Deduping Keywords: How to Identify & Remove Duplicate Keywords from Your PPC Account


Around this time last year, I had a pretty ambitious list of New Year’s resolutions cued up for 2013. I’m ashamed to report that I did not successfully complete a single item during the course of the year. In retrospect, my problem was that I set the bar far too high—I mean really, who loses 20 pounds and masters the Spanish language in only 365 days?—and as a result, I gave up pretty quickly. When it comes to managing PPC accounts, I face a similar problem. I tend to bite off more than I can chew and then get too discouraged to complete it.

This year, I’ve learned my lesson. I’m setting more manageable goals and am determined to complete them. The first item on my checklist is to identify and remove duplicate keywords, so I can start the New Year with a nice, clean account.

Why You Need to Clean Up Your Duplicate Keywords

It’s nearly impossible to maintain a PPC account that is free of duplicate keywords, particularly if you have multiple managers working in one account, or are frequently adjusting match types and account settings. Some advertisers even set duplicates intentionally, thinking that their ad will appear twice for the same auction. Do not be fooled by this common misconception. AdWords will only show one ad per advertiser for each search.

Believe me, duplicates are dangerous. Not only can they have a detrimental impact on your Quality Scores, but they can also cannibalize your budget. If you are bidding on the same keyword twice, both will be entered into the same auctions and you will compete with yourself, driving up your own CPCs. Taking some time to dedupe an account every few months is a critical (albeit rarely executed) activity.

There seems to be a lot of confusion among advertisers regarding what constitutes a harmful duplicate keyword. Let’s set the record straight—duplicate keywords can hurt your account if they are identical keywords with the same match types, targeting the exact same audience. There is one caveat to this definition, which comes into play with broad match keywords. Be cognizant that broad match keywords are duplicates if they contain the same words, even in different orders. For example, chocolate cupcake frosting on broad match and frosting chocolate cupcakes on broad match are considered duplicates.

When Is It OK to Have Duplicate Keywords in PPC?

There are some situations in which it is perfectly acceptable to have duplicate keywords. For example:

  • You can use duplicate keywords in campaigns set to serve ads to different geographical locations. This is a common practice, as many advertisers segment their account by region. In this case, it is fine to bid on the same keyword in each campaign, as they will never compete in the same auction.
  • You can use the same keywords in search campaigns and display network campaigns. Since these keywords will be utilized in different circumstances, they will not hurt your account performance.

How to Find and Remove Duplicate Keywords in Your AdWords Account

Identifying all duplicate keywords in an account may sound like a daunting task, but with a little AdWords Editor magic, you can tick it off your to-do list pretty quickly. Here’s all you need to do:

Step 1

First things first, if you don't already have it, download AdWords Editor. This is Google’s free, offline tool and a must-have for all serious PPC-ers (even if Larry thinks it’s eventually going the way of the dodo).

Step 2

Once you’ve downloaded your account, head to the Tools dropdown and select “Find duplicate keywords.”

Duplicate Keywords

Step 3

As we discussed earlier, different types of duplicates have different impacts on an account. Select exactly what types of duplicates you want to catch based on word order, match types and location. You can also filter out those in deleted or paused campaigns, which will clutter your list.

Deduping PPC Keywords

There you have it, my fellow PPC-ers—all of your duplicate keywords in just a few clicks!

Now, all you need to do is review the list and make some executive decisions. I recommend nixing or editing any duplicate keywords that are in the same campaign and have the same match type.

WordStream clients: Please note that, for the time being, you cannot run this deduping process through WordStream. However, WordStream Advisor will identify any duplicate keywords created within your work session and automatically delete them before your changes are posted live to AdWords.

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Michael Bian
Jan 02, 2014

Thank you for sharing this informative article..

Jan 02, 2014

You bet!  I'm glad you found it to be helpful.

Simon Gare
Jan 02, 2014

Good article, never thought of the competing keyword raising CPC, thanks.

Jan 02, 2014

Hi Simon--don't worry,  you're in the majority!  The good news, this is a super simple fix to make.  Good luck!

Dana Tan
Jan 02, 2014

Hey Erin,Thanks for te hepful and informative post! What a great way to start 2014. I manage two Adwords accounts bidding on about 6,000 keywords. I was able to de-dupe them in about 45 minutes. 45 minutes very well spent. Happy New Year!

Jan 06, 2014

Dana, That's fantastic!  Told ya it was quick and easy .  Best of luck to you in 2014! -Erin

Jan 03, 2014

I think deduping is a good idea - even if it's just to have less clutter in your account. Are you sure the below is true?>> If you are bidding on the same keyword twice,>> both will be entered into the same auctions and you will compete with yourself I though only one keyword per account is selected for the action.

SEO Manager
Jan 03, 2014

What happens if you have multiple accounts due to billing rescrictions and management.   I still want to check for dupes accross accounts.

Jan 06, 2014

Excel will be your friend, download all the Keywords and use the conditional formating to find duplicate cells...It takes longer than the Google Adwords editor but in this case you can check accros multiple accounts.  

Jan 06, 2014

Thanks for jumping in Jorge, that sounds like a good method!

Jan 04, 2014

Thanks for a great article but before I start the process are dupe keywords measured at Campaign or a Adgroup level. Is it OK to have some of the same keyword in different adgroups (especially with regard to broad match terms)? 

Jan 06, 2014

Hi Harry, usually we consider a word to be a duplicate if it appears within the same campaign (and is therefore targeted to the same audience).  I wouldn't recommend having the same keyword in different ad groups, if they are housed under one campaign.  Hope that helps!

Jan 06, 2014

Great post Erin Sagin! This is an awesome.

Jan 06, 2014

happy to hear that you enjoyed it, stephanie!

Jan 06, 2014

Hi there, This article has been great to read has some really good points on PPC techniques hope to see more from you in the future.Thanks again,Matt for Sulmax Marketing.

Jan 06, 2014

hi matt, thanks for commenting.  glad you enjoyed the post!

Niroshan Samuel
Jan 06, 2014

I have a doubt about the conclution. Could you please explain the statement that you made "both will be entered into the same auctions". How do you prove that? I have following questions

  • If my CPC goes up, competitor CPC also need to go up.
  • If my account has multiple duplicates then my CPC will sky high (Including competitor's duplicates)
 Base on above questions I feel Google will select only one keyword from an account and will decide the CPC with the QS and BID, Competitor metrics. If you have clear facts that prove your statment then it will be a clear path to us. Regards,Niroshan  

Jan 10, 2014

Great post and amazing tips. The one thing which I want to add is we can also use software like deduplication software for identifying duplicated data and efficiently removing it.

Apr 23, 2014

Hi Erin,We've created some RLSA campaigns which are duplicates of our existing campaigns except targeted to people who have already been on our site. Would you consider the keywords in this campaign as duplicates which would negatively impact the original keywords?Thanks,Ivan

Oct 18, 2014

Hi Erin,Can  we use different match types in one campaign what does that results to, and one question is that in the account with with the different campaigns can we use the same keywords and the match types. Will effet the performace of my account.Regards,Prabhu  

Jimmy Higgins
May 23, 2015

This article save a lot for us thank you for sharing such useful information.

Dec 06, 2017

I have question is not related to your post , however its matched the situation.i sure that duplicate keyword in same campaign something against proper adword Dose that happen across adword account ?
mean duplicate keyword which in different campaigns and same account Compete ?
Please advice

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