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1 PPC Resolution You Must Make: Fix Your Quality Scores

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It’s the first full week of 2013, and New Year’s resolutions are in full swing. Some of you are kicking butt and taking names; others may have given up already.

I’ll be honest – I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Why wait until January 1 to set goals and make improvements? That said, it’s not a bad thing to start each year with goals and plans.

To take your PPC campaigns to the next level, there's one resolution that you must make.

Fix Your Quality Scores Using Bing Ads Tools

If you weren’t paying attention to Bing Ads in 2012, you missed a whole bunch of improvements. One of them was a revamp of Bing Ads Intelligence, their Excel keyword research plugin. What makes Bing Ads Intelligence so advantageous is that it works right in Excel – no downloading spreadsheets from online tools.

Another Bing Ads improvement was the addition of Quality Impact. Quality Impact is related to quality score, but it goes one better: it quantifies the impact on impressions an improved quality score would make.

quality-impact-analysis

Quality impact is a big step toward helping advertisers quantify the importance of improving quality score. And it’s a measure that Google currently lacks.

Here’s a sample Bing Ads keyword report including Quality Score and Quality Impact.

bing-ads-keyword-report-sample

Some of the quality scores here are fine: 7 or 8. But some are poor: 2 or 3. Some of the terms with poor quality score don’t have a Quality Impact, probably because these are low-volume terms and there isn’t enough data. But some do have a quality impact. This is your low-hanging fruit: keywords that will make a positive impact on results once quality score is improved.

But knowing and doing are two different things, just like resolving to losing weight. It’s easy to know you need to lose weight – any bathroom scale will tell you that. But actually making changes to optimize your weight is a different story.

Enter Bing Ads Intelligence.

You may be wondering how a keyword research tool can help you fix your quality scores. Bear with me!

We’ll start with the keyword report shown above. Now, this report will be for Bing Ads data; if you’re like most advertisers, Bing probably represents 20 percent or less of your PPC traffic. You may be wondering, "Why bother with Bing when most of my traffic comes from Google?"

Well, while there are differences in the quality score algorithm between the two engines, it’s rare that a keyword with a poor quality score on Bing will have a high quality score on Google, and vice versa. For the remainder of this post, that’s our assumption.

Many advertisers have hundreds, if not thousands, of keywords, so prioritizing optimization efforts is a must.

Look at your average quality score and quality impact by campaign. While we know that averages lie, they are a good place to start prioritizing.

The easiest way to get average quality score by campaign is using pivot tables. The pivot table field list will look like this:

pivottable-field-list

The table itself will look like this:

avg-quality-score-pivottable

The highlighted rows are the campaigns with the worst average quality scores, so these are the ones we’ll focus on. (Note: I removed all keywords with quality scores of 0.)

In looking at the highlighted campaigns, two things are clear:

  • The campaigns with the lowest average quality score are also the campaigns with the highest average quality impact. No surprise there. 
  • The average landing page relevance is lower than the average keyword relevance, not only on the targeted campaigns, but on all campaigns. Now we’re getting closer to the problem!

Let’s go back to our low quality score campaign keyword report again. This time, we’ll isolate the keywords that have poor quality scores. I’m using actual keywords this time to make it easier to follow.

poor-quality-score-keywords

It’s important to note here that only the overall Quality Score is measured on a scale from 1 to 10. Keyword relevance is assessed by either 1 (Poor), 2 (No Problem), or 3 (Good). Landing page relevance is either 1 (Poor) or 2 (No Problem). So, all of the keywords above have a poor landing page relevance score; the keyword relevance is either "No Problem" or "Good."

At this point, it would be easy to jump right in with a landing page optimization project. Not so fast! While that is the logical next step, Bing Ads Intelligence can help direct your optimization project.

Bing Ads Intelligence has many useful features, and the first one we’ll use for landing page assessment is the Keywords Categories tool:

bing-ads-keyword-categories

Again, the great thing about Bing Ads Intelligence is that it runs right in Excel. We already have our low quality score keywords in Excel, so all we need to do is select the keywords we want to analyze, and click Keyword Categories. (You’ll be asked to sign in with your Bing Ads credentials first.) The tool will create a new tab called Keyword Categories, and the results look like this:

keyword-categories-tab

What does it all mean? Well, you’ll see that most keywords have more than one category listed, which simply means that a single keyword fits in multiple categories.

The "Score" column is an indication of relevance: the higher the score, the more relevant the keyword is to the category.

Since this is an Excel tool, all the cool Excel features apply. Bing has even put the filters in for us! Using Filters, drill down to the top-scoring keywords:

top-scoring-keyword

Now the problem with the landing page is becoming clearer. The most common category for the top-scoring keywords is "Computers_&_Electronics/Internet/Domain_Registration_&_Hosting."

In this example, that doesn’t accurately describe the client’s business or offer (not to mention the fact that domain registration and hosting is a highly competitive vertical). One of the goals of landing page optimization should be to make it clear what category the offer (and the company) is in. In other words, improve landing page relevance.

Another feature of Bing Ads Intelligence that will help you optimize your landing page is the Webpage Keywords function.

bing-ads-webpage-keywords

To use this feature, paste your landing page URL into Excel, and then click the Webpage Keywords option. As with the Keyword Categories function, the tool will create a new tab and provide keyword suggestions based on webpage elements.

In the case of our client, the webpage keyword suggestions were all over the place:

webpage-keywords

Clearly, we need to tighten up the theme of the page.

Of course, we can’t neglect the fact that there is work to be done on the PPC keyword side. Adding negatives, splitting keywords into more tightly-themed ad groups, and eliminating ambiguous keywords should all be on the optimization agenda.

But the great thing about Bing Ads Intelligence is the insight it offers into landing page optimization. How have you used Bing Ads Intelligence? Share in the comments!


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