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Two of The Best Pay-Per-Click Advertising Hacks

The pay-per-click advertising landscape is constantly changing and is becoming more important for businesses to understand than ever. Google alone adds hundreds of new features each year, not to mention the dozens of other emerging and existing PPC platforms. So how do you know which campaigns to prioritize, what new features to try, and where to cut back for the most success?

In this webinar, Larry Kim, founder and CTO of WordStream, shares the top 10 PPC advertising hacks you need to optimize your PPC strategy today. Voted the “Most Influential PPC Expert” two years running and known in the industry for having unusual views on AdWords and quality score, he shares some of these views with you to help you grow your business.

1. Quality Score

The biggest hack of paid search has to do with quality score, which is a grade for your keywords. Google is giving you a score for your keywords count on a scale from 1-10 (10 being amazing and 1 being terrible). Quality score matters a great deal in AdWords, as it impacts everything in your account, including the ranking of your ads. It’s important because oftentimes there’s more than one advertiser who wants to be in the top spot of Google for a particular keyword. If there are multiple advertisers bidding on a certain keyword, Google weighs not only the maximum you’re willing to pay, but also the quality of your ads to determine the ranking of the competing ads.

Quality Score Impacts Ad Ranking

In this example, Advertiser I is spending the least amount, but can still win the top spot with a 10/10 quality score.

Quality score also impacts the cost-per-click. If you consider that the average quality score on Google is 5/10, a 10/10 score will result in a 50% discount on the CPC, whereas a 1/10 quality score will result in a 400% increase in CPC. The reason for this is because Google wants to provide an incentive for advertisers to create compelling and great ads because they only get paid if people click on the ads. Conversely, they want to penalize advertisers who create irrelevant ads.

quality score affects your cpc

If you aren’t convinced on the importance of quality score, then impression share might do the trick. Impression share is the market share of the keywords in your account. Just because you specify that you want your ads to show up for certain keywords, it doesn’t mean Google will actually show them. It turns out the better the quality of the ads, the more likely your ads will show up.

Quality Score Impression Share

This has to do with the impression share of ads in your account as your quality score increases, the impression share gained increases pretty linearly. Every increase or decrease in quality score, you can expect to see a 9% increase or decrease in your impression share. Most people would prefer for their ads to show than not to show otherwise, so why are we bothering to do this in the first place if you aren’t running ads at all?

Another key component of quality score is that it has a huge impact on the cost-per-conversion. The CPC plays a massive role in determining your cost-per-conversion. As we look at hundreds of millions of dollars in spend, the higher your quality score, the lower your cost per conversion. For every increase or decrease in quality score on average, we see that the cost per action increases or decreases by 16% per point.

Quality Score Impacts Cost Per Conversion

A lot of people wonder: how do you change your quality score? Sounds complicated, but quality score is just a computer algorithm and any computer algorithm can be hacked. It has everything to do with beating the expected click-through-rate (CTR). Different ads in various spots are pre-disposed to have different CTRs. If you’re at the top of the page, you’ll have a much higher CTR than if you’re at the bottom of the page. Google knows what the typical CTR for the different positions on the page. Through analyzing data and reverse engineering the quality score algorithm, Larry found that as you increase your CTR relative to the expected CTR, your quality score goes up. If you fail to beat the average CTR, that’s when you get the 2-5 quality scores.

CTR Quality Score

So are there any hacks you can explore to in order to raise the quality score?

Delete junk keywords
The first idea has to do with deleting junk keywords in your account that are dragging down your average. The following chart shows a typical bad account for AdWords. Each of the green dots is a keyword and you can that while see some of the keywords have high CTRs, some have almost no CTRs. Because the CTR varies by ad position, they are charted based on average ad position. There are a number of keywords beating the expected CTR and a number falling below.

ctr vs average position

You might expect to see a mix of high and low quality scores, right? Wrong. What you see in this account is that they only have quality scores from 3-6 with no high quality keywords from 7-10. What’s happening here is that the low quality score keywords are dragging down the average, which is making life miserable for the good keywords.

Low Keyword Quality Score Distribution

The opposite strategy is to delete the garbage in your account, but increase the stars in your account. Take a look at this example. This company has an average CTR of 14.6% and looking at the graph, the vast majority of the keywords in the account are above the average CTR, while there are some under the curve.

ctr vs average position

You might expect to see a mix of high and low quality scores, right? Wrong. What’s happening in this account is that they only have quality scores of 7 and 10. The average quality score in this account is 8.8 out of 10. The above average keywords dragged up the average, so even the keywords with 0% CTR were given 7 or 10 out of 10. That’s because the average is so high. 10% of your account should be branded terms, or terms that get 40 to 60 percent CTRs. Not only will they be cheap, but they’ll also raise the CTR of your account and will help the other keywords in your account do really well.

2. Insane Ads

Write crazy ads that can get 6x the average CTR. The key to quality score is to have high CTRs, but how do you do that? The answer is you write insane ads. In AdWords, when you do a search, what you’ll find is a pack of many poorly written ads.

Most AdWords Ads Suck

The opposite of a crappy ad is an emotionally charged, empathetic ad that compels people to click. Larry says Author Perry Marshall follows a “Swiss Army Knife Blade” for writing emotionally charged ads people click on. How do you do this? You need to write out the different entities in this chart here and try to draw edges among them to figure out the themes or concepts that will connect them.

dont sucks write emotional ads

Here’s an example of an effective ad for divorce lawyers. It doesn’t even include ‘divorce lawyer’ in the headline, which all of its competitors were doing. The fact that the ad gets 6x the average CTR means the company will get prominent ad positioning and impression share and a cheap CPC.

6x Above Average CTR

In copy writing, there are websites like Upworthy and CNN that have crazy headlines that cause people to click on the links. Those emotions of awe and anger are the same emotions that cause people to click on ads. Yet nobody is using that in their ad copy. We would be wise to emulate what the content marketers do in their copy, which is to write clever headlines to stir emotion.

Emotions Make People Click

You won’t want to miss the remaining eight most powerful PPC hacks of all time, such as using bid multipliers and how to best utilize YouTube Ads. Watch the webinar here.

view the webinar

  1. Love the article! Will apply these methods on my facebook and google ads. Huge fan of Larry Kim and Neil Patel.

  2. Interesting article with good insight. It also raised a few questions I hope you can help answer:

    1. Should keywords with a low CTR be deleted or is it enough to move them to their own ad group? By just moving them I can try to “reactivate” them for example by making new ads.

    2. You define a “low performing keyword” as one with a low CTR which of course is important. But is it possible to define a keyword as low performing without also looking at “cost/converted click” or “click conversion rate”? Doesn’t matter much to have keywords with a high CTR if they don’t convert into fx. customers.

  3. Im a fan of Kissmetrics.

    Great post. We will apply these methods.

    You should write more about how to optimize Quality Score :)

  4. wowww..
    good joob

  5. Abhijit Mandavkar Apr 13, 2015 at 4:44 am

    Thanks for suggesting best ways to get maximum results through PPC. I believe since Google has stressed the importance of being mobile friendly, then targeting PPC ads on devices is also a good way to expect desired results.


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