Optimizing to Improve your Quality Score

Written by Pooja Mehra
on November 15, 2011

For search marketers to compete in a competitive pay-per-click landscape and curtail keyword price inflation, campaigns must evolve with search algorithms that increasingly take into account site-side factors such as landing page relevance.

We all know that Google’s got this “quality score” (QS) thing – that matters. And it has evolved beyond simple auction-based price and CTRs. Adwords uses this on a scale of 1 to 10 to rate how good your ad is while matching to a search query or relevant it is as compared to others ads, and the more it assumes significance, the less you’ll get charged for each click.

Most of the time Google’s quality score bot does a reasonably good job while sweeping its index, but sometimes to make better of your campaign, it needs to be pointed in the right direction. To do that, optimizing your web page semantically and structuring documents logically are useful tactics at your disposal.

Let’s first quickly review the factors involved into quality score calculation. There are two different quality scores Google associates with each keyword in a campaign. The first determines –

  • The minimum bid amount using a keyword’s CTR
  • The relevance of the keyword to its ad group
  • Landing page quality
  • Account’s historical performance
  • + other factors that are not publicly disclosed

A second score is assigned for an ad’s position in the results and is determined by a keyword’s CTR, the relevance of the keyword and ad to its respective search query, as well as the account’s historical performance. Google applies these metrics to weed out poorly performing keywords, which helps deliver targeted and relevant ads to the search engine’s users while eliminating the noise caused by spam ads and unrelated offers.

Assuming that your landing page loads normally – CTR can be attributed as the single biggest determinant of QS. In other words,

Fantastic CTR = Great QS

How to Improve Your Quality Score

Quality score improves when an account has its campaigns, ad groups, and keywords thematically aligned with each other.

Weed out the Good from the BAD

If an existing account has a history of poorly performing keywords, and even if marketers isolated those keywords, deleted them or simply added them elsewhere in the account, Google while performing a sweep of the account’s history with reassign the same quality score to these previously deleted keywords. Therefore, marketers must adopt various best practices when establishing new accounts, and consider starting from scratch (in a new account)

Carefully Craft your Strategy

Marketers should carefully craft their ads, ensuring that keywords associated with these ads are embedded within ad copy and that ads correlate to their respective ad groups in a tightly bound and cohesive fashion. For this you need to split Keywords into smaller more targeted Ad Groups.

For example, a jewelery retailer with an AdWords account might have one campaign for Fashion Jewellery, with ad groups broken down into various looks as well as keywords with colors or other descriptive keyword phrases. A second campaign might be dedicated to High-end jewellery, with ad groups broken down into colored stones and gold categories as well as keywords with brand or cut types. This strategy not only is favorably looked at by search engines and guarantees improved rankings, but also facilitates management of accounts that are coherently structured and well organized.

Optimizing Landing Pages to Improve Quality Scores

When optimizing (SEO) your landing pages, think of the inverted pyramid.  That means the most important information should be at the top of the page: your title tag, meta description, and the first paragraph of content that are highly prioritized by Google. Besides, the following points will act as a checklist to help optimize your landing page –

  • Cautiously isolate variables when adding (or removing) from landing pages.
  • Equal landing page creative with scope and quality of offers.
  • Match landing page content with ad copy to enable seamless flow.
  • Enable quickly loading landing pages because slow loading pages are penalized.
  • Remember that only exact matches count, meaning there is no need to optimize for every phrase.
  • Seed title tags, and optimize metadata to match keyword phrases in the landing page’s respective ad groups.
  • Employ day-parting to focus on seasonally higher-demand conversion periods.
  • Entirely avoid pop-ups.
  • Use paid content links (e.g., AdSense), but never preceding initial content.

Modify Your CTR

Make sure your ad copy laser-targeted.  Match it to the specific keywords the user searches for, and repeat those words throughout the ad. The ads should make sense and capitalize the first word of each word, excluding prepositions, conjunctions etc.

Following a top-down linear progression throughout their accounts, marketers can succeed, regardless of budget. No one solution-fits-all QS. So determine if campaigns and their respective keywords are consistent in theme with each ad groups within them, if ad copy is consistent with keywords associated with ads, and if landing pages are relevant to ad copy and keywords. You’re typically rewarded with good Quality Score when you strive to build a strong account history with relevant ads that point to good landing pages.

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