Quality Score and money are the same thing so it is worth paying attention to this number. The bid in AdWords is money times quality score so quality score really is your money. The single biggest attribute in the quality score is the CTR (Click Through Rate) so it’s worth paying attention – assuming you like your money in your bank account rather than Google’s.
CTR is clicks divided by impressions so to move this number you need to increase clicks or reduce impressions. More your CTR and your quality score will follow. Impressions are the number of times your ad showed in the search results. The CTR is how Google converts the billions of impressions they make each day into cash that they enjoy. They make impressions but they sell clicks and the CTR is their efficiency rating; it’s easy to understand why they think this is important. Pay attention to what Google thinks is important and they will reward your account with lower cost and more traffic.
Regularly Conduct an STR
Start by looking at the searches that your keywords attracted and look for ones that probably do not create value for your business. You do this by running an STR (Search Terms Report), formerly known as Search Query Report (SQR), this is a detailed list of the searches that matched your keywords. This would probably be the end of this article if life was really that simple. The reality is that Google often gives you less than 10% of the searches and most of what they report are the ones that got clicks. At the bottom of these reports you will see a line that reads “Other Search Terms” and this loosely translates to the searches Google does not tell you about. The STR is a great source for negative keywords but hardly the end of this process.
The next valuable tool in this process is the keyword planner. This is a tool from Google to help you build out your keyword list but you can download the data and use it to expand your negatives. There are more than a few problems with this tool but it still good for negative keyword research. Just like the STR you download the list and look for patterns to improve your negatives. One of many problems with this is that the data is not really very accurate because it is rolled up to these keywords and the STR compared to this will show you how this really is two very different sources of data.
Conducting Searches is old school but it still works and is probably the most accurate of the tools commonly available to everyone. In this you conduct a search for your major keywords and look for results that are not related to your business. Then look for patterns you can use to get rid of these pages. This helps push your thinking on the negative keyword list and that is the key to reducing the impressions.
You must be careful with negative keywords because they can be silent killers of your traffic. So, they can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Negative keywords are expressed as broad, phrase, and exact just like positive keywords but the match logic is not the same. Broad negative keywords will not jump to plurals, stems, and synonyms like a positive keyword. The only thing a broad keyword will jump to is a different word order. You see giving the negative the same attributes as a positive would negatively impact Google’s earnings and as they say in Vegas “The house always wins”. The phase and exact operate just like the positive keywords before Google got more liberal in the matching rules in 2015.
Our goal in tips is to be short, direct to the point, and immediately actionable; so, we are going to limit this to the discussion of reducing the impressions. If you get rid of impressions, you really do not want your CTR will make your money worth more. In another tip we will cover ideas for improving the click part of the calculation.