Quality Score 101
Understanding Quality Score
When managing any PPC campaigns, Quality Score should be at the forefront of your mind. Not only because it has a huge influence in how well your ads will perform, but also how much you’ll end up paying for them.
We’ll get back to basics and explore what quality score is, how it affects your ad position, and lastly how you can improve your quality score.
What is Quality Score?
As Google strive to be the best search-engine around, they want to ensure that users are only shown ads that relate to exactly what they’re looking for, with an equally relevant and user-friendly website to match. To help ensure this, Google marks the quality of ads, keywords and their landing pages out of 10.
Quality Score can often be viewed as a measure of the relationship between all components of an ad. When the keywords used relate directly to the ad copy, and the ad copy reflects the content of the landing page, Google rewards advertisers with high quality scores.
Furthermore, a landing page with a good user experience can further help advertisers achieve a high quality score.
Why Does it Matter?
The quality score matters because it is used in the formula which determines:
Ad rank (position on the page)
Maximum Bid x Quality Score = Ad Rank.
A – £1 x 10 = 10
B – £1.40 X 6 = 8.4
C – £2 X 3 = 6
This means that an account with a higher quality score, can actually achieve a higher rank, even with a lower maximum bid!
Cost Per Click (CPC)
(Ad Rank of the Ad Below ÷ Quality Score) + £0.01 = CPC
A – 8.4 / 10 + 0.01 = £0.85
B – 6 / 6 + 0.01 = £1.01
Here we can see how achieving a better quality not only helps you get better positions on a page, but at a lower cost too!
It should be noted, that the quality score that AdWords users can see in the interface is only an average, and not the exact number that goes into the formula at the time of bidding.
Historical Quality Score
While you can only see the quality score for keywords in the AdWords interface, historical data will build up over time and contribute to giving an overall average quality score for ads, ad groups, campaigns and the account itself. Therefore, it is pivotal to take care to monitor keyword quality scores, as consistently low ones could have a negative effect on any campaigns you run in the future.
How Can You Improve Your Quality Score?
In the AdWords interface, you will see that quality scores can be broken down into 3 components:
- Ad Relevance
- Landing Page Experience
- Expected CTR
All 3 of these components are rated as either: below average, average or above average.
While only 3 indications of quality might seem too generic, they are still very useful in helping highlight areas where improvements need to be made. Detailed below, are some steps below which can help you improve each of these components:
“This status describes how well your keyword matches the message in your ads.” From Google (2018) Online AdWords Help: Glossary
Avoid using overly-generic keywords: Take care to ensure the ones you choose are reflective of the landing page content – taking phrases from the headlines and any subheadings are often a good place to start.
Take a more granular approach: Don’t cram too many keywords into an ad group – Split out keywords into their own groups, with specific ad copy tailored to each keyword.
Try Keyword Insertion: Using Dynamic Keyword insertion is a great way to easily ensure that keywords are reflected in the ad copy.
Use Negative Keywords: Review your search terms and negative any irrelevant searches – this way you can ensure your ads only show for the right searches which also saves spend.
Landing Page Experience
“The landing page experience status describes whether your landing page is likely to provide a good experience to customers who click your ad and land on your website.” From Google (2018) Online AdWords Help: Glossary
Navigation: Ensuring that users can locate all relevant information or order your product easily, without pop-ups, is key to creating a nice experience.
Useful and Relevant Content: Make sure your landing page clearly explains the subject matter of your advert – Alternatively, you can view your search terms, and try tweaking your content to fit what people are searching for.
Transparency: Openly provide information about your business, service or product – this should be easily accessible before you ask users to fill out any forms.
“This status predicts whether your keyword is likely to lead to a click on your ads.” From Google (2018)
Expected CTR is an area that’s a bit more difficult for advertisers to pin-point what they need to improve on, and the component where Google takes back some control.
For any keyword, Google considers your accounts previous performance of that keyword, including its historical CTR, the conversion rate and the performance of the domain you are using that keyword with, as well as the performance of similar keywords. Moreover, they also take into consideration how well that keyword performs when used in other accounts. From this, Google makes a judgment on how likely a user is to click on your ad when using that keyword.
As the emphasis is on account history, you can see why it’s a bit harder to easily improve this component. The best approach would be to follow the advice for the previous two components, and once your ads start to perform better, your expected CTR should get better too.
While we don’t know the exact weight of each of the factors that contribute to the overall quality score, the main thing to take home is to be aware of the importance of quality score. With careful and consistent planning of your campaigns – making sure you stay relevant at each stage, from keyword choices to ad copy to the landing page – your PPC campaigns can achieve better results, at a lower cost.
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