Improving your keywords’ quality scores in any Google AdWords campaign is always a must. Your ad groups must be tightly themed and your text ads must contain the targeted keywords. Furthermore, your landing pages should include these same keywords. By taking these steps you should see your click-thru-rates (CTRs) increase and thus, your quality scores improve.
Along with CTR, other factors come into play in creating higher quality scores, but in general, the more relevant Google deems the process to be from search query to landing page the better your quality scores will be. So why do keywords still have poor quality scores, even when advertisers adhere to Google’s guidelines?
Simply put, without historical CTR data Google does not deem certain keywords relevant enough and will not show your ads:
Or your ads will still show, but your average cost-per-clicks (CPCs) are going to be higher because of the poor quality scores. The higher your CPCs are the fewer clicks you will get for your budget.
Niche keywords mean poor quality scores
Advertisers in niche industries are often assigned poor quality scores because the keywords are too specific. Since there aren’t many searches for these niche terms Google doesn’t deem them relevant and will penalize you with poor quality scores.
As my Google rep told me, a solution is to start bidding on broader terms. For example, say your company sells a product that automates the payroll process in organizations with 100 or more employees. The product isn’t cost effective for smaller organizations so you only want to target larger enterprises. You may bid on keywords such as: enterprise payroll automation and payroll solutions for large organizations. Since these terms are very specific and have low search volumes, Google is assigning them poor quality scores. A broader keyword (supposedly with a better quality score) would be payroll automation programs. Granted this term would probably bring you some qualified traffic, but it would most likely also bring you traffic that you don’t want.
I have a big problem with this mentality. The whole point of bidding on highly specific keywords is to weed out irrelevant traffic. You shouldn’t be punished with higher CPCs or less ad exposure because your keywords are too niche-focused.
What can you do?
In speaking with industry colleagues, David Szetela and Jo Stumpner, both agree that this issue is a flaw in the quality score algorithm. Szetela says that niche keywords receive low quality scores initially, but will improve after enough historical CTR data is collected. Unfortunately, it can take months for enough data to be collected. Some companies cannot afford to wait this long. Stumpner recommends changing your approach if your keywords aren’t working for you, such as delving into the Display Network. This approach has worked for me in the past as I was able to put ads on highly niche sites.
It’s frustrating that being too niche-focused can actually hurt your campaign, but as my favorite football coach (Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, of course) always says, “It is what it is”. You must dig deeper and find other ways for your campaign to succeed.
How do you combat poor quality scores?