* Update: Since this post was published, we have created a much more detailed and in-depth version of this post with a lot of extra useful and relevant information on how to improve your Quality Score here *
So what is quality score? According to Google:
“Quality Score is the basis for measuring the quality and relevance of your ads and determining your minimum CPC bid for Google and the search network. This score is determined by your keyword’s click through rate (CTR) on Google, and the relevance of your ad text, keyword, and landing page.”
Quality score effects your keywords minimum cost per click and position in the search results and also if your ad will even show at all!
This is fundamentally the same for the other first tier Pay Per Click networks (Yahoo Search Marketing and MSN AdCenter). There are many other factors involved, however this is the most transparency we’re going to get from them at this time. For now, we will deal with the Google Adwords quality score.
Around the same time of the release of Yahoo! Panama, Google began showing keyword quality information at the keyword level in Adwords accounts. Google shows weather your score is Great, OK or Poor. It may not be much information, but it has been a great help for those trying to diagnose why their PPC bids are so high.
Last month, we had a new client who came to us for advice on lowering their minimum cost per click and ultimately increase their ROI. Our client was already experiencing a positive ROI using Adwords because of their products profit margin, however since Google started showing QS, they realized they were not doing as well as they thought. Their campaign was relatively small and they were paying an average minimum CPC of $0.40 across their three ad groups. Each Ad Group had 100 keywords in each. They also had a few disabled keywords. When we examined their account, we could see that almost 90% of their keywords had a “Poor” quality score.
Lets say our client sold “Blue Widgets”. Here’s what we did.
Campaign Account Factors
1) Split Keywords into Smaller more targeted Ad Groups
We used the in built keyword grouper tool in Adwords editor to group keywords into 15 groups of 20 related keywords. eg:
buy blue widgets
exchange blue widgets
what is a blue widget
buy blue widgets online
2) Create relevant ad copy for each group
We then created an ad creative for each keyword group using the common grouping denominator “Blue Widgets”
Note the upper case on each word and use of the keyword in the title, ad copy and display URL. ALL 4 ads contained blue widgets in the same form as you see above. It should also be noted that the display URL does not need to match the ACTUAL URL exactly.
3) Optimize Creatives
We created 4 different ads for each group using different verbs and calls to action. We also turned ad serving optimization OFF so we could accurately split test all 4 ads. After a week, we chose the best performing creative and deleted the others. We then tried to increase the CTR by working on variations of that creative. After two weeks, it was plain to see which was the better performing ad. Within two weeks the overall campaign click through rate was up. Note that optimizing creatives is a never ending process. You can ALWAYS squeeze an extra 0.01% CTR by being…creative.
(This was not the creative used for the campaign)
4) Experiment With Matching Options
Our client was only using broad match for their keywords in their campaign. We added exact match and phrase match keywords to each ad group and chose which of the three had a better QS and lower minimum CPC and deleted the other two matching options. In the majority of cases, exact match won.
On Page Factors
While we were working on the PPC account side of things, many of the on page factors were being worked on at the same time.
5) Link Building And SEO
We ran a manual deep link building campaign using the highest performing keywords (Volume AND Conversion Rate). Not only does this help Quality Score but also helps with the organic SEO campaign in the coming months. We submitted a Google sitemap, made the site semantically coded and corrected some navigational issues.
6) Implement Keywords
For each page we implemented most of the keywords into the copy.
7) Split Test Landing Page
We set up a multi variant test to split test the landing pages and test conversion rates. Google Analytics has an excellent write up on the major elements that can effect conversions. We cannot stress the importance of multi variant testing enough. Testing and optimizing conversion rates on landing pages is too big a subject to go into in this post. It should be noted that we also used heat maps to test the landing pages.
8) Meta Tags
We added the best performing keywords to the meta tags on each page. We also used the EXACT ad text from the best performing creative in the meta description. We also used the BEST PERFORMING and MOST DESCRIPTIVE keyword as the title tag.
9) Essential Site Pages
10) Make Sure Google Thinks You’re Relevant
We used the Site-Related Keywords tool to make sure that Google thought the landing page was related to the keywords we are targeting. After a little “fleshing out”, Google saw each landing page as VERY related to the keywords we were using.
Clearly for privacy reasons we have left out many details regarding our clients campaign. We increased the campaign daily budget to twice what it was and left the campaign running for the month to get more accurate figures.
Within four days the Quality Score for 60% of the keywords went from ” Poor”to “Great” with average minimum CPC prices down from 40 cents to 4 cents.
All keywords that still had a poor quality score after the month (8 of them) were deleted.
Overall campaign click through rate was up 12%
We increased conversion rates from 3% to a whopping 24%
Our client was 100% happier.
Our client was able to slash their monthly spending budget and MASSIVELY increase their sales.
Increasing you quality score and optimizing your Adwords PPC campaign is an absolute MUST if you want to reduce your spend and at the same time increase your sales. There are MANY other factors, known and unknown that go into improving quality scores, however the most fundamental have been covered. Most other PPC networks also use a similar QS ranking method and the areas I have covered can be applied to them too.
I hope this has helped anyone starting their first PPC campaign or anyone looking to improve their ROI by increasing their Quality Score. If you would like more information or would like to avail of our Google Adwords Management service, please get in touch.