Is it me or has the PPC space become incredibly crowded?

Quick Answer: It’s Not Me!

Based on an admittedly less than scientific study I’ve done, just about every “mainstream” search term generates on average 10 PPC ads, a goodly number of Google Shopping images and around 5-7 Google+Business listings.

Standing out amongst all this clutter is not easy even if you are using best practices which includes a high degree of relevancy between the keyword phrased searched upon and your ad, a great UPS (Unique Selling Position), and a strong call to action – especially if most of your competitors are following these same best practices. In cases like this ad position can become the determine factor on whether your ad gets clicked or not.

Having strong Quality Scores helps determine ad position as well as how much you pay for that position.

Believe it or not Quality Score was not always part of the AdWords PPC-iverse. QS was actually introduced back in 2008 (which is Mesozoic in internet time) and was implemented as a way for Google to ensure that searchers would only see the most relevant paid search query results.

At its most basic level, the lower your Quality Score the higher your click cost.

Quality Score is automatically calculated every time your keyword matches a customer’s search. A high Quality Score means that your ad, keyword, and landing page – in Google’s “opinion” appear to form a strong chain of relevancy. That is, the keyword is relevant to the ad copy and both keyword and ad copy are relevant to your landing page. The more relevant your ads and landing pages are to the user, the higher your Quality Score. Some of the factors that Google uses to determine relevancy are expected click-through rates, ad relevance, and landing page experience – with landing page experience based in part on bounce rate, conversions, and visit duration.

A good way to find out what Google thinks of your keyword+adcopy+landing page is to click the Ad disapproval bubble next to any keyword’s status to see details about that keyword’s Quality Score. You’ll be able to see ratings for expected click through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience.

Google uses the below factors to determine QS:

  • Your keyword’s expected clickthrough rate (CTR): The expected CTR is based in part on the keyword’s past CTR, or how often that keyword led to clicks on your ad.
  • Your display URL’s past CTR: How often you received clicks with your display URL.
  • Your account history: The overall CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account.
  • The quality of your landing page: How relevant, transparent, and easy-to-navigate your page is.
  • Your keyword/ad relevance: How relevant your keyword is to your ads.
  • Your keyword/search relevance: How relevant your keyword is to what a customer searches for.
  • Geographic performance: How successful your account has been in the regions you’re targeting.
  • Your ad’s performance on a site: How well your ad’s been doing on this and similar sites (if you’re targeting the Display Network).
  • Your targeted devices: How well your ads have been performing on different types of devices, like desktops/laptops, mobile devices, and tablets – you get different Quality Scores for different types of devices.
  • Quality Score affects you in the following ways:

  • Ad auction eligibility: Higher Quality Scores make it easier and cheaper for a keyword to enter the ad auction.
  • Your keyword’s actual cost-per-click (CPC): Higher Quality Scores lead to lower CPCs. That means you pay less per click when your keyword has a higher Quality Score.
  • Your keyword’s first page bid estimate: Higher Quality Scores lead to lower first page bid estimates. That means it’s easier for your ad to show on the first page of search results when your keyword has a higher Quality Score.
  • Your keyword’s top of page bid estimate: Higher Quality Scores lead to lower top of page bid estimates. That means it’s easier for your ad to show towards the top of the page when your keyword has a higher Quality Score.
  • Ad position: Higher Quality Scores lead to higher ad positions. That means your ad can show up higher on the page when your keyword has a higher Quality Score.
  • Eligibility for ad extensions and other ad formats: Some ad formats require a minimum Quality Score to show. In addition, your Ad Rank determines whether or not your ad is eligible to be displayed with ad extensions and other ad formats, such as sitelinks. Because Ad Rank is a function of your Quality Score, a higher Quality Score can increase the likelihood that your ad is displayed with extensions and other formats.