When starting a pay per click campaign, it’s important to get the best ad position possible. A higher ad position equates to a higher click through rate for a given search query. One common misconception is that you simply have to pay more per click to get the top position. Ad position is based on what Google calls “Ad Rank.” There are two factors that determine your Ad Rank; the amount you bid and your “Quality score.” Having a good quality score will allow you to maintain a higher Ad Rank for less money.

Google defines quality score as “a dynamic variable calculated for each of your keywords. It combines a variety of factors and measures how relevant your keyword is to your ad text and to a user’s search query.”

Here are 10 basic steps to improving quality score:

1. Generate a Relevant Keyword List

When you start your keyword research, focus on what you are trying to achieve with your Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. Don’t get mesmerized by driving lots of traffic to your site, without keeping in mind what actions you want people to take once they are at your site. If you have many different products or services, make a list of them and brainstorm how people might search for these things. It’s also good to ask someone else how they might search for these things. Then take that list and run it through Aaron Wall’s Keyword tool (http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/) or Google’s Keyword tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordTool). Make sure to pay attention to search terms that come up that are not related to what your are trying to accomplish and add them to a negative keyword list.

2. Separate Keywords into Groups by a certain Theme

Once you generate your master list, pay attention to themes that emerge. Separate the keywords by theme into different ad groups. Themes could be based on many different concepts such as product type, product attribute, geography, buying intent, sophistication level etc. As you create these groups, think about how the keywords are going to interact with the ad you will create. Also, if negative keywords apply to certain theme, make sure to add them to that group.

3. Create Relevant and Compelling Ads for Each Group

Once you create your ad groups, you’ll gain insight into who is searching, why they are searching and what they are searching for. Use that knowledge to create compelling and relevant ads. Another good tip is to utilize dynamic keyword insertion in your ads. Just make sure that your ad makes still makes sense and doesn’t seem automatically generated. Good keyword grouping coupled with compelling ads will result in big gains in click-through-rate, which is an important factor in quality score.

4. Split Test Your Ads

Even if you carefully write all of your ads, some will perform much better than others. It’s important to run two ads at the same time and monitor their performance. One thing you will want to do is make sure your ad serving setting is set to “Rotate: Show ads more evenly.” This ensures that google doesn’t distort your performance by serving up the better ads more often.

5. Make Your Landing Page Relevant

When you create your landing page, you want to make sure that your content is consistent with both your keywords and ad copy. Make sure that keywords are carried through to title tags, headers and body content. To double check your relevance enter the landing page url into google’s Keyword tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal). If the keywords they are suggesting don’t seem relevant, modify the page as needed.

6. Don’t Bait and Switch

Make sure to deliver on the content people expect to find. Even if your all of your keywords, ad copy and landing page content is relevant, if people don’t see what they thought they were getting, they will leave. A high bounce rate is another factor that will erode a high quality score.

7. Make it Clear and Easy

When people get to your landing page, the call to action should be blatantly obvious and easy to carry out. Don’t get carried away with a lot of text or fancy graphics. People don’t typically read text on the web, they scan it. A graphics intensive page will slow down load times and people will leave your site.

8. Split Test Landing Pages

It’s important to experiment with content, layout and appearance on your landing pages. Small changes can have a huge impact on conversion and you don’t want to loose potential customers at this stage. If you are running a large campaign, you will want to make sure that you isolate your changes so that you know what impact particular changes have on performance.

9. Don’t Allow Bad Performance

After you have conclusive data, make sure that you correct the things that are a dragging down performance. Poor performance will negatively effect future quality score so it’s important to identify the weak links in your campaign and take corrective action quickly.

10. Constantly Monitor

Pay per click advertising isn’t a passive activity. It is very important to implement analytics and keep an eye on your campaign performance. Getting in the habit of monitoring key metrics will help identify problem areas quickly. Continuous improvement will improve your quality score, lower your campaign costs and increase conversions.

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