How Content Impacts the AdWords Quality Score

Valerie Turgeon October 26, 2017

Let’s cut to the chase: People don’t like ads. A quarter of online ad views are fraudulent, and ad-blocking software prevents brands from reaching parts of their audience.

Google’s AdWords campaigns are a great solution to cut through the digital noise and target the people who are already searching for answers relevant to your brand.

However, it can be tricky to master a successful ad. Unlike other pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, you need to outbid competitors AND create high-quality ads to appear higher on the page.

In this post, we’ll review the basics of the AdWords Quality Score (QS) and the factors that impact your ad’s ranking.

What is the AdWords Quality Score?

As Google’s paid advertising product, AdWords uses a PPC model, so brands only pay when users click on the ad.

It’s a great solution for brands looking for faster results than what traditional SEO can deliver and who prefer working on a flexible budget. AdWords also provides an opportunity to reach hyper-targeted audiences, depending on factors such as location, time of day, device, etc.

The challenge for marketers is to master the AdWords auction. Google looks at the cost-per-click (CPC) bid and the QS to determine an ad’s rank. The winner gets the best position at the top of the page.

The beauty of the process is that by increasing the quality of an ad, brands can either lower the CPC, making it cheaper to get people to their website, or keep their CPC the same and greatly increase the likelihood of top placement.

How does the AdWords Quality Score impact CPC and ad rank?

The AdWords QS is a metric from 1-10 (1 being the lowest quality and 10 being the highest) that determines how relevant all pieces of the ad are to the user’s search, including keywords and landing pages. High-quality ads will be rewarded with a higher rank on a SERP and a lower CPC.

Essentially, Google developed the QS because, as Maggie Aland of Fit Small Business points out, Google wants people to click on the ads because then they get paid. (This year Google will take nearly 78 percent of U.S. search ad revenues, with the remaining split up between Microsoft, Yahoo, Yelp, Amazon Ask and AOL.)

High-quality ads reduce CPC

Google rewards high-quality ads by reducing the CPC. How big of a discount are we talking about? Wes Marsh, director of digital marketing at Solodev, breaks it down. “Numerous studies have shown that ads with a 10/10 QS may receive up to a 50 percent discount on the average CPC of what a similar ad with a 5/10 QS would pay,” he says.

For ads with a low QS, Marsh explains that you may be looking at paying a hefty increase. “Let’s suppose your ad has a poorly performing 3/10 QS,” he says. “Not only will it be harder to make your ad appear for your given keywords, but you’ll also pay up to 133% more for that keyword. The cost can jump to nearly a 400% increase for a 1/10 ad, too!”

A fair opportunity

Offering a lower CPC for better-quality content is a great incentive. But it can take a lot of time and testing to achieve an ad that Google considers high quality.

However, Kim Kohatsu, founder of Charles Ave Marketing and certified AdWords partner, adds that without a QS, “it would be almost impossible for smaller advertisers to compete against large companies with limitless budgets — the big guys would simply outbid them and win every time.” The QS not only improves user experience, but it levels the playing field so any brand can benefit from getting in front of a huge audience.

The bottom line is that you want the best-quality ad you can produce. While there are several factors that impact the QS, content is a biggie.

How does content impact the AdWords Quality Score?

Your ad should take users on a smooth journey that ends where users expect. For example, if a user clicks on an ad for organic children’s clothing, the ad should not lead to a landing page about women’s shoes.

Here are a few ways that content impacts an AdWords QS:

Relevant keywords

While the copy of the ad is what gets a user to click, the landing page copy is what keeps a user on the page. If a user clicks on an ad but then exits the page or returns to search, it shows that either the keyword, ad copy, landing page content or all of it was not exactly what the searcher was looking for.

To avoid misleading the user, try incorporating the exact same keywords in the ad and landing page copy.

Helpful landing page content

You probably noticed we continue to mention that ads should link to a landing page rather than to a brand’s homepage. This is because landing pages contain specific content related to the ad copy and the keywords. It’s also easier to optimize and edit the content to achieve a better conversion rate.

Useful, valuable, educational, helpful — whatever word you want to use to describe it, your landing page content should answer a user’s questions. Give them enough information so that they can be done searching. Achieve this through detailed responses, photos, videos or whatever content best explains your product or service.

“Your content, as defined by how well you write your ads, and what your content aims to deliver, can have a substantial impact on your CTR,” explains Marsh. “By offering content that users interact with at a higher rate than competitive sites, you demonstrate to Google that your content is high quality.”

Even with a good CTR, if users don’t stay on a page and interact with it, then you know you’ll need to tweak the landing page content to provide more value.

Excellent user experience

Relevant keywords and helpful content are the two most important factors of a user’s experience with an ad. But don’t forget about the details! The landing page needs to properly function across devices, and it should load quickly. All links in the landing page should work and lead to other helpful pages. CTAs or other offers should be clear and easy to navigate. Look out for distracting ads or anything that could be misconstrued as spam.

Once users click your ad, you want to establish trust and keep them on the page. Regularly maintaining and updating landing pages will keep them relevant and ensure you’re providing a top-notch user experience.

AdWords continuum

Managing AdWords campaigns is not a one-and-done scenario. It takes constant finessing to determine your business’s most successful keywords and the type of landing page content that best speaks to the audience you’re targeting. But if creating a higher quality ad means more money in your pocket, it’s worth the time.

Valerie Turgeon October 26, 2017

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