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What You Need to Know About the Google AdWords Quality Score

A Google AdWords pay-per-click campaign will not be successful unless special attention is paid to improving and maintaining your AdWords Quality Score. What is Quality Score? Well, as defined by Google:

“Quality Score is a dynamic variable assigned to each of your keywords. It’s calculated using a variety of factors and measures how relevant your keyword is to your ad group and to a user’s search query.”

Simply put Quality Score assigns value to your ad groups and keywords to ensure that Google only serves up relevant ads to its users. It helps build a positive user experience by quickly serving searchers relevant information. If you want searchers to see your ads, you need to pay special attention to Quality Score. It not only will influence your ad’s position in the search engine results pages (SERPs), it also takes weight in determining minimum keyword bids, which in turn will reduce your budgets.

Quality Score is the driving force behind Google AdWord’s success in pay-per-click. So whether you are starting from scratch or inheriting and account, you must surrender to Quality Score. While every account is different, there are a handful of known (and some speculated) factors that can influence your Quality Score:
Click-Through Rate: The CTR of keywords also helps determine Quality Score. If the ratio for a keyword is high, Google deems that keyword relevant and assigns a higher Quality Score, higher SERP position, and a lower minimum bid-and vice versa for a low ratio.

Account Structure: When tabulating your Quality Score, Google AdWords takes into consideration your account structure. Google is looking for accounts that are logically structured and keyword groups that are relevant. Having keyword groups that are small and tightly focused will enhance your Quality Score.

Keywords: Easily one of the most influential and important factors for Quality Score-defined as “Poor,” “OK,” or “Great” and can be seen within your ad campaign. If your campaign has low keyword Quality Scores, start with organizing the keywords in to well-structured campaigns and focused ad groups based on searcher intent.

Ad Text: Perceived relevance of ad text is the biggest concern when it comes to Quality Score. Incorporating ad group keywords within the ad copy is the only known strategy for making your ad text relevant. Again, keywords organized into highly focused ad groups will help your Quality Score because they enable you to write relevant, targeted ad text.

Landing Page: Landing page Quality Score builds from the keyword and ad text level. Google’s Quality Score spiders crawl landing pages. If they don’t find relevant keywords that also appear in your ad group and ad text, your landing page is perceived as less relevant and is assigned a lower Quality Score.

Minimum Bids: Keyword minimum bids are determined by Quality Score measurements, which calculate the relevance of the keyword as it relates to its ad group. Google will reward high-Quality Scores because your campaign is contributing to a positive user experience. Keywords with a higher Quality Score are rewarded with a lower minimum bid-and vice versa for a lower Quality Score.

Campaign/Account: It is suspected, though not confirmed, that campaigns and/or accounts have separate quality score ratings. It is speculated that this Quality Score comes down to account and campaign organization. A theme is emerging.

Ad Performance History: Performance history of ads is part of the Quality Score for site-targeted and search network ads.

The Unknowns: Google’s AdWords Quality Score algorithm incorporates other factors that no one outside of Google knows. And Google purposely keeps them secret. These unknown factors represent an aspect of Quality Score that keeps AdWords an active, living thing-and it keeps advertisers on their toes. Based on reviewing patent applications, some examples of these unknown factors could be how many times a user selects a given ad in a given session or the length of time, from an ad result selection, until the user issues another search query.

When it comes down to it, keep two things in mind when dealing with Quality Score:

  1. Relevancy is the name of the game. If your ads are not deemed relevant by Google, they will not serve them to searchers. Make sure your keywords, ad groups, and landing pages build on each other.
  2. Organization is critical for success. At every level, the Quality Score rides on the level and detail of campaign, ad group, and keyword organization. So if you have inherited an account, be sure to start at the organizational level to make any positive strides in Quality Score.
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