Yes, In Search Marketing Quality Does Matter

Competition can at times be a very frustrating thing, even though as entrepreneurs, we know competition is what makes it possible for us to take on the big guys and win. Competition is very evident when it comes to managing a sponsored search or pay-per-click campaign. How is it that companies that offer completely unrelated services than you, can appear in a higher position on the sponsored search results page? Is Google just that bad at matching the intent of the searcher with the proper results. No, more than likely, those other companies are forking over big dollars to be in a number one or number two position and it is situations like this that cause many consumers out there to say, “I never click on sponsored search ads because too many times they’re junk.” It’s too bad that if you have a lot of money, you can throw a bunch at the wall to see what sticks and end up garnering the highest position. This hurts all marketers that are trying to legitimately reach their target market. But….where’s the quality and how do you fight back?

I have received comments voicing these concerns enough times that I thought is was important to talk about it. For the purpose of this post, I’ll be referring specifically to Google, but some of these concepts apply to the other search properties as well. Google has a ranking metric that is aptly called a quality score and it is one of the most important criteria to determine both how much you will pay per click and which position your pay-per-click ad will appear, if at all. Craig Danuloff, in his post of April 27th says, “It turns out quality score is a big deal, one that you ignore at your own risk and expense.”

The key to a high quality score is “relevance.” Google’s lifeblood is their sponsored search revenue. If you as a searcher become frustrated with the results being presented to you from your search, and it happens enough times, you will more than likely find another search engine to default to, and all those Google stockholders who paid lots of dough for their shares see their earnings drop, not a good situation. So, as a matter of self preservation, Google created the quality score to measure relevancy and thereby, provide better sponsored search results for their searching clients.

The determination of your campaign’s quality score is really very simple: It is the relationship between the search terms or phrase used by the searcher; the text or copy of your sponsored ad; and the content of the landing page that the click takes them to. If there is a mismatch of any of these three, it will lower your quality score. Now I said that the determination of a quality score is simple, however there are subtle nuances that make a high quality score a bit elusive. The most important criteria, and this really makes sense, is the click-through rate or CTR. Your CTR is the ratio between the number of times your ad is shown (an impression) and the number of times it is clicked. The higher the CTR, the more that Google assumes your relevancy is high and awards you with a higher quality score. This score gives you a great opportunity to rid yourself of the frustration of your competitors because your ad can appear above theirs and you’ll be paying less. Besides the CTR, other quality score affecting factors are deceptive and unrelated landing pages, slow load times, and frequent, rapid clicks of the “back” button when someone clicks on your ad.

Attention to your quality score can save you money and can improve your position on the sponsored search results page relative to your competition. It requires a thorough understanding of the nuances of Google’s ranking criteria as well as the testing and retesting of ad copy, all skills that our clients hire us for.

What do you think? If you have any questions or comments, I can be reached at