Today’s post is by Chris Sparks , Director of Marketing at iSpionage.
Editor’s note: We know there are two well articulated sides of the ongoing Quality Score debate. This post (and this one) represents the side that argues for Quality Score’s importance.
Are you overpaying for Google AdWords? Most companies are – and they don’t even realize it. To find out if your business is overpaying, check your Quality Score, Google’s rating for your business’s PPC ad campaigns. The better your AdWords Quality Score, the less your business pays for clicks and the greater your business’s ROI. Conversely, a low Quality Score means wasted resources, lost leads, and shrinking sales.
Google’s Quality Score measures the relevancy of ad copy, keywords and landing pages – serving as a predictor for your business’s online marketing success. According to Google, your QS is calculated in real-time, with the score constantly being readjusted every time a search query matches your keywords. There are certainly those who debate the efficacy of optimizing QS given its lack of transparency and how frequently it tends to bounce around – but at the end of the day, it is what Google provides.
Google uses your Quality Score to determine the following:
1. If your ad is eligible to be displayed alongside a user’s organic search results
2. Your minimum bid and first-page estimate
3. How much you pay when a user clicks on your ads
4. The position in which your ads appear in sponsored search results
Google created AdWords Quality Scores in part to hold businesses accountable for advertising relevancy, which is good for everyone. Increasing relevancy means that your customers find what they are searching for, your business is rewarded for creative and effective ad content, and search engines bring the right results to the right people at the right time.
Should you be concerned about your business’s Quality Score? Absolutely. Since the scores are based in large part on keyword, ad copy, and landing page relevancy, they are also a fairly accurate predictor of online marketing success. Unless your QS is a 10, there’s always room for improvement.
The majority of businesses are dissatisfied with their online advertising ROI; is yours? Improving your Quality Score will not only reduce online advertising costs (higher scores receive preferential treatment from Google since your advertising is considered more relevant), but will also improve your PPC ROI.
Even with a 6 or 8 QS, you may be overpaying for advertising, which cuts into your ROI. If your business is a 5 or 2, you’re not only paying too much for online advertising, but also failing to connect with customers. Your Quality Score could be on life support if:
- PPC costs are rising
- Competitors are beating your sponsored ads
- ROI is falling
These five tips will help you improve your Adwords Quality Score:
#1: Select the right keywords.
Spending hours poring over keyword research may not be as fun as constructing your March Madness bracket, but it’s a necessary evil. Start with your analytics tracking reports to discover keyword variations, common misspellings, and other search terms that you never considered during those marathon keyword brainstorming sessions. Keep an eye on your competitor’s terms, too.
Hit a brainstorming wall? Utilize keyword tools such as Google’s Keyword Tool. Record, track, and log your keywords using systems like iSpionage’s Keyword Monitoring Tool.
Remember, people search using phrases, rather than a single keyword. Focus your research on long-tail keyword phrases, usually three to five words.
#2: Reduce irrelevant impressions.
Does your Harley Davidson fan club sell bicycles? We didn’t think so – but your Google AdWords campaign may still be coming up in search results for “bike sales”. Use Google’s Negative Match tool to reduce and eliminate as many irrelevant impressions as possible. Fewer irrelevant impressions will increase your click-thru rate, which boosts your AdWords quality score.
#3: Write better ad copy.
Use your long-tail keyword phrases to write ad copy that precisely addresses your customer’s needs. Sure, a 25 max character headline and 70 max characters of body copy don’t leave a lot of room to go into great detail about your product or service. This is why precise language and the right long-tail keyword phrases matter. Explain your business’s unique selling proposition and the advantages that your business brings to customers. Do you offer free shipping or low-cost international rates? Are you selling used cars or a 1998 Ford Taurus with 100K miles? Specificity matters.
#4: Avoid spammy phrasing.
Would you scream in the face of a customer the first time you met them? Certainly not. But including “Click here now!” or “Buy me now!” in your AdWords copy is like screaming in the face of every potential customer; it’s a sure-fire way to alienate people. Even if your intentions are genuine, exclamation marks sound spammy and sink your Quality Score. Ditch the cheesy come-ons and stay focused on your marketing message.
#5: Create relevant landing pages.
Landing-page transparency matters. Google penalizes companies for bait-and-switch tactics – which you aren’t using, right? A high bounce rate for your AdWords landing pages signals to Google that your page content doesn’t match your ad or address your potential customer’s needs. Even if you aren’t using bait-and-switch tactics, your landing page bounce rate could still be high for other reasons. Be sure that the landing page copy mirrors your AdWords copy. If your AdWords copy advertised luxury down comforters, don’t send customers to the main page for your home goods store or even the main bedding page; send them straight to your down comforters.
In the competitive world of online advertising, there’s no room for error. Stop hemorrhaging money by over-paying for AdWords. Small changes like improving your keyword relevancy, writing precise copy, and reducing irrelevant impressions can make a big difference for your business, boosting your quality score and increasing your AdWords ROI.
– Chris Sparks is an online marketing and content strategist at iSpionage, building awareness and engagement within paid and organic search target markets.