Digital Marketing, SEO, SEM

What Is Google’s Quality Score and Why Does It Matter?

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What Is Google’s Quality Score and Why Does It Matter?

Google’s Quality Score is a ranking the search engine applies to keywords to improve the quality and relevancy of its ads and enhance user experience. It’s a diagnostic tool for advertisers that indicates how relevant an ad and its associated landing page are in relation to what users search. The score is represented on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.

Why does it matter? Because the higher your Quality Score is, the lower your pay per click will be in the auction and the better your ad position will be.

Finding Your Quality Score

To access your score, navigate to ‘Search Keywords’ and modify columns to include Quality Score. When you’re assessing your performance, include historical Quality Score for the reporting period (see example). You can compare period on period and see the score changes over a certain time. In addition, you can manipulate date ranges to see if there is any valuable historical information.

How Does It Work?

Your search ranking is calculated based on the combined performance of three components:

  1. The relevance of the ad to the keyword – does the information in your ad correspond to the search intent.
  2. The relevance of the ad to your landing page – is the information on your landing page relevant to what people search and your ad copy.
  3. The click-through rate of the ad – how likely people click on your ads.

If you improve your ads and landing pages and tailor them more closely to what people are looking for, it will improve your expected click-through rate and, in turn, your account’s overall performance.

Quality Score impacts your performance because it helps Google determine your ad rank. Your ad rank is identified by multiplying your Max CPC bid by the Quality Score.

Let’s look more closely at what each factor of the Quality Score means and how to improve it.

Expected Click-Through-Rate

is represented by the likeliness of the ad receiving a click when it appears on the search engine results page (SERP). Some research shows that it is the biggest factor in identifying a Quality Score. It is different from just the regular click-through rate in the advertising account. Google takes the keyword performance into consideration along with other advertising accounts that target the same keyword.

Expected CTR is impacted by your ad relevance and landing page experience; however, there might be situations where your keyword and ad copy match perfectly, but your ad is triggered by irrelevant searches which decrease your expected CTR. This can be discovered in the search terms reports by examining the individual search queries and irrelevant themes triggering ads.

Negating irrelevant terms and adjusting keyword match types in combination with smart bidding can improve the account’s expected CTR and, therefore, your overall score. It can take time for your score to improve so don’t be disheartened if you don’t see improvements immediately. Google doesn’t give any exact indicators of the time it takes for changes to be reflected in scores but it’s commonly believed that it takes around 1,000 impressions per keyword to update.

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Ad Relevance

Reflects how well the message in your ad matches the keywords that you’re targeting and your corresponding landing page. There are three possible ad relevance statuses:

  1. Above average
  2. Average
  3. Below average

An ‘Average’ or ‘Above average’ status indicates that you have no major issues with your ad relevance compared to all other ads across Google Ads. The closer the connection between keyword and ad copy, the higher the ad relevance.

To improve ‘Below average’ ad relevance, incorporate the keywords you target into your ad copy. Simply reword your ad copy to include as many keywords into the headlines, ad descriptions, or even path fields from your display URL as possible. Also, the information that you put in your ad should always correspond to your landing page and vice versa.

In addition, Google offers a few advanced features to improve ad relevance by allowing dynamic updates to the text of your ads depending on what people search:

  • Dynamic Keyword Insertion or DKI helps to insert different characteristics or descriptions that people search of the same product that you offer. For example, let’s say you promote personal loans. DKI would automatically add different loan types to your ad copy.
  • Location insertion customises your ad to your users’ locations. Instead of writing individual ad variations for each location, you can just insert a piece of code and Google Ads will try to replace this code with the location from your campaign.

Landing Page Experience

defines how useful and easy to navigate your landing page is to someone who clicks the ad. Google Ads uses the same statuses for each factor of the quality Score:

  • Above average
  • Average
  • Below average

To score an ‘Above average’ for your landing page experience, it should match the keyword you target as well as the information that you promote in your ad. You need to ensure that the messaging from the ad copy is carried over to the content on the landing page. Your landing page experience also takes the technical quality of the page into consideration, i.e., where you send the traffic, how well it is organised and if the user can easily access all the necessary information to complete their customer journey. Your website should be easy to navigate, fast to download on different devices and mobile-friendly. Use this Google tool to show page speed on mobile and mobile friendliness.

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What’s considered a ‘good’ Quality Score?

That depends on what kind of keyword we’re bidding on:

  • Branded keywords: between 8 – 10
  • High-intent commercial keywords: 7 – 9
  • Low-intent keywords: 7
  • Competitor keywords: 3+

The structure of your ad account could also help to improve your Quality Score. If you can split your keywords into different themes and then create specific ad groups for each of those themes and more closely tailor your ads to the topic as a result, that would make your ads more specific and more relevant to what people search. It’s also important to regularly exclude unnecessary keywords that waste your budget and don’t convert and eliminate the keywords that have very low search volume and don’t convert. In a situation where your Quality Score remains low despite your efforts, it’s best to pause those keywords and focus on others that have more potential.

It’s essential to make your ad text clear and compelling to connect your potential customers as closely as possible with your landing page. You should highlight the unique benefits of the product you’re offering, such as free delivery or a seasonal discount. You should experiment with your call to action and make them strong and consistently focused on the action you would like your website visitor to complete, i.e., ‘Sign Up for a Trial’, ‘Buy’, ‘Sell’, ‘Get a Quote’, etc. Finally, don’t hesitate to create a sense of urgency and highlight upcoming promotions events with countdown ad customisers.

Test multiple ads, experiment with different offers, keywords, ad copy and add at least four different ad extensions, including visual ad extensions. An absolute minimum would be image extensions and sitelinks.

Quality Score – A Useful Diagnostic Tool, Not a KPI

Advertisers must regularly look at their Quality Score to make sure it isn’t languishing and driving up costs. Pay attention to the three factors that affect Quality Score – expected click-through rate (CTR), ad relevance, and landing page experience. Working on these to improve your Quality Score helps you to maximise your ad budget and achieve more results with less spend.

Quality Score is a very useful diagnostic tool, but it’s not the holy grail. Keywords with low Quality Scores can still perform well, and sometimes even better than higher Quality Score keywords. And competitor keywords will always have a low Quality Score but can still convert well.

Don’t become obsessed with scoring a perfect 10 for every keyword. Consider the specifics of your business and the overall performance of your account. Become obsessed with metrics that ‘move the needle’, like improving your conversion rates, and your sales funnel, tracking and lifetime values. Improving your Quality Score is one of the many tactics you can employ to achieve these higher value goals.

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