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!