How Google's RHS Ad Changes Might Affect Your Business And How To Increase Your Quality Score
As I’m sure you’re aware just shy of a month ago Google removed paid search ads from the right hand side (RHS) of search results. If you’re not aware of the recent changes by Google take a look at my last blog for a full explanation. When it happened you could see thousands of frantic posts from paid search specialists as they tried to work out what affect having fewer paid ads will have on an individual account basis.
We’re now 5 weeks on and we wanted to update our much loved charities on how these changes might have affected their paid search accounts. Specifically charities who are using the Google Ad Grant.
Econsultancy recently wrote about the impact these changes to the RHS ads might be having and how Google could limit the damage for charities like yourselves. One opinion given was for Google to remove the bid cap from the Google grants program or increase it substantially (and even though I believe this could and should be increased) I personally cannot see Google actively admitting these changes or any previous changes have increased CPCs that much that they would need to increase this cap. And if they were to amend the maximum bid cap they would be doing just that, admitting that CPCs have in some cases got out of control. Consequently as you’re a charity you might need to improve your Ad Rank without increasing your CPCs.
Why your average position is important?
Google reduced the number of ads eligible to show on the search results from 11 to 8. This might mean that if you were in position from 6 to 11 your ad may no longer be showing on the first page of search results.
What is Ad Rank?
Google uses three factors to calculate your Ad Rank these are: your Max. CPC, your Quality Score, and any ad extensions (ad formats) you are using. This is calculated by Google in the following formula:
Ad Rank = Max CPC x QS x Expected impact of Ad Extensions/ Ad Formats
If you were under the impression that having the highest bid will guarantee you the highest positon you’re wrong. In the example below you can see that the Ad Rank is higher for Advertisers A and B even though it’s bid isn’t the highest.
This example was taken from Google’s chief economist who provides us insight into how the ad auction works in the following video.
As you’re a charity it’s more than likely, you’re already at your maximum bid of $2.00. The example above highlights AdWords isn’t completely based on who’s bidding higher. It’s likewise essential to work on other factors which impact your Ad Rank like your Quality Score.
What is a Quality Score?
Google describes a quality scores as an estimation “of the quality of your ads, keywords and landing pages”. By having a high quality score this can lead to a higher Ad Rank therefore meaning a potential lower cost per click (CPC) and a better ad position which needs to be 4 or above to be in the optimal position. Even though Google describes the estimated quality score it is actually made up of three important factors click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience.
Keep in Mind: QS is being calculated every time users run a search query.
Tip: The easiest way to go about increasing your quality score is to understand what factors are involved within your quality score as well as knowing the weight of each factor to easily increase your quality score.
What has the highest impact on your quality score?
To understand how to increase your quality score you need to understand the value each factor has overall, Brad Geddes article breaks down the percentage factor of a quality score when both landing page experience and Expected CTR impacting 39% and Ad Relevance as 22%. This is indicated in the chart below.
How can I check the breakdown of my quality score?
You can check within AdWords your quality score breakdown by going to the keyword tab (as shown in the image to the right below), look for the column Status, underneath this column you should see Eligible with a speech bubble. If you hover over the speech bubble you should see the image on the right appear breaking down each factor of your quality score rating. You should see either; below average, average or above average:
Knowing where to see your quality score breakdown is a great start to knowing how to improve your position especially, if you are seeing keywords with low positions and your keyword is already at the max $2.00 bid. Once you have highlighted keywords you want to increase the position of you can assess which factors out of the three above need improving and follow the steps below on improving each one:
Tip: If you’re struggling to pinpoint what factor might be causing your low quality score take a look at your geographical performance of your ads, by looking at how successful your ads have been in the regions you are targeting. As well as breaking this information down by device. There might be a specific device which is affecting your quality score (for example mobile).
What is an Expected Click-Through-Rate?
This is Google’s clever prediction of how often your advert will be clicked on when shown. Google constantly relies on user feedback which they say CTR provides them with. CTR shows what users really respond to by allowing them to vote with their clicks. Google leaves it up to users to decide which Ad is best for each search query. Expected CTR is primarily based upon the relevance of your ads, keywords, landing pages and on the position of your ad.
Remember: Google want to show more useful ads in higher position. Which is why relevance is key.
How you can increase your Expected Click-Through-Rate?
Fortunately the RHS ad changes shouldn’t have impacted your CTR negatively, however it might have impacted your expected CTR. iProspect says that the CTR of top ads is 14 times that of RHS ads and as a result of this your account could potentially be available for 18% more clicks due to Google adding 4 instead of 3 ads at the top of SERPs (search engine result pages). These change still might affected your score and if you have a ‘below average’ or an ‘average’ expected click through rate, google recommend trying the following solutions to increase your expected CTR:
Ways of increasing your Expected Click-Through-Rate:
- Google recommended pausing or deleting board keywords that have a low quality score with low conversion rates or few impressions. By keeping these keywords in your account you are bringing your quality score down. We suggest pausing keywords broader match types are replace them with more specific match types and terms as a way of increasing click through rate. It is important to understand your keyword match types relates directly to your keyword relevancy.
- Google have also found that shorter tailed keywords don’t tend to perform that well in AdWords, this is due to them being general meaning it can trigger too many irrelevant searches and possibly clicks (causing your CTR and your Quality Score) to suffer. Again replacing these shorter tail keywords with longer tailed.
- Your quality score is calculated every time users run a search query and because of this it is important you keep on top of your keyword relevancy, ensuring search terms are relevant to your business. As well as ensuring you are not wasting your budget on unprofitable clicks.
- It is also important that you are aware of your search terms report which should help you determine which keyword performs the best and has the highest CTR
- You’re ad is another important factor in your expected CTR, if google believes your ad isn’t relevant this can affect your CTR. If you’re running a large account and are struggling to update your ad text try using dynamic keyword insertion in your ad text.
What is Ad Relevance?
The ad relevance keyword status measures how closely related your keyword is to your ad text. It indicates how well your keyword matches the message within your ad.
How can you increase your Ad Relevance?
The changes Google made to its SERP’s, wouldn’t have had an effect on your Ad’s relevancy but it might have opened your eyes to ways you can increase your performance without increasing your CPCs. Below we have some great ways you could go about increasing your ad relevancy.
- Make sure your ads match your keywords and vice versa in each ad group. If they don’t you might need to look at breaking some of your ad groups out into smaller tightly-themed ad groups
- Make sure you’re creating great ad text, this can be difficult but it can all help increase the relevance of your ad. We’ve written an article on tips on creating great ads which actually perform here.
Landing Page Experience
What is the landing page experience?
Your Ad can bring new customers to your site but your landing page might not be keeping them there.
Your landing page score is how good Google think your landing page experience is. Your landing page experience as mentioned above plays a large part in your overall quality score however Google have also said that if you have an above average or average status within your quality score that ‘you’re in good shape – your quality score won’t be negatively affected by your landing page experience. However if you are seeing a below average status we suggest you take a serious look at your landing page and follow the advice below.
How you can increase your landing page experience?
Relevant, useful and original content
- Make sure your landing page is directly relevant to your ad text and keyword.
- It’s also important that your advert is using the highest relevant landing page (the final URL) and it using should take users to the page which they are looking for on your site.
- Provide useful information on your landing page about what you're advertising.
- Google advise brands to make sure they are letting customers know they are in the right place, they suggest using a clear, eye-catching headline that connects the ad the customer clicked on.
- Include information about your brand and why they should purchase from your site over competitors or why you provide a better service.
- Google also advise that you use high-quality photos of your product so that customers can easily see the product and make sure that they are greatly engaged.
- It is also important to use a strong call to action so your customers know what to do next. Making it easy for customers to find what they are looking and make a purchase.
- Try to offer useful features or content that are unique to your site.
- By providing users with content that they are looking for you are providing the user with a positive experience. Always remember that content is key.
Transparency and Trustworthiness
- Make it easy for visitors to find your contact information.
- By being transparent to your customers and sharing your information about your business you’re creating trust.
- If you request personal information from customers, make it clear why you're asking for it and what you'll do with it.
- By making them clear why you need their contact information they are more likely to give it to you trustingly.
- Distinguish sponsored links, like ads, from the rest of your site content.
- Users don’t like ads and you don’t want to annoy your customers with pop-ups or other features that interfere with their navigation on your site.
Ease of Navigation
- Don't make people hunt around for the information they might need.
- Google recommend keeping navigation to a minimum so customers can easily find important information.
- Make it quick and easy for people to order the product mentioned in your ad.
- Make sure that your page loads quickly. If your website takes time to load when someone clicks on it, they’re more likely to leave your website. Your landing page speed is important. If you’re concerned your page speed is causing your ‘below average’ score you can take a look at Page Speed Insights to find more information or measure the performance of your landing page here.
- Make sure people can easily find information to learn more about the advertised product.
- Keep important content above the fold so that customers can easily find what they are looking for. Preventing your customers from having to scroll down to find what they want.
We hope that you can clearly understand how your quality score is broken down and how you can go about improving it to increase your position. But if you’re still looking on how else you can improve your charity paid search account take a read of these 10 best paid search strategies for charities.