When buying traditional advertising the marketer knows exactly what the cost is and where/when the ad will be seen. That makes using Google paid search (SEM) a challenge for some, because you don’t know when the ad will show or exactly what it will cost. The reason for the price variance is due to Google Quality Scores and Ad Rank. Google Quality Score and your landing page are directly related. The good news is that Quality Score is easily improved.
What Is Google Quality Score
Google is in the business of giving people what they want. When a person uses the search engine and has a good experience they leave happy. On the next search they gladly return to Google. A good user experience creates repeat customers, and that earns Google lots of money. Google uses Quality Score to determine how they think a visitor will like the landing page.
It is important to know that Google says Quality Score does not impact the cost per click. Instead, Ad Rank is what impacts the price. Quality Score is determined by keywords, ads and Landing Page experience. Ad Rank does take into account those three factors but according to Google:
Ad Rank is calculated using your bid amount, your auction-time ad quality (including expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience), the Ad Rank thresholds, the competitiveness of an auction, the context of the person’s search (for example, the person’s location, device, time of the search, the nature of the search terms, the other ads and search results that show on the page, and other user signals and attributes), and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.
The important thing to understand is that all three elements of Quality Score also impact Ad Rank. Improve your Quality Score and usually your ad rank improves, decreasing your cost-per-click.
You can check your Quality Score on a Google Ads account in “columns”. Google uses a scale of 1-10, with “10” being the highest score. This is your barometer for improvement.
Page Load Speed
What are the steps for improving a landing page experience? Start with your page load speed. When a user clicks on an ad and the page does not load quickly, the user experience is impacted. If the wait is too long the prospect bounces. At three seconds of load speed 53% of visitors leave. Not only does this damage your quality score but your prospect will probably go to a competitor.
Write relevant content. Your landing page should be an extension of your ad. This page is a more robust version of your ad. If possible, match the headline of your landing page with the headline of your ad. If you have a call-to-action, make it clear. Do not send visitors to your home page or anywhere not specifically designed for your ad. If you force visitors to hunt for what was advertised, they probably won’t.
The content should also be useful. Do not use industry jargon. Keep the technical language and level of reading comprehension attainable. The information should be organized so that it is easily skimmable, allowing the reader to find what they want quickly. Use infographics where possible. And if you have a form, keep the requested fields to a minimum.
Design For Readers
Design your landing page with the visitor in mind. Put your logo in the top left corner of the page so the visitor and Google know who you are. Guide the viewer to the CTA. Reduce links to other pages so the reader is not easily distracted. Make the headline bold and easy to read. Utilize bullet points and graphics so information is quickly digested. Use popular layouts. Creating new layout styles can confuse readers, making them uncomfortable.
Lastly, make your page trustworthy. By clearly displaying your company name and logo you are declaring you have nothing to hide. Include social proof, either testimonials or reviews from satisfied customers. Display badges from trusted partners or awards won.
Your Quality Score is an important component in increasing your advertising efficiency. All three segments, keywords, ads and landing page are controlled by the advertiser. In other words, you can improve all of them. And, while Google claims Quality Score does not impact cost-per-clicks it is rare that a substantial improvement in your Quality Score does not lower CPC. Your Google Quality Score and your landing page are directly related.