Everything is going great as you prepare to launch your first Google Ads campaign. You’ve researched and then narrowed down your keywords, written engaging and compelling ad text, and even built a great landing page to greet those who click on your ads. But when you check your Google Quality Score, you find out the news isn’t good. It’s below average, and you know that’s far from a good thing.
Don’t get too stressed out yet. While a low Google quality score may translate into a wasted ad budget and poor performance of the campaign, there are plenty of things you can do to enhance it. However, before you start, it’s important to know how you’re rated by Google on this metric and why it’s so important.
Google uses a set method of calculation to notify marketers of the probability that their intended Google Ads campaign would perform well. Google rates campaigns in three areas from 1-10: keywords, ads, and landing pages. The Quality Score can be viewed in a Google Ads report in the “Quality Score” column:
Google Ad Rank and Google Quality Score: What’s the Difference
It’s easy to confuse Google Ad Rank and Google Quality Score, as they are two fairly similar metrics. However, although they are fairly closely related to each other, they are not the same thing.
When it comes to Google Quality Score, it’s Google’s way of offering marketers a methodology to follow to boost their campaigns. It tells advertisers how best to change their campaign when its keywords, actual ads and landing pages are assessed.
On the other hand, Ad Rank is Google’s way of taking even more campaign information into account to decide where your ad will appear on search engine results pages (SERP). As Google decides your Ad Rank, much like Quality Score, it takes keyword, ad, and landing page experience into account. According to Google, however, it also takes into account the following:
“Ad Rank is calculated using your bid amount, your auction-time ad quality (including expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience), the Ad Rank thresholds, the competitiveness of an auction, the context of the person’s search (for example, the person’s location, device, time of the search, the nature of the search terms, the other ads and search results that show on the page, and other user signals and attributes), and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.”
With these variables, Google decides where to display your ad on search engine results pages in comparison to other ads, or whether it should be displayed at all. Ad Rank does not take Quality Score into consideration directly. Just because you have a high-quality score doesn’t mean a high ad rank is going to be given to your campaign.
At the same time, Ad Rank takes the same variables as Quality Score into account. And they’re a crucial component of your ad rank improvement. That is why the Quality Score for advertisers is such a useful self-diagnosis tool.
How Google Calculates Your Quality Score
Three variables relating to keywords, ads, and landing pages are taken into account when Google calculates the quality score. They are referred to as:
- Expected CTR
- Ad Relevance
- Landing Page Experience
As you read on here, keep in mind that, when evaluating your campaigns, Google weighs these variables differently. The predicted click-through rate and landing page experience contribute more to the quality score than ad relevance, according to research, but, as is the case for many things with Google (and SEO) no one quite knows how the equation is applied to each individual campaign for sure.
Expected CTR is a keyword-related factor that calculates how likely someone is to click on your ad while searching for the associated keyword. Ad location, extensions, or other ad formats that may make your ad more or less noticeable are not taken into account by this metric.
What it takes into account is the success of past keywords based on ad positions. Based on where the ad is shown, how well has this keyword done in the past? Google ultimately needs to figure out how likely it would be for your keyword to result in a click-through.
The expected CTR is based on the assumption that the user’s search term would fit your keyword exactly when calculating the quality score. Google uses a more precise expected CTR in real-time, based on search terms, but also the device type and other auction variables.
That means your estimated click-through rate for this keyword is as good or better than all other keywords on the Google Ads network if you have an average or above-average expected CTR.
On the other hand, it means the reverse if your expected click-through rate is below average. It is predicted that your click-through rate for this unique keyword will be lower than all keywords in Google ads. If this is the case, you should consider changing the text of your ad to make it fit your keyword better.
Ad relevance is linked to the keyword too, just like estimated CTR. However, in this case, it is all about: Is your ad copy relevant to the keywords in your ad group and applicable to them?
For instance, keywords such as “content marketing agency” or “web design agency” may be important to your marketing agency, but you’re going to lose relevance if you use the same ad for both keywords. This is what is calculated by ad relevance.
Check to ensure that your keyword groups are not too broad if your ad relevance is below average. The more applicable your ad is to your keyword classes, the greater the likelihood that you will have a high ad relevance. This leads to a more useful campaign experience for the searcher, which is why it is emphasized in the Quality Score.
Landing Page Experience
When it measures your landing page experience, it’s measuring, according to Google themselves “how relevant and useful your website’s landing page will be to people who click your ad.”
But what does Google think makes for a good landing page experience? According to them, your page should be “clear and useful,” and “related to your keyword and what customers are searching for.” Not much to go on there, right?
To help you out a little more than Google does (which is, let’s be honest here, not much) here’s how we have generally interpreted all this with great success for our own and our clients’ Google Ad campaigns.
Your page should be created with landing page design best practices. That means keeping your conversion ratio to 1:1, using visual hierarchy to guide users to conversion, making sure copy is minimal (on most pages) and easily skimmable, visual media is engaging and informational, and there is a clear way forward through a call-to-action that is easy to see and follow.
Design is one thing, and another is content. In your ad, what did you promise? The content should be easy to absorb (consider using images and use animated infographics and get rid of jargon and fluff) and help individuals find out whether it’s worth claiming the offer you promised. Make sure that everything they need to know about your offer to make a decision is included on your page.
You should not direct consumers to a product page, homepage or other pages that are not explicitly built for your bid. The more relevant your page is, the more the visitor is personalized. Increasingly, a strong effector of online purchase decisions of any kind is personalization, at least to a certain degree, so it’s important to get this right, not just to increase your Google quality score but in general, to boost conversions.
Each audience should have its own page to achieve the greatest degree of personalization. In your designs, important targeting variables such as location and behavior should be taken into account. And not only should your page be linked to the keyword of your ad, but it should also include it in the headline and throughout the page.
A High-Quality Score Won’t Always Produce a High Performing Campaign
Earlier, you discovered that when it chooses where to display your campaign, Google takes more into account than ads, landing pages, and keywords. It is crucial that the fact that Ad Rank is dependent on several other variables is reinforced.
If you’re an advertiser with a high-quality score, for example, but your bid is poor, don’t be shocked if your campaign doesn’t show up in positions of high visibility. Your bid is a significant contributor to the ad position.
This works both ways, though. Many advertisers feel that they can bid their way to the top. They throw money at Google with a big budget, hoping that it will guarantee them a high-visibility ad spot.
But it’s very likely that a campaign won’t score high on Ad Rank, no matter how much they bid, with poor ads, keywords, and landing pages. This means if you’re a company with a smaller budget but a great campaign, on search engine results pages, you can overtake bigger advertisers who haven’t made as much of an effort to craft the best possible campaign as you have.
Improving Landing Page Experiences
Compared to enhancing the landing page experience, improving the predicted CTR and ad relevance seems pretty straightforward. The first two have a great deal to do with keywords and clickable ad copy creation. However, the experience of the landing page includes so much. How do you boost it when your Quality Score shows a bad landing page experience? Here are some suggestions.
Improving Landing Page Speed
For a visitor, there is no worse experience than clicking an ad and not quickly reaching the post-click landing page. Do not expect visitors to sit through a loading screen for more than a moment if your page loads slowly. 53 per cent of traffic has left your page after three seconds if it hasn’t loaded. What’s worse, they usually won’t just click away from your page. Once they leave, they’re probably going to head right to a competitor for what you failed to provide.
Consider speeding it up by getting rid of all the excess photos if your page doesn’t load instantly. Google found that the items with the most “weight” in data were photos in an analysis of 900,000 mobile landing pages. These were bogging down pages and leading, more than any other factor, to slow load times.
Make Sure You Are Offering Relevant Content. And a Lot of It
Your ad is not the only place where there should be a lot of relevance. Actually, on your landing page, relevance is potentially much more important.
Here is where the content of your ad is elaborated and its promises delivered on. You are providing what you might consider a more comprehensive advertisement in the user interface on the landing page.
This means you need to create copy to match the headline of your ad to your landing page headline; you need to customize content to each member of your audience to ensure that their needs are completely met; you need to continually test your pages to make them more and more personalized to your visitors’ tastes.
Do not use your Google Ads push visitors to a homepage, price page, or anything else not expressly built for the advertised offer. You push visitors to search for more information on your offer when you do this. And they are unlikely to. What’s more likely is that they go to a rival who provides a superior user experience on their landing page.
Offer Content That’s Truly Useful
It is possible to personalize a landing page, taking into account targeting factors such as age and location, but have it still be useless. Copywriters and designers need to make it easy for visitors to determine if they want to take you up on the offer in the ad in the ad they just clicked, which means paying attention to all the following:
- Crafting a headline that inspires consumer trust by matching the headline of the ad
- Dumping industry jargon and replacing it with easy to understand language
- Eliminating excess form fields. People don’t want to fill in long forms and most of the time they just won’t
- Making your page skimmable and easy to understand for busy would-be customers
- Predicting common buyer objections and overcoming them all in your landing page content
How Getting Help, Helps
If you have made it this far and are now seriously reconsidering your plans to run Google Ads because you had no idea they were this complicated, we’re not surprised. First time PPC users often mistakenly think Google Ads success is just about picking a keyword and paying for a bid, when, as you can now see, it’s a lot more complex than that.
It’s for this reason that most companies outsource their Google Ads management and implementation to an experienced outside team. It just makes sense. You wouldn’t make shoddy DIY attempts with other things that can cost you big money – like you wouldn’t try to plumb your own new bathroom just with the help of a YouTube video when there’s hundreds of pounds worth of materials at stake would you?
Google Ad and PPC, in general, are similar. Not only is your ad budget at stake but possibly your company’s standing against its competitors and its brand image too, all things not worth taking a risk on because you didn’t ask for a bit of help.
Ready to launch a Google Ads campaign that really works? Contact Pearl Lemon Convert today to discuss just how we can help you.