What Google Support Says About Improving Call-Only Quality Scores
Call-only campaigns are really useful for businesses employing staff to book appointments and sell products or services. If your conversion rate is much better when someone calls your office versus when someone visits your site, you'll probably conclude that you should just take calls instead of going for online conversions. You could try to improve your website and let it qualify leads or handle the booking process but you don't have to because Google gives you the call-only option.
The problem is that call-only campaigns (and ads) can be frustrating. It's almost like Google doesn't know if it's going to keep them around. There's very little information about how to improve call-only quality scores and overall performance, from Google or from anyone else. I decided to call Google Ads support and ask some questions.
Does Google My Business have any effect on quality scores for call-only campaigns?
I was wondering if the business category selected in My Business might have a negative effect on QS if it's the wrong one. It was a shot in the dark but I thought maybe the "verification url" in each ad isn't the thing that matters most. When I asked the question, the representative told me "it is not affecting your quality score." That is, Google My Business doesn't affect call-only quality scores, according to Google support (The rep used "isn't" and "doesn't" interchangeably. I had to rely on my instinct, to an extent). Still, it's a good idea to check your My Business settings and make sure your keywords and categories are aligned. They should be.
The rep told me the verification url does matter, by the way. Treat it like it's a landing page url. However, the rep recommended focusing on other optimizations, which I'll discuss later.
Does historical performance help call-only quality scores?
Historical account performance does have an impact on quality scores in all types of campaigns. That's the consensus across the net. I was wondering if there's anything new to learn about call-only campaigns. The answer I got was interesting. Support told me that it just takes time to improve your call-only quality score. Just keep optimizing. It may take two months to see it improve, they said. However, some forum discussions I've read and some campaigns I've managed tell me that there's more to it. Google's not ready to give us the scoop, apparently.
What can I do to improve call-only performance?
Google suggests well-established tasks to improve call-only performance. Things like including keywords on your web pages (those at your verification urls) help, they told me. Increase your bid, they also said (It won't improve quality score but will probably give you more impressions). Try using target SERP location bidding instead of manual or enhanced-CPC bidding. If you're not getting any calls, make sure your bids are high enough to generate impressions, put simply. Yep, that's makes sense. Yet, sometimes call-only campaigns don't respond. The information a Google support rep has on-hand ends there, at least for now.
We can look at it holistically, though. Improving performance should improve your bottom line. Google tries to integrate that idea into their algorithms in some ways. Therefore, I suggest using the best method of conversion tracking you have available. If you can count bookings or sales as conversions rather than phone calls, you're going to be able to improve performance better because the events you track are the valuable ones. They're more likely to result in revenue, which means they're more worth counting as conversions.
It's also a good idea to take a look at your website. Many small businesses overlook this. The appearance of your website can have a huge impact on a visitor's perception of your brand. If they don't like it, they're not going to convert. Everything from colors to ease of navigation matters. CrazyEgg offers some great insights here. You might not have the time or resources for a full website audit but you can always look for low-hanging fruit. Take baby steps of if you need to.
Why am I talking about web pages when the article is about call-only ads? Google says your pages (tied to verification urls) matter. My theory on this is that the performance of your pages, not just your keyword inclusion, may affect your call-only ads' quality scores since Google monitors historical account performance and various website statistics (especially if you use Google Analytics). We'll have to wait until Google verifies this. You're probably running some ads with landing pages anyway, though. Don't neglect your landing pages. Track and optimize whatever you can. Bounce rate is a good place to start. Look to optimize more relevant stats, like sales conversion rate, when you have a chance.
Please comment below if you have any information that could be useful here, especially if Google has verified it. I'll update the article when I learn something helpful (and I'll credit you!)