<strong>Maximising Your Quality Score</strong> At the start of the last blog, I identified the three things that you need to do in order to optimise your account (assuming that it’s correctly set up) – Maximise the Conversion Rate, Maximise the Quality Score, and optimise your bids. I've looked at the conversion rate, and now it's time to look at the Quality Score. <strong>How Adwords Uses The Quality Score To Decide Your Advert's Position</strong> Most people understand that Google Adwords assigns a Quality Score to your keyword and advert, and that this is combined with the cost per click to somehow decide how much you have to pay per click, and what position your advert appears in. But few actually understand exactly how it happens, and just how important your Quality Score really is, or how it works.
Maximising Your Quality Score At the start of the last blog, I identified the three things that you need to do in order to optimise your account (assuming that it’s correctly set up) – Maximise the Conversion Rate, Maximise the Quality Score, and optimise your bids. I've looked at the conversion rate, and now it's time to look at the Quality Score. How Adwords Uses The Quality Score To Decide Your Advert's Position Most people understand that Google Adwords assigns a Quality Score to your keyword and advert, and that this is combined with the cost per click to somehow decide how much you have to pay per click, and what position your advert appears in. But few actually understand exactly how it happens, and just how important your Quality Score really is, or how it works.
The first thing that Google decides is which position your advert appears in. That’s fairly straightforward – the cost per click is multiplied by the Quality Score, and the adverts are ranked according to this. So, if you’ve got the following seven adverts, with the cost per clicks and Quality Scores given, the rankings would be as follows: Now comes the hard part – how much do you actually bid to get that position? Google starts with the bottom position – in this case G which is seventh – and charges a minimum cost per click. For the sake of argument, we’ll call this £0.10 To get sixth, advert E needs an adjusted bid of £0.69 (to beat the £0.68 for G). Given that it has a Quality Score of 1.2, the actual cost per click would need to be £0.57 (as £0.57 * 1.2 = £0.69). To get fifth, advert F needs to beat the adjusted bid of £0.72 from G, which means that the actual cost per click for F would be (0.72/1.5) = £0.48 And so on… Filling in the remaining numbers, you get the following: It is useful to know, but how is this important? Consider advert A, which is pretty hopeless with a Quality Score of 1.0. If A can get onto the same level as G, and improve the Quality Score to 1.7, it jumps to the top of the search ranking, and even ends up paying less! Instead of paying £0.88 to appear third, they would pay £0.85 to be top! Cheaper clicks, and twice as many of them! That’s a big return for just changing the advert text a bit, and making sure that the advert is more closely matched to the search term (you can do this by trying to turn one phrase match term into many using the search query report). But what if you’ve already got a good Quality Score? Is it worth trying to squeeze a little bit more out of your advert, or is your time better spent doing something else? Consider advert F. What happens in the above example, if they increase their Quality Score from 1.5 up to 1.55? They don’t move up the rankings, so it’s probably not worthwhile? Wrong. Two things happen here. First, their advert costs £0.46 instead of £0.48, so they get about 5% more clicks for their money (if they are limited by their budget), or pay 5% less for their traffic (if they aren’t). That’s like getting 2.5 weeks of traffic free every year. But as always, Google doesn’t lose out (they’re very clever here!) as advert C pays £0.70 instead of £0.68 for their advert. So your competitors are effectively giving you their money! Depending on how you feel about your main rivals, this may give you a very warm and fuzzy feeling inside… One point worth remembering here is that the Quality Score isn't static - one of the attributes that impacts it is the click through rate, which is constantly changing. So, whilst B may be paying £0.40 today, it may be £0.38 or £0.42 tomorrow, due to variations in both B's and A's click through rates. The Quality Score uses the CTR, Keyword Relevance, Advert Text and Landing Page. Let's look at these factors in turn. Click Through Rate (CTR) Not much to say, really. The higher your click through rate, the more relevant your advert must be (since so many people are clicking on it). This highlights the problem that if your product is of interest to only some of the people searching for a term, then Google will penalise you for only targeting them with your advert text. This is another reason why bidding on generic terms is dangerous if you don't have the whole area covered by your product range... You can improve your click through rate by making your advert text more eye-catching and appealing, but just remember that you don't want to sacrifice your conversion rate to do so. Be aware that Google does take your advert position into account when assessing your click through rate, so increasing your bids won’t automatically result in a higher Quality Score. Keyword Relevance There are a few parts here – Google compares your keyword, the search query and the advert, and looks at how similar they are. If somebody is searching for "blue widgets," then your keyword matches the search more closely if you are bidding on "blue widgets" than if you were just bidding on "widgets," though your advert would appear in either case. And if your advert says “blue widgets,” then your keyword and the search query will both match the advert closely as well. This is one reason that an extensive keyword list, appropriately grouped, is important (though there are also benefits in terms of bid adjustments and click through rates from more targeted adverts). This approach by Google is reasonable - if somebody searches for "Leather Reclining Chairs," then you're more likely to have what they want if you tell Google that you have "leather reclining chairs" than if you tell it you have "reclining chairs," and you're much less likely if you tell Google that you just have leather chairs (broad match). Advert Text Advert text seems to come up in just about every section, doesn't it! In this instance, I'm looking at advert text from the perspective of maximising the Quality Scores. It's actually quite simple, in principle. Google wants to see the search term, or at the very least, part of the search term, in the advert - ideally, in the title. The catch? The adverts are written at Adgroup level, remember? Therefore, you have to be very careful how you group your keywords - it's not enough just to have keywords that mean the same grouped together, they need common words in them, if possible. At one extreme, you could put every single keyword in its own Adgroup. This would certainly give you the opportunity to target your adverts very well from a Quality Score perspective. However, when the time comes to analyse how your campaign is performing, it makes things quite difficult. And it also makes optimising the long-tail more difficult, since the keywords haven't been grouped together, and as a result can't be analysed together, making bid adjustments difficult. So your keywords should be grouped not just on the sort of keyword they are, but also the actual words within them. Now it's not always possible to do this - if your keyword is more than 25 characters long, then you can't put it in the title, and if it's more than 35 characters long, it won't fit anywhere. Just do the best you can. It's worth noting here that you may run into another Catch-22 situation here. You want to put your keywords in the title of your advert, but you also want your advert to stand out. What if everyone else already has that term in their title? If your competitors are rank amateurs, who don't really know how Adwords works, it's not likely to be a major problem, but try running a Google search for "PPC Management!" You can bet that most of these guys know the score! At the moment, I'm seeing the following titles: Which one stands out? The one with the lowest Quality Score! But they might well be making a lot of ground up with a good click through rate, and they have PPC in the second line, so perhaps they are 'winning' at the moment... In this instance, it may not matter too much, as most people looking for an advertising agency would click on every link on the page (I think. I would, anyway). There's no 'right' answer to this one - but personally, I'd recommend improving the clickthrough rate. Test it yourself, and see what happens... Landing Page I've already covered this in a fair amount of detail in previous posts - there's not really much more to add. Basically, Google go and look at your website, and decide whether it's the sort of place that they think people want to shop or visit. If it is, they reward you, if not, they slap you (not literally, obviously). And that's about it - understand these principles, and you should always be able to get a good Quality Score. Comments are welcome and if you missed the last five parts, you can find them here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.