According to Google, “…quality score is an estimate of the quality [and relevance] of your [pay-per-click (PPC)] ads, keywords, and landing pages. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions”. Ad position is determined by the cost per click multiplied by your quality score, where quality scores are on a 1-10 scale. The metrics that Google takes into account when determining quality score is landing page relevance, trustworthiness, ease of navigation, relevancy of the ad, as well as the click through rate (CTR) of your site. Quality scores can be impacted negatively by lower CTR’s, by slow landing pages, or by non-congruent ad-to-landing pages. These quality scores are judged on somewhat of a pass/fail kind of situation – meaning there’s no real benefit (or “bonus points”) for your quality score for making your page more relevant with more keywords; however, doing this can increase your conversion rates, which in turn could help boost your relevancy in the results (thus ending in a possible increase in your quality score).
The average search marketer doesn’t have the skillset to design and build an efficient and high quality landing page.
However, there are some tips and tricks that could help you optimize your landing pages better for an increase in your quality score. The most important thing to remember is that you aren’t optimizing for the conversion rate alone, you’re optimizing for the business, for Google, AND for the conversion rate. All three of these optimization reasons point to the same tips to help guide your testing efforts.
- Focus on Speed: According to Google, 53% of all mobile visitors abandon a page that takes more than three second to load; so your pages need to be snappy. It’s important to decrease your landing page loading time and make your site fast – your page speed could kill. Although it’s not explicitly expressed by Google, mobile speed in a metric that matters to Google in determining your quality score.
- Mobile-first Design and AMPs: It’s more than likely that when you test your pages, you’re testing on your powerful laptop, or your top tier monitor and tower – but if you want to benefit your users, you need to test like your users. Looking at your data, how are most of your pages being accessed? You need to design and test your landing pages based on how most of our users will see them – accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) are highly recommended in order to optimize for mobile users and still be appealing and easily navigable to those on desktop. The assets that are important to your campaign – value propositions, trust signals, imagery – might not show if you’re starting with the wrong base, so check your data to see where majority of your traffic is coming from.
- Optimize for customers AND conversions: Optimizing for conversions alone is dangerous – you can double the amount of traffic, leads, and conversion rates, but that number will mean absolutely nothing if these conversions are junk and everyone that did the form fill are not prequalified. To be prequalified for the lead to be meaningful means that the advertising language, page, and goal of the click aligns with their position in their company (essentially the correct person you’re trying to sell to, like the project manager with 1000+ pages). By optimizing for both customers and conversions it saves time for the customer filling out the form and you following up with a dead-end lead – meaning you can use that time to talk with meaningful leads.
- Cut the Fat: Cut anything from the landing page that doesn’t benefit the user. The best landing pages allow the customer to flow from one stage to the next - from search, to ad, to landing page, to getting the business – so removing anything that will get in the way of that (email capture pop-ups, exit intent, etc.) will help the navigation quality of your page (meaning a small possible boost to your quality score). Features like email captures and exit intents have a place in the grand scheme of marketing, however not specifically for landing pages. Another recommendation is to keep pixels limited to what’s necessary; foster speed, prevent privacy mishaps, and ensure that there’s no rogue takeovers.
- Personalize with Purpose: In the age of privacy, personalization of advertisements and pages is touchy. Frankly speaking, many people don’t exactly “appreciate” when advertisements grab their information to personalize for them, and will more than likely decrease trustworthiness just a little because of it. Localization is a powerful weapon in the advertising industry, so use it with care – by tweaking the landing pages and adjusting the hero image based on user location, it encourages users to spend more time on the site and feel more personalized without being overtly personal. However, it’s easy to tell if a company is trying to “appear” local (the image of Steve Buscemi saying “how do you do, fellow kids” pops into mind) which can end up being worse than not trying at all. If you do localize your pages, make sure to get someone who is a true local to the area and make sure that the method fits the page goal. As long as you’re giving the users what they’re looking for, they’ll be happy with the results.
- Test EVERYTHING!: Lastly, like our co-founder and CEO Mark Michael always tells me every day – TEST EVERYTHING! Test the meta data and title tags; test form field, style/flow, even button color; content style and length; explore different taglines, features, and benefits – it’s unlikely that any of these changes will have a major impact on your quality score, but they don’t hurt to be optimized anyway. You never know what’s going to work the best for you specifically until you try it!
Consider where you may need multiple landing pages for communicating different aspects of your offer or business – perhaps it’s the different industries you’re going after, or certain groups of people you’re looking for. Optimizing these as separate landing pages will help you direct your resources more efficiently to the right groups, as well as give you a boost to your overall quality score as each page is specifically tailored to relevant groups. The bottom line: keep your landing pages fast, keep them relevant, and make them navigable.