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How to Make the Most of Adwords and Lower PPC Spend

Google hasn’t become one of the world’s most valuable brands by accident. It’s their relentless focus on delivering quality search results that continues to set them far apart from their ever-dwindling list of competitors. So when it comes to creating and managing your Google AdWords campaign, it should come as no surprise that quality matters a great deal. In fact, high quality ads can lead to increased ad ranking, lower cost-per-clicks, as well as eligibility for ad extensions and other ad formats.

Quality Score: More Than A Number

Google is always trying to create a search experience that is relevant for users and profitable for advertisers. One way they ensure this happens for paid search is through a variable called Quality Score. Contrary to popular belief, Quality Score (numbered 1-10, with 10 being most ideal) is not an exact representation of real-time ad quality – there are just too many factors to consider during each auction to adequately capture a specific number.

Instead, Quality Score should be treated as an alert to potential problems (like a warning light in your car). To carry on with this analogy, if your car’s check engine light suddenly started flashing, would you try to trick it into stopping? Heck no! You’d head for the nearest service station to figure out what’s wrong with your car – and then you’d get it fixed. Quality Score is kind of like that. Your main priority should be on helping the user (keeping your car properly serviced), not trying to game the system.

The first thing to know is ad quality impacts Quality Score.

Ad Quality: Where To Focus Your Pay Per Click Optimization

So at the risk of running the car analogy out of gas, how do you keep your AdWords humming? For starters, here are three key components that impact ad quality and how you should approach them:

1. Ad Relevance:

ensure that your ad creative is fully aligned with your user queries (their searches on a search engine)

2. Click-thru Rates:

focus on improving your click-thru rates (within your account, you'll see messages if your ads are performing at, above, or below average for expected click-thru rates)

3. Landing Page Relevance:

focus on creating the most helpful and relevant landing page experience for your users’ search queries With these three components in mind, here are some areas you should focus on to keep your Quality Score healthy:

Performance Review

Use your Quality Score to filter and find higher volume keywords with opportunities to deliver better performance

Ad Creative

- Break your ad groups into more tightly related terms that better align with your ad creative

- Write ad creative with different headlines, benefits, 'reasons to believe', and calls-to-action

- Test dynamic keyword insertion ad copy that pulls the user's query into the ad itself

Landing Page

- Use conversion rates to identify higher performing keywords (use this information in addition to Quality Score to find areas of opportunity)

- Focus on the user's needs by considering intent from the query, addressing the need in the ad creative, and ensuring the landing page clearly addresses the user's needs

- Design for your KPIs (e.g. lead generation, phone calls, store locator)

- Keep your messaging and content simple and focused so it aligns with the user’s needs and intent

- Remove as many 'escape points' as possible and design the page to funnel users into your desired action

Quality Score: What Does & Doesn’t Matter

Finally, here is what does and doesn't impact your Quality Score:

Does Have An Impact:

- The user's device and the related user experience on that device (make sure you create a great mobile experience for your mobile users)

- Ads and landing pages that are relevant to the intent of the user's query

- Performance of related keywords when launching new keywords

Has No Impact:

- How you structure your pay per click account and campaigns (yet, this does affect your management and other performance factors beyond Quality Score)

- Running on other ad networks, or other Google platforms

- Your ad's placement on the page

In conclusion, Quality Score is just one more tool (albeit a very important one) in your PPC toolbox. But it should only be used as a guide, not a metric. So if you’re chasing numbers, stop! Just do as Google says: “Be relevant, be compelling and drive traffic to landing pages that deliver on what you promise in your ad, and you can feel confident that your score should reflect that quality.” And who can argue with Google?

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Download Google’s Quality Score Guide [PDF is found at bottom of page]