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Hanapin’s PPC Experts Share How to Boost Your AdWords Quality Score with Landing Pages

It’s happened to the best of us. You return from lunch, pull up your AdWords account, and hover over a keyword only to realize you have a Quality Score of just three (ooof). You scan a few more keywords, and realize some others are sitting at fours, and you’ve even got a few sad twos.

Low Quality Scores like this are a huge red flag because they mean you’re likely paying through the nose for a given keyword without the guarantee of a great ad position. Moreover, you can’t necessarily bid your way into the top spot by increasing your budget.

You ultimately want to see healthy Quality Scores of around seven or above, because a good Quality Score can boost your Ad Rank, your resulting Search Impression Share, and will help your ads get served up more often.

To ensure your ads appear in top positions whenever relevant queries come up, today we’re sharing sage advice from PPC experts Jeff Baum and Diane Anselmo from Hanapin Marketing. During Marketing Optimization Week, they spoke to three things you can do with your landing pages today to increase your Quality Score, improve your Ad Rank, and pay less to advertise overall.

But first…

What is Quality Score (and why is it such a big deal?)

Direct from Google, Quality Score is an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. Higher quality ad experiences can lead to lower prices and better ad positions.

You may remember a time when Quality Score didn’t even exist, but it was introduced as a way for you to understand if you were serving up the best experiences possible. Upping your score per keyword (especially your most important ones) is important because it determines your Ad Rank in a major way:

Cost Per Click x Quality Score = Ad Rank

To achieve Quality Scores of seven and above you’ll need to consider three factors. We’re talkin’: relevancy, load time, and ease of navigation, which are consequently the very things Diane and Jeff say to focus on with your landing pages.

Below are the three actions Hanapin’s dynamic duo suggest you take to get the Ad Rank you deserve.

Where can you see AdWords Quality Score regularly?
If you’re not already keeping a close eye on this, simply navigate to Keywords and modify by adding the Quality Score column. Alternatively, you can hover over individual keywords to view case-by-case.

Tip 1) Convey the Exact Same Message From Ad to Landing Page

One of the perks of building custom landing pages fast, is the ability to carry through the exact same details from your ads to your landing pages. A consistent message between the two is key because it helps visitors recognize they’ve landed in the right place, and assures someone they’re on the right path to the outcome they searched for.

Here’s an ad to landing page combo Diane shared with us as an example:

Cool, 500 business cards for $8.50—got it. But when we click through to the landing page (which happens to be the brand’s homepage…)

  • The phone number from the ad doesn’t match the top of the page where we’ve landed.
  • The price in the ad headline doesn’t match the website’s headline exactly ($8.50 appears further down on the page, but could cause confusion).
  • While the ad’s CTA is to “order now”, the page we land on has tons to click on and offers up “Free Sample Kit” vs. an easy “Order Now’ option to match the ad. Someone may bounce quickly because of the amount of options presented.

As Jeff told us, the lesson here is that congruence builds trust. If you do everything to make sure your ads and landing pages are in sync, you’ll really benefit and likely see your Quality Score rise over time.

In a second example, we see strong message match play out really well for Vistaprint, wherein this is the ad:

And all of the ad’s details make it through to the subsequent landing page:

Improve your AdWords Quality Score with landing pages like Vistaprint's here.

In this case:

  • The price matches in the prominent sub-headline
  • The phone number matches the ad
  • Stocks, shapes and finishes are mentioned prominently on the landing page after they’re seen in the ad
  • The landing page conveys the steps involved in “getting started” (the CTA that appears most prominently).

Overall, the expectations are set up in the ad and fulfilled in the landing page, which is often a sign this advertiser is ideally paying less in the long run.

Remember: Google doesn’t tell you precisely what to fix.
As Jeff mentioned in Hanapin’s MOW talk, Google gives you a score, but doesn’t tell you exactly what to do to improve it. Luckily, we can help with reco’s around page speed, CTAs and more. Run your landing page through our Landing Page Analyzer to get solid recommendations for improving your landing pages.

Tip 2) Speed up your landing page’s load time

If you’re hit with a slow-loading page, you bounce quickly, and the same goes for prospects clicking through on your ads.

In fact, in an account Jeff was working on at Hanapin over the summer, in just one month they saw performance tank dramatically because of site speed. Noticing that most of the conversion drop off came from mobile, they quickly learned desktop visitors had a higher tolerance for slower load times, but they lost a ton of mobile prospects (from both form and phone) because of the lag.

Jeff recalls:

“we saw our ad click costs were going up, because our Quality Score was dropping due to the deficiency in site speed”.

Your landing page size (impacted by the images on your page) tends to slow load time, and—as we’ve seen with the Unbounce Landing Page Analyzer—82.2% of marketers have at least one image on their landing page that requires compression to speed things up.

As Jeff and Diane shared, you can check your page’s speed via Google’s free tool, Page Speed Insights and get their tips to improve. Furthermore, if you want to instantly get compressed versions of your images to swap out for a quick speed fix, you can also run your page through the Unbounce Landing Page Analyzer.

Pictured above: the downloadable images you can get via the Analyzer to improve your page speed and performance.

Tip 3) Ensure your landing page is easy to navigate

Using Diane’s analogy, you can think of a visit to your landing page like it’s a brick and mortar store. In other words, it’s the difference between arriving in a Nike store during Black Friday, and the same store any other time of the year. The former is a complete mess, and the latter is super organized.

Similarly, if your landing page experience is cluttered and visitors have to be patient to find what they’re looking for, you’ll see a higher bounce rate, which Google takes as a signal your landing page experience isn’t meeting needs.

Instead, you’ll want a clear information hierarchy. Meaning you cover need-to-know information quickly in a logical order, and your visitor can simply reach out and grab what they need as a next step. The difference is the visitor being able to get in and check out in a matter of minutes with what they wanted.

This seems easy, but as Diane says,

“Sometimes when thinking about designing sites, there’s so much we want people to do that we don’t realize that people need to be given information in steps. Do this first, then do that…”

As Jeff suggested, with landing pages, less can be more. So consider where you may need multiple landing pages for communicating different aspects of your offer or business. For example, if you own a bowling alley that contains a trampoline park and laser tag arena, you may want separate ads and landing pages for communicating the party packages for each versus cramming all the details on one page that doesn’t quite meet the needs of the person looking explicitly for a laser tag birthday party.

The better you signpost a clear path to conversion on your landing pages, the better chance you’ll have at a healthy Quality Score.

The job doesn’t really end

On a whole, Diane and Jeff help their clients at Hanapin achieve terrific Ad Rank by making their ad to landing pages combos as relevant as possible, optimizing load time, and ensuring content and options are well organized.

Quality Score is something you’ll need to monitor over time, and there’s no exact science to it. Google checks frequently, but it may be a few weeks until you see your landing page changes influence scores.

Despite no definitive date range, Diane encourages everyone to stay the course, and you will indeed see your Quality Score increase over time with these landing page fixes.

Original source:  

Hanapin’s PPC Experts Share How to Boost Your AdWords Quality Score with Landing Pages

Get Access to All the Recordings From Marketing Optimization Week

Just last week you may have joined us, along with 8,000 other marketers online for our first ever Marketing Optimization Week. Held over four days (February 20-23), experts from Hanapin, Emma, Zapier, Drift, Microsoft and more shared their tactics for refreshing your marketing and getting past a results slump.

Running 14 sessions total with 13 amazing partners, we were pretty excited to see marketers get so much out of the event:

I presented on the topic of “How to Improve Your Adwords Conversion Rates” as part of the PPC track (we had four tracks in all, including PPC, AI, Marketing Strategy and Automation). Today I’ll share some of the PPC-related takeaways, both from my session and others.

Making the Most of Your PPC Spend

To start, here’s my pop quiz:

If you’ve optimized your AdWords campaigns to no end, but are still seeing smaller and smaller efficiency gains, do you:

  1. Throw more money at it (cost per acquisition be damned!)
  2. Keep on truckin’. (Refine your keyword strategy further and test new ads), or
  3. Start looking at where your ads are pointing to

Call me crazy, but option 3 seems like a no-brainer, right?

It’s like my pal Joe Martinez, Director of Paid Media at Granular Marketing says:

“Ads get traffic. Landing pages get conversions.”

In other words, no matter how good your keyword and bidding strategies are, your ads can’t do the work alone.

The savviest PPC marketers are optimizing as much of the funnel as they can get their hands on, because AdWords CPC’s have nearly tripled since 2012. To ensure you’re not blindly spending, you need to look at where your ads are pointing to.

The question I have is: with landing pages being such low-hanging fruit in terms of paid ad success, why haven’t all marketers figured this out yet?

I tackled this in my presentation covering:

  • What landing page changes you can make now to lift conversion rates
  • How to make these changes without talking to your developer
  • How to set up an A/B test in less than 30 seconds
If you haven’t already, you can sign up to get all the recordings here

Other PPC-Specific Sessions You Can Check out

Throughout the week it was pretty satisfying to see a big focus on post-click optimization as a major area to consider for improving results and getting the most out of your PPC ad spend.

My personal favourite talks within the PPC track were:

  • PPC Woes And What To Do About Them by Beth Thouin and Richard Beck of Acquisio
  • Beef Up Your Quality Score With Landing Page Updates by Jeff Baum and Diane Anselmo at Hanapin, and
  • Unicorn Marketing: Getting Unusually Great Results Across Every Marketing Channel by Larry Kim of Mobile Monkey

Finally, here are some of my top takeaways from the talks above:

1. Optimize your landing pages to get ahead

Acquisio structured their session around addressing the biggest woes PPC marketers face everyday and they provided actionable tips for prolonging the effectiveness of your campaigns past three to four months.

According to Beth and Richard, one of the best ways to get ahead of the competition (and keep your campaigns fresh and high-converting) is to work on your landing pages. Make sure your images are high-quality, pages load fast, and there’s clear message match between your ads and resulting landing pages.

It’s like Richard said during the session: “[forget] the bucket with holes in it! Not having a good landing page is like having a bucket with no bottom in it when it comes to PPC campaigns.”

2. Focus on navigation to increase your Quality Score

So often we get caught up with page load time, copy, and SEO that we forget to focus on intent and how people expect or want to navigate through our landing page information (i.e.: easily). Hanapin’s session went over just how important Quality Score is for PPC campaign performance and how one factor in improving your score via the landing page experience is navigation.

Jeff and Diane use the analogy of a shoe store: the experience after clicking through on a search ad should be akin to walking through a neatly organized shop where everything is labelled, certain types of shoes are grouped together, and you can easily find what you’re looking for in a matter of minutes. When in doubt: the simpler you make your landing page navigation/information hierarchy, the better.

3. Stop trying to optimize donkeys. They will always be donkeys.

During his session at Marketing Optimization Week, Larry Kim outlined the difference between a unicorn and donkey. What’s a marketing unicorn? Typically, these are the pieces of content or campaigns that outperform the rest. They usually make up only a small percentage of everything you run. One of the main points in this talk that resonated with me was that we should stop trying to optimize donkeys and focus exclusively on the unicorns.

Unicorns are unicorns across channels, so when you find one, take it and apply it across your other channels, including PPC. To find unicorns we need to audition lots of content ideas, identify which ones have unusually high engagement rates, and optimize those few for engagement even further.

These takeaways just scratch the surface from Marketing Optimization Week (there are more tracks and engaging speakers). Be sure to grab the recordings and share them with your team!

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Get Access to All the Recordings From Marketing Optimization Week