Why You Shouldn’t Obsess about Quality Score

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What’s your Quality Score today? Do you spend much of your time trying to fine-tune every detail so you maximize it?

There’s something to be said for optimizing your quality score. But it’s not the end of the world if you don’t perfect it.

Let us explain why:

  1. Technically, It’s not a Score Out of 10

Quality Score really tries to predict your click-through rate. It measures criteria like ad copy, landing page experience, optimization, and your current click-through rate.

You learn how well you score overall on those criteria. But that doesn’t guarantee the true performance of your ad.

  1. Google Itself Doesn’t Understand Quality Score

On one disastrous occasion, October 27, 2010, every keyword had its quality score fall to 3 or less.

Google reported:

“The issue appears that the Quality Scores of the keywords in the actual auction are not being affected, but the way they are being reported in the interface is incorrect.”

What this means is that the actual Quality Score and the reported score are two different things. This explains why you have keywords with a good click-through rate that have poor quality scores.

  1. You Don’t Control Quality Score

If anything from this post so far has been clear, it’s that you don’t control Quality Score. You don’t always know why you have the score you do. And neither does Google.

When you get a high Quality Score, you might get a lower cost-per-click. But even that isn’t always precise.

  1. Profitability Counts More

At the end of the day, this is what any search marketing campaign is about, isn’t it? So, if you get good margins from keywords with average Quality Scores, why worry?

You can adjust and test them a little to see if you can reduce your costs. But, as long as you’re profitable, that’s what counts.

  1. You Have Many Other Factors to Worry about with PPC

Quality Score is just one of many things you should concern yourself with. You also have to know about location targeting, device modifiers, cost per conversion, conversion rate, and net margins.

With more important metrics related to your profitability, Quality Score shouldn’t be your sole or primary focus.

It takes many hours to optimize Quality Score. Hours which you could better spend fine-tuning other parts of your PPC campaign.

What’s the New Google Pigeon Update all About?

If you want to know how hard it is to stay on top of all the Google updates, this is what we inbound marketing companies have to deal with:

  • 500 Google algorithm updates per year
  • 15-20 of them make the news
  • Even Matt Cutts, Google’s spokesman, makes mistakes when talking about the latest updates
  • These updates don’t always impact websites the way Google says they will, so we have to analyze the real results for clients

Google tends to pick animal names for its updates. Usually, they’re seemingly benign animals, with names like Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.

Google did release the “Pigeon” update, but SEO thought leader Search Engine Land coined the official name.

So What’s the Point of Pigeon?

The whole reason it’s been rolled out is to make local search results more useful and relevant. One concrete example of what’s happened is that the local search pack listings that look like this now appear much less often:

google_pigeon

This blog post at Link Assistant says Pigeon means Google now focuses more on traditional domain authority factors as ranking signals for local search listings. To put it simply, domain authority is made of:

  • The quality and frequency of content published on your website
  • The number of links pointing to your site, and the quality of the websites linking to you
  • Getting listed on authoritative local business directory sites like Angie’s List and others relevant to your niche
  • Positive customer reviews
  • Optimizing everything on your site with as natural of language as possible

What Should You Do to Make Pigeon Happy?

Really, Google’s not changing what you need to do to rank well. They’re doing exactly what they’ve said they would do all along.

When you think of authority websites in ideal terms, envision those websites that are household names like:

  • Time.com
  • Forbes.com
  • The Huffington Post

“But my site will never attract massive readerships like those!” is your first objection.

You’re right – it won’t. Only a few websites attract such massive audiences. But the point is, the more you aim to be like those niche-leading websites, the better off you’ll be in the search rankings in the long run.

Remember, most local and small businesses do not understand the importance of content. Most also don’t realize what an “awesome website” looks like in the eyes of Google and their users.

If you realize and acknowledge where your website is and where it needs to be, you’ll be ahead of 98% of all other local businesses.

For a nice example of a simple, but useful website, check out PaylessPower.com and their blog. They have 4 blogs per month, and a simple web design anyone can use.

The Secret to Creating Successful PPC Campaigns…

In part one of our PPC campaign series, you learned about Quality Score, how it affects your PPC costs, where your ad gets placed, and what to do to get it as high as possible.

Now in this part, we’re going to share a super-special insider secret with you that few other internet marketing companies use:  skilled copywriting.

All companies have someone write the ad copy, but few work with professionals who know how to create ads that generate more clicks.

Let us show you what we mean:

1. Writing an Attractive Title – Everyone knows you need to get the keyword in – it gets placed in bold, which makes it easy to notice.  Besides that though, you put your company name in if you have a recognizable brand name, but you really want to have an emotional title more so than anything else.

How do you write one?  The Advanced Marketing Institute has a headline analyzer that tells you how much emotional value your headline has.  If your score falls in the 0-30% range, that means you’re a new writer in most cases, and you won’t get too much response in your ad’s title.  30-40% is average for a professional copywriter, while the best copywriters score 50-70%.

Check out some title ideas for this blog post and their scores, for example:

  • The Secret to Creating Successful PPC Campaigns…: 42.86%
  • How to Create Successful PPC Campaigns…:  33.33%
  • 9 Tips for Creating Successful PPC Campaigns…:  14.29%
  • Creating Successful PPC Campaigns…:  25.00%

An additional tip for writing effective headlines is to speak directly to a common customer problem you experience.  If you run a plumbing company, for example, say something like, “Need an Emergency Plumbing Repair?”

2. Add a USP and CTA in the description.  A “USP” is a “unique selling proposition” – it’s what makes you different from all the other businesses out there offering the same service or product.

Going back to the plumbing company example, you might say something like, “We guarantee all repairs for 3 years and fix them for free” (when you know the industry average is 1-2 years.).

Then, a CTA, or call-to-action should come at the end.  People take action more frequently when you tell them to, so CTAs always boost response.

That plumbing company could then say,”Call 555-555-5555 for a FREE estimate.”

So, now, if we put the whole description together, it looks like this:

“Repairs guaranteed for 3 years.  Call 555-555-5555 for a FREE estimate.”

Do you understand how that would lead to more click-throughs, as opposed to just getting the keyword in there and maximizing your quality score?

Well, that concludes our 2-part series on PPC – it works well when you combine these two elements.

Here’s to your success in 2014!

 

 

 

The Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your PPC Campaign: Quality Score

Out of all the various search marketing tactics out there, why should you use PPC?  A few reasons:

  1. You can get traffic immediately – With SEO you may have to wait 6-12 months
  2. Great conversion data – You can tell immediately if you have the right keywords by viewing your click-through rates.  It’s wise to try different keywords with PPC to see what converts the best, and then use those keywords for your organic SEO campaign.
  3. Set and control your budget – Just make sure you put the decimal point in the right place.  You can set a controlled budget each month, and raise or lower it as you’d like.

We’re not saying PPC is the best tactic to use – we’re just presenting it as another option that may or may not be right for your business.

So we’re going to write a 2-part series here on getting the most out of PPC.  There’s really a couple aspects to it:

  1. The “technical stuff” – getting a good Quality Score
  2. Copywriting – persuading people to take action with the written word

In part one here, we’re going to address the technical aspects.

What is Quality Score?

From a cost perspective, this is what you’re most concerned with initially – getting that Quality Score high.  Just like Google’s algorithm, though, you don’t actually know what it is, and you can’t check it anywhere.  The higher your quality score, the less your ads cost and the higher they get displayed on the page.

Google has confirmed that several factors affect your Quality Score:

  1. Click-Through Rate:  This refers to the historical number of clicks a keyword and matched ad get.  For Google AdWords, this also specifically relates to the click-through rate of your ad.
  2. Relevance of Ad Copy:  Your ad must have the keyword mentioned somewhere, and maybe a variation or two.  The more relevant it is to the search, the more likely people are to click, so this factor makes sense.
  3. Landing Page Quality:  How do you know if your landing page is a quality one?  The content should be original and have keywords relevant to your ad copy.  It should also have a nice clean look and be easy to navigate.  And the faster it loads, the better.
  4. Conversion Data from Your Site:  Search marketers believe Google also uses on-site conversion data from Google Analytics to determine quality score.  It makes sense – that factor does provide insight as to how valuable visitors find your website.

So, these are just the technical factors to making PPC work.  There’s an additional part to the process that’s very powerful (and most businesses don’t use it) – and we’ll talk more about that in part 2 of our PPC series.

Top 5 Benefits of PPC Advertising

You’ve seen those ads along the top and right of Google many, many times.  They’re called PPC ads, and in case your memory’s a little foggy, they look like this:

ppc

PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, and it’s Google’s leading source of revenue, so you can rest assured it’ll be around for some time.

It is yet another marketing tool at your disposal.  It may or may not be right for you.

However, here are the benefits of PPC advertising, and then you can decide whether or not it makes sense for your business:

You Can Get Business Now

It can take anywhere from weeks to 6 months to a year (more likely 6-12 months) before you start seeing revenues come in from your inbound marketing efforts.  PPC, on the other hand, requires some research and administration, and then you’re ready to get started.  It depends on how fast the company providing the service is, but you can get the campaign started within a few days to a week after agreeing to have the service performed.

You Don’t Need a Massive Budget to Start, But…

It’s true, you can get started with a few hundred bucks and get those leads coming in right now.  However, you have to be careful because of Google’s Quality Score.  This score weights factors such as the quality of your landing page, and the relevancy of your ads and keywords to a person viewing your ad.  The higher the score, the less you pay per click.  The lower your score, the more you pay.

So, it’s important to get a nice ad and landing page set up so you can get those leads coming in, but you don’t want to go too fast, make mistakes, and cost yourself money.

You can Compete with the Big Dogs

…For at least some keywords anyway.  The cost per click for a keyword ranges from a few cents to over $70 for terms like “auto insurance quote.”  On the lower cost keywords, anyway, you can compete with industry leading corporations immediately, even if it’s just you sitting in your basement or apartment.

Increase Your Local Visibility

If you’re a local business, you can pre-qualify traffic based on location, which ensures you get the right people to your site immediately.  As people search on local terms, they’ll also see your ads, enhancing the image of your brand in your local area.

Keep Control of Your Budget

Even though costs can rise quickly if you’re not paying attention, it is possible to set a daily budget limit that you don’t exceed.  You get all the benefits of advertising locally, and you don’t have to worry about unexpected costs.

So Is PPC Right for You?

If you’re just getting started, it can be a big boost right from the get-go.  And if you’re already marketing online, it can be another great way to diversify your marketing efforts.

So just keep these benefits in mind, and consider whether they’re an appropriate fit for your business now or in the future.