For new search advertisers, Quality Score seems like a mystery to them. Search advertising promises advertisers that their ads will be featured for chosen keywords, so long as the advertiser pays for the clicks. However, this cannot be possible, particularly with the number of advertisers aiming for the top position—in fact, there is more to that.

Now, this is where Quality Score comes in. So, why does Google use Quality Score? How is it calculated, and how can you, as an advertiser, improve it? This post will assist you to understand Quality Score better and know its importance.

What is Quality Score?

This is what Google uses to determine the relevance of a keyword. Once Google has sufficient data, they assign the keywords in an advertiser’s account a score of between 1 and 10, with 10 being the highest and the best. Now, this number represents the aggregate relevance of that keyword across the different auctions where it participates, and it’s meant to guide advertisers, but it’s not used for ranking ads.

Real-time Quality Score is what’s used to rank ads behind the scenes of every auction—and that puts lots of extra factors into account. Although the 1 to 10 number assists advertisers to determine how good they are when it comes to selecting the right keywords, creating good ads, as well as directing users to the right landing pages, the real-time Quality Score is what matters. In fact, it is grittier than the 1 to 10 digit, but it’s not shared with you since it varies every time, and it’s different for each search done on Google.

Why Does Google Use Quality Score?

By now, this sounds a bit technical—but why does Google use Quality Score? It assists Google to display more relevant ads to searchers whenever they perform a search. One thing about Google is that they depend on the revenue from advertising—and this motivates the company to make sure that searchers find them attractive and they can click on them. If Google let low-Quality Score to take up the space meant for more relevant ads, the company would make less money, and risk losing users in the long term.

At times, it can be a challenge for advertisers to improve their Quality Score, it’s also useful for them since they like getting high-quality leads that come from Google AdWords. For the advertisers to keep on getting these leads, they should make sure that they do their part in choosing the right and relevant keywords, as well as writing compelling ads. Once they manage to do that, they will be able to reduce their cost-per-clicks (CPCs).

How Does Google Calculate Quality Score?

One thing about Google is that they have gathered a lot of data about how online users interact with search results. As a result, Google can use “big data,” together with machine learning techniques to determine a measure of the anticipated relevance of each keyword, ad, as well as landing page related to each search that takes place. This is a bit wordy—that’s why it’s known as Quality Score.

Instead of Google asking their employees to determine the relevance of every keyword—a process that can be time-consuming, prone to errors, and subjective, Google relies on the code of “the wisdom of the crowds” when assigning Quality Score.

Google’s algorithms, particularly, play an important role when it comes to monitoring the content that users interact with on SERP—and this assists Google to predict their future interactions. From this, we can also say that Quality Score is a predicted CTR.

Before we had the Quality Score, and in the early days of Google AdWords, Google used CTR to determine the relevancy of keywords and whether they should be inactivated, or pay more for better positioning in the ad auction.

With time and as machine learning techniques improved, Google started considering additional factors when calculating the expected CTR. This is when Google introduced Quality Score to replace CTR, which was part of Google’s ranking mechanism. The easiest way for a person to think about Quality Score is a measure of how possible it is that people will click your ad for a certain keyword.

Why Does Quality Score Matter?

Every advertiser cares a lot about their Quality Score since it’s one of the major factors used to determine the following:

  • Which ads are appropriate for the ad auction?
  • How are the eligible ads ranked?
  • The actual CPC amount that an advertiser should pay

Entering the Auction

By now, every advertiser knows that Google cannot show irrelevant ads—for obvious reasons. Primarily, Google charges advertisers for the clicks on their ads. Now, if an advertiser chooses to use an extremely high bid to get a high position on their page with an irrelevant ad, users will not click on the ad, and Google will not make money.

There is one thing that every advertiser should understand about search advertising—it is a direct response advertising model, rather than a branding model.

For instance, a car dealer may thing that an ad about a new car in their showroom will resonate with a person looking for that car—but that ad can fail to get any click, thus making it unfavorable to Google AdWords.

So, if Google predicts that a certain keyword is very irrelevant, and then assigns that keyword a low-Quality Score, the ad might not enter into an auction for most searches. On the other hand, keywords with high-Quality Score are eligible for participating in many ad auctions, which means these keywords have the chance to rank better.

Ad Ranking

When Google selects the ads and keywords with the potential of being relevant for search, the keywords are entered into an auction. Typically, this process is a split-second auction, where Google assess how much each ad is bidding (maximum CPC), its relevancy (QS), as well as the other factors such as ad extensions that can boost its CTR.

Every ad gets a score, and the subsequent rank determines the advertiser who gets their ad features at the topmost position, as well as the one who misses on the first page of SERP. Ranking higher benefits advertisers since ads in the top position tend to attract more clicks, which translates to more leads, as well as the opportunity to make sales.

CPC Discounting

Advertisers can improve their Quality Score—and this happens when they improve the relevancy of their ads, keywords, as well as landing pages. To concentrate your efforts, you should begin by looking at the comparative score of the following 3 subcomponents of Quality Score:

  • The expected CTR
  • Ad relevance
  • The experience of the landing page

Each component’s value should be:

  • Above average
  • Average
  • Below average

The Expected CTR

This measure is used to determine the possibility of your ad generating a click its search term remains the same as the keyword. If the expected CTR is low, ensure that your keyword is relevant to the content that you are advertising. In addition to this, you should also consider that the ad might only be relevant for a limited time.

For instance, a pet sitting service, may, at times be relevant for the keyword ‘PET’. However, there are other searches that users can do, including the word pet when you are not searching for your services, but they need a vet, to buy a pet, or photos of pets.

This can have a negative impact on the click-through rate of the keyword, which means you should consider adding keywords that are more relevant to your account. If you have a relevant keyword, but your QS is still low, consider creating a stronger ad, which is more compelling. You can make the ad more compelling by highlighting the relevance of the ad to its keywords, or by adding a unique value proposition or an attractive CTA.

Ad Relevance

This determines the effectiveness of the message in your ad in relation to the keyword used. If the ad relevance is low, it can be as a result of your ad groups covering a wide range of themes. To deal with this, you might be needed to split the ad group into smaller and more strongly themed ad groups.

For instance, if certain keywords like “pool renovation,” “in-ground pool design,” and “pool construction” can be highly relevant for pool contractors. However, when these keywords are in the same ad group, and they share the same ad text, they are bound to lose some relevancy.

When you have a list of different keywords grouped in the same ad group, you can make the ad displayed to be very generic, or be of the wrong theme. You should never depend on a dynamic keyword insertion—rather, you should take your time to structure your account by creating different ad groups for every set of keywords that are closely related. In the example that we have mentioned above, each of these keywords, which are related belong to a different theme, meaning they should not be in the same ad groups.

Landing Page Experience

This last component of Quality Score determined what happens when a user clicks on an ad. When searchers arrive on your page, are they satisfied or do they leave immediately? If your landing page experience is very low, ensure that you design your landing page to be closely related to what users search for, and also make sure that it delivers what the ad promises.

Mostly, deep linking, that is, linking to a particular landing page is better compared to directing a user to your home page. Always make sure that you make it for searchers to use your landing page on both desktop and mobile. Moreover, you should make your page to load faster, and also use AMP (accelerated mobile page) for better results. Lastly, don’t forget to offer valuable and unique content to your users, and treat their data with respect.

Bottom Line

In addition to the bid, Quality Score is a major determinant of how Google determines which ads it needs to show, as well as how to rank these ads. Advertisers should understand that a good Quality Score is as good as a high bid. Actually, ads with low bids can beat ads of higher-paying competitors—thanks to better relevance. This fact makes PPC interesting since it’s not the biggest or famous advertiser who takes the day.

Always monitor your Quality Score, and optimize your ads when you realize that a low Quality Score is preventing you from achieving your goals. However, you shouldn’t focus more on Quality Score and get derailed from your ultimate goal.