When it comes to Adwords, people are often caught up on daily spend and cost per click, when all to often the elephant in the room is Quality Score. It is at the core of any successful paid search marketing campaign, yet many PPC advertisers find it a frustrating and confusing metric to fully comprehend and to master. Why? Because your page quality score can change in a matter of minutes, impact on your ad positioning and not to forget those all important click through rates and conversions. So what is quality score, what impact does it have on your Adwords performance and what can you do to ensure your quality score is always as good as possible?
Firstly What is Quality Score?
Like with organic search, there are a whole host of factors that can affect the performance of your adverts in Adwords. There are two key metrics that you will hear of when it comes to improving your performance, the first is the average cost per click which refers to how much you are willing to pay for a single click. This metric is typically relatively simple, the more you pay per click, the higher you will show in search rankings. But then there is quality score, and even the biggest spenders can’t get around the need for a better quality score at times.
Essentially, like with organic search, Google wants to make sure that the content you are served is the best of the best, the creme de la creme of content, so Quality score is a metric Google uses to determine your ad ranking and is a measure of relevancy and quality of the ad and landing page. Landing pages with higher CTR tend to have better quality scores because this signals to Google that your page is a good source of information related to your search query.
Why is Quality Score so Tricky?
Google Adwords is essentially an online auction where the highest bidder and the best content wins, meaning that the best content today might not be the best content tomorrow. As an advertiser you won’t always know what your competitors are going to do next, are they going to create more relevant content targeted at the same audiences and are they going to outbid you. Google Adwords is a moving conveyer belt and as an advertiser you must never stop changing things up and fine tuning to get it right.
Recommendations for mastering quality score
If you are just starting out with Adwords, here are a few simple tips to help you come to terms with quality score:
Having a clear structure and consistent use of keywords and phrases throughout is really important. Use your key terms and phrases naturally throughout the page, but try to make sure there is a level of consistency between your titles, subtitles, page URLs, content, image alt tags. This consistency will help to strengthen your ads performance against particular key words.
How relevant are your ads in comparison to the landing page in question. For your ads to be successful in terms of quality score, the content in your ads and content need to be relevant to your chosen keywords. It sounds obvious, but slight variations between keywords and page content can have a big impact on ad quality score e.g the difference between leadership and management.
3. The Right Keywords
Your budget and objectives should play a big role in your choice of keywords. Are you looking to increase awareness or drive sales? If you are very focused on sales and want to keep expenditure to a minimum, it pays to be more specific with your choice of key terms and focus on exact match and some phrase match options. In this instance it’s not about the amount of traffic and clicks, but more about getting the right clicks and making your budget reach as far as possible. In contrast, if you are running more of an awareness campaign, that is about number of clicks, we need to focus on search terms which get a high number of monthly searches with a lower cost per click if possible. The key is building your campaign around your situation and not always choosing what seem like the obvious keywords. If they are the obvious keywords, chances are your competitors are bidding against you to which means the challenge of getting the best quality score will be a whole lot trickier.
4. Negative Keywords
Setting negative keywords will help to reduce the risk of irrelevant searches, preventing your data from getting wrongly skewed and your bounce rates appearing higher. This can also have an impact on your quality score because it means the likelihood of your traffic converting is typically much higher.
5. Think Outside of the box
Be innovative with your campaigns. Yes you can use Adwords to promote content on your website, but instead why not create specific campaign streams focused on industry buzz words of niche areas of your business.
6. Research before writing
What came first the chicken or the egg? Well in my mind one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to Adwords is creating your landing page before doing your research. Your page, content, journeys and calls to action are all key criteria affecting your conversion rates. If I can make one recommendation that sticks I hope this is the one. Plan your content inline with search trends, focusing on the key terms you are bidding for within your ad campaigns, it’s much harder to achieve a high quality score if you are trying to make your content fit your keywords. It’s inevitable that there will be changes to your bids and your choice of keywords, but it is much easier to adapt that is performing well from the get go.
Although there are always going to be a lot of unknowns when it comes to quality score, one things for sure, relevance and consistency are going to become a much bigger factor when it comes to how and where ads are displayed. To get the maximum return on investment, strategy should be at the core of your Adwords campaign, allowing you to develop a landing page based on the keywords which you know will help you to perform best.