A Beginner’s Guide to Google AdWords Quality Score

When done right, pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns have the potential to increase conversions and boost profits.

The top three paid ad spots on Google’s search results pages receive 46 percent of the clicks, so you want to be sure your ads are showing up where they belong.

There’s a lot involved in crafting the perfect ad.

You do meticulous keyword research, write and rewrite the copy and do everything you can to ensure your message is on point.

All your hard work could go to waste if your AdWords quality score is low.

This Google metric plays a key role in determining ad visibility and placement, and a poor score could mean your marketing messages languish in your account instead of appearing in front of potential customers.

What is the Quality Score?

Google defines the Quality Score as “an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords and landing pages.” The score has three major components:

• Expected click-through-rate (CTR)
• Ad relevance
• Landing page experience

Total scores are reported on a scale of one to 10 for various parts of your AdWords campaigns. “Good” quality scores start at seven, and a 10 is considered to be “excellent.”

Account-level score is based on the historical performance of all keywords and ads in your account. The longer you maintain high performance, the higher your score.

Ad groups, ads and keywords have their own rankings, meaning a low score in one area could reduce your overall score and have a negative impact on your campaigns. Google also scores landing pages based on relevancy, transparency of information and ease of navigation.

Why Should You Care about Quality?

In light of all the numbers you already deal with when creating ad campaigns, is Quality Score really important?

Consider your marketing budget. You want to reach a large audience, but you don’t have a fortune to spend on PPC campaigns.

The cost-per-click (CPC) in each campaign limits how many ads you can afford to run.

Accounts with high quality scores can get CPC discounts ranging from 28 to 50 percent.

Google divides your AdRank by your Quality Score to determine your CPC, and AdRank is the product of your Quality Score and your maximum bid for a campaign.

This has a significant effect on visibility. High-quality ads are given display preference over those of lower quality.

Combined with the CPC discount, you get more impressions and more potential conversions for a given amount of money.

What Influences Your AdWords Quality Score?

Relevance is one of the biggest factors Google uses in determining Quality Score.

Your ad must be pertinent to what people are searching for when they use particular keywords, and your landing page must convey the same messaging as your ads.

Other influences include:

• CTR history for keywords
• Your account’s CTR history
• CTR of the URLs used in your ads
• How well your site performs on different devices
• Ad performance in your geographical region
• The number of keywords in an ad group
• Landing page bounce rates

How Does Quality Score Affect Campaigns?

A low Quality Score indicates that Google sees your ad as irrelevant or your landing page doesn’t meet their standards.

You may also be using keywords with a low expected CTR. Since Google attempts to deliver the best possible search results to users, ads with these characteristics rarely get displayed.

High-scoring ads, on the other hand, boost your ROI by reducing your cost per conversion.

Since the CTR of keywords also improves Quality Score, you wind up with campaigns better suited to your target audience as you refine your keyword strategy.

Google rewards high numbers of impressions by increasing your score, giving you an even better chance of reaching potential customers.

Raising Your Score for Better PPC Results

To check your current Quality Score, log in to your AdWords account and navigate to the Keywords section.

Click on “Columns” and choose the option to customise. Apply the “Quality Score” link under “Attributes,” and a score column will be added.

To improve scores under seven or bring good scores up to excellent ones, try these tactics:

• Make sure all destination URLs are correct
• Check the page load speed of your site
• Review or repeat keyword research to discover new keywords and identify high performers
• Broaden the keyword match type to create more impressions
• Narrow the scope of your ad groups
• Use negative keywords to exclude irrelevant search terms
• Address individual keywords, ads, landing pages and ad groups with low scores

Although Quality Score may seem like just one more piece of an already complex puzzle, don’t ignore its impact on your campaigns.

Making adjustments to increase your score improves your landing pages, tightens up your marketing messages and creates a better experience for potential customers.

This not only makes Google see your ads as worthy of higher scores but also has a positive effect on your brand’s reputation.

The point of a PPC campaign is to reach as many people as possible without blowing your entire budget, and a good AdWords Quality Score helps you reach this goal.

On average, businesses make $3 for every $1.60 spent on AdWords, meaning you could get a return of 47 percent if you manage your campaigns correctly.

Do all you can to maximise your Quality Score, and you’ll be well on your way to making Google’s system work to your advantage.