Optimizing Performance

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Improving relevance and Quality Score

AdWords rewards advertisers who choose relevant keywords and write compelling ads with good Quality Scores. The better your Quality Scores, the less you’ll need to pay for each click, resulting in more profits for you. This ecosystem evolved to benefit users, Google, and advertisers. If the ads on Google were irrelevant and of poor quality, users would get frustrated and not click on them, and Google would lose revenue. From an advertiser’s perspective, when users click on irrelevant ads, they tend to leave your website, costing you money and not contributing to your bottom line. AdWords was designed to encourage high-quality ads, and as an advertiser you’ll reap many benefits from optimizing them to improve relevance.

Getting ready

First, check your Quality Scores to identify low quality keywords to focus on.

  1. Go to the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click on the Keywords tab.
  3. Go to Columns and choose Customize columns.
  4. From the Attributes section, choose Qual. score.

  5. Click on Apply and you will see an extra column with your Quality Scores.
  6. In your Keywords tab, sort the Qual. score column to review low Quality Score keywords. Generally, Quality Score 1 to 3 is considered low, 4 to 6 is average with room for improvement, 7 to 9 is good, and 10 is considered great.
  7. Another way you can identify low-quality keywords is with filters. Create a keyword filter to see all keywords that are below a certain Quality Score. Download this report to have an easy to refer to summary of all keywords you’ll need to focus on.

How to do it…

To improve your Quality Scores, follow these 10 tips:

  1. Start with low Quality Score keywords that get the most impressions. This is where you’ll have the biggest impact.
  2. Re-organize your keywords into more tightly themed ad groups. If a keyword has a low Quality Score, try moving it to its own ad group with more specific ad text and its own negative keywords.
  3. Your broad match keywords may be getting expanded to irrelevant variations. Try changing them to a more specific match type.
  4. Add negative keywords to eliminate irrelevant impressions and increase your CTR. For example, add free as a negative keyword to eliminate someone looking for free products and services online. Run a search terms report to see what queries are triggering clicks and get new negative keyword ideas.
  5. Some of your low quality keywords may not be relevant to your website. If a keyword has a very low Quality Score and rarely shows, it could be negatively impacting the rest of your account. Consider deleting it.
  6. Write new ads for your low Quality Score keywords, placing each keyword in your ad text, ideally in your headline.
  7. Test multiple ad versions to see which one resonates better with your customers. Experiment with different calls-to-action, promotions, and ways to describe the unique benefits of your products and services.
  8. Pause the lower performing ads in each ad group, if you are testing multiple variations to ensure that ads getting a better CTR show more often.
  9. Try implementing dynamic keyword insertion to have AdWords automatically insert your keywords into the ad titles or description lines.
  10. Choose more specific landing pages. Your landing page should be relevant to your keywords and contain your keywords on the page. If it does not, consider creating new landing pages for your most important keywords.

How it works…

Quality Score is a measure of relevance and is calculated by taking into account the following factors:

  • Your keyword’s CTR: Your CTR is like an online voting system; people in the search auction vote on how relevant your ads are with their clicks.
  • Your display URL’s CTR: Your display URL’s past CTR affects your Quality Scores.
  • How relevant your keywords are: Some keywords you choose will be more relevant to your business than others. If you sell snowboards, but would like to run on a keyword like “snow,” a generic term that’s not as relevant to your business, you will receive a much lower Quality Score. Pick specific keywords that clearly describe your products and stay away from general keywords that could apply to many different businesses.
  • The relevance of your ads to your keywords: Your ads need to include your keywords in the ad text. If you have too many keywords for them all to be reflected in your ad copy, create additional, smaller ad groups. When a searched keywords is included in an ad text, that term is highlighted by Google in your ad, helping it stand out even more on the Google search results page.
  • Landing page quality: The keywords you choose should be included in your ad text and further mirrored on your landing page. In addition to your landing page being relevant to your keywords, it also needs to be transparent and easy to navigate.
  • Historical account performance: Advertisers who continue to choose poor quality keywords will receive low Quality Scores when adding new keywords. This system helps Google discourage advertisers who continue to choose irrelevant keywords and encourage advertisers who create relevant, quality keywords and ads.
  • Performance in the regions you are targeting: The regions you target via your campaign settings page will affect your Quality Scores.
  • Performance on the devices you are targeting: You may get different Quality Scores on mobile and tablet devices, if your keywords perform differently depending on device.

Quality Score is dynamic and is calculated every time a search triggers your ad. In order to achieve better Quality Scores, you’ll need to focus on tying together all of the various elements that comprise Quality Score. Increasing relevance helps you achieve a better ad rank and pay less for each click. The Quality Score algorithm is designed to reward relevancy and encourage advertisers to create high-quality accounts, which will in turn help you achieve better ROI with AdWords.

There’s more…

The more general your keywords are, the more difficult it will be to obtain a high Quality Score for them, even after following all of the recommended AdWords best practices. In such cases, you’ll need to weigh if the lower Quality Score is worth the traffic and conversions you get from these keywords. Keep in mind that if you continue to choose low-quality keywords, this will hurt your overall account performance.

Improving ad rank

Your ad position is going to heavily impact visibility and traffic, with the top-ranked ads receiving the most clicks. Obviously, the more competitive your keywords are, the more costly it will be to have your ads show in the #1 spot. However, there are specific shortand long-term strategies that will help you obtain the best possible ad rank.

Getting ready

First, isolate the keywords that are not ranked optimally:

  • Identify keywords that are not showing on the first page of Google’s search results
  • If you have a specific ad position in mind, use filters in your Keywords tab to see which keywords are not meeting this criteria

Quickly diagnose your keywords to figure out if they are showing or are restricted by Quality Scores and bids. On your Keywords tab, click on Keyword details and select Diagnose keywords.

How to do it…

To improve your ad rank, you can:

  1. Increase your bid
  2. Improve your Quality Score

Increasing your bids is the easy fix short-term solution. However, continuing to increase how much you spend on each click when your ad rank slips is not going to be profitable in the long run.

The long-term strategy to improving ad position is to raise your Quality Scores. To improve Quality Score, start with the following:

  1. Refine your campaign structure, breaking out related keywords into their own ad groups, which will help you write more relevant ads.
  2. Refine ads with more compelling ad copy, using keywords in ad text.
  3. Pause lower CTR ads if you are running multiple ad variations.
  4. Add negative keywords to weed out impressions that are not relevant and are weighing down your CTR.

How it works…

Your ad rank determines your ad position, or where your ads show in relation to other advertisers. The ad rank formula consists of your Quality Score and your bid:

Ad Rank = Quality Score x Max CPC

Ad rank is calculated each time your ad enters the ad auction. This means that for each new query your ads could appear in a different position.

There’s more…

The higher your Quality Score, the less you’ll need to bid to maintain your ad rank. This strategy helps AdWords ensure high quality ads on Google.com and encourages advertisers to optimize their accounts.

Changing keyword match types

Keyword match types control who sees your ads and how the keywords you have chosen are expanded to match other relevant queries. Using too many of your keywords in the most restrictive match types can limit your traffic, while using too many broad keywords can generate some or a lot of irrelevant clicks.

Getting ready

Determine which keywords you might want to change match types for. Here are a couple of common edits advertisers make:

  • Broad match keywords with low Quality Scores and no conversions. Change to phrase or exact match to restrict variations.
  • Exact match keywords with no impressions. Change to more general match type to broaden reach.

How to do it…

To change a single keyword’s match type:

  1. Go to the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click on the Keywords tab or click on a specific campaign and ad group first.
  3. In your keyword table, click on the keyword you’d like to edit. Before you can proceed, you might need to agree to the system warning by clicking on Yes, I understand. The system warns you that if you edit a keyword, it will be deleted and treated as a new keyword in AdWords. You can check the Don’t show this message again checkbox so you don’t have to see this warning each time you edit a keyword.

  4. Next, you’ll be able to choose a different match type from the drop-down menu. In this screenshot, we are choosing to change a broad keyword to a more specific match type.
  5. Click on Save.

To change match types for multiple keywords:

  1. From your Keywords tab, check all of the keywords you’d like to edit.
  2. From the Edit drop-down menu, choose Change match type.
  3. Choose what you’d like to change your match type from and to.
  4. Since changing a match type deletes the old keyword and creates a new one, you have the option to create duplicate versions of the keywords you have selected and add them in the new match types. To use that option, check Duplicate keywords and change match type in duplicates.
  5. You can preview your changes before they go live by clicking on Preview changes.
  6. Click on Make changes.

How it works…

Changing a keyword’s match type deletes the old keyword and creates a brand new keyword in your account. It also resets a keyword’s history to 0, but performance data will still be available for all deleted keywords.

Scheduling ads to run during key days and times

Many advertisers choose to run AdWords campaigns only during hours when they have customer support available. If you have a limited budget, you might want to focus your ad budgets on days and times your customers are most likely to be looking for you.

Getting ready

Determine if ad scheduling is necessary and appropriate for your business. Advertisers that may benefit from this include businesses that operate primarily during specific hours. For example, a website with customer support available to take calls during business hours only, or a pizza delivery service that only delivers evenings.

Review performance by day and hour of day, keeping in mind that you will see fewer clicks and impressions during less busy times, so you have focus on conversion rates and CPA instead. Some advertisers get great conversion rates during off peak hours, late at night and in the early mornings, when fewer advertisers are competing in the ad auction.

Keep in mind how your customers interact with you. If you rely on calls and only have customer support during specific hours, make sure your ads are focused on when you have the proper support available.

How to do it…

To enable ad scheduling:

  1. Go to the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click on the specific campaign you’d like to edit.
  3. Go to the Settings tab.
  4. Select Ad schedule.

  5. Click on Edit ad schedule.
  6. Click on + Create custom schedule.
  7. From the drop-down menu, choose to create a schedule for all days, Monday through Friday, or specific days of the week, and then set your hours.
  8. Click on +Add to add additional parameters.

  9. Click on Save.

How it works…

Ad scheduling helps you control when your ads appear to potential customers. Ad scheduling is set at the campaign level, which means that it applies to all keywords and ads within a single campaign. By default, AdWords campaigns are set to run all days of the week and all hours of the day.

There’s more…

When you set up ad scheduling, keep in mind your account’s time zone. You can find out your time zone by going to My Account | Preferences. AdWords will also reference your time zone as you create a custom schedule for each campaign. You cannot change your time zone.

Expanding your keyword list

Expanding your keywords will be one of your main strategies to increase clicks as well as conversions. Just as markets evolve and search patterns change, your keywords also need to be updated in order not to become stagnant. Here we will discuss several tools you can use to build up and refresh your keyword list.

Getting ready

Review your website and compare your list of products and services to your AdWords account. Are your current keywords covering all of the categories you specialize in? Are there other ways to describe some of your key offerings? Who are your main competitors and are they doing PPC?

How to do it…

To expand your keyword list, try one of the following strategies.

Automated keyword suggestions

To see automated keyword ideas relevant to your website, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Campaigns tab.
  2. Go into a specific campaign and ad group.
  3. Clock on + Add keywords above your ad group’s current keyword summary.
  4. AdWords will suggest new sample keywords based on a scan of your website grouped into related categories.
  5. Click to expand each category and review the suggested keywords. If you like a keyword, click on Add to move it to the Add keywords box. Do not simply add all of the automated suggestions, as not all of them will be specific enough. You as a business owner know your audience best and should pick and choose only the keywords that are the most relevant. Make sure that you are not adding keywords that may be already present in your other campaigns or ad groups.

  6. Click on Save after adding all of the relevant keywords.

Search terms report

Review your search terms report regularly and add any relevant keywords that resulted in clicks and conversions. Click on Add as keyword recipe after viewing your search terms to add them to your account.

Competitor keywords

Use websites such as spyfu.com to see what keywords your competitors’ ads are appearing on and to download their keyword lists. Enter a competitor’s URL into the search box to uncover profitable keywords you missed.

You can download a competitor’s full keyword list, sort, and filter it, or export it to an AdWords-friendly format. The tool can even organize a domain’s keywords into targeted ad groups so you have less manual work to do.

Google’s keyword tool

In addition to entering your own domain into Google’s keyword tool, try typing in a competitor’s website and see what keywords are being recommended.

How it works…

Adding new relevant keywords to your AdWords account will help drive more impressions and clicks. With new and unique keywords, you can capitalize on previously untapped opportunities to drive new leads and sales.

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