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Optimizing Your PPC Quality Score – Part 2

In Part 1 of this post, we discussed the importance of quality score and different ways to improve it. In Part 2 we will continue our discussion, addressing additional ways to optimize your PPC campaigns.

Test, Track and Analyze Ad Copy

Like any other ongoing marketing initiative, it is essential to test, track and analyze your PPC ads, particularly for highly competitive terms. Small changes to your ad copy can have a dramatic impact on the performance of your ads. When conducting ad tests, remember to keep quality score in mind and pay close attention to both ad performance and ad text relevance. Improved ad performance (higher CTR and more conversions) coupled with a higher quality score (lower click costs and better ad positions) will provide a greater potential ROI for your campaign.

In order to optimize your ad copy for a higher quality score, you need to consider the relevancy of your ad text to both the keywords and landing page being targeted. Your goal is to create compelling ads that reinforce the contextual theme of your ad groups. Because landing pages are included in quality score, be sure to track your ad tests down to the conversion level and include quality score as one of your performance metrics.

Optimizing Landing Pages

Landing pages play a critical role in PPC advertising. It is a common practice to conduct landing page tests to maximize conversion rates. Now, however, in addition to converting traffic, an effective PPC landing page must address quality score.

Once again, when optimizing landing pages it is important to consider both performance and relevance. Optimizing the performance of a landing page focuses on user interaction. It generally involves testing different calls to action and adjusting the position and proximity of page elements. Google’s Conversion University provides some great articles on improving the performance of your landing pages.

Optimizing landing page relevance is a little bit more technical. The goal is to ensure that search engines are able to identify a common contextual theme between your landing pages and the PPC ads and keywords targeting them. Here are some general suggestions for strengthening the relevance of your landing pages.

  • Integrate most (if not all) of the keywords that you are targeting directly into your page copy.
  • Include your core and/or top performing terms in page headings (enclosed in header tags) and emphasized text.
  • Use your core term(s) and/or top performing keywords in your page title.
  • Add target keywords to the meta information (meta description and keywords tags) on your page.
  • Make sure that your page includes a direct link to your site’s privacy policy, about section and home page (this improves the credibility of the page).

In addition to these suggestions, any SEO work that you have done to your landing page, particularly link building, will reinforce its theme to search engines. One very important thing to remember is that in order to determine the relevancy of a landing page, search engines need to be able to read it; they have a very difficult time understanding certain types of content. If you currently have an all-flash landing page, for example, you should consider converting it into HTML, or embedding the flash elements into an HTML page.

When optimizing your landing pages, use Google’s Site-Related Keywords Tool to make sure that Google thinks your landing pages are relevant. Enter your URL into the tool and it will return a list of terms that Google identifies on the page. If the keywords in your PPC list do not appear in the list of terms returned by the tool – you have more work to do. Continue testing and tweaking your landing pages until Google identifies that terms that you are targeting.

Monitor and Analyze Your Competitors

If you are having a difficult time acquiring top ad positions and can’t figure out why, analyze what your competitors are doing. Evaluate the ads they’re using for each keyword in question and try to come up with a better approach. Identify ways to improve your landing pages based on how they compare to your competitors’. It sometimes helps to monitor how many different landing pages your competitors are using to target specific keywords. This can provide you with a good indication of how much work they have done to segregate their ad groups. The point is that in a highly competitive environment, it is always essential to know what your competitors are doing and find ways to do it better.

Adjust Maximum Bids and Matching Options

Setting your maximum bid is directly tied to your performance metrics (cost per acquisition, conversion rate, value per acquisition etc.). It’s impossible to establish a strong ROI model for your project if you don’t know what your performance metrics are. Before adjusting your bids, you need to know the maximum amount you are willing to spend to get a visitor to your site. When making bid adjustments, be sure to monitor the impact on quality score. If your maximum bids and daily budgets are set too low and your quality score decreases, you will receive fewer ad impressions and lower ad positions.

Matching options are similar to negative keywords, as they can be used to restrict your ads from being shown for certain searches. If you are using broad match keywords, for example, your ads will be displayed for less targeted searches. This can decrease the overall performance of your ads and have a negative impact on your quality score. Try experimenting with different matching options and monitor the result that each option has on your quality score.

There are many other variables considered in quality score calculations and many other tactics that you can use to increase your score. Regardless of the tactics that you use, it is important to recognize that optimizing quality score has become an essential part of achieving a better ROI on your PPC projects.

One Comment

  1. Garry -
    Garry - September 27, 2007

    One important thing to note for those of us that want to increase quality score is to make sure your campaigns get adequate traffic numbers. Most search engines factor click through rate into their quality score recipe. Without traffic, CTR can be highly erratic.
    The same can be said if you’re testing multivariate landing pages in a campaign. You need significant sample sizes to determine whether one is a success over the other. Sometimes campaigns are so finely targeted that the traffic that reaches the page variants never provide enough information to determine a true winner.

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