Learn what is a Google Ads Quality Score and how you can improve it with a Professional Diploma in Search Marketing. Download a brochure today!
Google Ads, previously known as Google AdWords, is a digital marketing platform created by Google in the year 2000. At its launch, only 350 advertisers were using the service to build brand awareness. Today, Google Ads has more than 1 million marketers and is a multi-billion dollar extension of the company.
With so many marketers using the advertising service to increase traffic and ROI, Google Ads has become a highly-competitive landscape. Those who don’t use every resource available to their advantage are less likely to succeed. One of the ways Google determines your importance to the consumer audience is through your quality score. The quality score multiplied by the pay per click bid equals the Google Ad rank. This is an important equation to remember throughout your marketing journey.
Throughout this guide, we’ll dig deeper into:
- The true definition of a Google Ads quality score
- The various types of scores to focus on
- Why they matter
- How you can change yours
What is a Google Ads Quality Score?
A google quality score is a combination of factors which describe your ads overall relevancy to the customer. Marketers with high-quality scores have better ad ranks. Just like organic search traffic is ranked on a results page, paid ads are ranked as well. The outcome of your score depends on three main criteria:
- Expected Clickthrough Rate: The chance that your ad campaign will be noticed and clicked by a consumer.
- Landing Page Experience: How convenient and organized your layout and sitemap are, as well as the overall pertinence of the site to the consumer.
- Ad Relevance: The level at which your advertisement matches a user’s search query and intention.
The score is reported from 1-10 and is meant to help marketers refocus energies on increasing customer impact. Google describes the score as "a warning light for a car’s engine.” It tells you, the driver, that something's wrong with your ad or website so that you can fix it.
How to Check Your Google Ads Quality Score
To see the current quality score for your Google ads, marketers run a keyword diagnosis. You can do this by selecting “campaign” and then “keywords.” A white speech box should be visible next to the keywords on the page. Use this to see if there is already a score, including the ad relevance, landing page experience and expected clickthrough rate of the keyword.
If no white speech boxes are visible, it could be that you've disabled the quality score columns. Enable them by clicking "campaigns," and "keywords," and then selecting "modify columns" from the drop-down menu. From here, you can choose to see your quality score, landing page experience, ad relevance, or expected click-through rate.
Alternatively, you can view the history of these QS components by selecting quality score (history), landing page experience (history), etc. and clicking, “apply.”
The Different Types of Quality Scores
Any marketer worth their salt knows about quality scoring at the keyword level, but there’s more to QS ranking than keywords alone. In fact, there are a few different types of quality scores to monitor. These include:
Keyword Quality Score
The most trusted and recognized quality score of all, keyword QS can be seen from your Google Ads dashboard. The goal, of course, is to get as close to 10 in ranks from 1-10 as possible. It’s based on the number of consumers who search using your keywords.
Google uses the whole history of a keyword to score it accurately, which is helpful in choosing your keywords. As your keyword is defined by the Google user base, you'll begin to see a rank form, and it's low or high rating will impact how you rank online. Keywords are ranked on several contributing factors, including:
- Keyword relation to content, and the proper use therein
- Keyword relevance to consumers viewing your ad
- Previous scores for a keyword
- Expected click-through rate based on previous use of the keyword
Landing Page Quality Score
Google has always marketed itself as a user-first company. They strive to provide high-quality results to their searchers, which means site owners must deliver high-quality content to rank. The landing page quality score helps you monitor how closely you fit this specification. Factors influencing your LPQS are:
- Relevancy of content
- Ease of navigation
- Transparency of policies
- Unique copy
Again, your search for a better score and higher ROI comes back to keyword QS. When you hover over that speech box, one of the indicating factors for rank is landing page experience. While never expressly mentioned by Google, it’s obvious that the landing page plays a big role in the success of other areas of your ad.
The upside to Google ranking your landing page, whether it's official or not, is that you pay closer attention as a marketer or business owner. Your landing page is the face of your company, which means improving it will only improve your customer's experience. This increases brand loyalty, traffic, and, in turn, revenue.
Mobile Quality Score
Mobile devices are defined as any tool which can be used on the go without an anchor. A tablet or mobile phone is the most common, but iPods, Chromebooks, and other devices count as well. Of the world's internet traffic, 52% is mobile, making this an important QS for which to rank successfully.
This is the only score that factors location into its decision-making process. Where a device is located via the GPS tracker accounts for the ranked ads seen on the viewfinder. Therefore, your ad might rank differently on a mobile level than it does on a desktop device.
Account Level Quality Score
Google hasn't officially confirmed this score, but many advertisers believe that it exists. The ALQS grades your overall account success, including the performance of ads and keywords used over time. Your account's quality score reflects the other scores you've collected. This means a poor click-through rate or bad grade for keyword usage will negatively impact you at the account level.
One of the reasons marketers came to believe this faction of the quality scoring system exists is because of the higher performance of longstanding accounts. Old accounts vs. new accounts seem to have an advantage in QS rank. This could be due in part to Google’s policy restricting the creation of multiple AdWords accounts.
When a company sees an ad account performing poorly, all they can do is pull back marketing endeavors and restructure. It's a long-term process, but the payoff is worth the effort. Restructuring your strategy could involve deleting old and using new keywords or improving ad relevancy to your audience.
Ad Group Quality Score
This score is the total rank at the ad level. It includes anything that might impact how an ad is perceived and accepted by your audience. Marketers who tackle the ad score, focus on groups of advertisements and their marking indicators. Consumer perception, relevancy, and keywords are all reviewed, starting with the ad group with the lowest performance.
By focusing your attention on low-performing ads first, you boost the overall average of your ads. You can monitor this score by adding up keyword QS for an ad group and averaging them.
While most of these scores rely heavily on keywords, there’s obviously more to it than this magic formula alone.
Why Quality Scores Are Important
Google is nothing if not user-friendly. They understand that without users, the platform isn't worth much. With more than 5 billion users, it makes sense that the company would take such drastic moves to be sure that all the sites it displays are of the same quality.
Quality scores are important because they denote the values of Google, and show you how they're reflected in your ads, keywords and landing pages. They tell Google which sites are following the rules, and which ads aren't worth showing to their loyal searchers.
Even without Google’s eye for customer service, your QS is crucial to the success of your brand because it reflects customer opinion. The statistics Google uses to determine the relevancy of your ad matches the way consumers rate websites for themselves. Consumers ask questions like:
- Can I get around the site without confusion?
- Did the link tell me exactly where I was going and was it honest?
- Did the copy in that ad look like it was forced to include keywords, or was it smooth and natural?
More than this, your quality score tells you whether you’re eligible to appear in a user search. Meaning, your ad and landing page could be completely invisible to consumers.
Finally, your quality scores drive your rank. As mentioned above, paid ads have a rank, the same way organic search results do. If your quality score is low, so will your rank. If your rank is low, so is your visibility. It’s a vicious circle, and a difficult one to break. It becomes more obvious when you consider that 46% of all clicks are within the first three paid advertisements on Google's result page.
Don’t let this rattle you, though. While it is a long-term project, marketers can improve quality scores in several ways.
5 Tips to Improve Your Quality Score
It would be nice if quality scores improved themselves, but that's not realistic. Marketers must be prepared to make changes and updates as reports of low QS arrive. Here are five ways to improve your score:
- Review Data Reports for Impression Share: The number of times your ads are viewed out of the number of times they could have been viewed is the impression share. It shows you whether your advertisements are being delivered as much as they could. Invisible ads don't get clicked, so your impression share is important to know.
- Use Keywords that Aren’t Too Broad or Too Niche: Google has a bad case of “Goldilocks Syndrome” when it comes to keywords. They must be JUST right. Using keywords which are too broad will only lose your ad in the crowd of many others boasting the same phrase. Similarly, keywords that are too niche narrow your viewership. Meeting somewhere in the middle guarantees a more visible ad.
- Restructure Ads for Relevancy: Grouping ads by the target audience, keyword, and other factors improve the relevancy of the ad. Google views ad relevancy as the connection between the resulting ad and the query of a searcher. When your ads are grouped by themes it increases the chances of them being considered relevant by Google.
- Restructure Landing Pages to Reflect Ad Groups: This sounds like a lot of work, and it might be, but the payoff is worth it. Again, one of the major factors Google looks for in your landing page is relevancy to the searcher and to the ad they arrived from. Was the ad honest? Did it paint a picture of your landing page? Do the keywords match? These are all important questions.
- Increase Landing Page Loading: You might be thinking, "this is Google Ad quality score ranking, not webpage ranking." Unfortunately, as one of the components relates to your landing page, one rank affects the other. The user experience on your website reflects heavily in your QS. Google wants to know that customers can get around and that content loads quickly enough to hold their attention.
Maintain Your Quality Score
It’s not enough to work hard and rank high, you’ve got to maintain that score once you achieve it. Google checks back on websites regularly, but your quality score changes slowly. This can be deceiving to companies who think they're doing well when really things have been slowly slipping. By monitoring your keywords, scores, and Google's algorithm changes, you have a better chance of staying on top of things.
Remember, Google doesn’t only look at your current score, but the history of your score over time. Many marketers think longevity counts when Google ranks. So, whether you rank high now or not, continue working on your score to make an impression on Google and your customers.