Everything You Want to Know About Quality Score & Landing Pages
We recently ran a joint webinar with landing page specialists Unbounce called “How to Use Killer Landing Pages to Get Better PPC Results.” We didn’t have time to answer all the great follow-up questions from attendees, so we’re answering them here on the blog. Special thanks to Tom Demers of Measured SEM for his help with answering these questions.
What would you consider to be the weighting of Ad CTR vs. Landing Page relevancy as it relates to Quality Score? If you have a KW with low quality score should the first area of focus be Ad Copy testing or landing page development?
The relevance of your ad is more important on balance than your landing page. It’s the first thing a Google user sees, assuming your ad qualifies to display in the results at all. The click-through rate (CTR) of the ad is a strong indicator of relevance – if people see your ad but don’t click on it, it’s probably because they don’t find your message relevant to their search. Work on improving your ad copy first. You’ll find tons of tips for increasing CTR in our copywriting category. If you manage to raise your CTR significantly through testing, and your Quality Score does not improve, it may be a problem with your landing page.
Should we create a separate landing page for every ad group if we're targeting the same service?
Even if your offer is the same, it’s a best practice to create a dedicated landing page for every ad group. This is because Google is looking for a clear through-line from the keyword you’re bidding on all the way down to the landing page. For example, let’s say you’re advertising for a law firm and all your ads eventually lead to the same inquiry form. It’s still a good idea to create differentiated landing pages for each group of related keywords that you’re targeting. You could make one landing page for people filing mesothelioma lawsuits, another landing page for people suing over lead paint, etc. These pages can be built using the same general template, but the copy and keywords on each page should be clearly connected to the keyword they searched on and the ad they clicked on.
How often is Quality Score updated?
Quality Score is calculated every time someone does a search that triggers an ad. This means that Google is incorporating the statistical history associated with your account, keywords, and ads into the way they’re ranking ads and determining what you pay per click in real time. However, know that it may take a while for your Quality Score to change significantly.
How fast does the Quality Score change after I make changes to my landing page?
According to Google:
The AdWords system visits and evaluates landing pages on a regular basis. If you've made significant changes to improve your landing page experience, it could lead to higher Quality Scores over time. You might not see an impact within the first few days, but you may see results over the next several months.
Do the keywords that you are using in your ad group all have to appear on the landing page to get a good Quality Score?
No – Google doesn’t run a check for every single keyword. Including a few of the top keywords in that ad group should be enough to show relevance.
How is the Display Network these days? Is it worthwhile?
Google offers lots of good options to advertisers through the Display Network. According to a study by Periscopix, average CTR on the Display Network is 6 times higher than the industry average, and that gets even higher if you make use of options like keyword contextual targeting. We think it’s definitely worth exploring. But you’ll want to separate your search and display campaigns as a best practice. Here are some more tips for making the most of the GDN:
- How to Create a Google AdWords Image Ad
- How to Use the Google AdWords Display Ad Builder
- Quick Guide to the Google AdWords Placement Tool
- Quick Guide to the Google AdWords Contextual Targeting Tool
Since quality scores can be negatively affected by lower CTR's anywhere in your entire account, and considering GDN tend to have lower CTRs, does it make sense to have a separate AdWords account just for GDN campaigns? Is that even possible?
Quality Score is calculated separately on the search and display network, so your display network CTR will not affect your search network Quality Scores. You don’t need to create a whole separate account for your display campaigns.
Doesn't Google attach a better quality score to a complete website as opposed to a landing page?
Google has recently cracked down on affiliate sites that they feel add “little to no value” to the searcher’s experience, but by and large account-wide Quality Score is a metric impacted by click-through rate at the keyword and ad levels. The overall quality of your website is important in terms of your organic rankings, but on the paid search side, it’s not a major factor for most advertisers.
For account Quality Score, how much weight is there in account history/length of time established?
Google doesn’t reveal the exact proportional weight of all the components of Quality Score, and they’re particularly cryptic about account-level Quality Score. All we know for certain is that this is a factor.
Have you tested the beta ad groups feature on Google's keyword tool? Is it helpful in your opinion?
We mentioned this in our post on the Google AdWords Keyword Tool: the ad groups tool is a helpful starting point in thinking about the way you might want to structure your ad groups, but you need to keep in mind that you’ll need to carefully review the suggestions here as irrelevant keywords may be included in a suggested grouping, and ultimately you want to be structuring your ad groups based on the segmentation that will allow you to write the most successful ads for a given group of keywords.
How can you test which ad position gives you the best CTR?
You don’t control your ad position – this is determined by Google based on your Quality Score and bid (as well as the Quality Scores and bids of competing advertisers). Generally, higher positions result in higher CTRs, but Google determines your Quality Score based on the CTR relative to the ad’s position. Therefore, ads in higher positions won’t earn higher Quality Scores simply because of the boost in CTR due to position.
I don't see a "Keywords" tab in AdWords. How do I get there? From Campaign/Display Network?
The keywords tab should be visible and easy to navigate to from the Campaigns tab in AdWords – see the screenshot below. If you’re not seeing a keywords tab you may want to contact a Google representative:
Should ad groups be parsed out even on a word order level? For example, I built an ad group around "Diabetes symptoms" phrases. Any terms that were in reverse order like "symptoms of diabetes" had especially poor QS. I paused them, but think maybe I should have created a new ad group and LP based on this reverse order: "Symptoms of diabetes". Am I splitting hairs, or would making separate ad groups for terms in reverse order make sense?
A good rule of thumb for creating a new ad group is to think about how your ads would be different if you split out that keyword or groups of keywords. Could you write ads that better resonated with searchers by breaking out the keyword or keywords in question? The other thing to consider is the volume of the term: if the term you’re considering splitting out is a high-volume term, it’s worth considering, but if it gets relatively few clicks and impressions it may not be worth the extra effort, even if a new ad group would allow you to write a more clickable ad and improve Quality Score.
Is the description meta tag important to Google? I was told this is a good indicator to Google of what your site is about.
The meta description can be useful to users and improve your click-through rate from the organic search results. However, Google claims it does not directly affect rankings, and it has nothing to do with your Quality Scores.
Is the content more important than the meta tags and titles for landing pages with regard to quality score?
Google is looking for three main things when it comes to your landing page: relevant content, transparency, and navigability. In terms of your title/headline, focus on two things – relevance to the keyword and ad copy, and communicating a clear message to visitors. Good headlines reinforce the message of your ad, and can improve your conversion rate. Note, however, that your conversion rate is not a factor in your Quality Score. The meta tags on your landing page are also not a major factor.
What is considered a "good" click-through rate and what is considered "not good"? What’s a good Quality score?
It really depends on a number of factors. Lower CTRs and Quality Scores may be OK with you if you’re still converting at a profitable rate. But as a general guideline, a CTR in the range of 2% to 5% is considered good, and 7 or higher is a good Quality Score.
What to do if we've optimized ad groups, copy and landing pages – but still struggle with quality score?
If your Quality Score is still low, one of two things is possible: 1) You haven’t given your changes enough time to take effect, or 2) you haven’t truly optimized everything. Remember there is always room for improvement. Try splitting your ad groups into smaller groups for tighter relevance, or testing more variations on your ad text to further improve your click-through rates.
Why is Quality Score so cryptic, how can I as a marketing manager see the Quality Score of the landing pages?
Google doesn’t acknowledge assigning an actual quality score to your landing pages – it’s more of a pass/fail system. Recently, Google tried to introduce more transparency into the system by telling you if your landing page experience is below average, average, or above average. You can view this by going into your Keywords tab and hovering over the speech bubble next to the status of any keyword. Of course, Google’s reasons for determining how you compare to the average are still pretty cryptic.
What's considered a proper landing page "load time" for a landing page/experience?
As low as you can get it. Every additional fraction of a second can reduce your conversion rate. Load time can also affect your Quality Scores. If Google says your landing page experience is “below average,” you may need to speed up your load time. Here's more information on how page speed affects the user experience on your landing pages.
Did we answer your questions on landing pages? If you've got more to ask us, we'll be glad to add the answers as an addendum!