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Improving Adwords Ad Rank and Quality Score

Discussion in 'Business Discussions' started by wonder_lander, Aug 15, 2017.

  1. wonder_lander United Kingdom

    wonder_lander Well-Known Member Full Member

    Mar 2009
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    Are there any good guides on how I can improve the ad rank / quality score for a PPC campaign that I'm running?
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    Acorn Domains Elite Member

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  3. martin-s United Kingdom

    martin-s Well-Known Member

    Jul 2012
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    Happy to offer some advice on this. Quality scores are mostly about relevance and CTR, and they have such a big impact on CPCs (you know how those are calculated, right?).


    (Ad rank = max bid x quality score)

    QS is measured at different levels of your account too - globally, ad group, ad and keyword - plus landing page.

    To improve your scores, here are the most important things you should do:

    1) Check your campaign settings

    Make sure that you have set up location targeting and that your targeting method is set to 'People in my targeted location'. Set the language targeting too.

    It's often a good idea to configure ad scheduling so that ads only appear when you think your target audience will be online. That helps exclude other timezones, but also late night browsers.

    2) Split your campaign into more ad groups

    It's important that each ad group has a tightly defined set of target phrases, which are all very similar to each other. That way, the advert text can be very targeted and the CTR will improve.

    3) Separate broad, phrase and exact match keywords into different ad groups

    Ideally you won't have more than 1-2% broad match phrases, and probably 5-10% phrase match. If you want to maximise the value you get from your account, the rest of your search terms should be exact match.

    Separating the match types into different groups is good practice for accurate bidding, but will also help with CTR for adverts by ensuring maximum relevance again.

    4) Add negative keywords using phrase match

    It's so simple, but so many people running campaigns do a bad job of this. Adwords has become very 'intelligent' over the years, but I put that in quote marks because it makes a lot of mistakes. Exact match no longer means exact match - it allows plurals and what Adwords considers misspellings too.

    Use several sources to identify negative keywords - Keyword Planner, Search Console, Adwords Search Terms reports, etc. - and add them even if you think there is a limited chance of adverts being triggered.

    Also add stop lists for phrases related to free, porn, games, countries, etc. Do this every month and it will make a big difference.

    In the Search Terms report, the 'Other search terms' count at the bottom is a good indicator of needing more negatives. You'll normally see a really low CTR for that row of the report - which means your ads are showing for irrelevant terms.

    I promise you that you will be surprised about the clicks you are paying for.

    5) A/B test your advert copy

    Make sure you always have two adverts running for every ad group. Monitor which one performs best (perhaps over a month, depending on traffic), and make that your new control ad, then set up a new challenger ad and iterate.

    Make sure that your ad copy uses your keyword phrases and themes.

    I'm assuming you'll have set up conversion tracking - so note that the best CTR or lowest CPC isn't always the higher ROI ad.

    6) Make the most of ad extensions

    Ad extensions, such as sitelinks and callouts improve CTR significantly. Likewise, with the new(-ish) expanded text ad format, it's important to use both headlines and the two path attributes. They don't appear to directly affect QS, but they're worth considering alongside it.

    You are using expanded text ads, right? They make a HUGE difference if you get the style right.

    7) Manage keyword performance

    Review keywords for CTR and conversion on an ongoing basis. If some keywords are performing badly, either move them into separate ad groups or pause/negative them.

    Also review quality scores. 9s and 10s are ideal obviously, but 7s and 8s are OK too. 6s are borderline, but I wouldn't worry too much about them until you don't have any keywords with a QS of 1-5. Those should mostly be eliminated from your account.

    Though it is worth bearing in mind that QS is really just a cost factor. If keywords are profitable, don't remove them!

    Consider splitting out 6s and 7s into separate ad groups from your 8s, 9s and 10s.

    8) Landing pages

    Now that your ad groups are all tightly targeted, your landing pages should be closely themed too. You only get a few seconds to avoid bounces (also a quality score indicator), so make sure you have a very good h1 and page intro at the very least. Page speed is also thought to have an effect on quality score, though perhaps as a result of other engagement metrics being lower.

    Check for 404s and high bounce rates/low time-on-site stats.

    Targeting all your ads at your home page doesn't allow Adwords to use url to differentiate between QS for different pages - thereby dragging all pages down.

    9) Performance by device

    It's normal for ad campaigns to perform differently on mobile vs desktop. Partly because of the landing page, but also bid competitors and ad relevance. It's therefore worth considering if search intent is a bit different on mobile - and how you can adjust around that.


    If you don't already use Adwords Editor, I'd recommend it. You'll still need to use the web interface for reports, but it makes managing bulk updates much easier.

    And don't bid high thinking that by improving CTR you'll affect QS. Quality score stats are adjusted for ad position.

    Hope that helps!

    (I am sometimes interested in managing PPC accounts with spends of £10k - £100k+ per month. Shout if you're interested)
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    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  4. wonder_lander United Kingdom

    wonder_lander Well-Known Member Full Member

    Mar 2009
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    That's brilliant, many thanks :)
    I'll go off and digest it!