Quality Score: Why It Matters and 6 Steps to Improve It
Running an ad campaign is no small feat. From narrowing down your target audience to designing your landing page, there are many pieces to the puzzle.
Once you put in all that work, you want to make sure your ad is ready for bidding. Google Ads helps advertisers ensure their ad quality is high by assigning them a quality score.
Not sure what that is? Let’s cover what a Quality Score is, how to see it in your account, and how to improve it for your next campaign.
Google wants to match users to the most relevant ads because they only make money when users click the ad. So, if they consistently show low-quality ads, they won’t earn as much.
To determine an advertiser’s Quality Score, Google looks at how other advertisers have performed in the last 90 days for the exact same keywords. If there isn’t enough data gathered in that time frame, there will be no score displayed.
Does your Quality Score affect ad rank?
In the bidding process, your Quality Score is not considered by Google’s algorithm. Your Quality Score can signal how your ad will rank but it’s not a direct input in the auction.
However, there is a non-direct link between your Quality Score and your ad ranking. If you have a low Quality Score, that suggests that your ad doesn’t provide a good user experience. As a result, your ad may not rank well.
Think of the Quality Score as a diagnostic tool you can leverage to create a more relevant and useful ad for your target audience.
Now that you know how it works, let’s talk about the three components that make up your Quality Score.
Quality Score Components
In the past, the QS was a clickthrough rate (CTR) predictor. Before assigning Quality Scores, Google used CTR to weed out ads that were irrelevant or ads that should have a higher cost-per-click (CPC), according to the Search Engine Journal.
Today, the expected clickthrough rate is still one component of the Quality Score. It refers to the likelihood that your ad will be clicked once seen. Here are two additional factors that influence your Quality Score:
- Ad relevance – How relevant your ad is to the keyword or ad group based on the user’s intent.
- Landing page experience – How useful your landing page is once users click on your ad.
For each component, you’ll get a subscore: below average, average, or above average.
Despite popular belief, your Google Ads history also has no impact on your Quality Score. Here are additional factors that are not measured in your Quality Score:
- Devices used in search
- Time of day
- Ad extensions
- Location of user
Why Your Google Ads (formerly Adwords) Quality Score Matters
The biggest reason to pay attention to your Quality Score is cost: The higher your Quality Score, the less you’ll pay per click. And that comes straight from Google.
Even if there’s low competition for your keywords, you may still end up paying close to your maximum CPC if your ad quality is low.
With this in mind, it’s in your best interest to ensure your ad meets Google’s standard of quality.
From a value perspective, your Quality Score can help you optimize your ad for better performance.
Knowing where you fall in each component allows you to ensure users enjoy every stage of the ad experience, from seeing your ad to landing on your LP.
For instance, your Quality Score could reveal that ad relevance is above average but your landing page is below average. From there, you have clear direction on what to focus on to improve your ad quality.
If you want to see past Quality Score stats for a specific reporting period, you can select one of the following and click "Apply."
- Quality Score (hist.)
- Landing Page Exper. (hist.)
- Ad Relevance (hist.)
- Exp. CTR. (hist.)
1. Review your Quality Score components.
The first place to look when attempting to increase your QS is your Google Ads account. Where do you fall in expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page?
If you have "average" or "below average" listed for any category, those are the elements you want to tackle first.
While they all play a role in your score, working on your CTR or LP has twice the impact as working on your ad relevance, according to Search Engine Land.
But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about your ad relevance score, you may just want to focus on those two first and then tackle ad relevance.
2. Tweak your keywords.
If your ad relevance score is low, there are a few things you can do to improve it.
The first is making sure the keywords in your ad group are relevant and all follow the same intent.
For instance, say you have these two versions of an ad group:
- 1st – Puzzles, puzzle games, kids games, children’s puzzles, puzzles online, online puzzles to solve
- 2nd – Children’s puzzles, puzzles for kids, puzzles for 3-year-olds, puzzles for 5-year-olds
The first ad group is scattered – it has broad terms like puzzles as well as specific terms related to the type of puzzles as well as online puzzles.
The second group on the other hand keeps the ad group focused on puzzles for children. It’s likely that if a user searches any of these terms, the intent will be the same whereas, in the first group, the ad may not be relevant.
The second thing you’ll want to do is have a negative keywords list. This will prevent your ad from showing up for keywords that have a different intent than your ad.
3. Check your site speed.
Site speed can greatly affect user experience. If your page loading time is too high, users will get impatient and quickly leave your site.
If you’re already paid for a user to get to your landing page, the last thing you want is a slow load time to steer them away.
Here are a few ways to test your site speed:
- PageSpeed Insights – It offers a quick but thorough overview of your site’s mobile and desktop performance. You can test your website for free and there’s no login required.
- HubSpot’s Website Grader – Want to test everything on your landing page, including security, performance, and SEO? Use this tool.
Google Analytics – If you already have an account, you can access site speed data by:
- Navigating to your view.
- Opening "Reports."
- Selecting "Behavior" then "Site Speed."
4. Align your ad to your landing page.
Ever go to a store and ask an attendant where something is? They point you to Aisle 7, you get there and it only takes a few seconds for you to get frustrated because you still can’t find what you’re looking for.
You don’t want your users to have that experience when they get to your landing page. It should always deliver on its promise.
For instance, say your ad is about puzzles for children. Your landing page shouldn’t include puzzles for adults, teenagers, etc. It should be specific to the ad so that the user gets exactly what they’re looking for.
If a consumer has to look around, as if they just landed on your homepage, they may just exit.
On that same note, don’t forget to check your URLs and ensure they’re working properly. A wrong forward or backslash, ampersand, hyphen, or parentheses can throw off your URL.
5. Test your copy and CTA.
When a user sees your ad on Google, you only have a few seconds to get their attention. What’s going to make them click on your ad instead of a competitor’s?
That’s what you should have in mind when crafting your copy and CTA.
Highlight a unique benefit that separates you from your competitors. Say you sell children’s puzzles and have won awards, that’s something you want to showcase. Or perhaps they’re sustainable and eco-friendly.
Leverage whatever details you believe will resonate best with your target audience.
In addition, use action verbs that have power and evoke emotion.
6. Optimize mobile experience.
Imagine running an ad to find out later that most clicks came from mobile users yet your landing page wasn’t designed for mobile shopping.
Today, the mobile experience is as important, if not more, to users when navigating the web.
As you design your landing page, make it responsive (i.e. mobile-friendly) to ensure it works well on all device types. Don’t just work on the LP, the entire shopping experience should be frictionless, including:
- Visiting product pages
- Checking out
You should also think about any pop-ups and other interstitial pages you may have that can impact the user experience.
Your quality score is a diagnostic tool that you should leverage to optimize your ads. With so many factors that can seem out of your control when it comes to ad performance, here's something that you have the opportunity to control and improve.