Tag Archives: score

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AMP: The Easiest Way to Build Lightning-Fast Mobile Pages is Almost Here

AMP is coming to the Unbounce Builder
If you run paid ads, chances are you have a mobile campaign or two (or two hundred) live right now. Whether we like it or not, most of us live tethered to our smartphones, relying on them to entertain us, keep us connected, and guide us to the nearest bike repair shop. And as such, behavior on mobile is shaping how marketers need to operate.

Over the last four years, we were inundated with messages declaring it was finally “the year of mobile”, so much so that it felt like our industry was crying wolf. Then in 2016, it finally happened: Mobile surpassed desktop in terms of both usage as well as Google search queries. Today, more than 60% of the world is accessing the internet through mobile devices, and that number is expected to climb.

Mobile surpasses desktop in October 2016

image via Tech Crunch.

The problem with this change? 2016 was two full years ago, and even though we were all warned to think mobile-first, advertisers forged ahead, bloating our responsive landing pages with massive high-res images, and animations. We were simply shrinking heavy content for small screen sizes. In turn, everyone’s mobile pages loaded turtle-slow (leaving visitors bouncing).

But we can’t ignore proper mobile experiences any more.

This year Google made pagespeed an official ranking factor for mobile search, introduced mobile speed score, and perhaps most important—they’re backing the Accelerated Mobile Pages open-source project: a means of developing web pages that load in (approximately) half a second! In short, the search giant’s putting their foot down and demanding a better, faster mobile web.

So how you can ensure your ads continue to appear in the SERP (considering load time is a factor)? And how can you give your landing pages a better shot to convert? Let’s walk through this need for speed together.

There’s still some lag

Unlike on social platforms, search advertisers have been a bit slow to jump onto the mobile bandwagon (no pun intended). Despite more searches happening on mobile, most advertisers are currently spending about an equal amount on desktop and mobile. In the 2018 State of Mobile report, Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins estimates that this gap represents about a seven billion dollar opportunity. In other words, the future is bright for mobile advertising and we’ll all likely adjust our spend accordingly very soon.

The question is, how will you prepare for this?

The shift to mobile advertising is underway

Image courtesy of slide 96 of the 2018 State of Mobile report.

It’s not about screen size, it’s about behavior

When mobile emerged as a hot topic, it was all about building mobile responsive, and then about building websites that were “mobile first.”

I distinctly remember being in the crowd at Unbounce’s first-ever Call to Action Conference back in 2014, when my marketing prayers were answered: Unbounce announced the ability to design mobile pages. But fast forward to today and we know that having a mobile version of your landing page is simply table stakes, as is splitting your campaign targeting by device.

Mobile responsive design was certainly a step forward, but now we can’t just reuse the same content across multiple devices.

To help illustrate why, just think about when you’re searching for something on your phone. You’re probably searching for something because you want it now. In the past two years alone, Google searches for “near me” (implying the intent to buy) have seen 500% growth.

When targeting these kinds of queries, you need to craft an experience that speaks to the searcher’s immediate need to find something locally—and fast. Every second your page lags, the more impatient the visitor.

Google Trends for search term "Near Me"

Looks like I’m not the only one looking for services “near me”. Image via Think With Google.

Personally, I have a bad habit of searching reviews and comparisons for an item while I’m in a store looking at the product in question. It’s hard to get me into a brick-and-mortar store in the first place, so you best believe I’m going to save myself a second trip, researching the best of the best, even in store aisles.

And I’m not alone: Between 2015-2017, the number of mobile searches including “best” on mobile increased by 80%, with consumers comparing products as simple as salt (likely right in the store or at point-of-purchase, like me):

image courtesy of Think With Google

Image courtesy of Think with Google.

Many of us shoppers are even completing the entire checkout process on-the-go. Last year, more than 40% of online purchases in the US were made on mobile during the months of November and October. So we’ve reached peak busy and are knocking out our Christmas shopping lists while we’re taking transit or waiting in line.

Why is this behavior so important?

Well, with so many using smartphones to search and browse on the go, slow-loading content is killing your potential conversions.

From a marketer’s perspective: for every second that a landing page takes to load, conversions drop by 12%—and 53% of smartphone users will abandon a page entirely if it takes more than three seconds to load.

These days, if your page isn’t anything but instant, visitors won’t stick around to convert, and you risk getting penalized by Google.

Maybe you’ve noticed the brand new Mobile Speed Score under the “landing page” tab in your account? This new column and ten-point score is another indication that Google is serious about mobile speed.

Example of Mobile Speed Score (image)

Have you been seeing any scores populate in your Mobile Speed Score column? Has it been helpful? Let us know in the comments!

Moreover, not all data connections are created equal

For those of us living in a metropolitan area, we spend a lot of our time jumping from our home wifi connections, to work, and back. For those times in between though, we’re in some kind of data limbo, with speeds ranging from 3G to LTE. A few times in my life, I’ve even gone to the dark place that is EDGE.

But what if I told you that 70% of the world is actually searching Google on a 3G connection or slower? Yup, you read that right. Even if you’re cruising on wifi or LTE, you might have potential customers living on the edge of data—or close to. On a 3G connection, the average mobile page takes a whopping 19 seconds to load, which means most of your visitors are abandoning your web pages before they’ve even seen them.

Curious how much traffic you’re actually losing to mobile pagespeed? Enter your landing page in this free Google tool to see the percentage.

So much for converting, hey!? You’ve paid for the ad click (sometimes quite handsomely, I might add), yet a portion of your visitors are leaving before they even see your content.

So it’s time to build faster landing pages somehow.

Not only will your visitors appreciate this, but Google will reward you. After all, they’re in the business of selling ads. As we mentioned, pagespeed is now factored into Landing Page Experience (one of the three core components of Quality Score). If you speed up your landing pages, you’ll see higher Quality Scores, an improved Ad Rank, and larger Search Impression Share (your ads will show more often).

You’ll basically give your landing pages a fighting chance to be seen and convert.

Faster mobile pages will produce a higher Google Ads Quality Score

AMPing up your pagespeed

Now, while you can implement a few manual fixes for faster landing pages—like compressing your images, reducing the amount of elements on your page, and even watching how many scripts are on there—even these methods produce diminishing returns at some point.

And this is where AMP can help.

If you haven’t heard of AMP (short for Accelerated Mobile Pages) it’s essentially a framework for coding simple, stripped down landing pages that load super fast (we’re talkin’ half-a-second-fast). It’s comprised of three elements: AMP HTML, AMP JS, and AMP Cache.

For us non-developers, AMP HTML is essentially a modified version of standard HTML, preventing us from creating pages that load slowly. Marketers can sometimes be guilty of designing beautiful pages with crisp, high-res images, parallax elements, and every tracking script under the sun. We love it, but that person looking for the closest place to fix their flat tire? Not so much.

AMP JS, on the other hand, ensures all of these elements load in an effective way. In my opinion, the third component, AMP Cache, is really AMP’s bread and butter. With AMP Cache, your landing page is cached by Google (or other third parties) so when a visitor requests your page from a platform like Google, it is served almost instantly. Which means the visitor isn’t stuck downloading every single image on their measly 3G connection before they can see your offer.

To implement AMP HTML and JS markup (to code a page from scratch), you’ll need to know a little bit more about web development, or know someone who does. AMP is only a few years old, and is an open-source project that is constantly being improved.

Every page on the framework also needs to pass through the AMP validator, which basically scans the page to make sure it adheres to all the requirements of AMP. If there are changes to the page that break validation, you might get stuck serving up your regular-ol’ too-slow mobile version.

Overall, it can become a burden on your development team if you’re constantly asking them to add a new AMP feature, keep pages validated, and build new ones for each campaign.

So we’re building AMP, the Unbounce way

I’ve always believed in keeping a strong relationship with the web developers at your company. They do amazing things and are typically working with a long backlog of website updates, some that you’ve probably requested yourself. And just like we don’t think you should be bugging developers for landing pages at all, we also want you to save them the headache of building AMP versions of all of your landing pages.

It’s been four years since I joined Unbounce’s mobile responsive beta at the Call to Action Conference, and later tomorrow I’ll be taking to the stage at CTAConf 2018 to share that we’ve entered closed beta for AMP in Unbounce. You’ll soon be able to create AMP landing pages in the same simple, pixel-perfect, drag and drop builder that you know and love. We hope you’re as excited as we are.

Build an AMP page in Unbounce in our beta

Get on the list: Unbounce’s AMP beta

If you’re ready to lower your bounce rates and stay BFF with your web devs, add your name to the early access list for the next phase of beta testing by following this link. You’ll be the very first to know as soon as we add spots or enter open beta, and you’ll be on your way to building lightning-fast mobile landing pages.

Are you as AMPed as we are? Let us know what you think about it in the comments!

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AMP: The Easiest Way to Build Lightning-Fast Mobile Pages is Almost Here

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Google Marketing Live: An Advertiser’s Take on the Highlights

Updates from the Google Marketing Live keynote

For advertisers, the Google Marketing keynote is a hotly anticipated annual event where we get to hear about all of the new features coming up in Google’s suite of marketing tools. It’s also a great indicator of what’s top of mind for Google, and what betas you can expect to roll out (or bug your Google rep to let you into early).

Yesterday’s presentation kicked off with consumer trends, then covered improvements and launches across a range of Google ad platforms. Throughout the event we heard data control and privacy come up often, reminding us that privacy is still a major theme of 2018. And while professional paid media managers may have found the keynote a bit of a bore, there were some decent things to get excited about too.

If you don’t have an hour to watch the full recording, read on for our key highlights (or skim ‘em, if that’s more your thing).

AdWords is no more

Whoah whoah, don’t panic. The ad platform that you know and love (and rely on for your business) is still intact. In fact, if you follow PPC news or read the Google Ads blog, you probably already heard about the shift from Google AdWords to Google Ads that’s coming at the end of this month. Like the old Google Ads interface, you’ve probably already forgotten about ‘AdWords’, right?

the new Google Ads rebrand takes effect July 24th

What’s actually changed?
Here’s a breakdown of what this rebrand means, and what terms to use so you sound smart in front of your boss and clients:

  • AdWords will become Google Ads.
  • DoubleClick and Google Analytics 360 will now be combined into Google Marketing Platform.
  • DoubleClick Search is now Search Ads 360.
  • The rebrand becomes official July 24th, 2018.

Page speed is critical (and more visibility means more control)

We recently shared that we’re close to launching a beta program for Accelerated Mobile Pages at Unbounce, and that page speed is a top priority for us as a leading landing page builder—so naturally we were nodding along yesterday morning as Anthony Chavez, Product Management Director at Google Ads, explained the impact that page speed can have on conversion rates.

Chavez opened his speed segment by reminding us that:

“even the best ads may not perform if your landing pages aren’t up to par, especially on mobile.”

Chavez admitted that landing page speed is often a lower priority for advertisers, who are focused on optimizing keywords, bids, and ad copy. When that’s not enough, “one of the best ways to get better performance on mobile is to improve the speed of your landing pages,” says Chavez. And we couldn’t agree more.

This is why we were giddy when he announced that Mobile Speed Score is now available in Google Ads. Mobile Speed Score is a new score telling you how fast your ad’s resulting landing pages are. This score is on a ten-point scale (ten being the fastest) and includes secret-sauce factors visible to Google—like the relationship between your mobile landing page speed and conversion rates. Plus, it’s updated daily, so you won’t have to wait weeks to figure out if your speed optimizations are working for you.

New from the Google Marketing Keynote: Landing page speed score

Since it’s a column built into your Google Ads account, you’ll be able to sort and filter the landing pages that could use some love. You can find this new column in the Landing Pages tab of your Google Ads account:

Access your landing page speed score in a new column

Chavez went on to suggest using AMP landing pages as a “powerful and easy way to supercharge your site speed,” something we can definitely agree with. By using AMP landing pages together with Mobile Speed Score, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition.

Want to get even further ahead of your competition? Sign up for early access to Unbounce’s AMP beta program right here.

Search ads are going responsive

For a while now Google has been integrating machine learning and automation into its ad platform, and it looks like the future is no different. Much like last year’s launch of Smart Display campaigns, Google dedicated quite a bit of time to explaining Responsive Search Ads. However, this may not come as news to you as the Responsive Search Ads beta has been available to many advertisers for months already.

Similar to how Smart Display campaigns combine images with text on the fly, Responsive Search Ads combine headlines and descriptions from variations you’ve inputted to create an ad that’s deemed “most relevant to the searcher.” Ideally this means your ads will be more catered to each user and query, instead of serving up a rotation of generic ads.

This is a step forward in more personalized search results, but also means less control for advertisers, and makes it complicated to test ad copy. One big benefit, however, is that these ads can show up to 90% more copy than Expanded Text Ads, meaning you take over more real estate on the SERP. If this is the future of search ads, SEOs should be worried.

Your ad could show up to three 30-character headlines (vs. just one) and two 90-character description lines (compared to one 80-character description line). And PPC-er’s seem to be on board with this extra space, with the reaction mostly positive, if not a little hesitant:

Not seeing Responsive Search Ads as an option in your account? The beta is still rolling out to English-language advertisers and will be rolling out to more advertisers and languages throughout 2018.

Also, if you still prefer man over machine, you can continue to use Expanded Text Ads in your campaigns.

Even more assorted product updates & improvements

Better cross-device tracking

Tracking users across devices has always been a pain for paid advertisers, but this has been improving over the years. Google reaffirmed its commitment to solving this pain by announcing cross-device reporting and remarketing in Google Analytics (to what sounded like the largest applause of the keynote).

Google Shopping updates

If you’ve ever launched Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on Google Shopping, you know that it can be a whole other beast. Starting this year, Google will be rolling out Automated Feeds which create a feed by crawling your website (no more troubleshooting feeds). Keeping with the theme, Google also talked about the recently launched Smart Shopping campaigns that automatically optimize around a goal.

These changes will make PLAs a lot more accessible to advertisers, but oppositely could increase competition for those of us already advertising on Google Shopping. In fact, Smart Campaigns will soon be integrated with Shopify, meaning Shopify merchants will be able to manage their Smart Shopping campaigns without leaving the platform. This reduces barriers for the 600,000+ Shopify users that may have been previously intimidated by the Google Merchant Center.

Updates to YouTube

On the video side of things, Google announced that later this year they will be bringing a new option to TrueView for Reach ads. In addition to a call to action button, the new Form Ads will allow you to collect leads through a form directly on the ad. Because we didn’t see any examples of how these would look in the wild, I’ll say it sounds like this feature won’t be released very soon. For now though, I can guess it will be something similar to Facebook’s Lead Ads, maybe even more simple.

They also kept YouTube on the machine learning bandwagon, announcing Maximize Lift Bidding. They describe this as a bidding strategy to help you “reach people who are more likely to consider your brand after exposure to an ad.” Google added a bit more context to this feature—currently in beta—on its blog, saying, “it automatically adjusts bids at auction time to maximize the impact your video ads have on brand perception throughout the consumer journey.”

We’ll have to wait until it rolls out officially later this year to learn even more.

Machine learning for small business

If you run a small business, Google used a small slice of the keynote to remind you that you’re still an important customer. They announced the upcoming launch of something called Smart Campaigns, and—you guessed it—it involves machine learning. Google Ads is a sophisticated platform, but can still be intimidating for a small business, or a non-marketer.

Using information scanned from the company’s website and their Google My Business listing, the Smart Display campaign automatically generates ads on both search and display. The goal is to get small business owners up and running with ads as quickly as possible and to help them overcome the learning curve that can come with online advertising (or the cost of hiring an agency). After launch, the campaigns automatically optimize themselves.

Going further, the campaigns automatically generate quick and simple landing pages for small businesses, for when you’re running without a website. While these landing pages include super basic information like your location and phone number, you don’t get any control over brand messaging or even the images that get selected.

As a paid advertiser by trade myself, I’m wary of handing this much control over my ads to Google’s machine learning, but that doesn’t mean this can’t work for a small business customer. The audience for Smart Campaigns is an advertiser starting from scratch (as in, no website-from-scratch) so there would be no historical performance to compare to.

What all these updates mean

While not everything was technically fresh news at this year’s Google Marketing Live, we still had some interesting key takeaways.

What stood out the most to us at Unbounce was the critical need for fast landing pages, especially on mobile. Undeniably though, the strong thread throughout the keynote was the shift toward machine learning.

My prediction is that—over the coming months and years—Google will shift to more and more “Smart” features and campaigns until eventually machine learning becomes so intertwined that we drop the “Smart.” I’m not quite ready to give Google the wheel on all of my ad copy, bids, and optimization just yet, but I’m curious to see the data and hear the results as we move into this new era of online advertising.

Excerpt from:

Google Marketing Live: An Advertiser’s Take on the Highlights

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

Improve Your Quality Score From Ad to Landing Page: A Former-Googler Tells All

An ex-Googler gives an inside look at how AdWords Quality Score works. Image via Shutterstock.

As an Unbounce blog reader, you already know conversion rate optimization is a great way to drive more results from the money you’re already spending to acquire traffic to your site. So today I’d like to focus on another way to make more money from your marketing efforts; namely, ad optimization.

After a decade of building AdWords at Google, I cofounded Optmyzr because I found it was too time consuming to run best practice optimizations. And — considering that last year over $35 billion was spent advertising on Google (more than twice what was spent on Facebook) — there is tremendous value in making AdWords perform even a little bit better.

While there are many ways to improve your ad performance, one of the most pertinent is to improve your Quality Score (QS), particularly the subcomponent, landing page quality (LPQ).

But before I get into how to improve your Quality Score via landing pages, here’s some behind-the-scenes context based on my time at Google.

What is Google Quality Score?

One of the teams I worked on for seven years while at Google was the Quality Score team so I’ve written extensively on the topic. For a primer, here are some of my favorites:

Ultimately, Quality Score is Google’s way of using collective wisdom of many searchers to measure the relevance of a keyword. In short, it’s a measure of how good of a job you’re doing providing people with search queries with strong answers.

This is important because if you are the best answer to someone’s query with your ad and resulting landing page, Google gives you your clicks for less money because you’re helping provide a better user experience, which makes Google more money.

Quality Score impacts ad rank and costs

It’s fairly well known that Quality Score is one of the factors that determines Ad Rank. The other factors are the bid and the impact of ad extensions.

When you improve any of these three components, your Ad Rank increases, which leads to one of two possible outcomes:

  1. You win a better ad position (but pay the same or more for improved placement on the page), or
  2. The position of your ad remains the same, but you get a discount and pay less for any clicks you get.

In short: You can get a discount on AdWords by making your ads (and corresponding landing pages) more relevant!

This is because the CPC you pay is only part of what determines how Google makes more money.

Ad Rank now vs. then

To deepen your understanding of AdWords, I find it useful to take a quick trip down memory lane about the ad auction. Ad Rank used to be calculated like this:

Ad Rank (circa 2002) = Max CPC * CTR

Notice that Ad Rank is actually Cost Per Mille (CPM or cost per thousand impressions) in this equation! Over time, Google started to use a predicted rather than historical CTR, so we changed how we explained the formula and introduced the concept of Quality Score so we could stop talking about pCTR (predicted CTR).

Ad Rank = Max CPC * pCTR Ad Rank = Max CPC * QS

Then we refined the algorithm to deal with some weird edge cases and rather than just multiplying the factors, the formula became more advanced. We communicated it as follows:

Ad Rank (today) = function (Bid, QS, Extensions)

With this historical context, we see that the ad auction is basically a CPM auction where the way the CPM is calculated has evolved over time.

So even though advertisers place CPC bids, Google is awarding the best ad positions to advertisers who deliver the best CPM for Google (aka: those who provide more relevant ads that get the most clicks).

How Quality Score can reduce CPCs

As an example to show how this discounting of CPCs really works, let’s say there are two advertisers, Julie and Robert and they both bid a max CPC of $1. However they have different Quality Scores, a 5 and a 10.

Bid QS Ad Rank CPC
Robert $1 10 10 $0.51
Julie $1 5 5 $1 (or the auction minimum)

As you can see, Robert (who’s winning the auction) actually pays a lower CPC than Julie, because his Quality Score is better.

Effective CPC = Ad Rank of the ad to beat / this ad’s QS + the smallest monetary increment
Effective CPC for Robert = 5 / 10 + $0.01 = $0.51

This classic example oversimplifies the calculation of the CPC, however. For the example to be correct, we’d have to say that Robert’s CTR is twice that of Julie, and not just that his Quality Score number is twice that of Julie’s.

That’s because the visible QS number (between 1 and 10) is based on a non-linear assignment of a visible number to an underlying prediction of relevance.

To calculate the rank and CPC, Google uses a real-time prediction of CTR based on as many as hundreds of factors.

Real time Quality Score vs visible Quality Score

The Quality Score number between 1 and 10 that you see next to each keyword is simply an indicator and can be used to help prioritize what to optimize. After optimizations, it can be used to determine if improving relevance was achieved.

However, this number is NOT what is used in the Ad Rank formula.

Some indicators have more precision than others and there are also indicators that are linear and some that are not (the visible QS indicator is not necessarily linear).

The speedometer in a car and the signal strength bars on your cell phone are both linear, but the former is more precise than the latter. As you drive faster, your speedometer goes up precisely to tell you that you’ve increased speed. The bars on your cell phone, however, may take a while to go from one bar to two bars even though the signal strength has been gradually increasing for a while. Visible Quality Score is more like the phone’s signal strength indicator, except that there are 10 levels.

Articles claiming you can reduce your cost by 50% by doubling your QS number are oversimplifying, but they still make a valid point: that better Quality Score will lead to lower costs (assuming no jump in position).

The only way to reduce your CPC by half is by doubling your predicted CTR.

What factors go into Quality Score?

As an AdWords marketer, you want to get yourself a better Quality Score and a lower cost per click. There are several factors that go into Quality Score so let’s take a look at what those are:

  • Ad relevance
  • Expected CTR
  • Landing page experience

Ad relevance

Ad relevance is an indicator of how well your ad text matches your keywords.

It’s usually a good idea to include the core concept of the keyword in your ad text, and to also include some compelling unique value propositions that will make your ad stand out from competitors. Over the years I’ve personally noticed that even minor changes in word choice can have drastic impacts on how well the user understands the ad.

For example, when eBay changed their ads to say, “buy it on eBay” instead of, “find it on eBay.” Because the word “buy” implies ecommerce, this got a far better CTR than the word ‘find’ which didn’t directly suggest one could buy the desired item.

Expected CTR

Expected CTR is an indicator of how likely your ad is to be clicked.

At the most basic level, this requires choosing good, relevant keywords, and grouping them in logical ad groups so that you can write compelling ads that get users to click.

Landing page relevance

Landing page relevance indicates how well your landing page meets the needs of users, and there are many ways you can go about improving this.

As an example, Joe Khoei from PPC agency SalesX (where I serve on the board) says that using Dynamic Text Replacement on Unbounce landing pages for the Children’s Learning Adventure helped his client increase conversion rates (calls and form fills) from 1.4% to 3.3% over 8 months.

Generally, using personalization features like DTR will correlate to better Landing Page Quality (LPQ) because users are getting what they want and that is what Google wants too: happy users who continue to engage with ads.

In this example of a landing page for a music school, the instrument type is swapped out depending on which ad is clicked.
Want to improve your relevance (and thereby Quality Score) with especially relevant landing pages to go with your ads? Try Dynamic Text Replacement on Unbounce landing pages. See a preview of how DTR works here.

There’s an interesting tug of war between motives of landing page optimization; an optimization for conversion rate could hurt Quality Score, and Quality Score optimization could decrease conversion rates.

The trick is to find that right balance, and ideally aim to optimize where both QS and CR improve. Fortunately, they’re not mutually exclusive outcomes.

How to better track your Quality Score improvements

Once you make optimizations to your ads or landing pages with the goal of improving Quality Score, you’ll need to track if the changes are working. In this stage it’s critical you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, which is to grow your business.

No executive ever said their goal for the company was to improve their QS next quarter. So remember, it’s a useful gauge to see if you could lower costs, but it’s not a business KPI.

Up until fairly recently, the easiest way to track changes in QS required using an AdWords Script, or signing up for a tool like Optmyzr, but now the data is also available directly in AdWords.

Additionally, tools like Optmyzr still make it easier to get historical QS data.

Optmyzr’s Historical Quality Score tool

To get at the daily variations in AdWords, you have to do a few things:

  1. Use the old interface. The new one doesn’t include subcomponents yet.
  2. Look at the data with the segmentation for “day” turned on. Simply looking at the QS between two compared date ranges doesn’t get you the daily data because both fields will show the ending value.

To see how your QS has evolved based on changes to your landing pages, turn on the landing page component in the AdWords interface and then download the data with a daily segment.

You’ll end up with columns like this:

After exporting this data, you can use a simple spreadsheet formula that compares the current value to the historical one, e.g. =IF(A2=B2,1,0), so that the field will contain a 1 if the value has remained the same.

From there, filter these out and you’ll see only instances where the LPQ has changed. This will help you see where optimizations to your landing pages are positively affecting LPQ as a subfactor in Quality Score.

The purpose and importance of landing page quality

Landing page was the last component to be added to Quality Score and I was still on the team when we made this change. We had come to realize that it was too easy for advertisers to game the system by writing must-click ads, but then lead the user to a not so spectacular landing page, and in some cases even to a scammy site.

We had to start looking at what happened after the click, so we used both manual processes with the policy team and automated ones through the QS indicator to find sites that weren’t delivering a great experience.

What matters for landing page quality?

Here are some of the things Google cares about for landing pages:

  1. The page needs to deliver what the ad promises
  2. The user’s privacy and personal information must be protected
  3. The page should be transparent about its purpose
  4. The landing page should let users freely navigate the web
  5. The page should load quickly

Deliver what the ad promises

The first part should be the easiest to abide by. After all, if you want to drive conversions, you should be doing CRO and you should take users to landing pages that are relevant to what you offer in your ads.

Protect the user’s privacy

Privacy gets a little trickier.

What Google wants here is that you don’t share user’s information with third parties without their permission. So if you’re collecting leads and reselling these, you could be running into LPQ issues.

Be transparent about the page’s purpose

This also rolls into transparency.

If you’re a middleman, you need to be upfront about that. Affiliates who create thin landing pages and doorway pages are likely to run into LPQ issues because they usually add very little value and yet force the user to go through an extra step to get to where they wanted to go in the first place.

Allow users to freely navigate

Providing options is another tricky one for advertisers who deploy landing pages for their ads rather than taking the user to the most relevant page on their site. At issue here is that the user can do only do two things on most of these pages: instantly convert, or go away. Even a user who is interested in what you offer may not reach the comfort level needed to submit their info right away and if they can’t find more info by browsing the main site, their only real option is to go away and that is seen as a bad thing by Google.

While it can be a best practice to have a classic landing page perform only one goal and not include navigation or distractions, what I’m advocating for here is that you consider the allocation of your paid spend to a combo of the right, most relevant pages (whichever they may be).

That is – consider for each keyword or ad group which page on your site (or which landing page) may be best to serve up for a given situation. You may be pointing paid traffic to a landing page that is too high commitment for someone at the top of the funnel and this could hurt your Quality Score if someone’s only option is to convert or bounce. It’s a matter of their perceived readiness.

To ensure you’re not penalized this way, get strategic and point your paid traffic to highly relevant pages, either on your site, or build more valuable, relevant landing pages for each stage of the buying process to access via your ads. By having especially relevant landing pages that present the right offer at the right time, you should be able to avoid the issue of options as visitors will be served up the right option for them on their journey.

Again, if you have a great offer, and a decent site, the idea is that users should be able to get all their questions answered before being asked to turn over their details.

Landing page speed

And finally, the speed of your landing page is very important as a factor Google considers.

Just know Google is not actually that stringent and so long as your landing page is not an outlier in terms of slowness, you’ll be fine.

But you should still care tremendously about load times because as a 2017 study by Akamai found, a 100-millisecond delay in website load time can hurt conversion rates by 7 percent and a two-second delay in web page load time increase bounce rates by 103 percent.

Google’s Group Product Manager for AdWords, Jon Diorio, recently shared a stat from SOASTA that a 1 second delay in landing page load times can decrease retail conversion rates by 20%.

Pay close attention to signals about whether landing page visitors are satisfied

When I was at Google and I gave presentations at industry events about Quality Score, someone would always ask how we measured landing page quality. While I couldn’t answer that question directly then, and still can’t today, I recommend that you pay close attention to signals like bounce rates and time on site.

Google Analytics is a great way to track these signals which are fundamentally a measure of how satisfied users are with your landing pages.

If a user sees an ugly page, a page that takes too long to load, or one that seems off topic for what the ad promised, they will use the back button and try their luck at the next site.

Whether you’re using Unbounce or not, you are hopefully already paying close attention to these things. After all, this is part of CRO. If a user doesn’t stay long enough to consider your offer, they surely won’t have time to convert and your cost for the click to get them to your page will have been wasted.

See the original post: 

Improve Your Quality Score From Ad to Landing Page: A Former-Googler Tells All

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How to Create More Actionable PPC Reports (That’ll Improve Your Landing Page Strategy, Too)

Once upon a time, “Pay-Per-Click (PPC)” referred to a digital marketing practice where companies were charged each time somebody clicked on their search engine ads.

But with the rise of social, display and programmatic platforms, PPC marketing has expanded to involve more than search engines alone. These days, PPC specialists run paid campaigns across a variety of channels, and while the territory has changed, the reporting tactics haven’t.

Why your PPC reports aren’t awesome

You’re not alone if you find that the following things are holding you back from the advanced PPC reporting of your dreams.

1. The same words are used for different things

Most PPC specialists still end up pulling the same reports about the same quantitative metrics from Google Analytics. The problem is that different platforms (Facebook Audience Insights, Google AdWords Dimensions tab, Google Analytics, Bing Reporting) speak different languages.

Each platform’s PPC attribution models are different, their user data tracking is different, even some of their definitions are different.

Just look at how we measure “clicks.” On Adwords or Bing, a “click” means someone clicked from an ad through to your website. Meanwhile on Facebook, a “click” could mean clicking from an ad through to your Facebook page, your website, or just reacting to the ad itself.

Cbc GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

With different platforms and tools telling you different things, it’s pretty easy to make inaccurate conclusions about your PPC performance.

2. Your reports rely purely on baseline metrics

Tactics and terminology aside, these quantitative metrics don’t paint the full qualitative picture. Seeing that your click-through rates have increased doesn’t necessarily explain why.

If you saw that the cost of bread went down one day, you wouldn’t blindly assume that production of wheat got cheaper overnight. You would look into the expiry date, the shelf date and examine the product to try to understand the story behind the numbers.

So what do your metrics actually mean, and how can they help you drive more qualified traffic to your site? We’re here to help you generate insights from your PPC reports and show you how PPC performance can impact your landing page strategy.

How to Build PPC Reports that Actually Are Awesome

You want your PPC reports to provide takeaways that you can use to optimize your campaigns. There are a few measures you can take, together or on their own, to better understand your campaign performance.

Determine a baseline and track conversions by channel

Surprise, surprise! A conversion is one more metric that differs by channel. This is partly because each platform has a different attribution model, and partly because users have different intentions and behaviours per platform.

For example, cost-per-clicks (CPCs) tend to be cheaper on Bing because there is less competition and a higher conversion rate due to an older demographic:

bing keywords example

On the other hand, it’s easier to max out impression share and budget on Bing because there is less overall search volume compared to Google:

Google keyword example

Similarly, a user landing on your website through a non-branded keyword is less likely to convert than someone clicking through a branded keyword. It can be even harder to identify intent through social platforms, as users scrolling through feeds may come across your ad and engage out of interest but not be ready to convert.

Establishing platform-specific KPIs is an essential step to ensure you know what success looks like on every channel.

Qualify your visitors and monitor by segment

Given that each individual user’s intention varies by platform, it’s important to target your ads where they will be best received.

Instead of assuming every interaction is equal, use your platform insights to identify key audience groups and segment for target personas.

Monitor how your paid traffic fluctuates overall and by target audiences:

  • How do your audiences convert differently across various platforms?
  • How do you measure success differently between your branded and non-branded search campaigns?
  • How are you targeting different user segments through social campaigns?

A great way to identify whether you’re attracting relevant traffic is by keeping a close eye on your Search Query Report in AdWords and Bing. This report allows you to see exactly what people typed into the search engine when your ad appeared, so that you can adjust your keywords accordingly.

Track absolutely everything

Are you noticing an abnormal bounce rate or reduced number of sessions week over week through a specific source or medium? Setting up event tracking through Google Tag Manager can help you better understand on-site behavior and create custom metrics.

Your primary conversion may be an e-commerce purchase, but that doesn’t mean newsletter sign ups aren’t valuable. Tracking micro-conversions can give you a clearer idea of how people are engaging with your site and where there might be gaps in information.

At our Call to Action conference, Dana DiTomaso advocated for Google Data Studio as a great way to combine all your data into custom reports and dashboards.

If you’re doing cross-channel online advertising (which you no doubt are), it’s important to be able to see all your metrics visualized in one place. It makes it easier to draw analyses and gather insights to then share with colleagues or clients.

PPC Reporting + Landing Pages = Even More Awesome

Of course, it’s not enough to just put your conversions and KPIs into a beautiful report — it’s what you do with your PPC insights that matters.

Let’s say you spent years learning how to make smart investments. You met with stockbrokers, studied the market and opened a brokerage account. Would you expect money to just start rolling in? Of course not — because you actually have to invest to see results.

Similarly, in order to make the most of your PPC insights, you have to act on them.

Begin by applying insights from your PPC metrics into your landing pages. You want to customize your landing pages to meet the needs of your key audiences so you can give users exactly what they’re looking for.

To this end, Dynamic Text Replacement (DTR) can be used to sync up search queries to the landing page.

In this example of a landing page for a music school, the instrument type is swapped out depending on which ad is clicked.

Say a website sells furniture. If one user searches for “modern leather sofas” and another for “comfortable leather couches,” the ad copy for each result should reflect the search language.

The ads could then take users to the same landing page, but DTR would generate different titles or subheading text accordingly to match these original search terms. Everything else on the page may be the same, but both users would feel like they found exactly what they were looking for. This keeps landing pages hyper-relevant (and high-converting), and saves hours of redundant work.

Want to preview how you can use DTR to ensure relevance from ad to landing page? Try it out.

Google cares about the relevance of landing pages to ads, and has recently introduced more in-depth Quality Score metrics within the AdWords interface.

This makes it easier to see exactly what is affecting your Quality Score and which area you should improve on, whether it be ad relevance, landing page experience or expected CTR.

By syncing up your ads and landing pages, you can provide a frictionless experience to users and increase conversions.

Strong landing pages can also improve PPC performance as they increase Quality Score and landing page relevance, which lowers your CPC and increases ad ranking. This way, the users receive information that is highly relevant to what they are searching for.

Now to put a now on it

When all is said and done, landing pages should be A/B tested so you know which on-page factors lead to higher conversion rates. That way, your next PPC campaign can be informed by your landing page results, and your future landing pages can be informed by your PPC campaign performance. If that’s not a beautiful full circle, then we don’t know what is.

Source article – 

How to Create More Actionable PPC Reports (That’ll Improve Your Landing Page Strategy, Too)

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The Cost Per Lead Calculator – Better Allocate Your PPC Spend

The pay-per-click landscape has become so saturated that only the most analytical marketers are able to continuously turn a profit from their paid search, display and social campaigns.

Data-driven marketers who are able to effectively manage PPC campaigns to a target cost per conversion (a.k.a. cost per lead) will continue to see campaigns with a predictable, repeatable profit margin.

Everybody else is most likely paying too much to acquire customers.

As it stands, this means that more sophisticated and aggressive PPC marketers will eventually find the “ceiling” price for a click and will be forced to find operational efficiencies and higher conversion rates to improve their margins. Less savvy PPC marketers will be forced to find cheaper, less qualified traffic sources or get out of the PPC game altogether.

The most important metrics for PPC marketers

The PPC equation
Cost per click (CPC) and conversion rate (CR) are the two most important factors for improving the cost per conversion. The problem is, they are independent variables and don’t always move in unison.

As costs per click rise, cost per conversion will also rise assuming conversion rate stays constant. Therefore,
marketers that focus on optimizing for lower CPCs and/or higher conversion rates will consistently achieve better results and remain competitive.

Should you focus on improving cost per click or conversion rate?

Ideally, both! But knowing how to set the right expectations and manage your time is a bit trickier. Our clients typically understand the relationships between these three variables but sometimes the details get a little murky when combined with all the other PPC metrics that matter to campaign performance.

At Workshop Digital, we built this simple but powerful calculator to help our teams understand and explain the relationship between cost per click, conversion rate and cost per conversion:

CPL Calculator
Click to view the calculator (and read on to learn how to use it).

Our clients love it and we’re offering it up today to help you prioritize your time to achieve a target cost per lead for your PPC campaigns. As I mention in the video below, the calculator is a great way to determine where to focus your optimization efforts (whether that be in improving your ads or the conversion rate on your landing pages).

Video: See how to use the cost per lead calculator

Focus on the right metrics to beat the competition

PPC marketers often become enamored with surface-level metrics like click-through rate, average position or Quality Score. These data points are helpful in the right contexts but they don’t directly impact cost per conversion.

If you don’t focus on improving your cost per conversion with smart bidding and conversion rate optimization, ultimately you risk losing customers to your more efficient, conversion-focused competitors. Grab the calculator and run your ideal vs. current numbers today.

Taken from: 

The Cost Per Lead Calculator – Better Allocate Your PPC Spend