As anyone who’s done any serious work with Google AdWords knows, Quality Score plays a major role in ad expense in AdWords. Understanding how it works and improving it can reduce your costs by major levels.

To start, what exactly is Quality Score?  Quality Score is a figure between 1 and 10 set by Google.  It’s set uniquely for each keyword in your AdWords account.  1 is very, very bad, and 10 is as good as it gets.

So how’s this number set and what effect does it have?  The exact way it’s set isn’t really known for sure, except by those who wrote the algorithm in Google.  But the basics of it are known.  By understanding exactly what goes into the score, you can then increase your QS (Quality Score) for any of your keywords.

The main part of the QS is based on the relevance the keyword has to the page that the ad in your ad group is sending the user to.  If you’re bidding on the keyword “dog food” and are sending them to a page about diesel engines, chances are your QS will be a 1 and you’ll have to pay at least $10/click.  Google likes relevance, because it makes visitors happier with what they’ve found.

So basically, the more relevant your landing page is to the keywords in that ad group, the higher your Quality Score will be.  Ideally, the keywords you’re bidding on actually appear somewhere on the landing page.  This will help a lot, but is not the only part of a good QS.

To get a solid QS, you need to also have a solid web SITE.  Not just the landing page, but it appears that the whole site has to meet certain needs.  I’ve actually talked directly to Google about this (through AdWords reps) to make sure of this – but there are a few things you want your site to have to get a good QS: A contact page, a privacy policy, and at least three pages of solid content.  The contact page means that there’s really someone there to talk to, that it’s not all automated.  This means, in Google’s eyes, a higher quality site.  The privacy policy is just to cover everyone’s butts and is just a good idea.  And the pages of content just shows that there is actual material on the site and it’s not a single page affiliate redirect for pure profit.

Google cares about the quality of the site – this is why the QS is called Quality Score.  So as long as you have a good, high quality site, and the page you’re sending the searcher to matches with what they’ve typed in, you can get very high QS’s.

On average, a basic QS will start at 7.  If you have the keywords you’re bidding on specifically mentioned on the page, this score begins to go up.  How this can affect cost is amazing.  I have some examples:

  • On one of my client’s AdWords campaigns I have an ad group with a mix of keywords.  In this ad group the lowest QS is 7.  The CPC for the keywords with the QS of 7 is ranged, but the higher costs are around $0.20-0.50.  I have several keywords in this ad group with a QS 10, and the highest CPC for ANY of these is… $0.01.  You can do the math on how much this can save.
  • On another client’s account I have an ad group with mixed keywords.  I’m paying a default of $0.30/click on these keywords.  For the keywords with a QS of 7, the average position is 3-3.5.  For the keywords I have the QS of 10 with, I’m paying no more, but the average position is 1.5.  This means I can drop my CPC for the QS 10 keywords and pay much less for the same position as the other keywords.
  • And for a third client who has an AdWords campaign with particularly pricey keywords, I have one ad group with a mix of keywords.  The keywords with a QS of 7 require a price of $1.50-2.50 per click to appear on the first page.  The keywords with a QS of 10 have a first page bid of $0.55-0.85.  This is about one third of the cost.

Now that you have an idea of what kind of impact a proper QS has, you should be motivated to make sure you’re sending searchers who type in certain keywords to the appropriate pages.

To check and see what the QS is for your keywords, you want to go in to customize your columns in your ad group.  In the new beta AdWords interface, you click on the button on the far right above your keywords inside of the ad group that’s labeled “Filters and views” and then click “Customize columns”.  Here you’ll activate the “Quality score” column and then arrange it to where you want it.

If you still are using the older AdWords interface, then when you’re inside the ad group, you click on the “Customize columns” text on the far right side, above the keywords.  Then click on “Show Quality Score”.  In this interface the QS column will show things like “Poor”, “OK”, or “Great”.  To get the exact figure for your QS, mouse over the icon with a magnifying glass and a triangle right by each keyword.  Then a display will come up giving you the exact figure of the QS for that word, as well as information about whether or not your ad is showing for that keyword, and why.

By properly breaking your keywords into appropriate ad groups, you can put up ads to send the visitors to appropriate pages.  This will help your conversions, reduce your cost by increasing your Quality Score, and also help you customize your ad copy appropriately to increase your CTR.  Trying to increase your QS is good for various reasons, but I’d highly recommend understanding all of this to improve your AdWords experience.

Page Rank is a vital part to any SEO done for a website.  Understanding how to increase Page Rank is a huge benefit to any SEOer, and can help make a difference between page 10 and page 1 on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

(For those that want to get picky, yes, Page Rank is actually spelled PageRank, but since a large number of people think of it as two separate words, I’ll refer to it that way in this post.)

To start – what is Page Rank?  Page Rank is not named because it’s associated with web pages, it’s actually named after one of Google’s founders, Larry Page.  The true ranking structure is something that isn’t fully available to anyone outside of Google, although you can install the Google Toolbar (for IE or Firefox) to see the Page Rank Google has publicly posted for any given web page.

So what is Page Rank?  Basically, it’s a score Google has given to a web page, between 0 and 10.  Higher is better.  It’s affected by a variety of things, although knowing how to increase Page Rank for your site will help much.  This is because Google tends to post higher Page Ranked sites higher on the SERPs, for the keywords that they are optimized for.  To Google, Page Rank is equivalent with a level of quality.  If a site has a high Page Rank, it is likely a high quality page.

To get an idea of this – most pages when they start begin with PR (Page Rank) 0.  From here, initially most sites are around 1, 2, or 3.  To reach PR 4 or above requires some qualifications, which I’ll detail in a moment.  Anything above PR 6 takes quite a bit to get to, and these are very well known, popular sites.  For some examples, these are how the following sites are currently ranked:

How do you increase Page Rank?  The primary means of increasing PR is determined by how Google scores PR: it’s all about who links to you.  This ties heavily, very heavily into basic SEO.  Off-page linking is how PR is built.

The basics of Page Rank come down to links.  It’s like a popularity contest – the more links to a given page, the more votes that are cast to this page, the higher a Page Rank that page is given.  The weight of each link is affected by the PR of the linking page.  This is where things start getting a little trickier to understand, but we’ll start with the basic formula.

PR = 0.15 + (0.85 * (PR of linking page / number of links on page))

This starts with 0.15, which is the lowest possible PR any given page can have.  If your page is crawled and has no links to it at all, that’s where you are.  The next bit of math takes 0.85 and multiplies it times the PR of the page linking to you divided by the total links from that page.  This does mean that the more links on the linking page, the more “washed out” the quality of link from the site is.  Getting a link from a page that only has three links is far better than from a page with 230 links.

Adding up multiple links into the equation makes it get quite messy, but you can see pretty clearly how getting a high quality link from a high PR site will jump your PR rather quickly.  Also realize that this equation applies to on-site linking, as well.  So by simply linking to your own pages from within your site will help your page rank.  Keep in mind that the more links you put, the less PR (the less “link juice” as it’s often termed) will be given the page being linked to.

To get to something like a PR 7 means you have to have many links, and many high quality links.  Good SEO requires finding quality relevant links, and increasing Page Rank is one reason for this.

So to increase Page Rank, you can start with doing quality on-site linking, and then from there start getting links from other pages to jump your PR further.  The higher PR the page linking to you, the higher PR you’ll get, and the better you’ll do in the search listings.

This is a question posed by various people – SEOs, internet marketers, online business owners, and even just people browsing the web: which search engine is best?

Well, this really comes down to depending on what your approach is.  If you are just browsing, it’s really a personal preference.  But if you’re in internet marketing, then it comes down to understanding the varieties of users who are using each.

To start, Google is still controlling the search engine market, with 64.2% of all searches in April (according to ComScore).  Yahoo is second with 20.4%, and Microsoft is third with 8.2%.

As most people know, the bulk of traffic can be gained through Google.  Doing SEO or AdWords can take advantage of this traffic.  It’s been seen through PPC marketing that Yahoo does not get quite the same traffic but does tend to get a higher percentage of conversions.  This varies based on market, but it’s worth noting.

So what this means for internet marketers is this – definitely use Google if you’re interested in traffic.  For SEO or PPC, it’d be good to start with a focus on Google, and follow up with adjustments for Yahoo (and with PPC, start advertising with Yahoo) after a set plan is set for Google.  Microsoft is really an extra option to take advantage of, but in some cases may not be worth too much extra time/effort unless the amount of traffic gained through them is notable.

Make sure to realize that it’s worth it to go beyond just looking at Google.  One fifth of all internet search engine users use Yahoo, so the numbers there speak for themselves.  Be sure to keep that in mind when focusing on your internet marketing endeavors.