The Inside Secrets of Paid Search

damnstraightIn the last article we started things off with the basics of paid search. Now it’s time to take a deeper dive inside the inner workings of paid search.  Here is where we’ll learn the importance of quality scores, match type, and the proper way to set your bids. Knowing these elements and how they all work will help you optimize and set your campaigns up for success.

Quality Score

As I mentioned in the previous post, your bid is not the only factor that determines your ad’s position. Google also uses a metric which is known as the “quality score”. So what is a quality score? Google defines a quality score as:

"An estimate of how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing page are to a person seeing your ad. Having a high Quality Score means that our systems think your ad, keyword, and landing page are all relevant and useful to someone looking at your ad."

In AdWords each and every one of your keywords will get a quality score ranking that ranges from 1 to 10; with 10 indicating a good score, and 1 being a poor score.  And make no mistake; Google is constantly recalculating your quality score, which is determined by a combination of factors. This includes the past click-through-rate (CTR) of your keywords, display URLs, and overall AdWords account, as well as, the quality and relevance of your keyword, ad, and landing page of your site.

Essentially, high quality scores are what can help provide you with better ad position and a lower cost per click. The best performing ads are usually the ones that people find the most relevant.  To make your ads more relevant you can do a handful of things.

  • Choose specific keywords that directly relate to your ad group and your landing page. Also don’t forget to be mindful of long tail vs. short tail keywords, because despite their search volume differences, their specificity or generality will likely come into play.
  • Incorporate your keywords in your ad text.  It is typically best practice to have your keyword in the headline. As an added bonus this will cause the keyword to show up as bolded when you search, which can be a good indicator to the searcher that your ad is relevant to their search query.
  • Create straight forward ads that feature strong calls-to-action that will entice users to click your ads.

As you start rolling out ads, be sure to monitor your quality scores, just as you would your campaign, ad group, and keyword performance. Pay attention to how your ads perform over time, with your primary goals being to improve click through rates, conversion rates, and quality scores. Also if you’re using Google Analytics you can also sync it with your AdWords account.

Match Type Review

In paid search there are three different match types you’ll encounter when doing keyword research. There is Exact Match, Phrase Match, and Broad Match.  Exact match is the most targeted, and broad match is the least targeted.

Now what’s important to note is that there is also a fourth match type that can be extremely useful.  It’s called Broad Match Modifier (BMM). Essentially this match type is where you modify your broad match keywords with a plus sign (+).  By adding these plus signs on you can ensure that all the words in your keyword phrase are found within a query which in turn makes it more targeted than phrase. For more information on match types you can visit Google’s help page. <>


Which match types you choose to use in your paid search efforts is entirely up to you.  If you’re using all three match types you’ll want to make sure when you set your bids that you bid higher on your exact match keywords, less on your phrase match, and then lower on your broad match. If you’re using BMM than you’ll want those bids to be higher than phrase but lower than exact.

Another smart bidding strategy is to look into executing what’s known as bid scheduling. This is where you identify different times in the day where you might want to pause or reduce your bid for you ad to display.  This can only be done on a campaign level, and can be very helpful in optimizing your spend.  Also, if you elect to do any geo-targeting campaigns, keep in mind when scheduling your bids that your account bases everything on the time zone you’ve set it up in.

Summary – Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel

Hopefully as you walk away from this article you have a better understanding of what your quality score is and how you can influence it. You should also be more familiar with the different match types at your disposal and what the best bid strategy is when using them. Next up I’ll close this series out and focus on some simple high level paid search strategies and account organization that you can implement with your own account.