Quality Score: What Is It, Why Does It Matter & How To Improve It

Google Ads Quality Score - How To Improve It

Just like any modern vehicle has its onboard self-diagnostic capability that signals to a driver or a technician what sub-system requires attention, Google Ads has its tool called Quality Score to indicate to an advertiser what components of his advertising efforts could be enhanced.

What is Quality Score

What Is Quality ScoreQuality Score (QS) is a keyword level variable determining how relevant an advertiser’s keywords, ads, and landing pages are to what Google’s users are searching for.

QS is graded, with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest value. When there is not enough data to determine a value, it is reported as “–.”

QS contains the following components:

  • Expected click-through rate – measuring how likely your ad will be clicked on
  • Ad relevance – measuring how relevant your ads are to your keywords
  • Landing page experience – measuring post-click user experience on your website

Each of these components has self-explanatory grading statuses: “Above Average,” “Average,” and “Below Average.”

Quality Score factors

Why does QS matter

QS gives you an estimate of your ad quality, which is involved in determining your ad rank along with your bid, your ad rank thresholds, the expected impact of ad extensions, and other factors. If the quality of your ads is better than competitors’ at the auction time, you may win a better position and pay less per click, even if the competitive bids are higher.

Per Google, QS is not involved in the auction to determine your ad rank. However, Google does use expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience, along with other factors, to calculate it. The actual formula is not revealed to advertisers. With that being the case, QS is not a key performance indicator (KPI); it is a diagnostic tool.

Ways to improve QS

Generally speaking, to improve the quality of your account, you need to enhance QS, which means to strengthen its components, including the following:

  • Improve expected CTR – Check search term reports and continuously update your negative keywords lists. Consider full use of all types of relevant ad extensions. Continually refine your most serving keywords.
  • Improve ad copy – Craft ads with relevant copy and a strong call-to-action. Consider including well-performing keywords to the text of your ads. The first component may benefit from it as well.
  • Improve landing pages – Ensure your page has what users are searching for, it is easy to navigate, appropriately organized, loads rapidly, and all of that is applied to both desktop and mobile devices.

If you have low QS keywords that capture relevant search queries, show relevant ads, and send users to optimized landing pages, don’t expect it to rise immediately. It may take several months to hit that 10/10 score.

How to track QS changes

In May 2017, Google announced the ability to track your historical QS. You may see how it improves over time by comparing it to a previous period or by segmenting data by time unit. In the screenshot below, you may see how, month over month, the components improve and impact the historical QS from 5/10 to 10/10.

Hist. Quality Score

Impression-weighted QS

An average QS will not give you a real picture of how well your account is optimized. Let’s say you have 80% of keywords with 10/10 QSs, but the other 20% have 4/10 but receive 80% of the impressions. In that case, calculating an average will give you a false estimate that everything is OK, when in reality you may be overpaying for clicks. Impression-weighted averages will be able to reflect that, which is why it is best to use them to review your account’s overall health.

Conclusion

QS is a vital diagnostic tool helping advertisers improve their ads, keywords, and landing pages, which may lead to better ad positions, higher impression share, and lower advertising costs.

Need help improving your QS or account health? Reach out to our PPC/SEM experts today.

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About the author: Ivan Shimanchik

Ivan Shimanchik
Ivan Shimanchik is an SEM Specialist at Aronson Advertising, where he creates and manages paid search accounts for automotive industry clients (Nissan, Ford, and Chevrolet dealers, among others), including developing or troubleshooting AdWords scripts for Aronson's PPC team. He loves long runs, beautiful hikes, and learning new skills.

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