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AdWords Quality Score: What marketers need to know

As a digital marketer, it’s useful to have all kinds of knowledge in your skills toolkit. At any given time, we’re asked to create a social media graphic, respond politely to an irritated customer and source content for next week’s posts. Learning about paid ads and how they work is yet another skillset that can help you expand your expertise as a marketer.

You might already know about social media ads and how to optimize them. But how familiar are you with Google Ads and AdWords? Before social media ads were an option, Google was already dominating the digital ad game with AdWords. In July 2018, Google changed the name of Google AdWords to Google Ads. Since then, they’ve made some major improvements to the ad experience but the core concept of AdWords remain the same.

A key element of Google Ads is the Quality Score, or “an estimate of the quality of your ads and the landing pages triggered by them.” In this article, we’ll cover the basics of what the Quality Score is, what determines it, and how to improve Quality Score.

What is Google Ads Quality Score

Have you ever searched for something and the results were exactly what you were looking for? It doesn’t always happen but when the ads are right on target, it saves you a lot of time clicking around.

With a search of “custom mugs bulk,” these four ads showed up with the phrase sprinkled around the ads. Someone searching for custom mugs is likely to click one of these sites. These ads likely had high Quality Scores.
The AdWords Quality Score is a keyword-level score on a 1–10 scale. Every keyword in your Google Ads account is assigned a Quality Score. A Quality Score of 8–10 is considered very good. If you are creating new campaigns and groups, know that you need to reach a certain threshold of impressions and clicks to have a Quality Score. In these cases, you’ll see a “—” where a number usually is.
To find your Quality Score, navigate to your Google Ads account. Head to your keywords report. If you don’t see a Quality Score column, go to the upper right corner of the table and modify your columns. In the quality score section, you’ll be able to add any of the below to your table:
Quality Score
Landing Page Exper.
Exp. CTR
Ad Relevance
The below historical data is available if you segment by day:
Quality Score (hist.)
Landing Page Exper. (hist.)
Ad Relevance (hist.)
Exp. CTR (hist.)
Now you’ll be able to see what each keyword’s score is.
Why is the Quality Score important?
Your Google Ads Quality Score is important because good scores positively influence your Ad Rank and lower your cost per click (CPC). The better your Quality Score, the less you’ll pay and the higher you’ll show up in search results. Instead of increasing an ad budget, focus first on determining if your Quality Score needs improvement.
In 2018, digital agency Merkle reported that CPCs were increasing faster than click volume.

This means that you might still need to pay more for your Google Ads but you still shouldn’t discount the effect that a good Quality Score has on them. Plus, a good Quality Score indicates a high degree of user-relevant optimization, which translates into a strong user experience overall. Learning to keep the key factors influencing Quality Score in mind when creating ads can also help you tackle similar ad rating metrics like Facebook’s Relevance Score.

Over time, the Quality Score affects how your ads perform. When you improve on the Quality Scores, your ads show up higher, the cost per click goes down and the cycle repeats.

Quality Score factors: What are they & how to improve them

There are three factors that determine your Quality Score: expected clickthrough rate (CTR), ad relevance and landing page experience. The same keywords with different ad groups will have different Quality Scores because the groups likely differ in the ad creative, landing page and demographic targeting.

Expected CTR

Your Expected CTR is how Google thinks your keyword will perform. Once your ad goes live and into auction (when someone searches the keyword to prompt your ad in their results), the CTR adjusts. CTR is given three statuses: above average, average and below average.

To improve your CTR from a “below average” status, you should look at your ad copy. Do the keywords match the ads? Is what’s displayed intriguing or is it just a mess of keywords that don’t actually translate to clear copy?

The best way to approach ad copywriting is to look at it from your ideal customer’s perspective. You want to display an ad that is natural to how your customer would search for it.

For example, let’s say you’re searching for “where to buy moving boxes.” It shows some sponsored shopping results and the first ad after that is from a reusable moving box company. The headline “Moving? Don’t Buy Moving Boxes” is natural to read and eye-catching. Skimming the content below shows some benefits and the pricing is clear without ever leaving the ad.
Ad Relevance
Ad Relevance is how related your keyword is to your ad. It’s given three statuses like CTR: above average, average and below average.
To improve your ad relevance score from below average, you’ll want to examine your keywords’ match to the ad and/or see if your ad group has too many different topics. An ad for “black walking shoes” should have relevant keywords like “walking shoes” and “comfortable shoes.” It shouldn’t have keywords like “black boots.” Target the customer’s actual intention or use case – a person shopping for walking shoes isn’t likely to also be interested in boots at that moment, even if they are related categories in your site structure.
The above example illustrated by CXL Institute displays a group of seemingly related keywords that all trigger a single ad for dresses. Someone searching for one of these highly specific variations, like a black dress, won’t click on the ad because it looks like a general display page instead of a page full of black dresses.

To fix this, create groups that are more tightly knit in keywords. Some marketers advocate for single keyword ad groups that give them a great deal of control over the specificity of each ad. Test out what works best for you.

Landing Page Experience

Google wants you to create unique and interesting websites, and it wants the user to have a good experience with the site. If they don’t or you don’t deliver on what they’re searching for, they’ll quickly bounce. Like the other factors, the landing page experience has three statuses: above average, average and below average.

To improve your landing page experience status, there are different areas you can explore. Unless your existing page is an exact match to the search result, it’s best to create landing pages that display what people are searching for.

In the previous example of dresses, if someone were searching for a “short green dress,” it would be best to have the landing page be a highly filtered selection of only short green dresses. Alternatively, someone searching for “Homecoming dresses” probably wants to see the broader product category result page of semi-formal dresses.

If your landing page matches the keyword but the status is still below average, examine your site’s user experience. This includes items like your site speed, landing page load time, the mobile experience, navigation and ease of use. Is it easy to shop? Are the products easily viewable?

Finally, take a look at the copy and images on the page. Is what you advertised what the customer is receiving? Do they need to scroll to find the information or is it clearly displayed? The fewer actions that someone needs to take to reach their search goal, the better the site experience.

In this example, the search result of “print photo cards” has two ads. The top ad mentions photo cards and provides a link directly to create your custom photo card. And indeed, clicking on the link leads to a number of different types of photo cards you can create.
The landing page experience factor does have a lot of components in it, which may make it trickier to improve in status. It’s best to tackle one part at a time. Generally, you do want website visitors to have a good experience in terms of the content of the page, and elements like site speed and load times are important to consider for your overall site health as well as improving your landing page experiences status.
If you’re just starting out on Google Ads, don’t fret. It’s been around for a long time so there are plenty of resources out there. The AdWords Quality Score is where you can start learning about keywords, relevancy and landing pages. Working on the Quality Score helps put your mind in the place of your customer, which in turn leads to you being a better marketer overall.workflow for increasing quality score
If you do get stuck on where to start on the Quality Score, check out the flowchart above. Keyword research and writing may also lead to improvements in social media ad writing and planning your company’s content. If you know what people are searching for to find you, you’ll be able to change up keywords on your website to have this organically show up higher in search results. Keyword searches will also give you insight into what your customer wants. Maybe they want a whitepaper or a certain product. If so, you can create and optimize your landing pages for them.

Learning about AdWords Quality Score is just another skill to take on for the modern marketer. Like many marketing skills, there’s no one quick fix for Quality Score, and improving yours will take experimentation and refinement. Let us know how you’ve tackled improving the scores on your paid ads in the comments!

This post AdWords Quality Score: What marketers need to know originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild

Hey, friend, have you heard the good news about podcasts? 

Given the most recent stats, it’s highly likely you have. Over half of all Americans over 12 years of age have listened to at least one. Podcasts have well and truly hit the mainstream. In other words, the gold rush is on for brands looking to connect with a highly-engaged, long-attention-span audience.

However, getting a podcast up and running isn’t as simple as publishing a blog. We recently published an entire B2B podcasting webinar to walk you through the entire process, from conception to publication. This post will zero in on the choices you need to make and the steps you need to take to release your podcast into the wild.

B2B Podcasting Launch Checklist: 10 Steps

Sure, you could just upload your audio to your web server, add an RSS feed, and call it good. But if you want people to actually find and listen to your podcast, there are a few extra steps you should take. This checklist will help your podcast find an audience and start building a subscriber base.


#1: Choose Your Hosting Platform

A podcast syndication platform makes it easy to publish your podcast and get listed in directories. Think of it like WordPress is for your blog — it hosts the files, makes them look pretty, and makes it so people can find them.

Most platforms will also give you embed codes for embedding episodes in blog posts or on a landing page. You’ll also get stats on how many people are downloading episodes, and on what program they’re listening.

We prefer Libsyn as our hosting platform. Podbean, buzzsprout, and Blubrry are also solid options. They all have a free tier of hosting, but you’ll want to pay a few bucks a month for bandwidth and analytics.

#2: Upload Your First Three Episodes

Podcasting is all about establishing a regular cadence (more on that later). But for launch, you’ll want to have at least three episodes ready to go. There are a few reasons for publishing multiple episodes for your debut:

  1. One episode may not be enough to convince people to subscribe. 
  2. Multiple episodes show you’re committed to keeping the content coming.
  3. Most importantly, Apple podcasts requires at least three episodes to qualify for their “New and Noteworthy” section. 

So before you publish, have at least three episodes completed, and be ready to follow up with more at your promised publishing cadence.

#3:  Register with Podcast Directories

Podcasts are peculiar in terms of content delivery. Your hosting platform makes the files available, but most people will listen to your podcast on their chosen podcast app. Each app maintains its own directory — think of it as a search engine for podcasts. 

Your podcast needs to be listed in their directory, or people won’t be able to find you. I recommend registering with at least these six:

  1. Apple Podcasts
  2. Google Podcasts
  3. Stitcher
  4. Podbean
  5. Spotify
  6. TuneIn

Each of these sites will ask for the RSS feed of your podcast, which your hosting platform will generate for you.

I created a podcast tracker to keep track of all these directories — sign up for the webinar and you can download it for free.

B2B Podcast Tracker

#4: Promote Internally

Gaining visibility on a podcast directory is tricky business. Apple and Google are where the majority of your listeners will be, and each employs an algorithm to promote podcasts in search results and feature pages.

How do you get an algorithm’s attention? Engagement! Start by promoting your podcast to all of your employees. Encourage them to subscribe on Apple or Google, give a rating, and write a brief (and honest) review. What’s more, draft some social messages and encourage everyone to promote the podcast to their networks, too.

That base level of initial engagement will help your podcast start finding its audience.

#5: Activate Your Influencers

Most podcasts are Q&A-style interviews with influential guests. If your podcast includes influencers in your industry, make sure they know as soon as their episode goes live. Give them the tools to promote the podcast easily:

  • Sample social messages
  • Social media images in the correct sizes
  • Embed codes

If your podcast doesn’t feature influencers, it’s worth re-evaluating your strategy for your next season. Influencer content not only is more valuable to your audience, it’s an indispensable channel for promotion.

#6: Publish Blog Posts

The one downside of audio content: It’s not super crawlable for SEO purposes. Granted, Google has started to auto-transcribe episodes and add them to search results, but the technology is still in the early stages.

To truly get some SEO juice from your podcast, we recommend embedding each podcast in a blog post. This example from the Tech Unknown Podcast by SAP* shows how simple it can be. All you need is an introduction, a few pull quotes, some key takeaways, and a transcript.

#7: Add Paid Promotion

As with any content, you want to use every tactic available to make sure it gets seen by your target audience. That’s especially true with podcasts, since podcast search engines are incredibly competitive.

Targeted, paid social promotion can help establish your subscriber base and get your new podcast some much-needed visibility.

It’s also worth considering cross-promotion on other podcasts. Consider both paid advertising and trading guest spots with a podcast that shares your target audience. 

#8: Solicit Listener Feedback

Ratings and reviews are essential to your podcast’s success. They’ll help provide social proof for new listeners and boost your search visibility in podcast directories. 

The best way to get ratings and reviews? Ask for them. Make it part of each episode’s sign-off. You can even encourage thoughtful reviews by reading the best ones on future episodes. You will engage your listeners and solicit more reviews at the same time.

#9: Keep Up Your Cadence

As with blog content, there’s no single “right” frequency to publish a podcast. Some of my favorite podcasts publish weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. The best cadence for your podcast is “However frequently you can reliably, regularly publish quality content.”

Choose your cadence with an eye to long-term sustainability, and tell your listeners explicitly how frequently you’ll publish. Whether it’s “See you next week,” or “PodcastTitle is a monthly podcast that…” listeners will find it easier to make your podcast a habit if you stick to a schedule.

#10: Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

In my last post on the content marketing benefits of B2B podcasting, I mentioned that podcasts are a content machine, and I’ll say it again. It’s easy to finish an episode, publish it, then forget it and move on to the next thing. But don’t do that! 

Pull snippets of audio content for social media. Turn them into short videos, too: Add a still image or a simple looping GIF for visual interest.

Use your transcriptions as fodder for future blog posts, quotes for influencer marketing, or even a stand-alone asset. 

Any way you can reuse that content can help bring more listeners to your podcast. What’s more, putting the content in a different medium can reach an audience who might not be into podcasts (yet). 

Check, Check, One Two

Launching a podcast is a little trickier than launching a new blog, especially if you’re new to the format. But if you follow this checklist, you can make sure your podcast is available on all the right channels and is ready to start attracting an audience.

Need more podcasting help? Check out our B2B Podcasting Webinar. In addition to learning the Four P’s of podcasting success, you’ll see me make this face:

B2B Podcasting Face

*Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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