The Definitive Guide to Your Google Ads Quality Score

December 27, 2018 By Google Ads, PPC

Everyone wants to create high quality ads that are directly relevant to their target audience, because it means that they’ll get a lot of clicks and a lot of conversions. Of course that’s the goal!

Actually creating those high quality ads, however, isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but it can be difficult to assess how well your overall ad campaign is doing.

Google’s quality score can help guide you there. Each keyword will be given a quality score, telling you how well your ads match your keywords. The quality scores will do more than just give you a quick evaluation of your ad campaigns, however, and will actively affect performance in key areas like ad rank or cost.

The importance of the quality score, therefore, can’t be overstated and in this guide we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about Google Ads’s quality score, including how to increase yours.

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

Google Ad’s quality score is a metric that’s calculated for each of your targeted keywords. It tells you how strong Google thinks your ad campaign is and how relevant it is to your audience. It looks for signals of relevance, trust and quality.

Your quality score can be used to assess the status of your campaigns by assessing how they’ll perform with any given keyword. Low quality scores indicate that you need to rework the campaigns somewhere, whether that’s updating the landing page, the ad copy or the keywords. High quality scores mean that you’re on the right track.

Even more importantly, though, is how quality score will directly impact your campaigns. A high quality score will increase your ad ranking, meaning you can get more placements and better placements. It will also immediately lower your cost per click (CPC), so you’ll be getting more impressions, hopefully more clicks as a result, and then those clicks will come in at a lower cost.

Your quality score can be viewed through your campaign manager when viewing your keywords.

How Google’s Quality Score is Calculated

The Google Ads quality score is clearly an important metric to understand and keep track of, but to do that, you need to know how it’s calculated.

Here are the factors Google takes into account when calculating your quality score:

  • Click-through rate (CTR). High CTRs indicate relevance. For new campaigns, Google may use estimated CTR.
  • The relevance of your ad itself to the search term and keyword. If you’ve targeted too many keywords and someone is looking for “Kitchen Aid mixer” but your ad campaign is talking about “Kitchen Aid blenders” and you’re just targeting people looking for Kitchen Aid equipment, your quality score might take a hit here.
  • Your URL’s CTR history. If you have a history of strong ad campaigns, that can help you.
  • The quality and relevance of your landing page. Don’t forget about your landing pages—Google takes these into careful account when calculating your quality score.
  • The average performance for each device. If you’re not performing well on mobile even though you’re doing well on desktop, your quality score can take a hit.

When viewing your quality score up close, you can actually see what factors are contributing to the quality score, including ad relevance, expected CTR, the history of ad relevance, landing page quality and more. This will help you determine what issues may need to be fixed to improve your score.

6 Techniques to Improve Your Quality Score

As long as your campaigns are focused overall, it’s often relatively easy to improve your quality score with a few changes to your campaign once you assess what’s causing your score to take the biggest hit. If you need to improve your quality score (and who would say no to that, even if they’re already doing well?) you can try the 6 following techniques to give it a boost.

1. Create Tighter Keyword Groups

If your keyword groups are all over the place for a single ad campaign, there’s a very good chance that your ad and search term relevance isn’t going to be great.

This is true even with relatively small, specialized businesses. Let’s look at an example business: mine.

I offer ghostwriting, content marketing, and PPC copywriting services to my clients. If I target all of those keywords on an ad campaign, even though they’re writing related and have an ad campaign offering general writing services, my CTR and conversion rates both drop. Someone looking specifically for a PPC copywriter—which IS me—won’t realize that I have anything to offer if I’m just focusing on “all around writing services.” The ad copy isn’t specialized enough, and that will cost me my quality score.

Here’s another good example. I search for “life coach,” and only half the ads are for life coaches—the other half are for certification. If I’m someone searching for a life coach, I almost definitely won’t be someone looking to get certified. The search intent and the ads don’t match up.

Create hyper-targeted Google Ads campaigns with tighter, smaller ad groups. Choose keywords that will work well with specific, specialized ad copy if possible. Use negative keywords to eliminate the likelihood that you’ll appear in irrelevant searches (think “life coach certification”). This will help you increase your CTR and ad relevance to keywords and search terms significantly.

2. Check that Landing Page

Landing pages are a big source of low quality scores, because too many advertisers forget that Google evaluates them carefully when assessing your ad campaign (Facebook does, too, for what it’s worth, and may actually reject your ad campaigns if the landing page doesn’t match the ad).

When creating your ad campaign, ensure that your landing pages check off the following boxes for each individual campaign they’re getting traffic from:

  • Easy navigation. Is it easy for site visitors to see where to go for more information, what CTAs to take, or what forms to fill out? Everything should be straight forward.
  • Directly related to the ad that sent visitors there. It doesn’t matter if you have one landing page for six ads—that landing page needs to match up to each individual ad campaign. If it doesn’t, you need to change the ads or create more landing pages. Make sure that the offers, products, and services mentioned in your ad are clearly listed on the landing page you’re sending potential customers to. Not only will it make Google happy, it will make customers happy, too, and increase your conversions.
  • Crawlable. I’ve found that a lot of businesses neglect the technical side of their landing pages, treating them as if they’re just a pit stop on the way to the real deal of the main site. This is a mistake, because if Google can’t successfully crawl your landing page, it won’t be able to detect relevance, which could impact your quality score.
  • Fast loading speed. Loading speed matters. I’ll say it again and again until people believe me. If your landing page is slow to load, it will impact your organic SEO and your quality score for your campaigns. Make those changes to get your site loading speed up to snuff.
  • Links to your other business pages. Some landing pages will be a part of your website, while others will seem to stand apart from it. In these cases, you can’t just send people to a single landing page with no way to learn more about your business. Include links to and information about your main business, even if the landing page doesn’t share the same navigational bars as the rest of your site.

This ad did everything right:

They highlight certain features in their ad (including free, drag-and-drop, and easy) and mention that on the landing page, which includes a clickable CTA, links to a privacy policy (located at the bottom of the page), and a link to the main company site.

3. Watch Out for Broad Match Types

Broad match keywords can be a death trap for ad campaigns unless you’re making heavy use of negative keywords. Essentially, the broad match keyword type allows you to try to show up for as many maybe-relevant keyword searches as possible.

While this can significantly increase your reach and impressions, it comes with a cost.

Let’s say that you’re advertising your home painting services. You choose the keyword “painter.” While you’ll show up in searches for “house painter” and “interior painter” and “garage painter,” you could also easily end up in searches for “painting class” or “classical painter” or “cabinet painting.” As you end up in more irrelevant searches, your CTR goes down alongside your ad relevance and your quality score may be low.

Consider using exact match or phrase match keywords instead, and use plenty of those negative keywords to keep things on track.

4. Keep Mobile in Mind

If you have a low quality score on mobile, it could affect your mobile performance significantly, and with so much online traffic happening on those small phone screens, this isn’t something you want to happen.

You can increase your CTR on mobile ads by choosing mobile-friendly ad extensions, too. Adding a call extension, for example, makes it particularly easy for an interested client to get in touch with you on mobile: two clicks of a button and your phone will be ringing. Since boosted CTR means a better ad score, this will help you.

One of the biggest factors that have been affecting otherwise strong campaigns is mobile site loading speed. A lot of advertisers forget to monitor this in addition to regular site loading speed. Earlier this year, it was confirmed that mobile loading speed would directly impact quality score, so adjusting that landing page is a quick fix that could give you a big bump in results.

To be on the safe side, check out your site’s mobile loading speed with Google here. It only takes a minute to scan and it’s free.

5. Test Out Ad Extensions

While it is a myth that ad extensions are directly tied to quality score, there is a correlation.

Ad extensions, after all, provide users with more information about your brand or your site while taking up more real estate in a way that naturally draws user attention in. Therefore, extensions will often increase click-through rate. That boost in CTR is what increases quality score, not the fact that you’re simply using the extensions.

6. Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Dynamic keyword insertion allows you to create ad campaigns that swap out certain phrases in the headlines or descriptions with the keyword that the user searched for, as long as it’s in your list of targeted keywords.

Instead of saying “home decor sale,” for example, dynamic keyword insertion could swap out “home decor” with “throw pillows,” “wall clocks,” and “paintings.” When users see the ad, they’ll see a campaign that’s advertising exactly what they’re searching for, but you get to manage one campaign instead of 16 individual ones.

It goes without saying that dynamic keyword insertion greatly increases the relevance of your ad campaigns to the searcher, which will boost CTR, too.

You can learn more about how to implement dynamic keyword insertion here.

Conclusion

Your Google Ads quality score is an important metric to keep an eye on, because they not only tell show the general health of your campaign but they also directly affect your CPCs and your ad ranking. Raising your quality score isn’t some useless task for a vanity metric—it will increase your impressions, your ad rank, and your return on ad spend as your CPC falls.

Creating high quality ad campaigns is the goal for all advertisers, because it means more clicks and more conversions. Use the strategies discussed here to improve your quality score, which can act as a valuable indicator for how your ads are doing.

Struggling to get your quality scores where you want them on your campaigns? Get in touch with us and see how our ad management services can benefit you.

What do you think? What’s your average quality score for Google Ads? What tricks do you use to keep your score high? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below, and we’ll be happy to answer! 

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Ana Gotter

Ana Gotter is a freelance writer specializing in social media and content marketing, though she writes on a variety of other niches and subjects. She can be contacted at anagotter.com.

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