An AdWords Secret You Must Know to Succeed at PPC

Online advertising is one of those things that’s easy to do, but tough to do well. Anybody with a credit card can open an AdWords account and launch their campaign overnight. In fact, Google has an AdWords Express option, which automates much of the process to help you “set up an ad in 15 minutes.” But should you into PPC advertising like this?

Remember, Google is in the business of selling advertising. Their objective is to get you to spend as much as possible on their platform, irrespective of whether it meets your business goals. Maybe you want more leads that’ll transform into sales. Perhaps you want to collect more emails for your company newsletter. At the end of the day, Google doesn’t really care about your success, at least not individually. Remember what the “PPC” in PPC advertising stands for: Pay Per Click. As far as Google is concerned, they get paid for each visit they send to your website. It’s then up to you to make those visitors interested in what your business has to offer.

Businesses who’ve tried to do their own AdWords campaigns, or worse, use AdWords Express often struggle because they spend their budget too quickly on overly broad keyword searches with little to no buyer intent. You could be chasing unqualified visitors who hit the “back” button as soon as they click on your ad, and not even know it!

The good news is — Google knows that businesses would stop spending money on AdWords if they were ineffective for everyone. In 2014, advertisers spent $59 Billion on Google advertising. Household names like Amazon, Walmart and Bank of America spent $157.7M, $59.7M and $35.8M respectively. Even Google’s own search rivals, Microsoft and Yahoo, realize the importance of being seen in Google, spending $67.1 Million and $36.2 Million in turn. It’s hard to fault their logic when Google’s market share consistently hovers around 90% of all Internet users. More importantly, they wouldn’t make these investments if they didn’t work.

But the top 25 ad buyers only account for $1.34B of the gargantuan $59B total. Many of the businesses spending money on Google PPC are small to medium businesses just like yours. The bottom line is: Google ads can generate a positive ROI, if you do them correctly. Here’s the problem. You don’t have the large marketing department of the Fortune 500 companies listed above. Without expert help, it’s easy to blow through your AdWords budget without the ROAS (return on ad spend) you want.

AdWords Ad Auction and the Importance of Quality Score

Google decides which ads to show based on an “ad auction” that occurs every time a search results page is generated. You might think the advertiser who’s willing to pay the highest CPC (cost per click) would rank #1, the second-highest #2, and so on so forth, right? Not exactly. In addition to the bid, Google’s algorithm considers your ad’s Quality Score (QS) based on keyword relevance.

A full discussion of Quality Score is beyond the scope of this report but you should know the best AdWords ads (QS=10) receive a 50% CPC discount while achieving the same ad rank as an average (QS=5) AdWords ad. In a competitive industry, ads with a poor quality score (< 5) may not display at all despite a high bid. Although Google would love to accept the highest bid, they’re also concerned about driving away searchers with irrelevant or poor-quality ads. Also, because Google doesn’t get paid unless the sponsored links are clicked, they naturally favor ads with higher click-through rates (CTR), defined as Clicks / Impressions * 100%.

According to Google, the Quality Score is determined by 3 main factors:

  • Your ad’s expected CTR: This is based in part on your ad’s historical clicks and impressions
  • The quality of your landing page: How relevant, transparent, and easy-to-navigate your page is
  • Your ad/search relevance: How relevant your ad text is to what a person searches for

Impact of Quality Score on CPC in Google AdWordsAnd in addition to an ad-level QS, there’s also an “unofficial” ad group, campaign and account-level quality score, which is an average of your individual ads’ Quality Scores. Much like your credit history, it can be difficult to recover once you’ve ruined your account-level Quality Score by running a series of poor-performing ads. This chart shows how advertisers with a QS of 1 or 2 pay 150 – 400% more per click on average.

You could even lose your AdWords account if you hire an unscrupulous PPC marketer that uses tactics against Google’s TOS (e.g. pop-ups, clocked redirects, keyword stuffing) on your landing pages.

But enough of the doom and gloom about Quality Score – It’s actually a blessing in disguise. A competent PPC manager can boost your new or existing campaigns’ Quality Scores and help you rank ahead of advertisers who have a far larger budget than you. Whether you choose to manage your own AdWords account or hire a PPC manager, you should always pay attention to the CTR and QS metrics in your account.

There’s a lot you can do inside your AdWords account and on your website itself to boost your Quality Score and in turn, the performance of your campaigns. Whether you’re thinking about advertising on Google or have a campaign already, these are 24 key factors to ensure that your account is fully optimized.

  1. Target Market
  2. Scheduling
  3. Impression Share
  4. Conversion Rates
  5. Cost Per Conversion
  6. Lost Impression Share
  7. Bidding Option
  8. Budget
  9. Budget Cap
  10. Position Preference
  11. Delivery Method
  12. Ad Delivery
  13. Networks
  14. Devices
  15. Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
  16. Average Position
  17. Quality Score
  18. Overall Campaign Structure
  19. Ad Group Segmentation
  20. Match Types
  21. Ad Copy
  22. Tracking
  23. Landing Pages
  24. Bidding Strategy

Our marketing consultants are certified by Google in Search, Display, Mobile, Video, Shopping Ads as well as Analytics and would be pleased to provide a complimentary PPC audit for a new AdWords campaign or your existing account. This comprehensive analysis will incorporate the factors listed above, and draw upon our experience with tactics that have been successful for businesses like yours.