Adwords Campaign Costs Are Affected by Website Design

Last year, I came across a luxury clay tile roofing manufacturing company who was spending upwards of $5,000 a month on their Adwords campaign. The ads themselves were very well written. In some ads, the copy spoke of a specific type of clay tile along with cost and a call to action. In others, a specific discount for booking a project that month. I was very impressed with the ads themselves and was excited to see where the ads led when I clicked on them. THIS is the very behavior the company was trying to elicit from ad viewers: a clickthrough.

What I found after I clicked through, though, was disappointing. None of the product specific pages led to landing pages showcasing that product. None of the promised discount pages led to landing pages telling me how I could get that discount. In fact, many of the ads for clay tile didn’t even lead to the company’s clay tile website – they led to the company’s synthetic roofing brand.

Noone was minding the landing pages of the Adwords Campaign.

Over the past weekend, I saw ads for a well-known auto body shop here in central Ohio. With a little research, I could see that they too are spending around $5,000/month on Adwords. Again, the ads were specific, speaking to specific types of collision repair, discounts, free estimates, etc.. This time, every one of the ads led straight to the homepage of the company’s website – a website that 1) has a large disclaimer at the top which says, “This website best viewed in Firefox or Internet Explorer 8” and 2) has a large amount of Flash integrated into the site.

Why is that a problem? IE Explorer 8 isn’t even supported by Microsoft itself anymore – search engines (and Adwords) don’t look favorably on sites that require it. Mobile devices (phones and tablets) can’t view Flash at all. And , some of those ads were specifically targeting the company’s MOBILE estimating service. You know, the one you would use if you were out on the road and had just been in an accident. The estimate you’d try to request while probably using your MOBILE PHONE to find a shop to tow and begin repairing your mangled car. The MOBILE PHONE that doesn’t use Firefox and would probably blow up if you tried to get to IE8 on it.

Besides the technology/behavior mismatch for their users, the ads themselves didn’t lead to what they promised. The ad promised information about a discount. The page the ad landed on should have spoken only about how to get that discount. The ad promised information about rear end collisions. The landing page should have shown examples of cars repaired after that type of accident and also offered a strong call to action to get an estimate.

What many business owners don’t realize is that…

Landing page quality affects the COST of the ad and the CONVERSION RATE of the users who click…

Google cares about the experience users have AFTER they click an ad, not just the ad itself. In fact, Google has a measurement for figuring out the quality of your Adwords campaign which INCLUDES measuring the quality of your ads’ landing pages. It’s called, aptly enough, your Quality Score.

[Quality Score is] An estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing page. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions.

The components of Quality Score (expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience) are determined every time your keyword matches a customer’s search.

You can get a general sense of your ad quality in the “Keyword Analysis” field of your account (reported on a 1-10 scale). You can find this by selecting the Keywords tab and clicking on the white speech bubble Ad disapproval bubble next to any keyword’s status.

The more relevant your ads and landing pages are to the user, the more likely it is that you’ll see higher 1-10 Quality Scores and benefit from having higher quality components of your Ad Rank, like a higher position or lower CPC. (

If your business is running Adwords, you have a responsibility to understand what is Quality Score, and how to improve Quality Score. Even if you’ve hired a marketing company to run your Adwords campaign, you still need to understand the basics of a successful Adwords campaign so you can recognize opportunities to improve. Your ad copy might be spot on, but if your landing pages aren’t designed well, too, you will not get the BEST POSSIBLE return on your Adwords investment.

P.S. And if you’re going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on an Adwords campaign, let’s make sure you’re nailing it with organic (non-bought) search results, too. If these same companies had invested $5,000 a month on organic content marketing, their investments would be compounding at this point.

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