Last week I was fortunate to enjoy the company and tutelage of some talented web marketers at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose. An annual occurrence, the San Jose conference is one of those particularly special events that I aim never to miss. On top of the incredible networking and party events such as the Google Dance and the Search Bash there were a great number of exceptional seminars on all facets of web marketing. In this case I would like to highlight my notes from a seminar in the paid advertising track titled "Ads in a Quality Score World".

What is Quality Score?
"Quality Score is a dynamic variable assigned to each of your keywords. It's calculated using a variety of factors and measures how relevant your keyword is to your ad text and to a user's search query." ... "Quality Score influences your ads' position on Google and the Google Network. It also partly determines your keywords' minimum bids. In general, the higher your Quality Score, the better your ad position and the lower your minimum bids." source: Google's AdWords Help Center.

Now that you know how important quality score is to the effectiveness and bottom dollar of a pay per click campaign it begs the question... how is quality score measured and how can you enhance your own to improve return on investment? That very question was the topic of the "Ads in a Quality Score World" session. After most of the presenters repeated the quality score factors outlined on this informative Google AdWords help page they provided some very helpful tips for the audience. The following is a list of the top 10 tips I took note of during the session:

The Top 10 Tips for Efficiently Working With and Improving Quality Score

  1. Work on improving the quality score of keywords in your campaigns with the highest minimum bids. To identify the best keywords to work on go to AdWords reporting and run reports of the minimum bids and drop them into Excel then sort the list by price. The highest minimum bids are where quality score should be worked on to save money in the shortest order.

  2. Brian Geddes of bg Theory LLC offers a handy quick reference chart that shows which of the major quality score factors affect the different quality score types.

  3. In Google viewing your quality score can be done by un-hiding the quality score column via the "customize columns" menu found in the campaign information pane in Google AdWords. (Campaign Management à Campaign Summary à Campaign #1)

  4. When focusing on improving the quality score to lower minimum bids it is recommended to start focusing on minimum bids that are costing you 25 cents or more. Anything less than 25 cents (unless those are all you have) would not be as worthwhile to improve.

  5. Landing page load time has become a critical consideration within quality score. If you find your landing page's load time is not as fast as you would like it to be try minimizing the number of redirects, consider work arounds for slow servers (i.e. relocation may be worth considering) and balance your design and content on the landing page.

  6. Create ultra-granular ad groups and draft keyword-specific copy for each ad group.

  7. Creating landing pages specific to highly targeted ad groups will increase conversions as well as quality score. By the same token keyword tailored adcopy will improve click through rate as well as quality score.

  8. Create keyword lists using the following keyword types: trademarks, non-brand, brand and long-tail terms. These keyword lists will bring you one step closer to having the type of granular campaign that favours higher quality scores.

    Note: Don't forget to include negative keywords while creating your keyword lists.

  9. After creating a comprehensive list of keywords and negative keywords to work with you should create separate campaigns across all available match types (i.e. exact match, broad match, phrase match); but first start with exact match to build history for your campaign and then introduce the others. Over time after introducing additional negatives and after progressive keyword trimming you should be able to drop your phrase match budget substantially.

    Ultimately the goal is to capture every possible relevant query as an exact match. This will provide you with the highest click through rates (CTRs) which will improve quality score and lower your costs.

  10. Account organization is the key to efficiently managing quality score as well as producing optimal conversions/click through rates. Take the time to setup your campaigns meticulously and your advertising dollars will be spent far more effectively.

Special kudos and thanks go to the seminar speakers that provided such great information:

Don't Forget! Search Engine Guide is presenting another phenomenal Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference. The Unleashed conference is a different breed of conference all together designed to provide the type of high quality training that is sure to leave you extremely well informed; the Unleashed agenda includes intensive work shops and a high trainer-to-participant ratio for ultimate learning potential.

August 31, 2008

Ross Dunn is the CEO of StepForth Web Marketing Inc., a web marketing company founded in 1997 and based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. StepForth provides cutting-edge search engine optimization services that provide highly successful, targeted results for its clientele. Ross Dunn is a Certified Internet Marketing and Business Strategist (CIMBS) with a background in web design and business management. His broad Internet experience in combination with a talented staff has made StepForth a name synonymous with top results.


What I don't like is the new real-time QS. It will be based in part on geographic location. The great thing about the internet is that it opens you up to the world. Now the Google changes are shove right back into you geographical box and show you merchants from you neighboorhood.

Do you guys have any recommendations for companies that help you do this? This looks like a full time job on it's own.

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Search Engine Guide > Ross Dunn > 10 Tips to Improve Ad Quality Score - Notes from SES San Jose