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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.

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.

Brad Callen is an SEO guru and a PPC guru (as well as one of my heroes).  He’s released a new product for Google AdWords.  It plugs into Firefox as a plugin and allows you to do a few things.

It works any time you do a Google search, and it affects the “Sponsored links” results.  One nice perk he’s put in is an option to show the destination URLs for the paid ads.  Now not everyone realizes this, but every time you click on one of these ads, the person/company who placed that ad has to pay a certain amount.  Hence the term “pay per click”.  The option he put in lets you check out their pages without making the advertiser pay.  This is just polite, but lets you learn from other marketers who may be bidding on your terms, when you can check their landing pages.

But the nice thing, the huge perk of this tool is a little “View Keywords” button underneath every ad.  When you click this, it displays every keyword that that advertiser is bidding on.  I’ll let that sink in a moment.  Yes, every keyword – this means that you can see all keywords that any one advertiser is bidding on.  You can use this information to add new keywords to your own PPC campaign, use those keywords to test out for conversions in a particular ad group.  There’s a good chance the keywords that experienced advertisers are bidding on are converting keywords, and you can learn quickly from this.

Yes, it’s a little sneaky.  You’re taking all the work that the other advertisers did to do their keyword research and learn what keywords convert, and you’re just jumping past all that work and getting a list of keywords.  But it’s legit – and there’s nothing illegal about it.

Brad’s decided to go ahead and give this tool away.  I’ll go ahead and forewarn you, he does do an upsell, but the basic functionality of the tool are all present in the free version.  If you have Firefox and do any PPC at all (or just want to see what kind of things PPC advertisers are bidding on), it may be something you want to check out.  The name of Brad’s new plugin is PPC Web Spy.

If you do check it out, let me know what you think, and if it gets you new conversions.  I already got it myself, and I’ll definitely be using it to try advancing my own AdWords campaigns.

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.