MacAdam Lea
By MacAdam Lea | SEM | February 27, 2017

Quality Scores

AdWords allows companies to bid on keywords and display advertisements on a “Pay Per Click” basis. The whole process is set up like an auction. If you bid more than your competitors you’ll generally show higher on the page. Google AdWords makes up an enormous portion of Google’s revenue, but Google still has a vested interest in making sure that they show relevant traffic. If a user does a search for “blue running shoes” and gets ads for “blue cross insurance packages” Google starts to lose credibility. So how does Google balance the desire to turn a profit with their core objective of showing the most relevant ads possible? The answer is: Quality Scores.

                Quality Scores are how Google manages to show more useful ads in higher positions during the keyword auction. They ensure that users see ads that are relevant to their search query and help advertisers get clicks from qualified users. Quality Scores also keep irrelevant ads from being shown by significantly increasing the cost per click for ad that are not relevant to the search term entered by the user. Quality Scores are scored on a 1-10 basis. A quality score of 10 is the best you can score and indicates a highly relevant ad. A Quality score of 1 is the worst you can score and indicates an extremely irrelevant ad. Google believes that better ads are a good thing for everyone, and the AdWords system is set up to identify and reward quality ads.

High quality ads can result in:

  • Higher Ad Rank
  • Lower Cost Per Click
  • Better ad positions
  • Eligibility for Ad Extensions and other ad formats

In this blog we’ll be covering the specifics of what goes into the process of scoring Quality Scores. We’ll also go into the affect Quality Scores have on Cost Per Click.

So how does Google calculate Quality Scores?

There are many different factors that go into the calculation, including historical ad performance and the relevance of each keyword to its ad group. However there are three main factors that Google considers when determining Quality Scores:

  • Click Through Rate – How often does your ad get clicked on when it shows? The higher the Click Through Rate the more Google will like your ad. This is because Click Through Rate indicates relevance, and Google makes its money off successful Clicks. Take a look that my blog on Custom AdWords Columns for more info on Click Through Rate and other key metrics.
  • Relevance – If the user searched “blue running shoes” then your ad should be related to blue running shoes. If you have “Blue Running Shoes” in your ad copy even better. The more you can tie your ad to the search term the more Google will like you.
  • Landing Page – Are you sending successful clicks to a relevant, working landing page? If the page is slow to load or irrelevant then your Quality Scores are sure to suffer.
Quality Score

                Take a look at the pie chart above to get an indication of how much weight each factor adds to your Quality Score. Remember that these aren’t the only factors, just the top three that Google is looking for. No one outside of Google knows exactly how much each factor weighs into the algorithm, but we do know that Click Through Rate (independent of Ad Rank) is the most important. More people clicking on your ad is a strong indication to Google that your ads are helpful and relevant.

                So what sort of benefit will we get out of higher quality scores? Look at the graph below:

Quality Score Affects Your Cost Per Click

Lets take a look at the two extremes:

A Quality Score of 1

This is the worst possible score. It indicates a low click through rate, irrelevant ad copy and probably a slow landing page as well. Google is going to increase your Cost Per Click by a whopping 400% for a quality score of 1. If you were paying $10 per click you’ll instead pay $40 per click for the same traffic. Check your Search Term Report and make sure that you aren’t accidently showing for irrelevant search terms.

A Quality Score of 10

This is the best possible score. This indicates a high click through rate, highly relevant ad copy and a relevant, high speed landing page. With a Quality Score of 10 Google is going to give you a 50% discount on what you would normally pay per click. If you were paying $10 per click you would only have to pay $5 for that same traffic. You can image the kind of advantage this would give you over competitors with lower Quality Scores. You pay less while they pay more. Quality Scores of 10 are hard to come by and generally reserved for brand name ads. If you manage to acquire Quality Scores of 10 take advantage of them!

Keep in mind that Quality Score is just a helpful diagnostic too and not a key performance indicator. It is entirely possible to generate a positive ROI off of a low Quality Score, and a negative ROI off of a high score. Quality Scores are simply one more tool that helps us know what Google thinks of our ads. If you’re having trouble understanding Quality Scores and want more help feel free to Contact Us at Digital Reach Agency and we’ll help with any issues you’re facing.   

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