Minimum Cost Per Click (CPC) is one of the crucial metrics you should know when you begin a Google AdWords campaign. Each time a potential customer clicks on your AdWords ad, you pony up some cash to Google. How much you are required to pay for a single click on a keyword can determine whether you can afford to advertise using that keyword. If you can get your average CPC lower than that of your competitors, you have a small advantage that you can easily turn into market domination.
One way to lower your average CPC is to improve the Quality Score (QS) of your keywords. The Quality Score, according to Google, is based on “how relevant your keyword is to your ad group and to a user’s search query.”
Improving your keywords’ Quality Score will change the CPC of an individual keyword and often improve its position on the search engine results pages. And the QS typically has the greatest impact on CPC. A “Great” keyword may require only a nickel, whereas the same keyword with a “Poor” score may demand five bucks.
How can you improve your QS? Start with your landing page. That’s the page people are directed to when they click on your AdWords ad.
What You Should Change on the Landing Page
Look at two things: the title tag and the meta description. If your title is something brilliant like “new page 1” or “Stuff for Sale,” Google doesn’t have a clue what the page is about. So take a few seconds to recreate your title. Don’t stuff keywords into the title willy-nilly. Just explain the gist of the page in a few words.
Your page’s meta description (found near the top of the page source, above the body tag) expands on the title. But unlike the title, the meta description allows you up to several hundred words to explain exactly what your landing page is all about. Again, don’t stuff the meta description full of keywords. Stuffing keywords is a definite no-no. Google is getting pretty good at knowing when you’re trying to do this, and they don’t like it.
Google now recalibrates the Quality Score of your AdWords ad instantly as it relates to the match between keyword and ad. They take longer – as much as a few days – to reevaluate your landing page. So if you do improve your landing page, you may find that your keywords muddle along with exactly the same CPC as before for a couple of days. That’s painfully slow feedback.
The Presto Change-o Solution
Delete and re-enter the keyword, and Google will instantly recalculate the minimum CPC.
If you keep track of the date, you can compare the performance of the “new” keyword with the “old” one to see the difference an improved Quality Score can make. (I know the two keywords are exactly the same, but don’t tell Google.)
If you still have QS problems after those two fixes, the problem may be your business model. Google has very strong opinions about what types of websites constitute Search Engine Spam, and penalize them accordingly.
So how do you know if Google is punishing your site? Here are three examples of sites Google doesn’t like (taken directly from a leaked Google document):
• Thin Affiliate Sites
A thin affiliate site is defined by Google as one in which the visitor is taken from the landing page to another website that pays the AdWords advertiser for the traffic. In other words, a straight traffic broker, trying to come between Google and a legitimate site.
You can still be a legitimate affiliate and use AdWords. However, you need to “add value” in Google’s eyes. Instead of just shooting your visitors over to another site, add value by including product and price comparisons, recipes, lyrics, quotes, contact information, or coupons and promotion codes.
• Keyword Stuffers
In the old days (say, 1997), if you wanted your Web page to rise to the top of the search engines for a particular keyword, you would stuff that keyword into the page as many times as you could. In meta tags, in title tags, in white font on a white background, you name it. The result was a page that machines might love, but humans hated.
Google rose to prominence so quickly because it figured out ways to reward pages that humans found valuable. And it still looks at keyword stuffing as a prime indicator of spam. (And, incredibly, people still do it.)
• Pages With Pay Per Click Ads (!)
Even though Google’s revenue comes almost exclusively from its own pay per click program (AdWords), Google still regards PPC ads on a Web page as a sign of spamminess. In a way, you can understand this. Google doesn’t want its customers bidding on cheap keywords and then making half the money on more expensive ones. Also, from a visitor’s experience perspective, Google considers it inefficient for a searcher to have to go through an extra page to get where they want to go.
If your business model is the problem, either change it or find traffic sources that don’t depend on Google. (Good luck with that!) Otherwise, get to work on your ads, titles, and descriptions. Think clarity, specificity, and relevance. And value, always value![Ed. Note: Google AdWords could be the key to more traffic and more sales for your company. You can master AdWords from the inside out with Internet marketing expert Howie Jacobson’s book AdWords for Dummies.
Get Howie’s complimentary AdWords ER Report “Why Most AdWords Campaigns Fail – and How to Make Yours Succeed” at www.AskHowie.com.]