Responding to a poor AdWords quality score

Quality score has a huge impact on the price you will pay per click in Google AdWords. An advertiser with a high quality score will pay a lot less per click for a higher ad position on a keyword than a competitor who has a low quality score.

In this post I will show you how you can improve a low quality score.

If you find yourself in the unenviable position of finding one of your ads has been paused due to a poor quality score, or your quality score is dropping and you are paying more and more to maintain your average position, your initial reaction may be to cut your losses and walk away from that keyword.

However, if it is one of your core keywords for your product or service (e.g. a law firm in Sheffield simply must bid on “law firm Sheffield”) or you are up for the fight, here is a checklist to help you increase quality score and bring down your cost per click.

How do the top ads compare to yours?

Quality score is based largely on click through rate of the adverts. With this in mind, research how the top 3 ads on the search results page have written their creative and take inspiration from them (don’t copy directly!) – they are clearly attracting more clicks than your advert. What are the key selling points they are promoting?

How are your Ad Groups structured?

Review your campaign and Ad Group structure. A well thought account will always benefit from higher click through rates, thanks to highly relevant and targeted adverts tailored to a small set of keywords.

The more relevant the ads are to a keywords, the higher the click through rate. Read more about how to structure your AdWords account. One of the most common mistakes I see in account structure is lumping everything into one campaign and a handful of huge Ad Groups with a wide range of diverse keywords. If this describes your account, click on the link above!

Test new adverts

Write your new ads (at least 4 variations) and then set them to self optimise.This way the system can identify the most effective adverts and automatically show the best performers more often.

Bid higher to increase CTR%

Consider increasing your bid so much as to be in the top 3. Research has found that the higher the ad position, the higher the number of clicks. By doing this your budget will go up, but it will give you a high CTR simply on the merits of being highly ranked, which Google’s quality score puts a huge amount of weight in.

Is your landing page optimised for the keyword?

Although CTR% is the main variable, Google also looks at keyword relevancy based on the advert’s landing page. If you are bidding on a keyword Google also wants to see that keyword in the page copy and meta data on your website (or at least keywords with a relationship to your target keyword).

Are your ads optimised for the keyword?

A third variable is the use of the keyword in your advert. I always use the keyword in the title, main body and the visible URL.

Getting started

The quality score is purposefully a black box with many of the variables held back as a secret. Some changes can have an impact within 24 hours and others may take weeks. The trick is to be patient and not give your changes time to have an impact.

Keep an eye on your quality score and average position. If they are improving test the waters by reducing your bid by small increments. If you have started to acquire a good enough quality score you will find you can bid less to maintain the same position.

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