• Josh McRay

Explaining the Basics of Quality Score

Quality score is one of those things about Google Ads that can easily be seen as some sort of magic or sorcery. It is actually not as complicated as some make it out to be. Quality Score is one of the unsung heroes of any Google Ads campaign (providing that you pay attention to it). It can also be the thing that holds you back from having lower costs and better ad placements. So what exactly is Quality Score?


Quality Score is Google Ad’s estimate of the quality of your keywords, ads, and landing pages. The higher the quality score, the lower the click costs get and the higher position an ad can achieve. When you think Quality Score, think Relevancy.


How to Look at Quality Score


If you’re going to work on enhancing Quality Score, you need to know how to look at it. There are more than a handful of columns that can help you take a closer look at quality score. Modifying the columns in the Keywords tab will give you access to the Quality Score section, where you’ll be able to add different quality based metrics. The four that I use are: Quality Score, Landing Page Experience, Expected CTR, and Ad Relevance.


Quality Score


This is the quality rating that is attached to keywords. The values range from 1-10. A 5-6 will place keywords in an average range. A 10 would be the best and a 1 would be the worst. This is the primary indicator of how well keywords match up with ads and landing page experience.


Landing Page Experience


Landing Page Experience describes the usefulness of the landing page that ads are sending traffic to. The page should be very clear in what the action should be, easily provide a way to take that action, and be as relevant to the keyword as possible. The example that I always use is “if you’re selling red shoes, your keyword should be red shoes, your ads should talk about red shoes, your page should talk about red shoes, there should be a picture of red shoes, and there better be a 1 step solution to buy those red shoes”.


Expected CTR


This is the expected click through rate of any given keyword at auction time, and is largely used to determine whether a keyword is going to be relevant enough to populate an ad in a search result. Expected CTR can be Below Average, Average, or Above Average.


Ad Relevance


Ad Relevance is an indicator of how well your ad matches with the landing page and the keywords in an ad group. This metric has the same ratings available as Expected CTR, but is much more actionable. A below average Ad Relevance normally means that the ad needs to be better written to match the keywords in an ad group. If the ads and keywords are closely matched and there is still a below average Ad Relevance, then the landing page needs work.


Historical Metrics


There are four other metrics based on the four above that provide historical data. I don’t normally use these because my focus is on day to day management of accounts. To me, they are less actionable, but can provide useful information on what changes may or may not work to create better relevancy.


Putting Quality Score to Work


Keeping track of the four metrics above can help to guide changes inside of an account. I use them daily to generate new ad group ideas, ad formats, and page changes. The important thing to keep in mind is tracking. Track the changes made, where they were made, why they were made, and what the outcome was. Quality score is a long game, so changes made need to be left to build quality over time. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

  • If you have a 5 or below Quality Score rating on a keyword, check out Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience.

  • If you have a below average Ad Relevance, consider re-writing the ad to better suit the keyword.

  • If you have a below average Landing Page Experience, give the landing page a look. Make sure that it has instances of the keyword, and a clear way to complete the action that you want the customer to take.

Quality Score isn’t magic. It isn’t randomly generated, and it CAN work in your favor. I put it to work for me every day, and over time I’ve seen some pretty impressive drops in Cost Per Click and Cost Per Conversion overall. All it takes is a basic understanding of the concepts, attention to detail, and patience, and Quality Score can be a useful tool in any campaign.

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