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Andrew Tonks

12 Ways to Improve Quality Score in AdWords

12th Jun 2012 Paid Search, Google AdWords, Paid Search | No Comments


One of most effective ways to increase the performance of an AdWords account is to improve the quality score of the keywords on which you are bidding. As quality score has an effect on impressions, average ad position and cost-per-click, investing time looking at your quality scores and improving them can have long term consequences on your AdWords account.

In light of this, here are 12 ways to improve quality score in AdWords through simple paid search management techniques:

1. Targeted AdGroups

I often take on new accounts that have maybe five adgroups, each with 20 to 30 keywords in them. Not surprisingly most of these keywords will have a relatively low quality as it is difficult to demonstrate relevancy to Google with so many keywords in so few adgroups.

Ideally your account should reflect the business being advertised. If, for example, you had a business with three product lines each with 10 products, I would look to set up a campaign for product line and then have multiple adgroups for each of the products. Whilst it might be tempting to set up just one adgroup for each product line, you would have difficulty showing Google how relevant these are for each keyword and thus your quality score would suffer.

Solution: Structure your account with multiple adgroups, each with a targeted theme to help increase relevancy.

2. Home Page vs. PPC Landing Pages

PPC ads will often direct a user to the site’s Home page, which will affect not only your conversion rate, but also the quality score. If, for example, I was running an AdWords account selling iPhone, Blackberry and Sumsung phone cases and I directed all my traffic to my Home page, Google would have difficulty in establishing the relevancy for each of these products.

However, if I set up a landing page promoting each of these products and directed the relevant PPC traffic to the relevant page, then Google would see this as being far more relevant and reward me with an increased quality score. Furthermore, as I was directing users straight to the relevant page, I would most likely see and increase conversion rate.

Solution: Ensure your ads are directed to relevant landing pages.

3. Split Testing

As a minimum, each PPC ad should have the following:

  • Compelling headline (get their attention)
  • Relevant keywords in ad copy (reaffirm that you offer what they are looking for)
  • Relevant display URL (include the keyword to let users get an idea of the page they will go to when clicking on your ad)

If you ensure that each of your ads includes the above recommendations, this will help you communicate effectively with users and thus attract more clicks with the knock on effect being an increased click through rate (CTR). Next you need to know the type of messages that are attracting clicks the most effectively. The best way to do this is through split testing two ads against each other at adgroup level.

Solution: Make sure each adgroup has two ads, each with a unique message and evaluate one against the other.

4. Call-to-Action

This is pretty much a no-brainier. If you want someone to click on your ad you need to give them a reason to do so. For example, words like ‘Buy’, ‘Save’ and ‘Find’ sum up pretty well what a user can expect by clicking on your ad.

Also, I would recommend looking at the calls-to-action which your competitors are using. For example, if all of your competitors are using ‘Save’, you would probably be better off using ‘Cheap’ to help your business stand out.

Solution: Factor in a strong call-to-action to entice clicks and increase CRT.

5. Ad Relevance

If you’re trying to demonstrate how relevant you are against the keywords you are targeting, ensure the keywords targeted by each adgroup are included within the ad copy. This will help reaffirm to users that you’re relevant, as well as increase your CRT and thus your quality score.

Solution: When producing ad copy, make sure it incorporates the keywords that the adgroup is promoting.

6. Page Load Times

Pages that load slowly will often have high bounce rates, which can affect your quality score in the long run and reduce your conversion rate. If users are constantly clicking on your ads and are bouncing due to longer than usual page load times, then that’s a pretty big signal to Google that your site isn’t meeting the needs of users. If this is the case then it’s not surprising that Google would give a low quality score.

Solution: Use the Page Speed browser add-on in Google Webmaster Tools to review page load times

7. Ad Extensions

Sitelinks in particular are a great way to make your ads stand out more against the competition and thus help to attract clicks. Make sure you set up sitelinks to direct users as quickly as possible to relevant sections of your website. The less hassle someone has to go through to get to the page on the site they are looking for, the less likely they are to bounce or not convert.

Solution: Utilise sitelinks extensions to entice clicks and increase CTR.

8. Separate Misspellings and Spelling Variations

I would always recommend creating separate adgroups for common misspellings, as this ensures the performance of the more searched for correctly spelled keywords is not hindered. I do not recommend that you include the misspellings in your adcopy, do you really want users to think you can’t spell in your advertising?

I would also recommend setting up separate adgroups for UK and US spellings. Ensure the adcopy reflects these differences; this is especially true if you have an account targeting the UK and the US. However, in this case I would probably set up separate campaigns for the US and UK and ensure the appropriate spellings target the appropriate markets.

Solution: Create separate adgroups for misspellings, but ensure adcopy reflects to correct spelling.

9. Mobile Sites

More and more searches are now being carried out via mobile devices. If your site cannot be navigated by someone using an iPhone for example, then in all likeliness they will bounce from the page. If users are constantly leaving the page after a few seconds, then Google is likely to see your site as not very relevant to the keywords you are targeting.

Solution: Ensure your site is mobile friendly to help user interaction and reduce bounce rates.

10. Negative Keywords

Again a no-brainer. If you have many keywords on phrase and broad match, you need to carry out extensive negative keyword research to stop your ads from being displayed for irrelevant searches. This will help increase your CRT as many more of your ads are being served to targeted searches, with the knock on effect of ensuring that you do not pay for traffic that is unlikely to convert.

Solution: Make sure negative keyword research is a part of your regular optimisation efforts.

11. Optimise Landing Pages for SEO

If you’re trying to demonstrate what a page is about, I would recommend optimising a PPC landing page much in the same way you would for SEO. This means making sure you have optimised Page Titles and Meta and that the keyword is reflected on the page and within a H1 tag.

Solution: Ensure Page Titles, Meta and on page content is optimised for relevance

12. Device Segmentation

Make sure you review your account at campaign level and segment by device type. The performance of an account will often vary significantly from desktops, mobiles and tablets. For example, if you can see that the CTR via mobiles is significantly lower than desktops, then this would be a signal to either create separate campaigns, to target each device and help preserve the quality score for each, or exclude mobiles all together.

Solution: Set up device specific campaigns, excluding any devices that are hindering the account.

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Andrew Tonks About the author

Andrew Tonks

Andrew has worked within online marketing for the last four years with a background in domestic tourism, working with some of the country's most popular tourist attractions and destinations.

Beginners-Guide-To-AdWords

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