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Improving Quality Scores

Sep 1, 2010
by Eric Leuenberger

If you are managing any form of advertising, getting the biggest bang for your buck should be at the top of your mind. Spend less, make more. When it comes to paid search advertising, there are a number of ways to get more for less. One of them is by paying attention to your Quality Scores. In short, a higher quality score can mean you actually pay less for the same (or even higher) placement. In fact, when your quality scores are right, you could actually pay a lower cost per click (cpc) than a competitor who is bidding on the same keyword(s), yet have a higher placement in the search results.

What is Quality Score?
Google defines Quality Score as follows: "Quality Score is a dynamic variable assigned to each of your keywords. It's calculated using a variety of factors and measures how relevant your keyword is to your ad group, and to a user's search query." In other words, the Quality Score ensures that Google only displays relevant ads to its searchers. For advertisers, this means if you want potential customers to pay attention to your ad, you need to make sure you pay attention to your Quality Scores.

How do you Improve Quality Scores?
What can you do to better your quality scores? The bottom line is to keep things relevant. Keywords should be relevant to the ad and to the landing page, and vice versa. The best way to achieve this is by developing tightly focused groups of keywords (sometimes only two or three per group), based around a single ad group. Do not try to lump everything you are bidding on into one giant campaign or ad group - the ability to focus will be quickly lost, and that will not only hurt your quality scores, it will hurt your sales conversion.

Think about this: If you had 5,000 keywords that were targeted around specific products you offered, and then dumped them all into one ad group, those keywords would all be showing the same ad(s). This is obviously not a good idea. If you sold outdoor equipment and also clothing, there is virtually no way a single ad or group of ads could speak to all demographics in a relevant manner.

The ability for one ad to be relevant across all keywords without it being too broad (thus hurting your quality score), is impossible. Yes, there is dynamic keyword insertion, which gives you the ability to insert keywords into ad copy based on what keyword was triggered by the search. However, this is not a good method to rely upon with larger groups of keywords. Simply changing a single term in the ad might make it appear relevant, but it will not help the Quality Score if a click doesn't happen, and it won't help your sales if the click isn't relevant.

Google looks at the "whole ad," and derives a concept from it. This concept is what drives relevancy, and is what is matched against (in some respect) the content of the landing page and the keyword(s) used. For example, if your trigger keyword was "tractor," and the title of your ad reads, "{Keyword} for Sale," and the description of your ad reads, "Looking for {Keyword}? Find it Here. Shop Now!," the ad would display as follows:

Tractor for Sale
Looking for Tractor? Find it
Here. Shop Now!

If the trigger keyword was "clothes," the ad would read:

Clothes for Sale
Looking for Clothes? Find it
Here. Shop Now!

Although these seem relevant, they are not very powerful nor effective at targeting the click, because they are too broad and they will likely not help your Quality Score. However, if you broke your keywords down into smaller, tightly focused ad groups, you might be able to more specifically target clicks by writing targeted ads that read as follows:

John Deere Tractor Sale
John Deere JX145 Ride Ons.
Ready to Run. Shop Now!

Toddler Clothes On Sale
Back to School Sale on Stylish
Clothes for Girls. Shop Now!

Combine those ads with relevant landing pages (i.e. send the tractor traffic to the product page on the site for the John Deere JX145 and send the traffic for the clothing ad to the Girls clothing category on the site), and you're setting yourself up for higher quality scores.

Take Away Tips for Improving Quality Scores.
I mentioned on a high level what you can do to increase your quality scores. Some of you may want to have more detailed information. So I have composed a list from researching the Internet of the top ten ways to improve your PPC Quality Scores.

1. Include keywords in ad copy.
Make sure your ad copy includes the keyword(s) that triggered the ad within the ad group.
2. Include keywords in landing pages.
Make sure that the page you are sending traffic to includes the keyword(s) you are targeting in your ad. If they are not present on the landing page, add them.
3. Split Keywords into smaller, more targeted Ad Groups.
Don't drop non-related keywords into a single ad group. Take the time to build smaller, more tightly focused ad groups around smaller sets of keywords.
4. Create separate landing pages per ad group / keyword.
An ad group should have a primary focus based on the keywords you are using within it. As an easy way to visualize it, think of each ad group representing a different product category in your store. Set destination URLs at the keyword level to direct traffic toward specific products, while directing ad group level traffic to the primary category the ad represents.
5. Avoid Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) with big keyword dumps.
This might seem relevant, but in reality it is hard to make an ad relevant when all you are changing is the keyword, and not the supporting copy as well.
6. Take advantage of all match types.
Make sure you try out and work with all match types, as needed; Broad, Exact, Phrase and Negative. Using these in the right context can really help the relevancy factor by qualifying the traffic that will see your ad before it even shows.
7. Optimize ad creative.
It is great and in fact encouraged to continually test ad creative. Run at least two and even up to four different ads at a time to find out what works to increase click thru and sales conversion. When you find the ads that convert, keep them and use them as the control upon which you should test even more ad variations going forward.

Eric Leuenberger is an ecommerce conversion marketing expert and author of a leading Ecommerce blog at He coaches store owners using his online coaching system,, teaching them how to increase website sales using his proven six step process. He can be contacted at 1-866-602-2673.

Topic: Business Strategies

Related Articles: scores  marketing 

Article ID: 1362

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