Understanding the AdWords Quality Score

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The Quality Score is a number from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, that Google assigns to your keywords. This number plays an important factor every time you bid on AdWords. While others shrug off the QS and argue that conversion rates are all that matter, you should understand first what it can do.


To succeed in AdWords, the idea is to get the best ad visibility (high ad rank) at the lowest possible cost (low actual CPC). Every advertiser should know two very important formulas that govern the AdWords auction: the Ad Rank and the Actual CPC.

Ad Rank = Max Bid x QS

Actual CPC = [ Ad Rank of Advertiser below you ÷ QS ] + $0.01


Notice the common factor that influences these results? That’s right, succeeding in AdWords depends a lot on the Quality Score. To further illustrate this:

How Quality Score affects Ad Rank and CPC

Setting the highest bids doesn’t guarantee top ad positions. In fact, you don’t even need to spend that much. (Source)


There are a lot of big words involved when it comes to explaining what Quality Score is. But the bottomline is this: Google’s definition of quality is good user experience for those who use their search engine, and therefore it rewards advertisers who provide this kind of experience with higher scores, which lead to lower advertising costs and higher chances of getting conversions. The key, then, is to work on getting a high QS.

We’ll never know exactly how Google computes the Quality Score, but it takes into consideration these three major factors:

    1. Click through rate (CTR) which depends on users’ response to ads showing up on search queries;
    2. Relevancy which depends on Google’s inspection of how the keywords, ads, landing page and campaign settings correlate; and
    3. Historical performance which depends on your account’s performance in the past.


Improve Your Click Through Rate

CTR is Google’s way of evaluating how users are responding to your ads, and is measured by the number of clicks your ad gets as opposed to the number of times it is shown (CTR = clicks ÷ impressions). It depends largely on your keywords and your ad copy.

Logic dictates that users would click on your ad if it is answers their search query (keyword). You should bid for the correct keywords that your potential customers would query, and filter that list with the proper keyword match types. But to get that click, you have to have good ad copy. Your three-line ad has to stand out and grab the attention from the other ads and organic results.


Focus on Relevance

Relevance is a key factor that should be considered when creating the campaign structure. As a user passes through the sales funnel, all elements should match and provide distraction-free continuity for it to be considered a good user experience. An ad group should be themed tightly to aim at a single goal, target a specific demographic, answer a common query, and deliver the same message from keywords to ads to landing pages.

Other relevance factors that Google considers include your campaign settings, such as geographic targeting and language. When marketing to specific countries, your ad should be in a language that your market could understand or relate to, and your target location should be set accordingly.


Learn From The Past

There’s really nothing you can do about your account’s performance in the past. But just like any credit check, your history affects the way Google treats your current campaigns.

If you have a new account, Google will refer to historical statistics based on all other campaigns and accounts for your QS. As your account starts generating enough data for analysis, these new data will be used to compute your Quality Score.

Unless your account has been so badly managed that you got consistently low Quality Scores, it is not really advisable to close it up and start from scratch. With the right technique and strategy, you can simply build new, better structured campaigns that Google will love.


Optimise For The Future

Whether you’re just beginning to use AdWords or looking to improve your current campaigns, always consider that QS is an important performance indicator that you should strive to improve, and at the heart of it is relevance. Your campaign structure, your ads and your landing pages should be bound together by correlated themes that allow Google users to experience a smooth flow through your sales funnel.

Want to find out how you can improve your Quality Score? Sign up for our free AdWords Health Check today!

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