If you’re using Google Ads, you might have seen the term “Quality Score.” (If you’re new to Google Ads, you might want to read my other articles first.) This article will explain what Quality Score is all about.
SEM is a type of paid advertising. You pay for ads so your website appears higher in search results. Everyone wants their ad at the top, but not all can be there. How does Google choose? Two things matter: how much you bid for clicks (CPC Bidding) and the Quality Score. We’ll focus on explaining the Quality Score here.
What exactly is Quality Score?
From a technical perspective, the Quality Score is a rating system created by Google. Its purpose is to evaluate a vast number of ads, determining which ads deserve to be displayed in the search results and their ranking position. It’s essential to note that even if you invest a lot of money, if your Quality Score doesn’t meet the standard, your ad might not be displayed. Quality Score mainly assesses the relevance of keywords, so every keyword has its unique score.
As I mentioned earlier, ad ranking isn’t solely based on Quality Score. Another significant factor is the cost-per-click bid (CPC Bidding). To put it in simple terms, think of it as searching for a partner. Even if your inner quality (Quality Score) is high, without enough ‘investment’ (CPC Bidding), you might still be overlooked. On the other hand, even with adequate ‘investment,’ if your inner quality isn’t good, you might not get the desired result.
This analogy might not be perfect or might sound cliché, but my aim is to simplify the concept. Now, I’ll delve deeper into these two elements.
Delving Deep into Quality Score
Relying solely on bids to determine ad rankings would harm the overall ecosystem of the search engine. If large corporations bid indiscriminately on low-cost but irrelevant keywords to their business, it would degrade the user experience. Imagine searching for “Pumping Service ” and the results show an advertisement for a bank. To prevent this, Google considers not just the bid but also the Quality Score when determining ad rankings. Quality Score is mainly composed of three primary elements: expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience.
So, why is Quality Score so important?
To reiterate, ad ranking depends on both the cost-per-click bid and the Quality Score. Basic arithmetic tells us that if you have a high Quality Score, you can achieve the same ranking with a lower bid, which also means a lower average cost-per-click. According to a foreign study, keywords with a Quality Score between 8 to 10 can receive a 37%-50% discount on cost-per-click, while keywords scoring between 4 to 6 can get a 16%-25% discount. Knowing this, why wouldn’t you strive to improve your Quality Score? After all, in business, we all aim to achieve the highest returns.
The Core Three Components of Quality Score
Quality Score is composed of the following three major factors, which help Google evaluate keywords in each advertisement:
- Expected Click-Through Rate (CTR)
- Ad Relevance
- Landing Page Experience
Each factor has three ratings: Below Average, Average, and Above Average. The highest possible score for Quality Score is 10. Next, we’ll explore how Google uses these three elements to calculate the Quality Score.
In simple terms, Google’s Quality Score calculation is as follows:
Quality Score = 1 + Score of Expected Click-Through Rate + Score of Ad Relevance + Score of Landing Page Experience.
If you want to know how the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) experts came up with this formula: Here
Let’s try to understand what these three main components are。
Expected Click-Through Rate (CTR)
The expected click-through rate is calculated based on the ratio of anticipated clicks to the anticipated number of impressions. When your keywords consistently achieve a high click-through rate and your ad copy is very appealing, it indicates that your expected CTR rating will likely improve.
Below are the three main reasons that might lead to an expected CTR below the average:
- Keyword matching issue: Your chosen keywords might not be an exact match with actual searches.
- Too many themes in an ad group: An ad group might cover too many keywords, causing its theme to be scattered.
- Unappealing ad copy: The copy might not effectively attract the target customers.
If you want to delve deeper into keyword strategies, Read “Mastering Keyword Matching Type: The Definitive Guide for 2023“.
If you wish to explore techniques to boost click-through rates, read “7 Tips for Crafting Perfect Search Ad Headlines to Boost Your Ad Performance“.
Ad relevance is based on the consistency between the keywords you choose and your ad copy. Simply put, when you incorporate an appropriate amount of keywords into your ad copy, the relevance of the ad naturally increases. This is also the easiest element to optimize and score high among the three key factors. This is because by cleverly using keywords in the ad, we can enhance its relevance.
For more details on improving ad relevance (tips included in the article), please read “7 Tips for Crafting Perfect Search Ad Headlines to Boost Your Ad Performance“.
Landing Page Experience
Google has strict evaluation standards for landing pages. It assesses how well the landing page meets the needs of the users who click on the ad. The core idea is that your landing page should not only attract visitors but also swiftly and intuitively provide them with the information they seek. Some strategies recommend embedding relevant keywords in the landing page, which can improve both the page’s SEO and the user experience.
Furthermore, the loading speed of the landing page and its mobile-friendliness are critical factors in Google’s evaluation. A fast and responsive landing page can not only retain user attention but also enhance their overall browsing experience.
Check Your Website Speed: Page Speed Insights
Check Your Mobile Friendliness: Mobile Friendly Test
However, to be honest, unless your website performance is exceptionally poor, like having a very slow loading speed or being very un-mobile-friendly, you shouldn’t worry too much about the landing page experience. In fact, when you successfully increase the click-through rate and enhance the ad relevance, your landing page experience will naturally improve as well.
So, don’t get too caught up in the details of the landing page. The primary task should be to boost the click-through rate, and everything else will follow.
Grading of Quality Score
Score 10: Amazing! You’ve got a perfect score. This keyword surely brings you many business opportunities. However, in reality, most keywords that get a full score are often your brand name.
Score 8-9: An outstanding score! Yet, most keywords with this score are brand names or from less competitive domains. If you achieve this score with highly competitive keywords, it’s truly commendable! But don’t stress too much about chasing a perfect 10.
Score 6-7: A pretty good performance! Unless you have ample time, there’s no need to ponder too much about further improvements.
Score 3-5: Time to be cautious. In most cases, optimising keywords in this range is essential. However, if the keyword comes from a fiercely competitive industry, like beauty service in Hong Kong where the industry’s average keyword quality scores are generally low, then there’s no need to rush the optimization.
Score 1-2: The first step is to determine if this keyword is genuinely relevant to your business. If not, pausing it might be the best choice. If it’s somewhat related, then you should invest time and effort to identify and address the underlying issues.
How can you check your Quality Score on the Google Ads platform?
Check Quality Score (Ranges from 1-10)
You can easily check out the quality score of different keywords in the panel of Google Ads. Follow the steps in order to check the quality score for different keywords.
- You need to sign in to your Google Ads Account.
- Click on Keywords on the left side.
- First of all, click on the “Columns” Section. Next, go to Modify Column and later, just search for quality score and click on “Quality Score.” Click “Apply.”
In order to check out the quality score rating as well as the rating of the three key components, you can add columns to your quality report. You just need to follow these steps.
- In the upper right corner of the table, you need to click on the columns icon. Now you need to select “Modify Columns.”
- Check the current quality score and Landing Page Experience, Expected CTR, and Ad relevance and hit apply.
- Now you will be able to check the real-time ranking of your quality score as well as the three key components.
How To Check Historical Data?
If you would like to see past quality scores and statistics of the components, just go through this :
As mentioned in the above steps, visit the “Modify Columns” section and expand the “Quality Score section.” Check the Quality Score (hist.), Landing Page experience (hist.), Ad Relevance (hist.) and Exp. CTR (hist.) and select the apply button. You will now be able to check out the historical data.
How to further Optimise your Quality Score?
1. Keyword Planning:
- Importance: Research before starting an advertising campaign is foundational, ensuring the selected keywords relate to your product/service.
- Tool Recommendation: Use Keyword Planning Tools to analyse which keywords perform better and where competitors’ traffic comes from.
- For Keyword Planning More : Refer to The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads Search Engine Marketing (SEM) in 2023.
2. Optimize Landing Pages:
- Importance: The design and content of the landing page are the first impressions for users, ensuring quality is a must.
- Design Guide: Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and Page Speed Insights to ensure technical performance.
- Content Advice: Ensure each landing page contains relevant keywords to improve the Quality Score.
3. Control Keyword Quantity:
- Strategy: Ideally, each ad group should not exceed 6 keywords to maintain ad relevance.
- Effect: Reducing keyword quantity per ad group helps increase the expected click-through rate.
- For More: Refer to The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads Search Engine Marketing (SEM) in 2023.
4. Keyword Strategy:
- Keyword Matching: Use exact match and phrase match.
- Negative Keywords: Prevent irrelevant or ineffective clicks and save on the advertising budget.
- Example: For a video production company, add “job” or “recruitment” as negative keywords to avoid irrelevant clicks related to hiring.
- For More: Read Mastering Keyword Matching Type: The Definitive Guide for 2023.
5. Write High-Quality Ad Copy:
- Importance: Good ad copy can significantly increase click-through rates.
- Strategy: Focus on creating captivating ad headlines, the first thing users see.
- For More: To explore techniques to improve click-through rates, read 7 Tips for Crafting Perfect Search Ad Headlines to Boost Your Ad Performance.
6. Use Google Ad Extension (Ad Asset):
- Benefit: Adding extra information in ads can enhance click-through rates and indirectly increase Quality Score.
- Discussion: While it’s debated whether it directly affects the Quality Score, including ad elements undoubtedly enhances ad attractiveness.
- For More: To delve deeper into Ad (Ad Asset), read Boost Click-Throughs: 13 Google Ad Extensions (Ad Assets)!.