In this article, we’ll explore Google’s Optiscore feature and how it compares to Serpico’s PPC auditing tool, highlighting key differences, and why you should consider supplementing Optiscore with Serpico’s instant PPC audit.
What is Google's Optiscore?
Google’s Optiscore - or optimisation score - rolled out, initially as a beta, back in the spring of 2018. Many agencies and third-party platforms alike had their own audit tools, so it was fairly inevitable that Google would get in on the action themselves.
Those of you who are familiar with Optiscore will know that it observes a number of key areas across your Google Ads accounts and makes recommendations in line with Google’s best practices, scoring you a percentage score out of 100. Your Optiscore is based on the account’s utilisation of things like automation - i.e. responsive search ads, dynamic search ads and automated bidding - as well as ad extensions, ad creative and audience targeting, all of which are crucial to perfect if you want to ensure strong campaign performance.
Additionally, Optiscore looks at keyword-level performance and budget, identifying redundant keywords or conflicting negatives, whilst also making suggestions for new keywords and budget increases. And it is at this point that cynicism starts to creep in, especially for old-timers like myself.
Are the recommendations effective?
When looking more closely at the keyword recommendations provided by Google’s Optiscore, quite often there will be some suggestions that aren’t wholly relevant. And whilst you can understand the rationale behind suggesting budget increases to capture missed traffic, this isn’t always a viable option for some advertisers. In fact, we’ve seen instances in the past where applying Google’s recommendations has led to a 30-40% increase in PPC spend, sometimes with little growth in conversions or revenue.
This leads to questions regarding the purpose of hitting a 100% score on Google Optiscore, and whether it’s always beneficial to your paid search performance - in my view, the answer is probably not. In fact, over at Croud, we actually tested this back in March last year and found that some of the recommendations, namely the conversion-based metrics such as return on ad spend or cost-per-action (CPA), didn’t take into account the context of performance. For example, whilst pushing a keyword to the top of a page bid was recommended to increase your Optiscore, it would negatively impact your CPA.
So, what is the alternative?
Serpico’s PPC auditing technology is aimed at empowering in-house marketing teams to maximise their paid search capabilities and stay on top of their Google Ads account performance. Through machine learning-driven analysis of your Google Ads account, Serpico can provide you with personalised recommendations on how to boost performance, identifying wasteful spend and spotting new opportunities.
Why should you use Serpico when you already have Optiscore?
There are two main reasons why Serpico is a valuable tool to be using if you’re currently using Google’s Optiscore.
Forensic analysis of your data
Firstly, Serpico conducts a far more granular analysis of millions of data points across your Google Ads account, which means you have access to real-time insights that help you understand how you’re really performing.
These insights also highlight areas dragging down your campaigns, at speed, saving you days of team time every month. Audience depth is a great example, as Serpico can review the depth of affinity, in-market, and similar audiences at campaign level, and highlight exactly where they are being used.
Serpico also delves further into your keyword performance. Whilst Optiscore focuses on traffic and spend, Serpico will flag your volume of spend through non-converting keywords, and highlight any areas that need to be reviewed further.
This same intricate level of detail is available when reviewing your quality score too. Serpico will look at the quality score at an individual keyword level, and flag your spend levels through each one. This is great for highlighting any problem areas that may need creative attention or landing page reviews.
Get ROI-driven recommendations
Secondly, Serpico’s paid search audit checks are solely focused on pulling out any deviations from best practice that would impact performance on any account. Most importantly, the intention here is not to encourage growth in spend unless the platform can see it will drive improvements in CPA, ROAS, leads or orders.
Looking at percentages of overall spend by match type is a good example of this. For example, if Serpico is flagging that 90% of your spend is going through broad match terms, and that you’re losing 60% impression share to budgets capping out, the recommendation from the platform would be to remove reliance on broad match - which would improve CPA, thereby freeing up budget and reducing impression share loss.
In summary, Google’s introduction of Optiscore was an excellent move that instantly had a positive impact on marketing teams and advertisers alike. Being able to view your account health and recommendations in a dashboard is a massive time-saver.
However, using Optiscore does have its drawbacks, particularly in regards to accurate and tailored recommendations. That’s why using PPC auditing tools such as Serpico alongside this, gives you access to unbiased, real-time and detailed analysis that will enable you to maximise the health and performance of your Google Ads account.
To find out more about Serpico’s PPC audit tool and to get access to our 7-day free trial, visit the Serpico site.