Google’s definition of quality score is:

“An estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords and landing page. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions.

The components of quality score (expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience) are determined every time your keyword matches a customer’s search.

You can get a general sense of your ad quality in the “Keyword Analysis” field of your account (reported on a 1-10 scale). You can find this by selecting the Keywords tab and clicking on the white speech bubble next to any keyword’s status.

The more relevant your ads and landing pages are to the user, the more likely it is that you’ll see higher 1-10 Quality Scores and benefit from having higher quality components of your Ad Rank, like a higher position or lower CPC.”

It’s a 1-10 score given by Google after it has rated your keyword’s expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience, which are individually scored as below average to above average to give an overall score – the quality score (QS).

I recently found this very useful video in the Google Best Practices series about ‘Settling the (Quality) Score’:

In the video Sean Quadlin, Marketing Manager at Google, explains quality score from Google’s perspective and explains that it shouldn’t be a KPI, but used a diagnostic tool.

I sometimes find that clients can get really bogged down by QS, but as Sean says, it shouldn’t be something you are optimising your campaigns around. It should be used to indicate if something is wrong with your campaigns, it should not be a key metric when measuring the success of a campaign. KPIs should be things like impressions (exposure), clicks (traffic), conversions (sales), not getting a quality score of 10 out of 10 for your keywords.

In the video Sean explains how every time an ad is shown Google judges its ‘auction-time quality’ which takes a lot more into consideration than the QS calculation does. This takes into account; query, device, time of day and user location. Google uses all those things to rank your ad, on top of QS, therefore the 1-10 score that Google gives your keywords is very limited:

limitations of quality score

Ways to improve your quality score

  1. Write good ads – include CTAs and show the user that the landing page they are going to see is relevant to their query
  2. Make sure your ads are relevant – look at search query reports and match your ads with what people are searching for (small ad groups are needed to do this well)
  3. Make sure your landing page experience is a good one – be useful and user friendly, don’t worry about page load time or keyword density, just deliver a good experience across devices – look at on-site engagement in Analytics to find poor performing pages
  4. Remove duplicate keywords – Google provides advertisers with recommendations for improving accounts and one thing they suggest is, “refine your keyword list to improve quality score over time. When you have duplicate keywords, it can result in a lower quality score and a higher cost­-per-­click over time.”

What matters when it comes to ads quality and quality score?

  1. Providing a good user experience across devices
  2. Meeting your user’s needs
  3. Relevance
  4. Optimise for your user’s intentions

What doesn’t matter when it comes to ads quality and quality score?

  1. Account structure and labelling
  2. You can restructure your account as you need to and it shouldn’t affect the QS
  3. Other networks don’t affect quality – quality score is only reported on Google.com and the different networks don’t share metrics when it comes to QS
  4. Ad positioning – you cannot bid up to increase QS – Google normalises your position

Key takeaways

  1. There’s no such thing as an account level quality score
  2. You cannot bid up to increase QS – Google normalises your position
  3. Do not treat quality score as a KPI, use it as a diagnostic tool
  4. Allow a keyword to receive 100+ impressions before making a decision on it, that’s how long Google takes to really determine its quality
  5. Having high quality components that factor in your ad rank, you should see benefits such as higher position or lower CPC

For further information there’s an in depth video about ‘Calculating Quality Score’ here: https://youtu.be/8ymhD-7nGVY