Your Secret Sauce to building Profitable PPC Campaigns I don’t know whether to wince or laugh at the latest story doing the rounds on why eBay has stopped its PPC campaign on Google. The company spent a whopping $51 million on paid search in 2012 using 170 million keywords and has suddenly given up on PPC saying Adwords don’t work for big brands. Being in this industry for significantly long now, I have seen eBay practically abusing the Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI system) to create monstrously hilarious ads. And I believe (emphasize on the I), it is largely the weakness of the campaign than the brand’s popularity that causes it to fail. Google says Adwords is totally no-nonsense and it is time we learn from eBay how NOT to play with it. Isn’t it? If you were to tell me what is it that can really jack up your click-through-rates (CTR), Quality Scores and subsequently your Adwords ROIs, you’d probably drop the ball at get profitable keywords, cluster them nice and proper, write seductive ads and so on… And I won’t say you’d be too wrong there. But let’s talk on a more granular level on what all Google actually factors into while assigning you Quality Scores and of course ad placements.

Understanding How QS Works: The Nuts & Bolts

Quality Score is an estimate of how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing page are to a person seeing your ad. Every time someone does a search that triggers your ad, we calculate a Quality Score. We recalculate your Quality Score every time your ads are eligible for the ad auction, which can potentially happen many times a day. Rather than showing you different Quality Scores throughout the day, we show you a single Quality Score that gives you an estimate of that keyword’s overall quality. – Google

What does a good Quality Score mean?

  • Lower Cost per Click
  • More Traffic at Lower Cost
  • Higher Ad Positions
  • First Page CPC Bid Estimates

What are the factors affecting Quality Score?

  • Historical CTRs The performance of your account and your specific keywords with respect to the historical performance of other advertisers.
  • Semantic Relevance The relevance of the keywords you’re bidding on with one another, the tight ad groups you create and the ads you write.
  • Content Relevance Relevance of ad text (especially the title) as compared to the search query.
  • Destination URL Quality The relevance of the landing page that you’re sending your visitors to (with respect to your keyword groups and ad copies). It includes all those factors that impact overall user experience such as page loading time.
  • Other Factors The catch-all, mystery meat. Hic!

Boosting your Quality Scores

A lot of us have drained huge sums of money on Google Ad campaigns still wondering what’s the secret recipe for a winning ad campaign. Let’s get knowing…
  • Replace under performing Ads If you have ads that have not been performing up to snuff, kill them. Rule of thumb: Create new ads instead of overwriting weak ones. Although Google does not say anything definitive about it, but we have seen accounts losing historical account performance by editing or deleting old ads.
  • Create Landing Page Variations Try building individual destination pages for every ad group. There can be no better experiment to judge the quality of your landing page than this.
  • Enhance Ad Groups Get rid of all hybrid, miscellaneous and heterogeneous ad groups. Your ad clusters should be tightly targeted. Believe me, I’ve seen people having great success with single keyword ad groups. Start with one, gradually taking the count to 10. Google would love it!
  • Build action oriented landing pages This factor is primarily meant to penalize offenders like doorway pages, phishing sites etc. But Google does consider the relevance of landing page content, action buttons and loading speed to accord a quality score.
  • Loosen up Restrictive Match Types Most often than not we are all targeting a Phrase match keywords. It does not hurt to loosen it up a bit or add broad match keywords.
  • Time Targeting Select a campaign from your account, click on the Dimensions tab, view time and select an Hour of the day. This will show you all the times of your day when your ads were over or under performing. A good idea is to disable your ads from showing up on those times when they are under performing i.e when there are too many impressions for them and no clicks.
  • Advanced Geo Targeting Select a campaign from your account, click on the Dimensions tab and view Geographic. This will show you all the detailed regions that are responding to your ads. You might like disabling ads for those regions that are showing you a lot of impressions but almost negligible clicks.
  • Add Ad Extensions Adding extensions (site links usually) is an awesome idea to gather more real estate on click through. Would it not be great if a physiotherapist is driving traffic on four different landing pages using site links in his ad…say something like… General Muscular Pain, Sports Injury, Ergonomic Advice and Acupuncture

Are you ready to flip the switch?

So you see, these were all small little things, nothing fancy to it. Building good campaigns is actually pretty easy if you have a fair idea of the keywords and the ad copies. Ahhh… now that’s the fun stuff! I have got a trick to do that and it works great. I will share it with you in my next post. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, I’d like to know from you how Facebook re-advertising and Google+ might impact Adwords in the days to come. I heard there is a good precedence for this to happen. What do you think?

Ricky Goswami

Ricky is an Award winning Ecommerce Marketing expert and Digital Marketing strategist, with 15+ years of experience of consulting Small companies to Fortune 100 companies. He is Co-Founder at KeywordCountry (@kwdcountry) and Smarter.Codes.