Improve Google Ads from outside the platform

Thursday, June 29, 2023

It seems like every other week Google announces a new account feature that further pushes its machine-learning capabilities. As a result, we have less control over certain elements in our ads accounts, therefore, it's critical to ensure that the elements we can control are top-notch. In order to maximise results, advertisers need to look outside of the ad platform to make efficiencies to improve in-account performance. A more automated Google Ads has seen bid management become more about campaign management with less focus on some of the key areas that were a priority in previous years. However, in spite of this, it’s important to know how the system functions so we can make it work for us and maximise performance as a result. Every hour of every day Google has thousands of advertisers vying for the top position of the search engine results page with many of these advertisers using the exact same tools with the exact same bidding model as each other, so how does the machine decide who gets the top spot? Well, this is where Quality Score comes into play.


Written by

Paid Media Assistant

What is Quality Score?

In essence, Quality Score is an indicator which allows you to see how your ad compares to your competitor's ads which are advertising on your keyword, you are then given a ranking from 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest. In order to give you a score Google takes into account 3 areas, expected click-through rate (the likelihood of the ad being clicked by a user), Ad relevance (how relevant your ad is to the keyword being bid on), and finally landing page experience, (how good the landing page is for the user). These three factors are then individually ranked as above average, average or below average. 

Why is Quality Score so important then? Having a higher Quality Score in many ways can be a contributing factor in the success of your campaigns, and by ensuring that it’s at an optimal level you’re going to see a difference in results. The place where Quality Score can have the biggest impact is on spend levels, as a well-optimised and efficient account should spend less in theory, but generate better results.

Wordstream conducted a study looking at a vast number of PPC accounts and ads and found a direct correlation between your Quality Score and the success of your campaign. They found that with a higher Quality Score, CPC and CPA within the account were far lower than accounts with lower Quality Scores. It’s worth noting that these are significant fluctuations in cost, the same study found that having a Quality Score of 10 can see costs reduce by 50% conversely having a Quality Score of 1 can see costs soar by as much as 400%. So without a doubt even raising your Quality Score by 1 point can lead to significant savings and improved performance. 

How Do You Increase Your Quality Score? 

As I touched on before, there are 3 elements that make up Quality Score, two of them, expected click-through rate and ad relevance can both be influenced in-platform so they fall under our remit as advertisers. However, when it comes to landing page experience this is out of platform and is usually a collaborative effort between UX specialists and advertisers. 

Whilst we can't directly influence the landing page experience it’s important that advertisers are consulted to ensure the content on the page aligns with user intent and what users are searching for. Collaboration between paid media specialists and those in charge of UX, design and development for your website regardless of whether they are in-house or an external agency is key. These two teams should be working in unison to ensure the landing pages and the ads are working towards the same end goal. Ultimately, having a good user experience and an improved conversion rate on your website doesn't just bode well for Paid search it will also ensure the traffic that comes to your website organically or directly will see higher conversions too. After all, it’s cheaper to convert existing customers than pay to acquire more traffic, which is why conversion rate is such an important metric to work on improving. 

People tend to neglect landing pages for whatever reason but they are arguably one of the most important parts of the digital marketing funnel. It's the final challenge, all the hard work that’s gone into all the other steps have been to get them to this moment, conversion. 

These landing pages should make these final stages of conversion a breeze, however, this isn’t always the case. Half of all clicks from ads send users to the home page instead of a special landing page. That's like getting on a flight to New York City and ending up in Washington DC, close to where you wanted to go but not where you wanted to end up. With that being said sending a person to a home page does have its place, it can be highly beneficial to go down this route if you have a brand or some form of awareness campaign running. 

Before you go and make any changes it's worth checking to see how your landing pages are performing. There are a number of ways you can do this. The first is to check in on your Quality Score’s ranking out of 10 via Google Ads directly, alternatively, there are two handy metrics on Google Analytics, bounce rate and conversion rate. The bounce rate tells you the percentage of visitors who visit your website and leave without taking action, a high number here signifies poor performance. The second metric is conversion rate, this tells you of the users you've had on site, how many completed an action i.e filled in a form, purchased etc., a lower number here signifies that there is an issue. Lastly, you can approach an agency, like Clicky to conduct a UX audit on your website or a specific landing page you're having trouble with. Audits allow UX specialists to review site metrics, and use user behaviour tools to better understand how users are interacting with your website.

More often than not landing pages just need a little bit of an uplift to take them to the next level, here are a few ways you can enhance your landing page and subsequently boost your Google Ads performance.

  1. Increase relevance between the Landing page and Ad 

    • Whatever the ad is focused on it's important to ensure the landing page you’re sending people to reflects that. 

  2. Don’t overwhelm users with links 

    • The key goal here is conversion so the fewer opportunities people have to leave the site the better. 

  3. Have a strong headline

    • The headline is the first thing people make so make it strong and hook them in. 

  4. Keep it short and to the point

    • Once again the main goal is conversion, don't overwhelm people with information. Give them only what will aid conversion. 

  5. Keep speed in mind 

    • Pages shouldn’t take an eternity to load, users will leave so ensure pages load fast on desktop and mobile

  6. Utilise trust signals

    • Sometimes users are weary when they buy things from an unknown, retailer so use things like reviews, awards and testimonials to show trust signals.

To summarise, there are numerous ways to enhance the performance of your Google Ads campaigns out of platform. It's important to examine how you can enhance your landing pages and also consider the elements within the platform that you can control.