Google Ads Quality Score Optimization: A Complete Guide
How do you measure the quality of an ad? Google Ads has a formula for it, and it’s all broken down into a simple score. Understand what goes into your score and how to improve it.
Imagine a world without Quality Scores. A world where every keyword is equal to another and the only difference between them is how much the advertiser is willing to pay for someone to click on an ad. In this imaginable world, the poor remain poor and the rich control the entire ad kingdom.
Well, you’re in luck. Because in the real world, to be placed in the first ad position, you can’t just rely on your bid amount. Although it’s true that aggressive bidding can place you at top positions, if your quality scores are low or below average, you will throw away your budget and won’t survive for long.
Google’s search engine’s main target is to be as relevant as possible for users’ queries and, therefore, you must maintain a high relevance score for your Keyword-Ad-Landing-Page combination. Among many other factors that affect the quality score of a keyword, this three-pronged relevance score is the most important one. Keeping your ad relevant to users’ search terms, while simultaneously directing them to a proper and relevant landing page will grant you a respectable and high-quality score – a kind of ‘pat on the back’ from Google Ads.
Advertisers with a low-quality score who are trying to bid aggressively to conquer the first ad position will probably get “punished” by Google – they will have to pay more per click, suffer from low ad rank, and eventually end up either in bottom page positions or will rarely appearing at all.
Sound scary? It can be. But believe it or not, there are a few simple ways to increase your quality score.
Table of Contents
- What is a Google Ads Quality Score?
- What Goes Into Your Quality Score?
- What Are the Three Main Factors That Determine Ad Quality?
- Google Ad Rank Defined
- How Do I Check My Quality Score?
- How to Improve Quality Score
- Improving Google Ads Quality Score: Final Thoughts
Your Google Ads quality score is Google’s assessment of the quality of your ads and keywords.
Google measures “quality” in terms of relevance (for the most part). Tricks like spamming main keywords don’t improve the score, but in fact, harm it. There are quite a few factors that actually go into determining your score, so we’ll go over them soon.
Before we dive in, it’s important to know how your Google quality score affects your bottom line. First, your Google quality score determines your cost per click. A higher score will help you reach a wider audience for less money. The second part of that factor is your maximum bid. Your maximum bid and quality score are multiplied. The result determines your advertisement’s place in the auction process.
So, Google Ads Quality score is important if you care about higher performance at a lower cost. Since almost everyone on Google Ads wants these benefits, let’s go over what gives some advertisers a competitive edge over others.
Google measures the quality of ads through the lens of its users. If your ad is relevant and engaging to users, Google will view it in a positive light. Google ad space is increasingly valuable, and it’s in Google’s primary interest to keep users satisfied with the search engine. That’s why relevant ads and positive user interaction are rewarded. This includes financial incentives for advertisers to keep their content relevant.
The system behind the ad quality score includes fairly complex calculations. However, three main factors drive your score.
Your quality score is determined by several short-term and long-term performance indicators. So what are the three main factors that determine ad quality? According to Google, the primary factors are:
- Your expected CTR (click-through rate)
- The relevance of your ad
- Landing page behavior
Your expected CTR is a metric for the likelihood that your ad will be clicked on when viewed. The more users click on your ad when it’s on their search results, the better.
“Relevance” by Google’s standards means how closely the content of your ads matches the intent of users searching for it (vis-à-vis keywords). If the content you include is highly relevant to users, your score will rise. Of course, going far off-topic will both harm your score and your conversions.
The last factor, landing page behavior, is the metric covering how users behave after clicking on your ad. Google not only cares about how many people click, they also care about how many people follow through. With good UX (user experience) design and high-quality ad copy, your landing page will be more relevant to users and will perform better. It’s very important for a page to have live text so Google’s bot can read it properly — this way, Google better makes the connection that the page is an extension of the ad, and therefore highly relevant to the user.
In line with Google’s seeming commitment to simplicity, ad rank is displayed in simple categories. For each of the above factors, you are ranked as either
- Above average.
- Below average.
Your ad’s status is based on how competitive it is. The point of reference is all the other advertisers competing for the same keyword. In that competition, Google only factors in ads from the last 90 days. In that sense, advertisers are incentivized to be more competitive and stay ever more relevant to current trends.
The status of your ad is meant to be used to sort performance indicators by importance. You will often perform differently for each of the 3 main factors. So, a “below average” status isn’t necessarily a cause for panic, but a notice that you have an opportunity to improve. It’s essentially just a notice of how much you are either falling behind or shooting ahead of your competition.
You can find your quality score on your Google Ads account. On the left-hand side, select “Keywords”. Then, on the upper right-hand side of the table, you’ll see a columns icon. Click on that, and you’ll see the “Modify columns for keywords” option. Click on that, then click on “Quality Score”.
By testing and constantly improving.
Google Ads scores determine where an advertiser’s ads appear, so it’s important to improve your score over time. To improve your score, you need to achieve better performance in the 3 main factors. However, each of those factors depends on several smaller factors.
The goal of keyword research is to find out the most relevant keywords to add to your ad strategy. There are many different tools that can help you do this. Among the most popular are the Keyword Planner (google’s free tool) or platforms like SEMrush, SimilarWeb, or Ahrefs.
You can also discover new terms from your own campaigns by looking at “search terms”. It’s possible to discover even more keywords through Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) campaigns.
It’s easy for novice SEOs to overlook long-tail keywords, but these can be powerful ways to generate traffic for lower CPCs. Long-tail keywords are longer keyword phrases with lower search volumes and less competition.
Keywords are split into levels of importance and desired location. For example, some keywords are so important that missing them will certainly lead users to your competition first. The location of keywords refers to the place in content where they’re inserted. Titles are the most important, followed by headings, subheadings, and main content.
Keyword optimization must be based on keyword research. With good research, you can be sure to include all of the important keywords in your work.
Titles are incredibly important. While keeping users on your landing pages and making sure more of them click through is important, they need to click in the first place. Split testing different titles that align with your desired audience can help you become more efficient. As more people see your ads and start clicking on them, your Google quality score will improve.
Better Landing Pages
The written and visual content on your landing pages determines how people behave after clicking through. Better landing pages simultaneously lead to more sales and a higher Google ads quality score. That means keywords are important, but so is every aspect of design. Professional landing pages that convert are the final step in getting sales and improving your quality score.
Breaking It Down
Now that we’ve gone over the key facets of Google ads quality score, we need to break everything down. There are different levels of ad quality:
- Account-level quality score (your overall Google ads quality score)
- Ad group-level quality score
- Keyword-level quality score
How to Improve Quality Score Of Keywords
On the keyword level, quality score is determined by:
- Keyword relevance to the ad’s viewers
- How useful the landing page is to users
- Projected CTR
The only way to improve the keyword quality score is through better research. Research doesn’t just cover individual keywords. It’s also worth looking at impression share. Impression share is the percentage of times that your ad was shown out of all the total available impressions. When impression share is low, it may mean your ad budget is too low.
Another factor worth improving is the match type of your keywords. If you only use the exact match, you will have less impression growth. Ad groups and keyword matches should be organized in order of CTR. While it can be helpful in determining focus, it’s important for advertisers to consider broader keyword groups as well. This is a great way to discover new terms, though it’s also crucial to do search term optimization beforehand so advertisers don’t end up paying for irrelevant keywords.
Lastly, as mentioned before, you don’t just want to compete for the most searched keywords. There is a balance to be found. You don’t want to be optimizing for just the most niche keywords either, as your impressions will be far more limited. Fortunately, Google offers its own tool that helps with this in the “Opportunities” tab. The Opportunities feature enables advertisers to discover new, relevant keywords within an ad group.
Landing Page Quality Score Anatomy
Google states that a higher quality score means that your landing page is “more relevant and useful to someone searching for your keyword, compared to other advertisers.”
Like your overall quality score, the landing page quality score involves a few metrics. Originality plays a part. While it’s good practice to use popular keywords that people search for naturally, it also pays to produce content that is as original as possible and puts a unique spin on the subject.
Bounce time and similar metrics also help Google determine your landing page’s relevance. To keep users on the landing page, provide information that is unique, new, and interesting. Design is important here because even if the copy is good, people tend to stay longer on pages with better design. Factors such as CTA colors, image quality and compression, video use, personalization, use of testimonials, and more play a huge role in determining the success of your landing page.
It takes time to get good at anything. But with some concerted effort and strategic decision-making, you can improve and optimize your ads, which leads to an improvement in CTR and an eventual boost in quality score. The end result is an incredibly effective campaign.
May the algorithm be with you and good luck!