Search advertising success is defined by relevance. The concept of relevance is broad, but logical: it’s the relationships between advertiser, keyword, ad copy and the landing page/ post click experience. So, how do we know if our relationships are strong, and our account is relevant?
Simple: Quality Score for Google, or Quality Index for Yahoo.
There are several components of Quality Score, illustrated quite nicely below:
Three of the six components are controllable (keyword relevance, ad relevance, and landing page content); two of the components are byproducts (clickthrough rate (CTR) and historical performance); and the last (other relevancy factors) is simply AdWords reserving the right to make subjective decisions and dash a little bit of their secret sauce on the formula. We know that Quality Score is important, otherwise it wouldn’t exist… but how important is it? The AdWords team recently upgraded the help center to include several articles on how Google uses Quality Score. Most notably, they provide a clean equation for how Quality Score is used to calculate position:
Ad Rank = Quality Score * Max Bid
As each auction (impression) is dynamic (different advertisers, bids, etc), this equation is not linear. That said it is very logical that if there are two advertisers in an auction and advertiser A has a Quality Score of 10 and advertiser B has a Quality Score of 5, advertiser B must bid twice what advertiser A bids to achieve rank 1. Taking this one step further, let’s assume there are several players in the auction and it becomes clear that by improving Quality Score, an advertiser in a lower rank with a relatively low impression share can get the same, if not more traffic for less money. This concept is by no means revolutionary, but it’s helpful to see a real application of Quality Score and further understand its importance.
Now that Quality Score is defined, we can focus on how to maximize the relationships between keyword, ad copy and landing page content—getting these all right will greatly contribute to achieving a high Quality Score.
My previous post on organizing a PPC account for maximum success was centered on creating relevant ad groups and campaigns (at the AdGroup/keyword level—I’m defining relevant terms that can use the same piece of ad copy). This is because Quality Score is a product of more than a single keyword and its ad copy and landing page—the “other relevancy factors” mentioned previously include advertiser legitimacy. That is, whether or not the advertiser is relevant to the keyword being bid on and the advertisement being displayed on the search engine. What this means is that if an advertiser is bidding on what appear to be arbitrary keywords (from the search engine perspective) then it will be more difficult even for relevant keywords to achieve the maximum Quality Score.
Assuming that an account is well organized, ad copy should be uniquely tailored to each AdGroup, simultaneously qualifying clicks while containing compelling messaging. Every impression should generate bold text in the ad (achieved when ad copy contains one or more words from the actual query) yet not appear to be dynamically generated using generic dynamic keyword insertion (DKI). Because DKI injects the query into the ad, it’s a very useful tool when keywords in a given AdGroup are not perfectly similar. This is not to take away from the value of DKI, but generic ads may indicate that an advertiser offers something that is not true, leading to lots of clicks and no conversions. If using DKI, be sure to qualify users with the non-DKI portion of the ad and a strong negative keyword set to ensure honest messaging and mitigate bounce rates.
Whether or not DKI is being used, the landing page plays a significant role in determining relevance. Search engines are looking for the keywords(s) from both query and ad to also be present on the landing page—in text, not in an image. Also, landing pages should not be cluttered. They should feature information about the service or product being offered as well as a clean, direct route to conversion, whether the conversion event is a purchase, registration or additional pageviews. Don’t try to push too much: focus on the message being advertised and the product or service being offered. Furthermore, unless unavoidable (or the business offers only one product or service), the homepage should not be used as the landing page because homepages tend to be generic and focused around the business as a whole instead of the product being advertised (an exception would be ads using brand terms, where searchers would expect to be delivered to the brand’s home page). And last but not least, test and test, and then test again. Testing various combinations of ads and landing pages is critical to constantly improving results while maintaining fresh messaging.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.