Are your ads costing you more than they should?

Many people work hard trying to optimize their AdWords campaigns to achieve the highest ROI possible. They work on their keywords and negative keywords, ad titles and descriptions, and even begin to explore more complex techniques such as dayparting. One of the aspects of a PPC campaign that seems to be missed more often than it should is the Quality Score. Your quality score can have a massive effect on your ad placement and your cost.

AdWords Quality ScoreWhat is your Quality Score and How is it Calculated?

Quality Score RelevanceYour Quality Score is Google’s rating system used to determine the relevance of your ads and the keywords associated with them. The Quality Score is calculated using your ad relevance along with your User Experience and is then applied as a modifier to your Cost per Click (or CPC).

No one knows exactly what goes into your quality score and in what percentages, Google prefers not to share how they do things, but we can make a well-educated estimation of the factors that contribute to your Quality Score. These factors can include the following:

  • The relevance of your Ad Text
  • The relevance of each Keyword in its ad group
  • Landing Page relevance and quality
  • The click-through rate (CTR) of each keyword/ad combo
  • Your own historical AdWords performance

When each of these elements is taken into account, Google will determine where on the 1 to 10 scale your keyword ranks. The higher the quality, the greater the benefit, and conversely, the lower the score the more likely you are to pay more. In 2015 WordStream published an estimate of the effect of Quality Score on your CPC. It should be noted that every keyword and ad generally starts out with a 5 for a score, meaning it is average and has no real effect on the cost and placement of your ads. As your keywords trigger ads and generate traffic and a positive user experience, the score will go up, or down if needed.

Quality Score effect on CPC

What Can You Do To Improve Your Quality Score?

Improve your keyword selection. A common technique when starting out with an AdWords Campaign is to simply toss every single keyword, no matter how tenuous the connection to the page, into your ad group. This can cause you to have a large number of poor quality keywords, and more importantly, cause a poor user experience when the user lands on your website for a keyword that isn’t really relevant.

Group similar keywords together in unique Ad Groups. You should tighten your ad groups into many smaller groups with fewer closely related keywords. By keeping your keywords closely related to each other it makes it easier for you to create ad copy the specifically targets those keywords. The most dangerous examples of this come from using bulk keyword generation tools without any restraint. I have seen single Ad Groups with over 15,000 keywords in them. This is what happens with fire and forget tool users.

Optimize your ad copy for each ad group/keyword group. By tightening your keyword grouping this allows you to write more targeted ad copy for each specific keyword group. This has the benefit of really qualifying your potential viewer and can improve your Click Thru Rate (CTR).

Aggressively add keywords to your negative keyword list. You should already be removing any poor performing keywords from your ad groups already, but you can also look at removing keywords with low-quality scores. If you have a keyword with a score of 1, 2, or 3, it may be time to move it to a new ad group or to remove it from your list entirely by adding it to your negative keyword list for that ad group.

Target your ads to related landing pages. Your ads will always perform better when they target a specific landing page on your website rather than just the homepage. By making sure that your landing page also targets the keywords for that ad, you stand a much better chance of having a solid user experience which can improve both your conversion rate and your quality score.

Use Ad Extensions. Ad extensions will greatly increase your Click Thru Rate on your ads. By including them on your ads, they are free, you can increase your CTR which will increase your QS. Just make sure that you are using quality pages as part of your AdWords Extensions.

Wrapping Things Up

While your quality score is an important aspect to your AdWords Campaigns, it is rarely the first place to start when trying to optimize your campaigns for the most ROI. Many times there are larger, broad stroke, issues that should be addressed before digging into the low-level tactics of chasing your QS. It is important to keep your Quality Score in mind when creating your campaigns though. Use the advice above to help guide you in creating well-focused ads and keywords to increase both your CTR and your user experience. The ROI will follow.