How Quality Scores Drive PPC Media Efficiency?
If you search for the “worst ads in TV history,” you will see some interesting bits of creativity, while wondering “how did such terrible ads even air?” But the reason is quite simple: Money. When a company buys a few seconds of airtime from a television network, the price is based on when and how much and not on the quality of the material being transmitted. When you pay to have an ad aired (or posted in a newspaper), the network or publisher usually doesn’t care what you show to your target audience.
But Google does, and that’s why Quality Scores are a crucial factor in PPC media efficiency.
What Is A Quality Score?
Google is the most extensively used search engine in the world for a variety of reasons, but the most important one is people’s trust in Google’s ability to find them the best possible answer/resource for their query. And Google carries this “trust” to not just organic searches but paid searches as well.
It means that even the paid ads you see when you execute a query are usually ranked based on their relevance. And to encourage PPC marketers to create more relevant ads and copies, Google assigns a Quality Score to their keywords, somewhere between one and ten. Higher scores are rewarded with better rankings and relatively lower costs, which effectively increases PPC ROI.
Google’s definition of Quality Score is that it’s simply a diagnostic tool to give you an idea of how relevant your ad and landing page are to what the users are searching for. And since the CPC is determined not only by what you are willing to pay (via bidding) but what others are paying, so Quality Score, i.e., Google’s perceived quality of your ad, is determined by comparing it to other ads and advertisers.
Three Quality Score Components
Google takes into account three factors to calculate the Quality Score for a keyword:
Expected Click-Through Rate: It’s calculated compared to other advertisers.
Ad Relevance: The more relevant your ad is to users’ specific search intents, the higher your score is likely to be. Specific ads that match long-tail keywords/keyphrases might be considered more relevant compared to general terms covering a broad spectrum of products/services.
Landing Page Experience: If your landing page delivers on its promise, is relevant to your keyword, and makes your user’s journey easier, you are likely to rank higher.
Google doesn’t share a specific weightage for any of the factors stated above. There are varying opinions (among advertisers) about which factor is the most important, but CTR is considered the heavyweight of the trio. Landing page experience might negatively impact your score, but a very high-quality landing page might not boost your score above a certain level.
It’s important to note that when determining your Google Adword rank, the algorithm might focus more on the historical Quality Score of the keyword you are advertising for and relatively minor on your current/real-time one.
Quality Scores And PPC Media Efficiency
The efficiency and success of your PPC campaign are two different things. You might associate success with certain KPIs and goals (like a specific number of conversions), but efficiency is relatively simple, i.e., how much output you get for your input. For PPC, your input is your financial investment in the campaign and, in the broader context, the time and effort you put into developing your landing page and creating an ad copy. The output is how high you rank in Google ad words, how many clicks you get, and the conversion rate.
With a higher Quality Score, you are likely to get a higher rank for a relatively lower CPC compared to your lower Quality Score, who might have to pay more CPC to rank below you. That’s Google’s way of ensuring the bad ads don’t brute force their way up to the top spot by bidding higher.
If you have a Quality Score of around seven or more, you are more likely to have a better ROI than an advertiser with, say, a Quality Score of five. They might pay just the same (or even more), but with a better organized PPC campaign, higher rank, and expected click-through rates, you might get more conversions out of the campaign.
You should also understand the limitations of the Quality Score. It doesn’t take into account the user’s devices, locations, a time when the search was executed, etc. But these factors may influence the Click Through Rate.
How To Improve Your Quality Score
There are a few steps you can take to ensure you have higher Quality Scores which, in turn, drive PPC campaign efficiency.
Don’t be stingy with your ad groups. Instead of focusing on umbrella terms, try creating multiple landing pages and relevant ads for all your products/services and variants, and match the target keyword to searched keywords and intention as closely as you can.
Keep track of your Quality Score and try to ensure all three components are average or above average. Below-average relevance and above-average landing page might indicate that only your ad text needs optimization.
Don’t try to rank higher by bidding more, thinking that if you improve your CTR because of your ad placement, your historical Quality Score might improve. Focus more on factors (relevance and landing page) that influence your conversions as well as your clicks.
Create more ad groups, so multiple relevant keywords are not competing against each other. A “Tighter” grouping of keywords almost always trumps a cocktail of mixed-relevance keywords.
Relevance and focus are crucial in making your landing pages more attractive. The more you facilitate your user by making their journey easier, the better your landing page component rating would be. And you can do that by simplifying your landing pages, i.e., by keeping them about specific products and feeding user information (and advertisement content) relevant only to their search intent. Unintentional or intentional and blatant up-selling can negatively impact your landing page experience.
A manual action can push the Quality Score of even the most relevant and ads and amazing landing pages down to the lower end, so don’t forget the broader SEO scope when you are focusing on your PPC campaign.
A good Quality Score, regardless of the overlap of its consequences for your current PPC campaign goals, is usually a good thing, and a bad score will negatively impact you in the long run. Besides, the “tenets” of Quality Score are rooted in good marketing practices, and trying to improve the Quality Score will always have a positive impact on your PPC campaign efficiency.
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