More people are learning about the changes that came with the latest Google AdWords update.  One example that I think is a major one is the update combining Google AdWords with Google Local (also posted on DailySEOTip), but there are a few other changes that are visible.

One of the other changes that I haven’t touched on yet is the adding of the Google Merchant account details to AdWords ads.  This can actually add product listings into your Google AdWords ad.  Videos are also being seen inside ads, as well.

Images of all of these can be found in a post on Search Engine Land.  For a lot of people, the way to take advantage of these are very easy, and are very worthwhile.

Google AdWords has had an update recently, and it now appears you can actually advertise and have your address appear on Google Maps with your ad:

Example of AdWords on Google Maps

Example of AdWords on Google Maps

This involves having Google Local set up (also known as Local Business Center).  If you don’t know how to do this, you can check out my earlier post on putting your business on Google Maps.

Once you have a business account set up and associated with the same address you have on your AdWords account, you can get your ad to show up on Google Maps by editing your Campaign settings and then under Locations, open the “Show relevant addresses with your ads (advanced)” option.

AdWords Campaign Setup

AdWords Campaign Setup

Here the easy way to do it is to choose the first option, which is to select your Google Local Business Center account, which will put your address information into your ad and also put a matching blue “pushpin” on Google Maps for you.

The alternate choice you have (if you don’t have an associated Google Local account set up) is to put in the address and phone number manually, in the second option here.  This will also display this information with your ad.

Keep in mind, the only way this will work is if the keyword that is being searched on is relevant to the locality your address is in.  For example, a city name.  (Just the way Google Maps normally appears in search results.)  If your keywords match this type of query, then your address and phone number will appear with your ad, in addition to a little point on Google Maps.  And this is great news for anyone who does local advertising.

It looks like with the latest AdWords update, they’re starting to put any local advertisements in Google AdWords into Google Maps.  You can see images of some examples of that here, in Search Engine Land.

The ads appear almost the same as Google Local listings, only with blue numbered pushpins instead of red lettered pushpins.  I’ll most definitely have to look further into AdWords to see exactly how to take advantage of this new update.

When doing SEO, one of the most underutilized tools I know of is actually Google AdWords.  The benefits of how running an AdWords campaign can help SEO in various ways are numerous, and a lot of straight SEOs aren’t even aware of it.

Dave Davis of Redfly is a PPC pro, and he covers the crossover nicely in this post.

So Google made a few major updates this last weekend to AdWords.  I manage several different accounts, so I’ve seen first-hand what kind of impact this has had.

First of all, they updated the AdWords Editor – a great tool, by the way, I highly recommend it.  You can find it here: AdWords Editor.  But yeah, they made a few tweaks, in particular I noticed changes to the Campaigns tab.  You can now affect the ad schedule from here, location changes, so forth.  And if I remember right, the “Keyword Opportunities” option in the Keywords tab is new, as well.  It’s the Google machine offering suggestions on keywords that might be relevant to your ad group.

The other big change I saw was Quality Score.  The Quality Score on a lot of my keywords dropped.  In some cases, heavily.  Google is getting tighter when it comes to looking at relevance between keywords, ads, and landing pages.  In particular, the landing page.  The average QS used to be around 7, you had to be pretty far off to drop much below that.

Well now I’m seeing an average closer to 5, and only very relevant pages are getting 7 or higher.  A page has to be completely relevant and contain a lot of solid info (as well as be on a high quality site) to get a 9 or 10 now.

Not sure how this will affect advertisers, but it may be interesting to watch.  It does mean that I’ll have to be a lot more careful with the quality of pages I point my ads to.  I recommend you do the same.

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.

As you’ve probably noticed, there’s a link on the left of the main site pages that says “AdWords Qualified Individual”.  Yes, I’ve been certified by Google as AdWords Qualified.  So what does it mean?

Well, in order to get that fancy logo, it’s more than just a cut and paste of the image.  In actuality, if I did that and Google found out about it, I’d be in very big trouble.  Legal ramifications, I’m guessing.  But I had to earn it before I could put that logo up.  How do you go about earning your own fancy logo, to put where you would like?

The first step is to set up an AdWords “My Client Center”.  This is basically a super-user level in AdWords; it allows you to have multiple AdWords accounts underneath, run by separate entities.  What this means for me is that I can have my clients’ accounts set up either by them or myself, and then I can manage each one, while they are still in complete control of their account.  As an AdWords Client Manager, you have full access over the client’s account, to optimize to your (and their) heart’s content.  Don’t break any of Google’s rules, and you’ve completed step one.

Once this is set up, you then need to have at least one client (can be yourself) in your account and manage it for a minimum of 90 days.  During these 90 days you have to build and maintain at least $1000 total ad expense for your whole My Client Center account.

Now all of this establishes that you actually have some experience with AdWords, but it’s a little more than that.  The final step is to pass the Google Advertising Professional Exam.  And this isn’t exactly super easy – it takes about an hour and a half, and has over 100 questions in it.  To pass, you have to get at least 75%.  Plus it’s $50 for each try.  I’ll tell you now – if you don’t have a lot of experience with AdWords, it’s worth your time to study a bit before trying to pass this exam.

After all that’s been done and taken care of, you’re Qualified!  Then, as long as you maintain the requirements, you can stay that way.  The nice thing is that at this point, you can use their logo on your site (as long as you say specifically how many people are qualified), and you can use it to some degree on marketing products, including business cards.  That, and Google will set up a nice page for you, so you can show off your achievement.

I realize not everyone loves playing with AdWords as much as I do, but if it’s something you really like – I’d recommend aiming to get Qualified.  It’s a very good achievement to have, especially if you want to do pay per click advertising as a service.

At a start, Google AdWords looks like an advertising dream.  You put in your keywords, choose what you’re willing to pay per click, and then let the traffic come flooding in.  In reality, most people don’t know what they’re getting into; often not until it’s too late, and a lot of money has been spent.

One of most basic elements of AdWords that you need to be aware of is the different keyword matching options.  To begin, you need to make sure you have your ad groups broken into separate categories (so you can have targeted ads and keywords), but that’s a different topic.  For each ad group, you’ll want to have your keyword matching options carefully selected.

There are four different keywords matching options in Google AdWords: broad match, phrase match, exact match, and negative match.  They can all be used together, but don’t need to all be used.

The broad match is what the “default” option is.  If you enter a basic keyword or keyword phrase, it’s shown in your list as a broad match.  This means any match to any of the words in your keyword phrase will cue that keyword.  Your ad will show.  The search phrase can have the same words in a different order, the same order, or in some cases, even contain completely different words (based on what Google thinks the words are related to).  So if you’ve put in the phrase “buy dog food” (with no quotes), the search phrases “buy dog food”, “dog food buy”, “buy Alpo dog food”, and “where to buy dog food” will all trigger this keyword.

The phrase match is entered by using quotes.  So you put your keywords in with quotes around them, this is known as a phrase match.  It will only be triggered by searches that have that exact phrase in the search, uninterrupted.  If there’s an extra word in the middle, it won’t be cued.  So “buy dog food” will be triggered for the phrases “buy dog food” and “where to buy dog food”, but not “dog food buy” and “buy Alpo dog food”.

The exact match is entered using brackets.  You put your keywords inside brackets to look for exactly that keyword phrase, nothing more, nothing less.  For [buy dog food] in your keywords, only “buy dog food” in the search will trigger it.  “where to buy dog food”, “dog food buy”, and “buy Alpo dog food” will NOT be caught by that keyword.

And a negative match is done in one of two ways.  You can either put in your negative keyword with a negative sign in front of it, or else put it inside your Campaign’s negative keywords group.  Either way, a negative match works the same way as the other three – you can either have broad, phrase, or exact.  Just put a dash in front of them.  So if you entered -“buy dog food” (with quotes), any search with that phrase in it will NOT show your ad.  This is something that should be done often, especially if there are particular words you don’t want your ad showing for.  Common ones people tend to use are “free” and “crack” (the latter especially for software).

This is just a basic tutorial on PPC with Google’s AdWords, but they’re some of the most crucial details in making sure your own pay per click campaign is set up properly.