts that have a have a high volume of keywords and search queries, the amount of data available to you can be overwhelming. It’s tempting to just ignore it or not take the time to analyze it correctly; the N-gram script can help you fight this temptation by organizing all of the keyword information into clear, actionable data.

You don’t have to rely on what you think is a good search term, because you’ll have all of this data in front of you to inform your decision on what underperforming keywords to cut. 

You can choose to exclude N-gram phrases as negatives if they’re not performing well enough to justify their cost, and conversely, if an N-gram is getting results, you can choose to create new ad groups based on that N-gram. If you see an N-gram that indicates a location search, you can choose to tailor your ads and landing pages to location or create negative keywords if location searches aren’t your goal.  

N-grams also improve your talent as a digital marketer in the long term, because through using them, you’ll begin to spot patterns of user intent and search language that leads to conversions. Over time, you will become better at including high-performing keywords initially when you create campaigns, and at keyword optimization across every account you manage. 


You can see here that using the N-gram script gives you the clearest idea about what words are performing best and what N-gram phrases to target (in this case, the 3-gram had the lowest cost per conversion). 

The subject of N-grams can be confusing – what questions do you have for us? We’re always available to answer your PPC inquiries! If N-grams seem too complex for  you to manage on your own, we can discuss how our agency can help you grow your business through paid search. Empirical360 has extensive experience in helping businesses of all sizes expand their online influence through digital marketing. We’ve produced millions of dollars in revenue for our clients, and we’re confident we can do the same for you! 

Shea Duncan - Author

Director of Content Marketing

Shea is an expert content writer and is a classic literary nerd! She loves writing highly engaging content and has a knack for making it convert!