SEO Visual Blueprint 2nd Edition Preview – Chapter 12: Quality Score Optimization

In anticipation of the release of the second edition of “SEO Visual Blueprint” I’m happy to provide you with previews of each chapter. Scroll to the bottom of this review for easy links to each review.

Pre-order the 2nd edition HERE!

SEO Visual 2nd Edition - Kris Jones

OK….I admit – Chapter 11 was an introduction to Pay-Per-Click marketing – yes, it was basic and it was supposed to be. However, Chapter 12 is not basic and requires at least a moderate level of understanding of Pay-Per-Click and in particular how Google works.

The reason Google is the leading search-engine in the world by a large margin is simply because it’s better and it doesn’t compromise. By not compromising I mean Google stays focused on delivering the most relevant search results possible….

So…from a Pay-Per-Click perspective – how can you take advantage of Google’s discipline to gain higher PPC placement and pay less? How can you leverage what it is that Google does to improve the relevancy of search results, while gaining higher placement and spending less on a CPC basis?

Quality Score Optimization is a term that was coined during my days at Pepperjam. Former VP of Search Ken Mohn, COO Michael Jones, and I were constantly in search of (no pun intended) a fool proof approach to PPC that addressed Google’s increasingly complex PPC search algorithm, while allowing us to deliver maximum ROI for clients.

Since the early days of coining the term I’ve spoken on a dozen or so panels at major conferences (Search Engine Strategies, Ticket Summit, Affiliate Summit) discussing Quality Score Optimization or QSO for short. In fact, the term has caught on and many industry folk refer to QSO as if it was something that always existed. Not. :)

Regardless, here’s a quick crash course in QSO. If you were in the audience and I was speaking this is where I’d ask you to politely “Put on your seat belts….”

Chapter 12 – Quality Score Optimization

Quality score optimization, or QSO, is a set of strategies for improving quality score. Quality score is a principal ranking factor that search engines use to determine your relative ranking and pricing for a particular keyword listing. In today’s PPC advertising environment, the highest bidder does not always win. Instead, Google and other leading search engines rank Web sites based on numerous quality factors, and use your designated maximum cost per click as only one of many factors that determine whether you achieve a given keyword placement. The goal of QSO is to understand the factors that Google and others use to calculate quality score so that you can maintain PPC advertisements at the highest possible position and the lowest cost per click.

The primary factors that search engines consider for calculating quality score are click-through rate, ad group and campaign structure, ad copy, landing page quality, and keyword bid. Note that many of the quality score factors influence one another. For example, the quality of your ad copy almost certainly affects your click-through rates, and your ad group and campaign structure is likely to influence your perceived landing page quality.

Click-through rate refers to the percentage of times your ad was clicked compared to how many times it was shown. The higher your click-through rate is for any given keyword-ad combination, the higher quality the search engines are likely to rate your advertisement, and the lower the price you will have to pay for placement. One way of quickly improving your click-through rates is to remove keywords with low click-through rates from your ad groups. Another way to improve click-through rates is to write more appealing ad copy.

The structure of your ad groups and campaign can influence quality score. For example, ad groups that have large numbers of unrelated keywords are likely to have low-quality scores because the search engines conclude that your advertisements do not accurately reflect each keyword in your ad group. Similarly, the search engines might perceive campaigns that contain numerous unrelated ad groups as less relevant. Ad groups that contain keywords that are tightly related and include well-written ad copy tend to have higher-quality scores. Moreover, making sure that your campaigns are closely related is likely to improve your quality score.

Writing multiple advertisements and making sure that your ad copy is well written and appealing is one of the most effective ways to improve your quality score. As mentioned earlier, your ad copy must directly relate to the keywords in your ad group. One way of doing this is to use advanced methods that allow you to dynamically insert your target keyword into the advertisement.

Google and the other search engines allow you to test multiple advertisements. Therefore, you should submit numerous advertisements, making sure that you include enticing ad copy that contains the keywords you want to rank for. The search engines show each of the advertisements until one or more of the ads emerge with the highest click-through rate.

Landing page quality refers to the perceived value and relevancy of the page that you send your PPC traffic to. Landing page quality is so important that a low landing page score can be disastrous to your overall PPC advertising initiatives. In fact, if you have a poor landing page score you may be required to pay as much as 10 dollars per click for placement on a keyword, whereas another advertiser deemed to have a high landing page score pays only 35 cents for the same keyword placement. Some of the factors that affect your landing page score are the relatedness of your ad copy and landing page and whether the keyword you are bidding on is included on the landing page. Google also appears to take into consideration the PageRank of your Web site, as well as how many people link to the landing page in question.

Your keyword bid is the maximum that you are willing to pay for a click on a particular keyword or ad group of keywords. Your quality score directly and significantly affects the amount you pay for a given click. In general, the more you are willing to pay, the more likely your ad will appear. However, as an overall ranking factor, keyword bid is much less a primary indicator of position that it was in the past. The more effective you are in increasing your quality score based on the factors mentioned earlier, the less you have to pay per click and the higher your ranking is likely to be.

This approach to QSO is not exhaustive. Quality score is a very dynamic and complex algorithm and is likely to be tweaked and changed as Google and the other search engines constantly strive to improve search quality and make more money.

My next Chapter review will be for Chapter 12 – “Optimize for other Engines.” I’ll provide a step-by-step guide to optimizing for other engines such as Technorati, Delicious, Google Images, Google Product Search, and more!

Click any of the links below to read previews from previous chapters:

Chapter 1 – Intro to SEO
Chapter 2 – Keyword Generation
Chapter 3 – Creating Pages
Chapter 4 – Basic Web Site Structure
Chapter 5 – Advanced Web Site Structuring
Chapter 6: Creating Content
Chapter 7 – Creating Communities
Chapter 8 – Building Links
Chapter 9 – Using Google Analytics
Chapter 10 – Social Media Optimization
Chapter 11 – Creating Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Campaigns
Chapter 12 – Quality Score Optimization

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