Note: This is the third article in a series of three guides for content specialists on how to optimize your paid advertisements. If you haven’t already, please visit our blog to catch up on the other two articles.
Hopefully, you’ve powered through our last few blog posts on PPC, and you’ve given it some time to digest. The last big component to the jigsaw that is PPC is your quality score.
From Google’s perspective, QS matters because it represents the relevance of your ads. I said in the last blog post that Google didn’t become a trusted search engine by selling out to the highest bidder. As a faithful ‘Googler’ my trust in Google is that it will show relevant, engaging, and complete content whenever I search a word, phrase, or question. The way that Google determines what is relevant, engaging, and complete is by its utilization of quality scores.
Your quality score has a huge influence on your PPC campaign, specifically because it affects how much your cost per click (CPC) will be. If you read my last post on the PPC CPC model, you’ll know that Google uses a mathematical formula that considers the most you’re willing to spend on a click (called your max bid) and crosses it with your quality score to give you how much you’ll actually pay per click. But what are the missing components that all work together to create a quality score?
The very basics of it include:
- Your click-through-rate (CTR)
- The relevance of each keyword in your ad
- The relevance of your ad text
- The relevance of your landing page
- Your historical AdWords performance
It’s important to understand that no one outside of Google really knows how heavily each item weighs into the quality score, but what we do know is that CTR is one of the most important components.
Even still, CTR isn’t a standalone metric (although it used to be). Relevance and historical performance have some weight in the CTR ranking within that formula. This is done to avoid a simple equation that read (CTR x Max CPC = Ad Rank). Using this formula, an advertiser would essentially be able to double their visibility by either doubling their CTR or doubling the amount of money they put up for ads. Within the old model, advertisers could overpower smaller, organic, and maybe better ads by monopolizing the market with large amounts of money.
The formula today looks more like (Bid +/- Quality Score +/- Ad Extensions) = Ad Ranking. Ad Rank is now an unknown function of these three factors, making it a little vaguer. And if you didn’t know, ad extensions are bits of information you can freely add to your advertisement. They’re things like your phone number, a link to your website, etc. You should begin to see why QS – and the components that you can control – play such a big part in minimizing your cost of advertisements.
WHAT THINGS INFLUENCE YOUR QS
Because no one really knows Google’s algorithm, it’s near impossible to create a checklist of every step to follow for the most effective ad ever. But through hard work and trial and error, we can learn from those who pioneered these paths before us. Consider these things before launching your AdWords campaign.
1. CHECK YOUR URL
Make sure that your landing pages work, and that the links you provide take you to an operable page. Ask yourself, do all of the ads in each Ad group lead to a working site?
2. CHECK YOUR LANDING PAGE
Your landing pages can link to your main website, but if you aren’t sure what the purpose of a landing page is, be sure to check out our earlier writeups on the importance of a landing page.
Check the speed of your site. Remember that .01 seconds feel instant to visitors, while 5 seconds is unbearably slow. To make sure your site loads as quickly as possible, be sure that you’re minimizing gifs, heavy images, and strategically using autoplay functions.
3. A/B TEST
You don’t have to be stuck with a low performing ad that will ultimately pull down your campaign’s performance. You can adjust ads as you go. If you’re finding that one Ad isn’t working as well as another, change the text or reconsider your choice of image/video. In the industry, we call this A/B testing. Constantly replacing the lower performing Ad allows you to strategically modify as your campaign runs.
I’ve talked a lot about the relevance of your ad, so I want to take a moment to define this aspect of a quality score. Ad relevance is how closely your related keywords are to your ad copy. Techniques that attempt to stuff keywords and phrases into ads that may or may not really relate to what keywords you’re targeting are punished by actually lowering your ad relevance, which could end up costing you more in the long run.
FAKE NEWS ON QUALITY SCORES
Doing all the right things is important when it comes to increasing your QS, but tackling the wrong things can be just a waste of time. Let’s talk about misconceptions when it comes to quality scores.
CHANGING MATCH TYPES
Google has said that it measures QS without considering keyword match type. So if you’re hard at working adjusting keywords and changing your keyword match types, just know that doesn’t affect your QS. This means that a broad match keyword will have the same QS as an exact match keyword: Google will always determine a QS based on an exact match with a query.
PAUSING ADS HURTS QS
Pausing an ad doesn’t affect your QS. The only factor that goes into your QS is how well your ads perform while they’re running. If your budget is tight, don’t be afraid to pause your campaign while you recoup expenses, then start up your campaign later.
A/B TESTING CAN RESET YOUR QS
This isn’t true, for good or for bad. Deleting low performing ads won’t delete their performance history from your AdWords account: and neither will deleting high performing ones. Their performance will always affect your account level QS and will affect your future CPC. But don’t let that stop you from constantly A/B testing and updating low performing ads. The damage may be done, but don’t let it keep damaging you and your budget.
It’s important to note that this is a high level, simplified, writeup, on PPC. There’s so much that goes into it, so if you have any questions, corrections, or additions, we’d love to hear your thoughts! Drop us a line and let’s talk.