Everything You Need to Know About Google Ads Quality Scores

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In understanding all the nuances that make up paid search, you’ll come across what is seemingly the linchpin of them all: the Quality Score. Your Quality Score influences nearly every part of your paid ads, from how often the ad is shown to how much you pay for it. 

But what exactly is the Quality Score and why should you work to improve it? We break it all down for you in this complete guide. 

What is Quality Score? 

An ad’s quality score is Google’s rating on how relevant your ad and your chosen keywords are. It is made up of a variety of factors but ultimately, it’s used to determine how much you pay (your cost per click or CPC) and when multiplied by your maximum bid, determines where you ad ranks among your competitors. 

The main factors that influence your Quality Score are: 

  • Your Click-Through Rate (CTR) 
  • The relevance of each keyword or phrase in the ad group where it’s found
  • The relevance of the landing page that you direct customers to

Based on these three factors, your ads are assigned a rating of Above Average, Average or Below Average. This means that Google has compared your ads with others for that exact same keyword or phrase over the last 90 days, and the resulting designation is how well (or poorly) your ads are expected to perform as a result. 

If you see a dash in the column under Quality Score, it simply means that there haven’t been enough searches to be able to determine how well that keyword will likely perform. 

How Do I Check My Quality Score?

Before you can begin to improve on your quality score, you first have to know where to find it. Follow these steps to see what your Quality Score is currently: 

  1. Sign into your Google Ads account
  2. Select Keywords from the menu on the left
  3. Click the columns icon in the upper right corner of the table
  4. You’ll see a section marked “Modify columns for keywords”. From there, open the Quality Score section. You can add different sections to the statistics table, including Ad Relevance, CTR, and so on.

How Do I Improve My Quality Score? 

There are several ways to go about improving your quality score that don’t rely on you having to increase your budget. 

Improve the Expected CTR

The expected click-through rate or CTR is, as mentioned above, the likelihood that someone will click on your ad for that exact keyword. If you get an average or above average rating, you’re good to go. If it’s below average, however, it’s a good idea to adjust your ad copy so that the keyword you’re aiming for is mentioned more frequently in the ad itself. Above all, Google wants to make sure it’s directing searchers to a result that matches what they’re looking for — and the closer your ads do that, the higher your likely CTR will be. 

Improve Your Ad Relevance

How well does your chosen keyword reflect the message in your ads themselves? Improving ad relevance is as easy as adding in the exact keyword or phrase that you want to rank for, within the copy of the ad itself. 

Improve Your Landing Page

This step may be a bit more involved than simply making a few tweaks to your keywords, but it can have a substantial effect on your Quality Score. Make sure that your landing page is relevant to the ad copy and seamlessly leads the user from clicking the ad, to their destination, without any friction or unexpected surprises. 

To do this, ensure that your landing page is well-organised and that it flows well in the context of the ad the user has come from. Does it include text that somehow relates to the ad? For example, if you promise 30% off all fine gold jewellery in your ad, but then drop the user on your homepage and force them to navigate through to find the sale items, your Quality Score will be much lower than had you just sent them directly to the 30% off sale page featuring just the fine gold jewellery. Remember, it’s all about making that connection with your user and then guiding them where you want them to go. 

Group Relevant Keywords Together

When you first created your ads, you were asked to create specific groups to put those keywords in. Rather than just stuffing all of your keywords into a single group, it’s best to separate them out by category. Going back to our gold jewellery example, you might separate your keywords by karats: 18k gold, 14k gold, etc. Or you might choose to separate them by type of gold: white gold, rose gold, and so on. 

You have quite a bit of freedom in terms of how you choose to group your keywords, what’s important is that the more relevant the ads are to the group they belong in, the higher the relevance and thus, the higher your Quality Score. 

Look at Other Metrics Outside of Quality Score

It’s easy to get tunnel vision when looking at your Quality Score, but break away from it for a moment and take a look at some other metrics that will further qualify that you’re doing it right (or not!) for example, your click-through rate, site engagement and conversion rate. Those are just as connected to the overall performance of your site as the Quality Score label that Google gives it. With a few tweaks to your landing pages or a few adjustments to your copy, it may very well be that those high-performing keywords you’re targeting will do even better. 

Remember that improving your Quality Score is not something that can be done overnight. Play the long game and look at it weeks or even months into the future. 

Other Quality Score Indicators

Did you know that there is no single be-all, end-all Quality Score umbrella that arches over all of your account? There are actually several “Quality Scores” for all of the different facets of your paid search ads. For example, there’s an account-level Quality Score, where Google plays favourites with older accounts as opposed to newer ones. Resist the urge to “start over” (this violates Google Ads policy as well), and instead work on rebuilding your campaigns and reorganising them from the inside. 

There’s also Ad Group Quality Score, which isn’t something you can actually view in your dashboard but rather an average of Quality Scores for keywords in a specific ad group. Your keywords get Quality Scores too, in a range from 1-10 with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best.  Until your account hits a certain ad threshold, your keyword Quality Score will be representative based on historical data from Google.com itself. 

So as you can see, it’s not enough to take a holistic view of Quality Score as a big, nebulous thing that reflects your ads themselves, but rather all of the individual pieces that add up into one well-oiled, high-converting ad machine. 

Is Quality Score Even Still Relevant in 2023? 

We’re asked this often, especially considering how long Quality Scores have been around. Do they even still matter in 2023? Compared to all of the other majestic and complicated algorithms that Google has created, Quality Score is a rather simple set of calculations, so it might seem like Google would just casually sweep it under the rug at some point.

But Quality Score isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. It does the same job as it did back then and there’s really no need to change it. Think of Quality Score as more of a gentle warning that “Hey, your ads could be doing better if you just tweak these few things”. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that increasing your Quality Score is splitting hairs, but the fact is, sometimes small, seemingly insignificant changes can have a measurable and impactful result on your ads. 

At the same time, trying to wrap your head around all of the different iterations of the Quality Score and everything you have to do to improve it can be confusing and complex. Fortunately, that’s where it helps to have a Google Ads management company on your side. At CLIQ MC we not only have the experience and expertise to help your ads perform at their highest levels, but we also have dedicated insights that can help you gain the upper hand over your more established competitors. 

Contact us today and let’s discuss your ad management needs and how we can help you take your business growth to the next level with smart, insightful management and monitoring that helps you save money and increase all the metrics that matter most to you. 

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