When working with Adwords, quality is key. While Google and other Pay-Per-Click (PPC) search engines don’t go into grand detail on what factors make up their quality score analysis, any good pay per click marketer knows that the higher your quality score – the less you’ll pay for clicks. To make things even more interesting, none of the PPC search engines will tell you how to go about raising your score. There are, however, some proven methods and strategies that have shown to decrease your cost per click while raising your quality score.
1. Group Your Keywords Effectively – Use the keyword grouping tool in Adwords to segment your keywords into batches of 15-20 keywords per group. Once each keyword group is complete, you’ll want to optimize your Adwords creative and copy to precisely match that group niche you’re targeting.
2. Test and Optimize Ads Consistently – Always try out new variations of your existing ads. Change the wording, capitalization, display URL, landing page and other factors to have a base foundation for determining the winner. When A/B testing landing pages, keep all factors of the ad exactly the same, other than the URL it points to (see Multivariate Tests below). Depending on how aggressive your campaign is, you may find clear trends, delete the underperformers and adjust your pay-per-click strategy. Then, tweak the winning ad into 3-4 variations and run those against the winner or control ad. Good Adwords optimization means constantly testing and refining your approach to find out what works for your business.
3. Update On-Page Optimization Factors – The best Adwords ad in the world won’t convert if the page it leads to isn’t fully optimized. Are you using a relevant keyword or two in your headline? Can Google spider your entire site? Do you have a sitemap uploaded? Are you getting quality backlinks? All of these factors can make or break your quality score. In addition, be sure that you have a clear call-to-action above the fold to get that page to convert.
4. Change and Test Matching Options – There are 3 basic forms of keyword matching: Broad, Phrase and Exact match. Drill down from Broad to Phrase then Exact to find the specific keywords that convert best. Your strategy will most likely have a blend of Phrase and Exact by the time you finish testing. Also be sure to include negative keywords in your list, to avoid spending money on terms that don’t convert to sales:
a. Broad: Any keyword containing the words in the phrase you’re targeting. Example: a broad search for cookies delivery will include any phrase that includes both words, in any order, such as, delivery of fresh cookies.
b. Phrase: Any keyword that contains the exact phrase you’re targeting, and possible a few more words. Example: a phrase search for cookies delivery will include any phrase that includes both words, in the same order and next to each other, such as, fresh cookies delivery online. It will not include cookies for delivery.
c. Exact: A keyword that contains the exact text you’re targeting. Example: an exact search for cookies delivery will return results for that exact keyword. It will not return results for a keyword such as fresh cookies delivery online. Try experimenting with the Google Keyword Tool.
d. Negative Keywords: Any word or phrase that you do not want to include in results. Example: if your list includes the Phrase, cookies and the negative keyword, disable, it will not display your ad when a browser searches for keywords such as disable cookies or cookies disable online.
5. Conduct Multivariate Tests – If you aren’t testing multiple variations of your landing pages to improve your site’s performance and conversion rate, you’re simply wasting money and losing clicks needlessly. For better testing results, it’s worth understanding how multivariate testing (also known as Taguchi testing) can boost your Quality Score. Google’s Conversion University has some helpful tips on increasing conversion rates.
6. What’s Been Done in the Past? In addition to all these factors, Google also looks at the previous history of other similar ads to yours, and how well they performed. Since it’s in Google’s best interest to only show ads that bring people back to their search engine (and increase their bottom line), they’ve done a good job keeping track of how well ads perform historically – both yours and others like them. Remember, simply bidding more won’t cut it anymore. Even things such as your account history with Google, your bounce (back) rate and your website’s loading time can affect your quality score by some margin.
7. Are You Cruising in a Bad Neighborhood? If your Quality Score suddenly plummets or your traffic slows to a trickle, check to see that your site is not linking to what Google considers to be bad neighborhoods. This could be scam sites, get-rich-quick schemes, name squeeze pages (sites which exist solely to capture a user’s name and email address), or a fake blog. Here again, Google offers some tips for when it really is too good to be true.
8. It May Not Be Your Fault – If you’ve done everything right, certain factors affecting your Adwords conversion rate might not even be your fault. Not all advertisers can have a perfect 10/10 Quality Score. If they do, and they’re all bidding on the same valuable keywords – the only other way to move ahead in the pack is through bid price. Keeping your customers fully engaged in your content and coming back increases their value with your company over time – so you can afford to beat your competitors at their own game.
9. Search Network vs. Content Network – You might get an improved Quality Score when your ads appear on Google’s Content Network versus directly in the Search Engine itself. That’s because Google puts many more factors into play when advertisers appear within search results rather than when their ads appear in the content network. Content network ad quality only seems concerned with superficial things such as landing page optimization and how well your keyword groups are targeted. Higher quality in the search network results depends on a combination of the factors here – and many other points that Google tends to be unsurprisingly quiet about. Keep in mind, you may find that the search network performs better than the content network. If you have a high spend on content network ads but low conversion, then you may consider just sticking with search. The same applies to mobile ads. On the contrary, all 3 may work well for you.
10. Make Use of Search Funnels – Google Adwords allows for Search Funnels – a set of reports that can visually show you exactly how a conversion happened. Using Search Funnels, you can see exactly which ad a customer clicked on to reach your site, how long it took and what path they took to get there. The Adwords Search Funnel video explains more about how it works, and exactly what conversion-leading attributes are measured.
Find more information about Google’s Quality Score and how it affects your advertising here.