Nuts & Bolts: Four Strategies for Winning Top Spots in Google AdWords

Nuts & Bolts: Four Strategies for Winning Top Spots in Google AdWords

Nuts & Bolts Quality Score

When Google announced changes to its search engine results page (SERP) earlier this year, marketers immediately began re-evaluating their digital advertising programs. Like highly trained athletes who were suddenly competing with a new set of rules, marketers wondered if they could learn and adjust to the new playing field fast enough.

The net effect of Google’s changes is there is now 30% less advertising opportunity on the SERP. As we said in a previous post, in any contest, who remembers the competitor who finished outside the top spots?

In this “Nuts & Bolts” post, we explain Google’s recent changes and how they affect your campaigns, then we look at four strategies you can use to capture a coveted top position or use other options to bolster your ad’s visibility.

View the slides below from our workshop. For a more in-depth discussion, read the MarketingProfs article “How to Win a Spot on the PPC Podium in the Olympics of Search,” and the posts in our blog series about Google AdWords.

Want to Raise Your Google Quality Score? Shun the “Set It & Forget It” Mindset

Quality Score Spotlights

DONT FORGETTweak, tweak, tweak, tweak. If you want optimal results from your paid search program, that’s what you must do. Tweak, tweak, tweak, tweak.

You can build a successful paid-search advertising campaign using sound fundamentals, but you need to be willing to monitor closely and make adjustments continually – if you want success to last or increase. Tweaking for success will cause the Google Gods to smile down upon your ads and lead to better placements. We talk about this approach in “Want to Raise Your Google Quality Score? Shut the ‘Set It and Forget It’ Mindset,” which was originally published on The Social Media Monthly (January 21, 2015.)

The Social Media MonthlyIn that post, we explain the five factors that greatly influence your ad’s Quality Score:

  1. Click-through Rate (CTR)
  2. Ad Relevancy
  3. Keyword Relevancy / Campaign Structure
  4. Landing Page Relevancy
  5. Account History

In a recent workshop, we further described each of these factors and covered the three powerful ways you can influence higher Quality Scores.

  • Improve CTR
  • Improve Landing Pages
  • Build Quality History


While the algorithms that drive search results change frequently, these factors and techniques continue to be important in helping you achieve optimal success with your paid search program … as long as you don’t “Set It and Forget It.”

Always be tweaking.

Nuts & Bolts: Raising Google Quality Score

Nuts & Bolts Quality Score Retail Analytics

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 5.50.49 PMFor our November installment of “Nuts & Bolts” post, I’d like to share our Google Quality Score Workshop from earlier this year. Following my recent 3-part series of posts focused on mobile search, I feel this topic follows theme, as retailers gear up for ecommerce during the holiday season. Raising your Quality Score is one technique for optimizing your spending for higher ad positions. Topics include improving your click-through rate, ensuring the relevancy of your ad copy, keywords and landing pages and building quality history.

3 Pivotal Reasons to Manage Your Google Quality Score

Quality Score Retail Analytics

Depositphotos_14004354_originalWell into the first quarter of 2015, the frenzy of the holidays is all but forgotten. Shoppers and retailers alike have returned to their normal routine. There is one lesson, however, that retailers shouldn’t forget from 2014. Shopping habits appear to be making a strong shift from the storefront to the World Wide Web.

While this past year’s in-store Black Friday numbers disappointed some analysts, online shoppers have spent more than $42 billion during the peak holiday season for an increase of 15% over the previous year.  A sea change in shopping behavior is afoot. Purchases are moving from brick-and-mortar stores to handheld devices, establishing the mobile browser as a crucial point-of-purchase front. This has digital marketing execs looking with fresh eyes at their paid search performance.

But what should they be examining? The answer is Google’s Quality Score. There’s a Quality Score for every keyword in a retailer’s AdWords account, and it estimates the quality of a retailer’s digital ads and landing pages triggered by that keyword. Having a high Quality Score means that Google’s systems think an ad and landing page are relevant and useful to searchers viewing the ad.

Google isn’t just looking at bid size when selecting keyword-specific ads. For the benefit of searchers and ad publishers, Google wants the highest quality ads to appear rather than high-paying, poorly targeted ads. That’s one reason relevance indicators such as Quality Score are pertinent to a great ad placement. These measures are critical to beating out thousands of similar bids for the choicest spots on Google.

Here are three reasons managing Quality Score should be a critical component of your paid search campaign:

  1. Make the Cut – As a baseline, Quality Score is one measure Google uses to get the most relevant content in front of searchers. A poor grade could mean fewer eyes see your ad. For cutthroat keywords, a low score could mean no one sees your ad at all. To justify your program, keeping your Quality Score above a minimum threshold is a must.
  2. Spend Less, Get Better Placements – Not only is Quality Score a benchmark for ad eligibility, but high scores slash CPC and first-page placement estimates. The thrifty can get more out of their digital marketing budget by improving the Quality Score of ad-related content. This is everything from the offer on your landing page to the ad copy itself. Every piece of the conversion puzzle is worth improving if you want to get the most out of paid search.
  3. Compete With Ease At an auction, the way Google assigns ads to a specific search, Quality Score is a key determining factor for which ads appear where on the page. Google tracks searcher behavior with every single query. If a curious searcher clicks on your ad and converts on your landing page, it weighs in your favor through the Quality Score Google assigns. The constant measurement means your score will change over time with searcher behavior. No passive paid search managers will attain first-rate ad placements on desirable keywords. The reward to the diligent, however, is better representation on Google than competitors.

As purchase behavior wanders deeper onto the web, marketers cannot afford to fall behind. If your digital marketing metrics need help, you are not alone. Many marketers are still relying on an outdated last-click attribution model. Many are spending, but not optimizing their paid search campaigns. Get on track and educate yourself by reading our Google Quality Score and attribution modeling methods blog posts.


3 Ways to Influence Google Quality Score

Analytics Quality Score

shutterstock_189431450In the last FirstWord blog post, you learned the “5 Critical Components of Google Quality Score.” Now, you’ll learn how to influence those factors using three basic tactics.

But first, a refresher course:

What is Quality Score? It’s the algorithm Google uses to estimate how relevant the ads, keywords and landing pages in your digital marketing campaigns are to someone seeing them after a search. A higher Quality Score means Google’s systems consider your ads, keywords and landing pages relevant and useful to each searcher’s particular topic.

The higher your ad scores, the higher your ad ranks in every search auction. And the more likely clicks will become sales. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to drive your Quality Score higher. Now, here are three ways to do just that:

  1. Improve Clickthrough Rate (CTR) – As the most important factor in Quality Score, CTR should receive the most attention. Four simple adjustments can improve CTR’s and drive up Quality Score:
    • Keyword Negatives – Continually add new negatives to eliminate unwanted queries.  Run your Search Query Reports weekly to identify opportunities and reach beyond eliminating bad clicks. Look to eliminate irrelevant high-impression terms that can drive down CTR.
    • Match Type Breakout— Breakout keywords by match types and separate match types by campaign or ad group.  This will further group not only like terms, but like match types and increase CTR on better performing Exact match groups. In addition, shy away from Broad match and focus on Broad Match Modifiers to improve CTR.
    • Sitelinks – Add Sitelinks to all campaigns and use ad group Sitelinks, when possible, to deliver more relevant Sitelinks. Traditional Sitelinks may increase CTR by 15%, and Enhanced Sitelinks may increase CTR by 20%.
    • Targeting – Eliminate poor performing targets for greater CTR by using all the targeting options available, including GEO targeting, ad scheduling and bid modifiers.
  2. Landing Pages – Because Google will crawl landing pages to determine how relevant they are to each keyword, picking the most relevant, most granular landing pages possible is imperative. When possible, regularly adjust content on landing pages and/or create specific paid-search landing pages that align with keyword to improve Quality Score.
  3. Build Quality History – Set up every campaign the right way every time and manage each and every campaign on regular basis. That’s the only way to build the account history Google seeks to reward with high Quality Scores. This is where discipline comes into play; if you can’t execute a campaign the right way, then maybe that campaign shouldn’t launch.

In addition to these three tactics, practice Search Engine Marketing (SEM) best practices. In short, create a logical campaign structure, craft tight ad groups with similar-themed keyword clusters, develop granular ad copy using keyword themes within copy and, most importantly, continually test and tweak, tweak, tweak.

5 Critical Components of Google Quality Score

Analytics Quality Score

Paid Search is not “Set It & Forget It” media. If you want optimal results from Paid Search, you must build fundamentally sound campaigns, monitor their progress at every opportunity and continually tweak, tweak, tweak. Discipline is the way to win. And the key to winning anything is maximizing your scoring power.

That’s the reason Google calls its relevancy metric “Quality Score.” It’s the algorithm Google uses to estimate how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing pages are to a person seeing your ads. A high Quality Score means Google’s systems consider your ads, keywords, and landing pages relevant and useful to users searching a particular topic. The higher your ad scores, the higher your ad ranks in every search auction. The higher your ad ranks, the more likely clicks will become sales.

In other words, a high score increases your likelihood of winning business through Paid Search campaigns. And if you want to raise your Quality Score, you first have to understand how Google determines this metric. Google is protective of its algorithms, so I can’t say exactly how it’s done. But I can reveal the five most important factors:

  1. Click Through Rate (CTR) – CTR is a user influenced attribute so Google gives it the most weight. Theory is: Large numbers of users clicking your ad must correlate to a positive experience. So high CTR drives Quality Score higher.
  2. Ad Relevancy – Both closely related relevant ad copy and having the actual keyword within ad copy improve Quality Score.
  3. Keyword Relevancy/Campaign Structure – Google’s system looks for keyword relevancy across ad groups. When keywords within an ad group are closely related, Quality Scores go up.
  4. Landing Page Relevancy – The more relevant the landing page, the better Quality Score.
  5. Account History – The length of time a keyword has been active in an account impacts Quality Score, but more important than length of time is how the keyword has performed over time.

Knowing these five critical components leads the way to five techniques you can apply to building and adjusting Paid Search campaigns that will drive higher Quality Scores. And that will be the topic of my next FirstWord post. Stay tuned.