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Pay Per Click Management PPC Quality Score: The Metric You Must Master to Succeed in any Google AdWords Campaign

While setting up a Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) campaign is fairly easy, making sure it yields a positive return is an entirely different matter.  It requires intimate knowledge of not only how AdWords functions, but also familiarity with all the tools and options available to make a campaign cost effective.  To truly understand the inner workings of AdWords nothing is more important than understanding Quality Score.


Why is Quality Score important? 

Simply put, it is the most important metric used by Google throughout an AdWords campaign. Quality Scores are assigned to:

 .   The entire AdWords account

.   The campaigns

.   The Ad Groups

.   The keywords

.   The ads


More importantly the AdWords' algorithm which determines the position in which your ads will show on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) relies heavily on Quality Scores.  Remember, the higher your ad position the more clicks your ad will receive and of course clicks lead to conversions, which are the lifeblood of an e-commerce site.

To fully understand how Quality Score works and how to use it to your advantage, various fundamental concepts must first be defined. 

What is Quality Score?
The Quality Score is a ranking assigned by AdWords to the major components of a pay-per-click campaign. The components ranked are the account, the campaigns, the Ad Groups, the keywords as well as the ads themselves.  Of all these, Google will only let you see one, the keyword Quality Score, which is listed under a column labeled "Quality Score" in the Keywords tab within the Ad Group or Campaign page.

How is Quality Score Measured?
All Quality Scores rate a component on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being poor and 10 being excellent.  The algorithms that help Google arrive at a ranking are of course, a well guarded secret.  However Google has documented some of the variables that make up the different rankings as follows:

 .   Account - Ranked by historical data for all keywords and ads in the account.

.   Ad Groups - Ranked by keywords and ads within the Ad Group.

.   Keywords - Ranked by click-through rate and relevancy to corresponding ads and landing pages.

.   Ads - Ranked by click-through rate.

.   Landing page - Ranked by navigation and relevancy with corresponding keywords and ads.


Click-Through Rate:
Click-through rate (CTR) is a metric which measures how often an ad is clicked.  The formula for CTR is as follows:

CTR= Clicks / Impressions

CTR is arguably the most important metric within the Quality Score algorithm.  Google believes that CTR is a good indicator of the relevance between the user's query, the keyword and the ad's text.  The higher your CTR, the more likely that your ad is relevant to the user's search engine query.  A CTR of less than 1.5% is generally considered poor.

Relevance is difficult to measure but it basically refers to the similarity in theme between campaign components, such as between a keyword and its corresponding ad, or between an ad and the corresponding landing page.  For instance relevance is considered high when a keyword shows up once or twice on a search ad and a few times in the corresponding landing page.

Google believes that a user's search query is a question which is answered initially by the search ad and eventually by the landing page.  The more relevant the connection between the keyword that triggered the ad and the landing page, the more relevant the answer will be to the user's query.  Ad CTR and landing page relevance contribute to the keyword's quality score.  The more relevance you have, the higher your Quality Score will be.

Ad Rank:
Ad Rank is a formula developed by Google to determine exactly where your ad will show on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).  The formula is run every time a qualified query is generated by a user.  The two factors that determine the ad position are Quality Score and cost per click (CPC) bid.  The formula is as follows:

 Ad Rank = CPC bid x Quality Score

The Ad Rank formula guarantees that the top positions in the SERP are filled with the most appropriate ads for the user query.  It is virtually impossible for a non-relevant ad (low Quality Score) to wind up in the first ad position, regardless of how high the CPC bid might be.  Indeed, it is possible to have a lower CPC bid and still beat out a competitor with a higher bid, as long as your Quality Score is higher.  A typical example is listed below:

 Advertiser Y

(Quality Score = 9) x (CPC bid = $2.50) = Ad Rank = 22.5 

Advertiser Z

(Quality Score = 5) x (CPC bid = $4.00) = Ad Rank = 20.0

As you can see from the above example, advertiser Z bid 60% more than advertiser Y in a fruitless effort to reach the number one SERP position.  Conversely, advertiser Y with a quality score of 9 bid substantially less for the number one position yet attained it due to his high Quality Score. Taken one step further you can see that even with a very high CPC bid, a low Quality Score could keep your ad at the bottom of the page, or it may even keep it from showing at all.

How to Attain a High Quality Score:

Below are some general guidelines to help you improve your Quality Scores:

 Group very similar keywords into small Ad Groups.

2. Create different ads for each Ad Group. Make your ads compelling enough to generate clicks.  A high CTR is critical.

Make sure your keyword shows up in the title, the body and the display URL of the ad.

Select or create very relevant landing pages for each Ad Group or even for each keyword. Your keywords must show up several times within the landing page's content.

Make sure there is always a continuity of relevance between your keywords, your ads and your landing pages.

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What is Quality Score?

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 Quality Score Measured

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Click-Through Rate

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How to Attain a High Quality Score

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  •  The top three positions in SERPs account for over 50% of the clicks generated by users.  To have a chance at these positions you need to have the highest possible Quality Scores. A low CTR leads to a low Quality Score which leads to a low Ad Rank.
  •  Normally there are more advertisers than there are spots on page one of the search engine results, therefore a low Quality Score can push your ad to subsequent pages or it may even cause your ad to not show at all.  On the other hand, a high Quality Score will not only get you better rankings, it will also reduce your PPC costs. 
  • - There is little doubt that a high Quality Score in your Pay Per Click Management is the strategy to follow if you want a successful AdWords campaign.  Not only will you benefit from the top rankings and corresponding conversion rates, but your AdWords bill will be substantially reduced at the end of the month, thereby improving your return on investment even further.