Let me begin with the fundamental premise that creating any successful advertising campaign, whether it be AdWords or a magazine ad, requires testing and constant fine-tuning. No one ever gets it exactly right the first time.
Whether it be a client’s campaign or one I’m developing for them, the first implementation of an ad group provides valuable information about the market niche you are trying to penetrate. Once you reach the point where you have statistically significant data, you can develop a plan for taking it to the next level.
When the first batch of data becomes available, which could take three days or three months to gather, depending on the number of clicks you receive, you have an idea about the amount of traffic (impressions & clicks) for an individual keyword and the all-important Google AdWords quality score.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have a keyword that:
- correctly describes your product or service
- cannot be further specified by attaching adjectives that make it more precise without receiving the dreaded status of “Low search volume”
- and still have a very low (2-4) quality score
you have a real challenge with limited options.
Most advertisers who find themselves in this predicament want to improve the quality score because:
- their ad is not displaying at all (quality score of 0-1) or
- their ad is receiving reduced impressions (quality score of 3-6) or
- is resulting in an exorbitant CPC (quality score of 2-4).
Chances are, you find yourself in this position because Google has determined that very few, if any advertisers are able to produce a consistently good user experience for that keyword. By this I mean that the metrics Google uses to rate user experiences (CTR, bounce rate, number of pages visited, time on your website, etc.) are relatively low. And in most cases, the reason they are low is because the keyword phrase is very broad. Meaning it is used by a wide range of user interests and therefore it appeals to no one.
When this happens, the reason Google provides is that the quality score you are given for that keyword is most heavily influenced by “how well that keyword has performed throughout the Google system”. This condition can account for as much as 60% of the quality score you receive! It is the largest single component.
In this situation, there are only a few things you can do, with none of them being all that easy or inexpensive. Plus, there will be no guarantee they will make a significant impact, at least in the short-term.
If you do decide to take action, here are the steps I recommend:
- Determine which keywords have sufficient search volume to warrant their own ad group.
- Create separate ad groups for each one of those keywords and perform additional research to insure you have a full complement of negative keywords. This will ultimately help improve your CTR.
- Insure a high degree of relevance between the keyword and the ad copy headline.
- Develop custom landing pages for each ad group. Refer to my article titled Landing page optimization.
- Once the new ad groups and landing pages are in place, bid to rank in the number two position.
Here is why you want your ads to appear in the “top” positions, meaning they appear over the organic search results. The CTR of a keyword when it appears in the top position can be many times more than when it appears in the right-hand column or what google calls the “other” position. To see what I mean, run a “Segment” report and chose “Top vs. Other”. You might be surprised.
The single biggest component of keyword quality score is CTR, and in this case, where your performance is being overwhelmingly influenced by “how well that keyword has performed throughout the Google system”, you must demonstrate significantly better CTR performance than the other advertisers. I believe that metric is somewhere in the range of 5% CTR or better.