What’s a Google AdWords quality score, and why is it important?
The Google AdWords system assesses how relevant your keywords are to your ads and to the terms searchers are entering into Google, and applies a numerical rating called a ‘quality score’ to each of those keywords.
Every time a Google user enters a search query, an AdWords auction is conducted. The quality score governs whether a keyword is eligible to participate in that auction and also determines your ad’s ranking and the cost-per-click (CPC) that you pay.
The higher the quality score and the more you are prepared to bid, the higher in the ranking your ad will appear. Ad ranks are determined by multiplying the keyword quality score by your bid. The higher the result, the higher the ad will be placed. A high quality score may also mean you pay less per click than others, even advertisers whose ads appear below yours.
Viewing your quality scores
To add the quality score column to your screen, go to the Keywords tab of your Google AdWords Campaign, click the word ‘Columns’ (just above the traffic graph), then tick the box for ‘Qual. Score’ and click on the ‘Save’ button.
You want the scores to be as high as possible – preferably 7 or higher. (Interestingly, you will rarely see keywords scores of 8 or 9; they tend to jump from a score of 7 straight up to a perfect 10).
Influencing your quality scores
There are several factors that influence your Google AdWords quality score, but the largest is the keyword’s click through rate (CTR) over time. A healthy CTR indicates your ads are relevant to the search query and of interest to searchers, making Google happy that it is meeting its main aim of matching results to users’ needs.
By the way, Google expects that the ads at the top of the page will naturally attract a higher CTR than those appearing lower down, and their benchmarks take that into account, so improving an ad’s CTR by bidding more (in order to get a higher ranking) will not necessarily lead to an improvement in quality score.
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You can maximise your CTRs and enhance the effectiveness of your AdWords campaign by having interesting ad copy that compels the reader to click. Strong quality or value statements and strong calls to action can mean the difference between a CTR of 1 per cent or 3 per cent.
The relevance of keywords to ads is another very important factor in maximising CTR and quality score. Ads are more likely to attract clicks if they contain the keywords used by the searcher. This is the primary reason for grouping your keywords and ads into well thought out ad groups.
Use negative keyword matching
You can also maximise CTR by using negative keyword matching to reduce the number of irrelevant ad impressions. Unless you’re exclusively using exact match keywords, it’s likely your ads are shown to some searchers who are not really looking for what you sell.
For example, an advertiser bidding on the broad- or phrase-matched keyword “tennis shoes” may find their ad is shown to people looking for “kids tennis shoes”, even if they don’t stock children’s sizes.
A look at your Search Query Performance Report will show you which keywords are triggering your ads and which ones to add as negative matches.
Make sure your landing page is relevant
The quality of your landing page is important to your quality score. If your ad for birthday cakes leads to a page about muffins and cupcakes then your landing page is not really relevant to the searcher, even if your site does have a page about birthday cakes elsewhere.
Spending time improving your Google AdWords quality score and therefore your ad rank and CPC is worth the effort.
Have you tried improving yours? What was the impact on your campaign results?