Google Ads is a proven leader in advertising, and we all know how important it is to be seen on Google’s search pages. The ad in the top position on Google’s SERPs has an average click-through rate of seven percent. Additionally, for every dollar a business spends advertising via Google Ads, they receive approximately $2 in return. However, there’s more to succeeding in Google Ads than spending a lot of money. There’s also a vital metric, known as your Quality Score, that dictates how successful you’ll be while using Google Ads.
What is Quality Score?
To outsiders, it might seem like pay-per-click advertising is solely about having the highest bid for a given keyword. But there’s an additional piece to the puzzle. That piece is the Quality Score.
In a sense, your Quality Score is like a credit score for your business. If you have a bad credit score, you’ll be passed over by banks, and even if you do get approved for credit, you’ll be stuck with subpar interest rates and terms. Quality Score operates much the same way. With a good Quality Score, you’ll pay less for ad placement on Google. And since your Quality Score acts as weight that accompanies your maximum bid, the combination of the two can lead to getting premium placement -- or, on the flip side, not finding ad space at all.
Google’s algorithms for Quality Score determination are relatively vague and have never been fully disclosed. The make-up of a Quality Score is a combination of click-through rates, keyword quality, landing page quality, your ad text and your history on Google Ads. The better you do and the more relevant your content is, the better your Quality Score will be. But with so much uncertainty surrounding Quality Score, it’s a source of concern for many marketers.
No matter how it’s determined, your Quality Score matters a whole lot. And no matter what your Quality Score is today, there’s always room for improvement. Here’s how to get there.
Improving Your Quality Score
In all walks of life, improvement starts with an honest assessment of where you’re at right now. Quality Score is no different. Reviewing your current setup is an integral part of improving your Quality Score.
Above all else, you need to understand your marketing goals -- in particular, who you’re marketing to and what you want to achieve through Google Ads. Some businesses only invest in Google Ads because they feel like they’re “supposed” to do so. That’s not a good reason for any marketing expense. Instead, you should have defined goals for what you want from Google Ads. If you’re a local pizzeria, your goal should be to be the top result for your desired keyword. That’s what people see first, and that’s generally what they click on. If your goal is anything else besides the top spot, you’re wasting your time.
You should also have your audience identified, and you must understand this group at least somewhat well. Google Ads lets you specify demographics for your ads, so it’s imperative that you know exactly who you’re targeting with your ads. Additionally, be aware of what you want people to do when they see your ad. If you’re selling pizza, you want them to call you right now to order a pie. But if you’re selling lawn mowers, you probably want them to go to your website to learn more about what makes your mowers better than the competition.
Setting Up Your Campaigns
With a clear idea of where you’re at and where you’re headed, you can start to take action. Your first goal should be to pick keywords that work with your strategy. You want to select keywords that are actually used by people, that aren’t overly competitive and that have relevance to what you’re selling. That last part is key -- keyword relevancy is a major factor in determining your Quality Score. Google’s keyword tool can help you pick the right keywords; third-party tools like KeywordTool.io and Wordtracker may also be useful.
Just as important as knowing what you want is knowing what you don’t want. Google Ads lets you incorporate the latter category by adding negative keywords. For instance, if you’re advertising for a keyword of “shoes” attempting to sell sneakers, you may want to exclude “blue suede shoes” so your ad isn’t seen by people searching for the classic song. In this scenario, an individual searching for “blue suede shoes” wouldn’t see your ad because it includes a keyword that’s on your negative keywords list. Negative keywords not only help to keep costs down, but they eliminate irrelevant ads from displaying and damaging your click-through rate, which subsequently hurts your Quality Score.
With your positive and negative keywords selected, it’s time to put these parameters into Google Ads. As you prepare your campaign, take note to group similar keywords and demographic targets into the same ad groups. Doing this helps you to track your ads and make sure you’re hitting your targets, while Google uses ad groups to ensure the same results on their end. However, there’s some gray area here as well. While Google’s own website says to put as many as 20 ads in an ad group, Hootsuite recommends using five ads in a given ad group. This prevents the message from being diluted while still allowing you to match on what a searcher might actually search for.
Create Relevant Ads
Having great keywords and natural ad groups only matters it they’re paired with quality ads that move the needle. Expanded text ads are very helpful for incorporating your keywords in a natural way. You want your ad to clearly showcase what the viewer can expect to see if they click your link, and the extra room helps you to move beyond your keyword and into informing your viewer. These ads also provide additional information, preventing a searcher from clicking on your link under false pretenses, adding to your cost and hurting your Quality Score.
Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that searchers will end up on your site and find that they’re not seeing what they were looking for. The good news is that you can mine this data to find keywords that are getting people to your page and quickly leaving, and add those keywords to your list of negative keywords. Doing this regularly will reduce irrelevant clicks, which boosts your Quality Score and saves you money at the same time. It’s also a good idea to A/B test ads to make sure that they’re landing with your desired audience. You can do all the keyword research you want, but the only way to truly see what your target market responds to is testing different approaches and seeing what better resonates with people.
Creating Relevant Landing Pages
Creating quality ads and getting them seen by the right people are major goals of Google Ads and improving a Quality Score, but they’re not the only factors. What’s equally important is what people see after they click your ad. Landing pages are a critical part of Quality Score criteria -- perhaps the most important -- so you want yours to be good.
First and foremost, your landing page should be clean, clear, mobile-friendly and fast-loading. The importance of landing page loading speed cannot be understated. According to Google, most people leave a mobile site after three seconds if the landing page hasn’t loaded yet. Furthermore, more than half of Web users would gladly give up animations and videos if it means a faster loading page. That’s a good indicator to minimize these intrusions, if not avoid them entirely, in the name of a landing page that loads more quickly. And yet, an Unbounce study showed that 85 percent of marketers have landing pages that take more than five seconds to load. Get ahead of this curve and make sure your landing page loads fast. Your Quality Score will thank you.
Your landing page content should be an extension of your actual ad. Use the same keywords you used in your ad and keep the same writing style. Remember, you created a certain expectation with your ad, and it was enticing enough to convince someone to click on the ad. Now, it’s up to you to deliver the goods. If your landing page is as good as advertised, your viewers will be happy and your Quality Score will improve as a result. But if people don’t find that they’re getting what they want after clicking your ad, your Quality Score will suffer.
That’s why it’s a good idea to create landing pages for each ad group or, ideally, separate landing pages for each keyword. A static landing page is toxic in the eyes of Quality Score, and it doesn’t do the viewer any favors, either. Again, it’s all about providing relevant content that convinces an individual to deepen their relationship with your brand. If your Google Ads accomplish that, your Quality Score is sure to rise.
Quality Score seems like a difficult concept to comprehend, but it’s really not that hard. By following the principles of SEO -- relevant ads and even more relevant landing pages, A/B tests to ensure quality and a focus on giving people exactly what they’re looking for -- your Quality Score is bound to improve. Take a look at your Google Ads account and make sure you’re incorporating these tips to take your Google Ads strategies to the next level.
Marcel Digital is a Google AdWords Certified Partner, specializing in paid search, programmatic, display, remarketing, social, and Amazon Advertising. If you're looking for a partner to help take your campaigns and Quality Scores to the next level, give us a shout - we're happy to help!
About the author
Morgan is the Paid Media Director at Marcel Digital, specializing in creative ways to provide solutions in paid advertising platforms for all types of goals.