Whether you are taking 3rd grade achievement tests, the SAT, or the GMAT, it seems like you can never get away from a standardized estimate of how well you are performing. Guess what? The same is true for online marketing. Google actually rates how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing pages are by assigning you a Quality Score.
If you historically have a bad track record with scored performance, don’t panic, you’re not doomed to fail at online marketing. In fact, all you need is just a quick guide to help you get a good grasp of what quality score is, why it is important, and what you can do to improve your Google Adwords quality score. Then, you will be well on your way to acing Google’s test of relevancy! Here goes.
What is Quality Score?
In order to improve your quality score, it’s important to know what it is. In short, quality score is Google’s estimation of how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing pages are to the searcher.
For example, if someone searches for “online meal planning,” and your ad shows up, your ad and landing page should offer an online tutorial of some sort for meal planning. When your ad is highly relevant to the keyword search, Google is likely to provide you with a high quality score. If, on the other hand, someone searches for “online meal planning,” and your ad and landing page show up, but offer a sign-up page for cooking classes, instead of a meal planning guide, you may get a lower Quality Score for bidding on keywords that aren’t relevant to what you are offering.
Quality Score is all about helping you target the right keywords, write excellent ad copy, and create landing pages that appeal directly to your target audience. From a user-end, Quality Score exists to protect searchers from irrelevant search results, and helps guide them as quickly as possible to finding what they need. This commitment to relevancy is what makes Google the top search engine. When searchers go to Google, they nearly always get the results they need.
For more information on Quality Score, check out this video.
Why is Quality Score Important?
Quality Score is important for 3 main reasons. The first reason is because, as mentioned above, it ensures that searchers receive the most relevant results as quickly as possible. The second reasons is to make sure you get the exposure you are seeking. Google AdWords has hundreds of ads to choose from when searchers type in a keyword, and the best way to make sure Google shows your ad to the right audience is to have a high keyword Quality Score, or to be as relevant as possible. Finally, having a high Quality Score not only determines your competitive position in the display ads search results, but also affects how much you will pay for an ad. The higher your Quality Score, the less you will have to bid for a keyword, and the higher your position. Relevancy pays when it comes to paid search ads.
How to Find your Quality Score
Now that you know what Quality Score is and why it’s important, it’s important to understand where to find your current Quality Score for your targeted keywords. There are a few different ways to do this, but the most effective way is to simply enable the Quality Score column within the keyword tab. This way, you will continually be able to monitor your individual keyword Quality Scores.
To enable the Quality Score column, follow these steps:
1. Click on the “Campaign” tab at the top left (located right next to the “Home” tab).
2. Choose “Customize Columns”
3. Pick “Attributes”
4. Select “Add” next to “Quality Score”
5. Save your changes
Once you have completed these steps, you will be able to see the Quality Score for each of your keywords.
Tips for Improving Quality Score
Now that you know what Quality Score is, how it affects your paid search campaign, and how to monitor your Quality Score, consider incorporating these tips into your paid search campaign to continually improve your Quality Score.
1. Focus on raising your click-through Rate (CTR) – The higher your CTR, the better your Quality Score will be. In other words, the more people that click on your ad when it is show to Internet users, the higher your Quality Score will be. You can accomplish this by focusing on relevancy. In order to make your ads more relevant, consider the following tips.
– Create specific ad groups – Every ad group in your campaign should focus on a single product or service. This will help you keep your keywords as focused as possible.
For example, if you sell a variety of sports products like soccer balls, footballs, baseballs, etc., then create a separate ad group for each item you sell. That way when someone types in “buy a football,” for example, your ad for the perfect football will show up, rather than an ad for generic sports equipment. The more specific your ad groups, the better off you will be.
– Select precise keywords that fall into your ad group well – If you have created very specific ad groups, then this step should be easy. Simply pick keywords that describe your ad group precisely.
Continuing with the sports equipment store analogy, if you create an ad group for the footballs you sell, you can create a list of keywords with high search volumes that people generally use to search for the type of equipment you sell. Consider using keywords that are 2 to 3 words long rather than just single keywords. You may use “buy a football,” or “footballs for sale,” for example.
– Make sure your ad text is simple and direct – One of the best ways to increase your click-through rate is to offer ad text that is relevant, clear, and simple. When Google displays your ad to a searcher, the searcher should be able to tell immediately what it is you are selling, and it should be 100% relevant to the search.
The first ad has great copy. I know within less than a second that I can click on that ad and be directed to a list of top brand footballs, and I’ll be able to order them online. Additionally, (and another secret and fun tip you can use to increase your CTR) the first ad uses and exclamation point in their copy. For whatever reason, ad copy with an exclamation point generally will perform better than an ad without. Overall, the first ad is an ad copy win!
The second ad, on the other hand, is a bit too broad for my search. While it does have to do with football, there is no guarantee that I will actually be able to buy a football to play with. Rather, the ad copy tells me I can buy jerseys and the vague gear.
Which ad do you think I clicked?
– Create landing pages that match your ad copy – The next surefire way to increase your CTR is to make sure your landing page is a perfect visual description of your ad copy. In other words, if your ad copy says “Save on top football brands. Order footballs online today,” then when users click, the landing page better offer top branded footballs with ordering capabilities.
Now, back to footballamerica.com. While they have great copy, the crazy thing is when I actually click on their advertisement, their landing page offers football uniforms, rather than footballs. Because of this, I am likely to quickly bounce out of the site, and all that precious ad money spent is for naught (unless I happen to be in the business of buying helmets, shoulder pads, and socks).
2. Use sitelinks and extensions – Another great way to improve your Quality Score is to utilize sitelinks and extensions. Sitelinks and extensions are free, and they also give searchers more options for destination landing pages. This is almost always bound to increase your click-through rate, and also guarantee relevancy.
If footballamerica.com were to rethink their paid search ad campaign, they could run a sponsored ad, target keywords specifically related to football equipment, add sitelinks to their ad with options like “footballs,” “football helmets,” “football pads,” etc. and increase their relevancy, and thus, Quality Score.
The advantages of product are abundant:
– Searchers love clicking on images
– Price information is included to entice Internet searchers with specific budgets
– User-intent is determined immediately when a picture of a football appears
These are just some helpful hints to help you increase your keyword Quality Score. Keep in mind that the most important part of any campaign is to regularly and carefully review your ad campaign. If something isn’t working for you, and you notice you have a low Quality Score for a certain keyword, then try something different. Online marketing is always changing, so it’s important to keep a fresh eye on all of your campaigns.
Ashley R. Cummings is the owner of Searchlight Content and a freelance writer, specializing in online marketing, education, and travel. Connect with Ashley on Facebook or on Google+, and learn more about her on LinkedIn.