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Using Quality Score to Guide Optimizations: Google Best Practices

Follow up on your Quality Score diagnosis


Pay attention to the “Big Three” component parts of ads quality: ad relevance, expected CTR, and landing page experience

Let’s look more closely at the three components of Quality Score: ad relevance, expected CTR, and landing page. Here’s how they appear in your account:

For the keyword shown, running shoes, the Quality Score is 5 and all three components are ranked either average or below average. That shows us where we can start to improve: all three could be better, but at “below average,” ad relevance looks like the most urgent area for improvement.

We suggest you set your priorities based both on a component’s rating and on the potential speed and impact of your changes. For instance, if your landing page experience is below average, but you don’t actually have control of your website (or if changes take a long time), then you may want to focus first on CTR or ad relevance. Even if those components are average or above average, you can still improve their performance and your bottom line.

We also find that some people tend to focus only on CTR, because a user click is their ultimate goal. But ad relevance and landing pages are very important to the overall results of your campaigns. And each component calls for a different approach to improvement.

If your ad relevance needs to get better, you may want to:
  • Match the language of your ad text more directly to user search queries
  • Move keywords to smaller ad groups with more targeted creatives
  • Look for ad groups with disparate keywords that can’t possibly be addressed by the same ad, and give below-average keywords their own, new ad group with ads that better speak to the user’s queries
  • Speak more directly to the intent embedded in a user’s query
  • Add negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing on queries you don’t want Read more about how to add negative keywords.
If your expected CTR needs to get better, you may want to:
  • Create more compelling ad text. Expected CTR is about ad creative that inspires action on the results page
  • Highlight a unique benefit of your product or service
  • Experiment with different calls to action
  • Be more specific in your ad text

Example

Suppose you sell luxury dress shoes: a phrase like “free bow tie with order” may attract many shoppers, but the people attracted by phrases like “fine craftsmanship” or “old-world Italian design” may engage more deeply on your site and buy more. That’s not to say that sales pitches are a bad idea, but driving clicks and driving relevant clicks are not always the same thing.

 

More detail usually makes for a more compelling ad. Creatives should be tailored to a user’s search, which means a strong relationship between a keyword and an ad. Convince the user that your landing page will be promising and related to her query, and she’ll be more likely to act. You can also highlight benefits that you offer (“free shipping”) or create urgency to act now (“buy today to save 30%”).

As we mentioned about ad relevance, there may be times when a more specific ad leads to lower CTRs but higher conversion rates. Don’t assume one is always better than the other: look for the balance that leads to the best possible performance for your account.

If your landing page experience needs to get better, you may want to:
  • Send traffic to landing pages that are more closely related to a user’s query. If a search is for “striped shirts,” the landing page should feature striped shirts, not just shirts or clothing in general.
  • Use your ads to set up your landing pages for success. An ad click is only one step in the experience, after all. Your ads should tell users what’s coming on their entire customer journey. They should also speak to the users who are most likely to become customers. A million clicks won’t do you any good if they don’t lead to meaningful engagement on your site.
  • Make sure the landing page continues that conversation set up by your ad. Follow through on the ad’s offer or call to action. Even if you have no control over your site, you can still experiment to find the most useful existing pages.
  • Try using conversion rate as a proxy for good landing page experience. We don’t use it in our calculation of landing page quality, but it can be a good proxy for you to measure and optimize against. It’s also something that should matter a whole lot to your bottom line, so you’re probably keeping a close watch on this already.
  • Rethink mobile. Ease of navigation is something users value even more on mobile websites, and a good mobile site can go a long way toward increasing navigability. (Visit Google.com/think/multiscreen to learn more about what matters for mobile.)
 

To answer a common question: the word-for-word phrase from a query doesn’t need to be on your landing page. A query for “South Chicago Chihuahua-friendly budget hotels” doesn’t need to lead to a landing page with the headline “South Chicago Chihuahua-friendly budget hotels.”

In fact, we advise that you not try to “keyword stuff” your landing pages in an attempt to increase landing page relevance (we don’t think keyword stuffing is a good practice for any of your pages). Instead, we urge all advertisers to focus on creating great experiences that deliver what a user is looking for. Our scoring is merely an attempt to measure that—to measure, you might say, user delight.

Just as good ads are good for everyone, good measurement systems should be good for everyone. As you work on giving users the best experience, we’ll continue to work hard to measure that in the most accurate possible way and reward you for quality.

 

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