The AdWords Quality Score – What Helps, What Hurts

Quality Score in AdWords determines how much you will pay for each click as well as where Google AdWords will show your ads on the page. It behooves every account manager and website owner to strive for the best Quality Score possible to control costs and improve exposure.

So what can you do to improve your own Quality Score?

1. First you need to find it and know what the number is. You can mouse over each keyword to bring up a speech bubble to see your quality score or you can add the Quality Score to your columns when on the keyword tab. You’ll find the Quality Score in the Attributes Section 3 choices down.

2. If your quality score is below 4, typically your cost per click will be impacted as well as your first page bid. Lower than that and Google may start to minimally serve your program. Get to 2 and 3 or lower and your keyword may get the “shown rarely due to Quality Score” notice – which means you may want to pause or delete that keyword.

3. I’ve seen situations where a on-target keyword gets a bad quality score and Google stops serving ads on that keyword. The steps to remediating this type of problem I’ll cover on Thursday so please check back. There are things you can do to try to get Google to show ads again, but it takes more time to solve those types of issues.

4. Here are a few of the relatively unknown facts about Quality Score.

  • Keyword stuffing on your landing page will not help you improve your quality score. Google determines Quality Score based on scoring of your entire website at one domain, not just based on one site page. So transparency and a privacy policy help your landing page/domain Quality Score.
  • Only the exact match variation of your keyword impacts the actual Quality Score. Broad Match and Phrase Match performance do not factor in to the ranking.
  • Keywords with zero impressions will not affect your quality score. Now, keywords with impressions and no clicks and therefore a low CTR will definitely impact your Quality Score.
  • Quality Score is not updated every day. Although your ability to participate in the AdWords auction is calculated with every search that matches phrases and words in your keyword list, be aware that landing page Quality Score and the first page bid are not recalculated. In fact landing page may only be update every month or so.

In conclusion, AdWords Quality Score is a very important factor of success on AdWords. I recommend keeping your keyword list small, don’t include any single words, and select the very best landing page for each keyword in your ad group.

Check back Thursday to find out how to fix a thorny Quality Score problem on a keyword you really like!


Why You Are Losing Placement to a Lower Quality Website on Google

I found this article last week that answers the top questions of:

  • How can I get organic placement. Someone has to be #1 on Google, why not me?
  • Why are other low quality sites placed ahead of mine in the search results?
  • I am doing everything right and still cannot place in the top 10 on

This article from Search MOZ is definitely worth your read and for those that learn visually there’s even a video.

Here are some of the better points from the video in a quick synopsis with my comments:

1. Just because you have more links, great keyword targeting, and terrific content does not assure that you will place higher than a competitor. The competitor may have more citations to their content, may have an authoritative domain (built over time), a better page experience, have a more compelling search snippet and therefore a higher click through rate garnering better Google search placement.

2. Look for your own weaknesses where the other site has strength. Do you have a poor snippet? (That is the meta description tag and meta title tag.) Is the title written in a way to encourage a search click? Does your page experience help of hinder your message?

3. Look at your brand and domain. Is your website ugly, brand indistinct? Brand bias and domain name maybe biasing your click potential. Start first by building or rebuilding your brand and improving your user page experience. Remember Google is watching your click through rate and the time spent  on your page as part of your site delivering value for a search query. Low numbers may mean that Google simply stops delivering your address in the search results based on past user experience.

4. Citations meaning not only links, but mentions, social shares are a key factor in Google placement. Are people talking about you positively? Are more people talking about you than someone else? Is there a variety of types of websites linking and talking about you? If Google is seeing negative comments, it may stop showing your results as users “vote” on your site by their own activity.

5. Acceleration rate of link growth may be important. If what you are talking about is timely and pertinent to your marketplace, you will grow links quicker. This is a great study for creation of free downloads, white papers and creation of timely content of great value. The key is to create memorable and sharable content.

6. Informational content may be an excellent way to garner more traffic. Just remember your content must have unique value that is different than others in order to place.

7. Local results that are delivered based on your reader’s location will be important. Keep in mind that Google may deliver a higher placement for your site for a search based in your own geographic area but not place your site well nationally. With geographic bias you’ll want to work to own your local market and then expand out.

8. Make sure you are addressing mobile device design. Google wants to return results for websites that load quickly and have a responsive design that caters to mobile, tablets as well as desktops. Remember, Google is looking to deliver the most relevant site that will deliver what the reader is looking for and is watching click-ins to your site. If someone clicks back to the search results page quickly (albeit bounce rate) after visiting your site, Google is thinking that your site may not be relevant for that query.

I definitely recommend watching the full video. The information is excellent and very instructive.


My Tips for Securing WordPress

My firm blogs for many clients and in the process we’re on blog sites more frequently than the blog owner. In some cases my team was the first to notify the client of a hack. Typically when a site is hacked, we cannot login to write or see the WordPress site when we go to gather links for a blog post.

To keep your WordPress blog or WordPress website from being hacked these are my tips for security.

1. Make sure you are using a secure password. Many times the client’s webmaster will send us our logins and the password is something like 123456. For security, I like passwords like this A&Ji3nGba*3!. Impossible to remember but really hard for a hacker to guess.

2. Secure your site from brute force login attempts. I like the WordPress plugin Login Lockdown. This plugin allows you to lock out intruders who are repeatedly trying to get in by blocking their IP address.

3. Monitor your core WordPress files. I really like this plugin. It monitors your core WordPress files and emails you when there have been changes and advises you what files have been changed. I cannot begin to tell you how easy this  makes fixing a hack attack by having an idea where to start.

4. Use an exploit monitor. I use the WordPress plugin called Exploit Scanner. We’ve found several deep hacks with roots in a parent website feeding into an on-domain blog this way. By scanning the WordPress files for explode and hidden elements we have been able to quickly identify a hack and work fast to remove it.

There is nothing worse for a website owner than to do a search for themselves on and find a note next to their site for users not to visit it due to malware or Google to turn off the links to their site.

These simple preventatives are what we suggest for every blog owner they are easy to install and require just  minimum of vigilance.


Part II The New SEO is De-Optimized SEO

This post is continued from Tuesday.

Once you’ve de-optimized your website in an effort to improve organic placement, where do you go from there?

My personal recommendations for site placement:

  • Get blogging at least twice a week using an on-domain blog
  • Get going with Google+ and post regularly at least once a day
  • Create a Google+ Community in your area of expertise and work to foster interaction
  • Start tweeting and work to engage specific followers strategically
  • Enhance the message back on your website make sure what and how you do it is clear
  • Create  a mobile friendly website or one that is mobile responsive
  • Regularly add new content to your website including downloads, special papers, and tip sheets

The new optimization is user-centric and moves to a stronger emphasis on what readers will want to know about you and your services in a sharable way. Great content is sharable content! That’s the new world of optimization for 2013.

If you need help with a new strategy consider our SEO evaluation program.


De-Optimization is the New SEO

To place organically on Google, you’ve now got to undo some of the things you may have done to get placement before. In other words, the new SEO is de-optimized SEO!

It’s time to undo these things if you have done them on your website:

  • strategic use of anchor text in internal links
  • titles in links
  • phrases using keywords in image alt descriptions
  • keywords used in H1 and H2 tags
  • bolded keywords in the content

It’s time to undo these things if you’ve done them on off-site properties:

  • sending out articles to newsletter/article sites
  • using anchor text in links that point back to your website
  • paying for a link on other websites
  • listing your business or website on link farm pages
  • writing press releases just for the sake of creating inbound links

The next post on Thursday will tell you what you should be doing now for your website in an effort to improve organic placement. Not sure what to do? Check out our SEO optimization consulting services and initial evaluation program.


The Value of a SEM Manager

Google has been adding new automation tools into AdWords with the supposition of making the program easier to use, but is it really? Although you can now automate many routine actions such as pausing keywords, enabling keywords, bidding up or bidding down by set criteria automation will never replace the efforts of a seasoned AdWords account manager who makes budget and strategy decisions.

Although automation tools can help to manage large accounts by its very nature there is no reality review done by automation tools that can respond to market changes, auction changes, and a varied marketplace. Although my firm does routinely use automation tools for AdWords account management, we routinely also check the results these tools provide to make sure that the settings are still working for an account. In fact, we will even sort data back 60 to 90 days to make sure that the automation has not run crazy damaging account performance.

Interestingly enough, we are doing a review right now using the Search Funnel reports for clients and are finding out that some keywords paused by automation actually were conversion assist or conversion impression assist keywords and should be re-enabled.

I have found automation is only as good as the account manager you have that sets the automation in place and then verifies and checks that the automation is working for your account.

I’d be glad to chat with you next week about your own AdWords account management needs if you feel that our services would be a match for you.