6 Steps To Raise Your Quality Score

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Quality score is a vital component of your pay-per-click account because it influences ad position and keywords’ minimum bid.  What is the quality score’s purpose? Google assigns a quality score to ensure that it only shows relevant ads to users.

Think of it this way, Google makes money off of the ads that it shows to the users.  Google is by far the most popular search engine because it is dependable and generally the most accurate as far as search engines go.  If Google was not the most accurate, it would begin to lose users and thus lose money.  That’s where quality score comes into play.  Google uses quality score to ensure that each user sees results most relevant to their search query. Although quality score continually shifts and adjusts in response to factors in any given ad campaign, there are ways to optimize your account’s quality score.

First you need to know how Google determines your quality score.

Google takes three factors into consideration when determining a keywords quality score.  Firstly, Google looks into the consistency of the account’s ad groups.  Are the ad group’s ads relevant to all the keywords in said ad group?  Check to make sure that, no matter what a potential customer searches for, the ad that is queued is going to be applicable.  If you start finding that this is not the case, then it is either time to do some ad writing or restructuring.  In most cases,  it is possible to write a few new ads that encompass all keywords – but if your ad group has expanded a lot recently, it might be necessary to create new, more targeted, ad groups.  Actually, it would probably work to your advantage to go with the latter, because tighter knit ad groups leave room for more targeted advertisements, which leads me to my next point.

Google also takes into account the ad performance history on the current site the ad is showing on, and similar sites.  Basically, Google is looking at the click-through–rate of the ad and factoring that into the quality score.  As I stated, it really helps to have ads that are as targeted as possible.  In fact, according to a study by Advertising.com, inserting the exact keyword into a paid listing improves CTR by 38% on average.  You can choose to use dynamic insertion, or you can just try to rotate high performing keywords into your active ads.  It is also imperative that you run ad performance reports, pause ads with a low click-through-rate and test new ads. *Remember, if the whole ad group has a low CTR, pause only the worst or worst few ads, and insert more to test.  Don’t pause all ads at once; it is best to keep some historical data even if it isn’t as high as you’d like.  After you’ve run your new ads for a while, you can pause and replace the rest of the old ads.  Don’t ever delete ads, just pause them to retain account history.

Lastly, Google factors in the quality and consistency of the landing page that searchers are directed to.  Is the landing page relevant to the initial search?  Does it contain the search query?  Is it relevant to the ad content?  The answers to all of these questions will contribute to your quality score.

In short the most important factors are:

  1. Keywords: Your Keywords are the most prominent factor and are defined as “Poor”, “Ok”, or “Great” depending on their seeming relevance to the rest of the account.
  2. AdText:  Ads should be relevant to any keyword listed in your ad group and should contain keywords.
  3. Landing Page: Your landing page is crawled by spiders for keywords.
  4. CTR:  Helps the quality score determine an ad’s position on a search engine results page, as well as the minimum cost per click.
  5. Minimum Bids: These are determined by quality score, when Google decides how relevant the keyword is to the search query.
  6. Campaign/Account:  Google has not confirmed to what level of analysis they factor in campaign and whole account relevancy or data.
  7. Ad Performance History: Site targeted and search network ads’ performance history is used to determine rank.

There are also other unknown factors, as Google doesn’t want to release the full algorithm, but this is enough information to be able make an impact on your account.

Your quality score also takes into account:

  1. The ad’s performance history on that site and similar sites.
  2. The relevance of your ad and keywords to the site on which your ads will appear.
  3. The quality and relevancy of the landing page to which your ad is linked.

Looking to boost your quality score?  Focus on completing this checklist:

  1. Put keywords in your ad copy.  The easiest way for Google to determine the ad as being relevant is to have the keyword included in the ad.  This is actually a double dip, because if the search query is in the ad, it’s more likely to be clicked – thereby increasing your click through rate!
  2. Create organized, tightly themed ad groups.  Restructure when necessary; for more detailed information about restructuring, see Jen’s article about account structure best practices.
  3. Put keywords on the landing pages.  This is another good reason to have tightly themed ad groups – so that you can use most, if not all of the keywords in the landing page.
  4. Create separate landing pages per ad group.  At Hanapin Marketing, we try to create separate landing pages for each ad group, using the top performing keywords from each.
  5. Put misspelled keywords in their own ad group.  Misspelled words will generally have a low quality score because you won’t use them in ads or landing pages.  Put these keywords in their own ad group so that they won’t harm the quality score of ad groups with otherwise strong quality scores.
  6. Pay attention to all match types, including negatives, because they influence click through rate, which influences quality score.

It can be time consuming to go through your whole account so I recommend downloading a keyword report and starting with keywords rated at a quality score of five or below.  Then move on to the rest of your account.  Trust me, its worth taking the time for!

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17 thoughts on “6 Steps To Raise Your Quality Score

  1. Keri Morgret

    I would also run a report on the exact words used for the queries, and mine this for new keywords to add — including negative keywords. If you’re marketing to teachers and advertising lesson plans, you may find that people are searching for Sunday School lesson plans, something that you don’t carry. There are also several lists available with negative keywords to consider adding from the beginning of your campaign.

    Adding negative keywords can increase your CTR, as your ads are not shown for as many totally irrelevant searches, and thus increase your quality score.

  2. Robert

    I’ve been thinking to outsource my adwords management work. Thanks for your post.. It gives me enough confidence to give it a shot

  3. Jordan McClements

    Hi – nice summary.
    I have a related question I hope you can answer – as I cannot find a direct answer to this anywhere else..
    Here goes (simplified example).
    I have conversion tracking enabled.
    I use conversion optimizer.
    If I have an ad group with 2 keywords in it.
    One Keyword has a great CTR the other a very poor CTR.
    The poor keyword never gets any conversions.
    The one with good CTR gets loads.
    Do I have anything much to gain in the long run by pausing the poorly performing keyword?

    1. Amy Hoffman @hoffman8Amy Hoffman Post author

      Hi, Jordan. Let me clarify a few things first – are the keywords the same with different match types? If they are, then you can probably safely pause the poorly performing keyword. If they aren’t, then you might exclude relevant exposure by pausing the keyword. Have you tried optimizing the CTR – does the ad effectively target both keywords? I would say the biggest benefit of pausing the keyword would be to save money and to increase your quality score. CTR is a component of quality score, which is, in turn, a component of your ad position and pricing.

      I’m not sure how this will impact your conversion optimizer but I do know that to work properly the conversion optimizer takes into account the history of the keyword. If it had not converted before the conversion optimizer was started, then the conversion optimizer is probably not trying to make it convert. You could turn off the conversion optimizer for a trial period and see if you can manually optimize conversions – then turn it back on. Your goal CPA may also be too low for the keyword.

  4. Jordan McClements

    Hi Amy thanks for the reply.
    This is a fictitious example, just so I could get my head round exactly how it works.
    The keywords would be same match type but different keywords.
    Put it another way – say I have 2 keywords in my ad groups for blue widgets, and I have typed one of them in accidentally as

    red motorbike

    (this is an extreme example – but for the sake of argument)

    If I leave the keyword in there and just forget about it – since the QS works on a keyword level – and my other keyword has great CTR and great conversion rates – then does it actually matter? Does the bad keyword negatively affect my good keyword in a measurable way? Does it bring down the QS of the ad group (if such a thing exists)? Will Conversion Optimizer effectively stop showing my ad for the bad keyword anyway – even if I don’t pause it? Is the worst case scenario – that I waste a small amount of money in the early days of the ad group’s existence? Is it really worth spending a *lot* of time pausing keywords that are not working?

    (Sorry – a lot of questions there)..


    1. Amy Hoffman @hoffman8Amy Hoffman Post author

      Well, I’m not sure CTR would hurt the other keyword but it is hurting the ads, which, in turn, hurt the other keyword. Position is formulated for every single keyword auction using the ad’s historical performance. So if your keyword is hurting your ad’s CTR, then it will play into your future ad positioning, even for the good keyword. I’m not really sure if conversion optimizer will stop showing your ad for the bad keyword – I would think it would still at least show it sometimes, if you are still getting impressions then it is still showing. It may not be worth your time to go through and pause a lot of keywords that are not working – but if you find yourself with a few spare minutes, it wouldn’t hurt to go to the keywords tab and set your date range for all time, set a filter for keywords that have never converted and have a CTR lower than normal and pause at your discretion. Also, Jenny’s post about improving CTR may be helpful http://www.ppchero.com/how-can-i-make-it-better-part-4-improving-click-through-rate/.

  5. Jordan McClements

    Thanks for the reply Amy, this makes a lot of sense to me.

    There is just one thing I want to be sure about – are you *sure* that a bad keyword (even though it does affect the overall CTR of the ad(s) in the ad group) will affect the future positioning of the ad for the good keyword? Does Google not just take the CTR of the good keyword when deciding how high to display the Ad for the good keyword?

    Thanks again.

    1. Amy Hoffman @hoffman8Amy Hoffman Post author

      Hey Jordan,

      That’s a tough question. Google most likely takes both CTRs into account, and they are a little bit shady about disclosing the exact QS formula. They do say, though, that they want to ensure that they are showing the most relevant ads and the way for them to tell if they are showing a relevant ad, is by how many times it is clicked on. So, I would say it is probable that the ad CTR factors in but I could be wrong.

  6. Jordan McClements

    Thanks Amy.

    It is a hard one to be sure about , but I guess that at the end of the day – so long as you have reasonably well constructed ad groups, the negative effect, if there is one, must be very small…

  7. DOOH Jason

    This is a great article.  I have been trying split testing with Ad Copies to improve CTR and it has been making a world of difference.  Thanks for the great post Amy.

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  9. Placement Companies India

    Thanks for sharing.. But not all search engines work the same way, and it is very important that you realize this when putting together a PPC campaign. For example, Yahoo treats the singular and plural forms of keywords as one, but Google requires you to submit keywords in both the singular and plural format in order to have visibility for each.

    Placement Consultants

    1. Dustin @ PPC Professionals

      I know this is old, but now we don’t have to worry about the singular and plural issue in Adwords. This is helpful most of the time unless the singular and plurals have different conversion rates, like we’ve seen with some of our larger accounts.


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