If you’ve ever had the help of an official Google Adwords Account Specialist then you’d know they are primarily focused on improving your Quality Score. A lot of the support documentation from Google also drills in the importance of having a high quality score. This focus is misguided and can lead to unprofitable campaigns.
Don’t fall into the Quality Score trap.
If you aren’t familiar with Quality Score (QS) then it’s basically a rating from 0 to 10 on how relevant and likely your ad is to solving the searcher’s query. It factors in your keyword’s relevance, the ads relevance, the landing page experience, and the click-through-rate (CTR). Google doesn’t share the formula but the most important element is the CTR – the higher the CTR the higher the QS.
So why does the QS matter? Well the QS is used to determine your final Ad Rank and how much you have to pay to compete in the auction. If your competitor has a higher QS than you then they can bid less to win that auction, making it more expensive for you to outrank them for ad positioning.
Higher CTR = Higher Quality Score = Lower Cost Per Click (CPC).
Awesome. Many people see this (and Google Account Specialists encourage this) and come to the conclusion that we must do whatever we can to increase the CTR so the CPC stays low.
This mindset it wrong. Your primary goal from your Adwords campaign should be to get leads and sales at a price that is profitable. Getting any traffic for the sake of a cheaper CPC is a false economy.
Let’s look at some hypothetical numbers to see why this doesn’t work. Let’s say you have an Ad Group setup with an average QS of 10 that is costing you only $1/click; the Ad Group has a conversion rate of 1%. That’s a cost per conversion of $100.
You pause that Ad Group and make a new one which ends up with a QS of only 3…this is now say costing you $3/click but it has a conversion rate of 5%. That’s a cost per conversion of $60.
Even though the second ad group was 3x more expensive per click, the increase in conversion rate was significant making it cheaper at the end of the day. The QS of the 2nd ad group was so low because the keywords were more refined towards quality traffic and the ad was used to filter out people who weren’t likely to buy or become a lead. It talked to the ideal customer only.
You’ll find a lot of advice on how to improve the copy in your ads to increase CTR but at the same time you don’t want to trick people to look at an offer they’re unlikely to commit to. Price is one of the biggest hurdles in the sales process and can be a great way to keep someone looking for a $100 solution from clicking on your ad for a $500 solution. Not mentioning the price in the ad will likely lead to a higher CTR, higher QS and reduced CPC. If you believe your sales funnel can convince that person to go for a more expensive option then that’s great, but I would also recommend running another ad in parallel that highlights the premium price in the ad – along with other benefits – so you only have customers looking for the premium product clicking on the ad. You can then compare the cost-per-conversion and total sales for each ad and move ahead from there.
The ad is the best place to keep bad traffic from clicking through to your site so keep it honest, to the point, and try and just talk to your most likely customers. They may not get the traffic of some of the click-bait styles and your quality score will suffer but conversions are the thing to worry about. There are better ways to improve your CTR and QS: primarily by refining your keywords, and negatives.