How to Pay Less Than Your Competitor for PPC Clicks

Whether it’s Google Ads, Bing, or a social platform, Paid search (PPC) is widely used to attract customers interested in your product or business. But many people don’t understand that the cost for each click varies for the same keyword depending on the advertiser.

No, you don’t get a better price just because you’re a large company or because Google likes you more… but, you do get a lower cost per click if you are doing the right things with your campaigns.


How Google Determines You’re Doing It Right

No matter what keyword you are bidding on, Google assigns it a “quality score”.The quality score is simply an aggregated estimate of the keyword’s performance. It is determined by three factors: your ad relevance to the keyword, CTR (click-thru rate), and landing page experience.

When viewing your campaign keywords, click modify columns and turn on quality scores to see details about your keywords.

When viewing your campaign keywords, click modify columns and turn on quality scores to see details about your keywords.

Obviously, improving keyword-level quality scores is the first place to start but, there is also an Account level quality score to consider. If the account has historically poor CTR’s, ads, and landing pages; then newly added keywords to your campaign will suffer. It can sometimes take months of optimization to start seeing results but don’t give up because there can be light at the end of the tunnel.


Higher quality scores give you the upper hand

By improving each of the scoring factors, you can raise your overall quality score for a keyword. This significantly impacts your positioning. At the time someone searches for a keyword, Google determines position based on all the advertisers bidding and their respective ad rank.

Google uses this formula: Ad Rank = CPC bid × Quality Score. Obviously, you can bid your way to the top but why pay more if you don’t have to?

If you improve your quality scores, you’ll get the benefit of better positioning while competitors are forced to pay higher prices for the same positions.

In this real-life example, you can see the average first position bid is $7.99, but this advertiser is only paying $3.68 on average and still getting top positioning almost 40% of the time. The 10/10 quality score is the best it can be – giving this advertiser a huge break in costs while forcing the competition to fork over more cash.

Understanding the components of quality scoring

Understanding the components of quality scoring

In the example above, our advertiser earned a quality score of 10/10, but what goes into that number? If you modify your columns to show more data, you can see the factors: Exp. CTR (expected CTR), Landing Page Experience, and Ad relevance. This enables you to pinpoint the general area that needs improvement for each keyword.

Changes You Can Make to Get Better Quality Scores

Although Google doesn’t divulge the exact formula behind the scoring, there has been research that suggests that landing page experience and expected CTR is somewhat more important than ad relevance.


Changes You Can Make to Get Better Quality Scores

Campaign Re-Structuring

In your campaign dashboard, take an in-depth look at the structure of your campaign. Make certain each ad group is focused on one topic. In many cases, experts suggest using a method called SKAG (single keyword ad group). This means if your goal is “Plumber near me” your ad group may contain the broad match, exact match and phrase match of that single keyword.


Ad Relevance

If you can’t do the SKAG method because of time or effort, at least make certain each group of keywords is very closely related. By doing this, it makes it easier for you to create ads that are highly relevant to each keyword (ad relevance).

Often, you’ll have a keyword or two that you can’t budge on when it comes to quality score. Move them to their own ad group or remove them altogether and move on. Poor keywords will only drag the rest of the group down.


Expected CTR

When ad relevance is improved, your expected CTR is affected. Your ads begin to resonate better with searchers and CTR goes up. But don’t stop there, you should continually weed out poor ad copy and test new copy to improve CTR.


Landing Page Experience

In Google’s words: Landing page experience is Google Ads’ measure of how well your website gives people what they’re looking for when they click your ad. Google advises you to provide quality information about your offer and transparency about your business. Headlines and content on your page should be hyper-relevant to your ad copy, providing everything needed for a visitor to move forward, reach out, or complete a transaction.

  1. Speed and Mobile Friendly – Google can easily determine how well your page is served on mobile devices. Mobile users are increasingly important to Google.
  2. If people aren’t engaging with your page, digging deeper, or staying on your page any length of time, this is a clear indication it needs improvement.
  3. The landing page experience encompasses many factors that can impact your visitors' perception of your offer as well as Google’s.