Understand and Improve Your Quality Score

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in How-Tos | 7 Comments
Understand and Improve Your Quality Score






The elusive Quality Score… it’s all some search marketers seem to think about when optimizing their PPC campaigns. But there’s no reason to be intimidated. While it’s important to be aware of it, Quality Score is nothing to lose sleep over. In this post, we’ll take a look a look at how Quality Scores work, how they affect you, and learn some best practices to optimize your campaigns with it in mind.

About Quality Score

Quality Score is an estimate of how relevant your ads are. Both Google AdWords and Bing Ads assign your keywords with a Quality Score and you can use it to create more relevant ads.

How Quality Score is Calculated

It’s measured on a scale from 1 to 10. A Quality Score of 1 means your ad for that keyword is extremely irrelevant and it’s unlikely your ad will show regularly. A Quality Score of 10 means your ad for that keyword is extremely relevant and your ad will be shown frequently when eligible.

Although it’s assigned on the keyword level, Quality Score mostly takes your keyword, ad and landing page into consideration when estimating relevance.

Here is the full list of factors according to Google:

  • Your keyword’s expected clickthrough rate (CTR): The expected CTR is based in part on the keyword’s past CTR, or how often that keyword led to clicks on your ad
  • Your display URL’s past CTR: How often you received clicks with your display URL
  • Your account history: The overall CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account
  • The quality of your landing page: How relevant, transparent, and easy-to-navigate your page is
  • Your keyword/ad relevance: How relevant your keyword is to your ads
  • Your keyword/search relevance: How relevant your keyword is to what a customer searches for
  • Geographic performance: How successful your account has been in the regions you’re targeting
  • Your ad’s performance on a site: How well your ad’s been doing on this and similar sites (if you’re targeting the Display Network)
  • Your targeted devices: How well your ads have been performing on different types of devices, like desktops/laptops, mobile devices, and tablets – you get different Quality Scores for different types of devices

Example: Let’s say you’re promoting a website that sells backpacks. If a customer searched Google for “waterproof backpacks,” your ad should talk about waterproof backpacks and point to a page on your site about waterproof backpacks. That level of relevance should earn you a high Quality Score. But if your ad was just about backpacks in general and pointed to your home page, you’d likely earn a low Quality Score, since that is an irrelevant ad to show searchers.

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Why Quality Score Matters

Ad networks prefer relevant ads because they offer searchers a great user experience by showing search results with exactly what they’re looking for. If your Quality Scores are high, you can expect to:

  • Earn more impressions and clicks on your ads.
  • Earn a higher position among the sponsored search results on the page.
  • Earn a discounted cost per click as your Ad Rank improves.
  • Include more ad extensions as many extensions require a minimum Quality Score to show.

How to Check Your Quality Score

You can check your Quality Score for campaigns in Google AdWords & Bing Ads by adding it as a column to your keyword table.

Check it in Google AdWords:

  1. Open a keyword table.
  2. Click “Columns,” then “Customize Columns.”
  3. From the “Attributes” metrics, add “Qual. score.”

how to add google adwords quality score columnhow to add google adwords quality score column

Check it in Bing Ads:

  1. Open a keyword table.
  2. Click “Columns.”
  3. Add “Qual. Score.”

how to add bing ads quality score column

Check Google & Bing Quality Scores together in AdStage:

You can see both Google & Bing quality scores together through AdStage.

  1. Open a keyword table (from the folder, campaign or ad group level).
  2. Click “Configure Table.”
  3. Add “Qual. Score.”

how to add adstage quality score column

Diagnose Your Quality Score (AdWords Web UI only)

When looking at a keyword table in the AdWords, you can get diagnose your quality score with additional information about each of the scoring factors. Just click the white speech bubbles next to keyword status to see Google’s estimate of:

google adwords quality score diagnosis

What’s a Good Quality Score?

Your quality score will vary based on how relevant the keyword is to your offer. If the keyword is your brand name, your Quality Score should be closer to 10. If you sell backpacks and the keyword is “duffel bags,” you quality score could be closer to 3.

Here’s my personal interpretation  of Quality Scores:

  • 7-10 – Great Quality Score. Your ads are at an advantage in the auction.
  • 4-6 – Good Quality Score. Your ads are relatively unaffected in the auction.
  • 1-3 – Bad Quality Score. Your ads are at a disadvantage in the auction.

Tips to Improve Your Quality Score

Because Quality Score can offer meaningful improvements to your campaign performance, it’s important to build campaigns with it in mind. The most important being steps that improve your clickthrough rate (CTR).

Reminder: You didn’t start advertising to optimize Quality Scores… so don’t lose sight of the KPIs that matter to you. You want to grow your business, not game your Quality Score.

 Here are the top ways to improve your Quality Score:

  • Add Negative Keywords – Add negative keywords to reduce out irrelevant impressions. Learn more about negative keywords.
  • Make Ads Relevant - Break out keywords into smaller ad groups and populate them with more relevant ads. Learn more about creating ad groups.
  • Make Ads Inviting - Ad Create more effective ad copy that encourages clicks. For example, offer an inviting call to action in your ad like “Try our demo free.” Learn more about creating effective ads.
  • Use Relevant Landing Pages - Choose the most relevant landing page for this keyword, or use a tool like Unbounce to create a new landing page devoted to this keyword. For the example of the keyword “waterproof backbacks,” I’d build a landing page that features content about waterproof backpacks. Learn more about choosing a landing page.

Do you have other tips to improve Quality Scores? Please share it in the comments!

Sam Mazaheri

Sam is the Director of Marketing & Product at AdStage. Previously, he was part of the AdWords product team at Google, serving as the in-house AdWords expert and advisor to product management, engineering, and UX. Prior to that, he personally managed and grew in-house digital marketing programs with over $300,000 in monthly ad spend.


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