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The popularity of Google as an internet search tool is so pervasive that in 2006, the verb ‘to Google’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.  In the following years, Google’s hegemony over the world of search has persisted.  But Google is more than just a search engine – it’s also the force behind AdWords, a powerful tool for businesses looking to advertise goods and services to Google search users.  Because Google Quality Score is one of the leading indicators of an ad’s performance under AdWords, we’ll use this article to explore the ways you can improve your Google Quality Score and attract more business in the process.

How are ads triggered, and what determines their placement?
First, a quick recap of the basics of AdWords: When web users search for something on Google, their search results are accompanied by a series of advertisements on the top, right and sometimes bottom side of the page.  These ads are populated with keywords related to the web user’s search terms, so that only ads relevant to the user’s search appear on screen.  Over the years, factors that determine ad rank have changed.  Previously, the most coveted ad positions simply went to the highest bidder for a given keyword. Today bidding still plays a role, but ad position and cost-per-click are determined in much larger part by the Google Quality Score, which evaluates ads on a broader and more complex set of criteria to provide better results for viewers.  Things like keyword clickthrough rate, ad clickthrough rate, and account clickthrough rate are taken into consideration, along with the historical clickthrough rate of the display URLs within the ad group and the quality of the landing page.

How do I improve my Google Quality Score?
Google Quality Score (from here on referred to as QS) is based on criteria as broad as the long-term history of the account, at intermediate levels like performance of groups of keywords within a specific ad campaign, and down to specifics like the relevance of individual keywords.  With so many levels to consider, improving QS becomes a question of prioritization.  Here are a number of first steps that can be taken to strategically and effectively improve QS.

1.) Improve Your Clickthrough Rate
Clickthrough Rate (CTR) is considered by many experts as one of the primary factors influencing QS.  Since poor CTR numbers are a result of inaction by potential customers, here is how you can increase customer interaction with your ads:

  • Target customers most likely to click by calibrating keywords: try to target only those customers who are likely to click on your ads.  Hone in on select groups of potential customers by using targeted keywords sorted by time, location, and phrase constraints.
  • Write compelling copy: Be sure to fill your copy with strong calls to action, which have been proven to attract clicks results in higher CTR.

When focusing on CTR, keep in mind that some observers have found they cannot predictably surpass a QS of 7 even with CTR optimization.  Thus, instead of shooting for perfect 10‘s across the board, it is more important to focus on achieving a high average QS across ad groups.

2.) Make Ads Relevant to Keywords
High-quality and/or enticing ad copy is important, because even a perfectly targeted keyword may miss the mark if it’s written in a bland or robotic style.  When working on optimizing keyword relevance, when possible you should embed the primary keyword in the ad title, ad text, and/or display URL.

3.) Provide a Good User Experience
The user experience starts with good ad copy and ends with a transaction on your landing page.  In order to bring this process to completion, you should:

  • Start by making sure your keywords and ad copy are targeted to specific customer groups based on your keyword research.
  • If these are good enough to entice users to click through, then make sure users get what they’re looking for in a landing page.
  • The content of landing page should contain content coordinating with the keywords and ad copy.
  • Use clear calls to action and unambiguous site layout to seal the deal.

Overall, try to make the user’s experience on the landing page simple and easy so that they can follow through on their initial interest and turn that click into business for you.

Why should I care about my Quality Score?
Achieving a high QS sets a virtuous cycle in motion: it gives your ads higher placement in search results, it lowers the cost you pay per click, and it’s all happening because the user finds your content relevant.  The user rewards this relevance by clicking through and patronizing your business.  High Quality Score begets high exposure and low cost, which in turn lead to improved ROI.

At the end of the day, it’s all about your results.  If you have a low Quality Score and your ROI and results are great, then don’t obsess too much over it.  If there are ways you can improve your Quality Score without sacrificing results, then it’s something you should by all means work on.

 

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