6 Simple Ways to Improve Adwords Quality Scores
Google Adwords is a great advertising channel, but can be difficult to optimise due its extremely dynamic and volatile nature, with both internal and external changes influencing your own results.
For example, if your competition runs out of budget for the day, your ads are more likely to show in a higher position at a lower cost. On the other hand, if your competitor decides to be more aggressive with their bids, this may mean a lower position for you.
Because it is an auction-based system, your results are – to some extent – reliant on your competitors’ bids. However, many people believe that the highest bidder gets the top spot.
Whilst this may be true in some case, it isn’t always like that. Understanding what Quality Scores are and how to optimise them is key in running a successful Adwords account.
So, to start with:
What is a Quality Score?
In simple terms, a Quality Score is a relevancy/quality metric that Google assigns to each keyword in your account. It is a score between 1 and 10, with a Quality Score of 10 delivering the best results (we consider anything under 7/10 to be low).
A Quality Score is determined by the relevancy between the keyword in your adgroup, the user’s search query, the ad copy(ies) in that same adgroup, and the landing page(s) the traffic is being sent to.
“Essentially, It is important to understand how Quality Scores work because a higher quality score will allow your ads to show in higher positions for a cheaper price.”
Remember, every time someone does a search on Google, the ad rank of each eligible advertiser is calculated. The ad rank formula is as follow:
Ad rank = Maximum bid x Quality Score x Other factors*
*The expected impact of ad extensions and other ad formats
So if you are looking to improve your account’s cost-efficiency, return-on-investment (ROI) on return-on-ad-spend (ROAS), then optimising that Quality Score should be a big part of your optimisation work. Increasing your bids simply doesn’t cut it.
How to improve your Quality Score?
Firstly, if you are unsure on where to find your keywords’ Quality Scores, then read this article.
Once you have access to your Quality Scores, you can easily find out how they stand. Feel free to export your keywords (incl. Quality Scores) in Excel and using pivot tables, calculate your average Quality Score per campaign or adgroup. This will show you which parts of your account are suffering the most from low Quality Scores.
If your Quality Scores are low, you are likely to see issues appear in your account: low average position, low click-through rate, high cost-per-click, high lost impression share due to ad rank, high cost-per-conversion, keyword “below first page bid”, keyword “rarely shown due to low quality score”, etc.
It is important to understand how these metrics interact and influence each other, and what needs to be done to raise your results.
Getting your Ad Group structure right
I have already touched based on the importance of optimising your account’s structure in this article.
Ad Groups should not contain more than 10-15 or so keywords. Beyond that number, the relevancy between your keywords themselves diminishes and it becomes more difficult to have ads highly relevant to each keyword in your Ad Group.
If you advertise your shoe store, do not have ‘womens high heel shoes’ with ‘sandals’ in the same Ad Group, please!
Keeping the keywords limited will also help Google understand the “theme” of your Ad Group and your landing page relevancy, also a big part of your Quality Score improvement.
Keyword and search query relevancy
The relevancy seen by Google starts at a keyword-level.
Review your search queries on a regular basis and see for yourself if what users are searching for is relevant to your keywords.
If somewhat relevant, add the search term in your account, preferably in a new Ad Group.
If irrelevant, add the search term as a negative keyword so that future searches of that keyword will not trigger your ads. Not only will your click-through rate increase, but the quality of the traffic will also improve (potentially increasing your conversion rate)
Match types are important, but can also be very tricky to use. Make sure your match types are not set to trigger your ad for any remotely-related search. Being too broad will reduce the relevancy between the user’s query and the keyword you actually have in your account.
Match types are ranked as follow, from “Large search volume/Less relevant”, to “Low search volume/Highly relevant”:
Broad match, Broad match modifier, Phrase match, Exact match.
Review the different match types and how they work together over here.
Ad copy relevancy
The relevancy between the keyword/search query and the ad copy is determined by the click-through rate (CTR). The more relevant your ad is to someone’s search, the more likely that same user is going to click on your ad. As a result, your ad’s click-through rate is increased, influencing your Quality Score positively.
If you’ve followed the first tips above, you should have Ad Groups with only a few highly-relevant keywords, making it easier for you to write matching ads.
So back to our shoe store example. One of your Ad Group may have the following keywords:
mens leather shoes, leather shoes for men, black leather shoes for men, etc
Your ads in that same Ad Group should focus on two elements: Leather Shoes and Mens.
The easiest option is to optimise the Headline of the ad, but adjusting the description lines and display URL may also yield great results.
At the start of this article, I discussed the Ad Rank formula which had a third component: The expected impact of ad extensions and other ad formats. These are now factored in when calculating the Ad Rank.
This means that if two competing ads have the same bid and quality, the ad with the better expected impact from extensions will generally appear in a higher position than the other.
You can easily click on the Ad Extensions tab and check how each Sitelink, Callout extension, Review extension, etc is performing. Remove the least performing ones and try new ones regularly, just as you would optimise ad copies.
Last but not least, landing page relevancy plays a major role in Quality Score calculation.
We’re not talking about just replacing the title of your landing page, but having proper unique content written for this particular adgroup. If that’s not possible, simply ensure you are not sending traffic directly to the homepage, but to the most relevant page possible on your website.
Do note that Google does not look just for relevancy between the keyword and the content of the page, but answers to the following questions:
- Is your landing page clear and useful to customers?
- Is your landing page related to your keyword and what customers are searching for?
- Is the page clearly organised and easy to navigate?
Google is built on providing the best experience possible to its users, so make sure your website is worthy of receiving that traffic and Google will reward you.
I hope you found these quick tips helpful. If you have any question, please do not hesitate to ask them in the comment section below. I will do my very best to reply to you promptly.
Director & Co-Founder
Co-founder of Reef Digital Agency, a Sydney-based digital marketing and advertising agency. We help clients identify and attract valuable visitors to their websites using search engines, social networks and other forms of online advertising.