Quality Score in Paid Search

It seems like everyone is dabbling in Paid Search these days. With free advertiser credits from Adwords, free DIY webinars, and countless Paid Search Blogs, there is a ton of information and resources to get started with online advertising. Plus unlike an SEO campaign, your Paid Search campaign can be up and running in as little as 30 minutes, and you can receive instant traffic to your website.

But after the easy campaign setup process, figuring out what to do next can be difficult.  What can you do to optimize your campaign, compete on your keywords and keep your costs down? Working on your quality score is a start.

The “quality score” was created by Google to analyze the relevance of keywords in your campaign.  It is a benefit to advertisers who create highly relevant campaigns, Google searchers and of course, Google’s own business.  It helps advertisers achieve an overall lower cost per click when they choose the right combination of keywords, ad copy, and landing pages.  The optimized campaigns then in turn help the search users by displaying highly relevant ads and landing pages for their given search query. And Google does well when ads are clicked (revenue) and users gain confidence in Google’s ability to provide relevant search results.

Running campaigns that are not highly relevant can hurt an advertiser over time.  Google doesn’t shut down campaigns that are not relevant, but rather charges a premium cost-per-click that will help “punish” bad advertising practices and push lower performing ads down in display order.

There are a number of components that go into calculating the quality score:

  • Historical Click-Through-Rate (CTR) – This includes the CTR of the keyword and matched ad, CTR of the account, CTR of the display URL, and CTR of results in the searcher’s geography.
  • Relevance – This is based on the searcher’s behavior.  Does your keyword and ad copy combination entice a searcher’s to click on your ad?  This includes how well your keyword and ad copy addresses the intent of the searcher.  For example, keywords can have multiple meanings or be used at different points in the buying cycle.
  • Landing Page Quality – Until recently you only had to worry about the content on your landing page for your own business purposes – to generate leads, sales, or meet your business goals.  Now, Google is starting to take your website content into consideration when calculating your quality score, which makes sense.  It helps line up the searcher’s and the advertiser’s best interests, which in turn makes Google a better search engine.

Overall, quality scores help align everyone’s interests.  Higher quality scores lead to lower costs-per-click for the advertiser, a better user experience for the searcher, and a better search reputation for Google.


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