Since Google ads is a self-serve advertising platform, it’s natural that advertisers will use it with varying degrees of knowledge and skill (or the complete lack of). When advertisers use it without understanding it much, there can be problems. In fact, it can set up a perfect lose-lose-lose situation. The advertiser will lose because their ad does not speak to the needs of the person searching; the person searching loses because the ad doesn’t speak to their needs; And Google loses because there will be no revenue unless someone clicks on the ad. To deal with the problem of poor usage on the part of the advertisers, Google created an effective solution that is now known as “quality score.”

Although quality score results from a variety of usage factors, the most important factor by far is relevance. The system looks for a high degree of relevance between the keyword that’s targeted, the actual advertisement itself, and the landing page that the ad leads to when someone clicks on it. One way that Google judges relevance is by the appearance of the targeted keyword in the ad text. Another way is by observing the CTR (click-through-rate) of an ad that’s been triggered.

Quality score is not an actual input in the ad auction (although it once was), however, individual factors that affect quality score do affect the ad auction. Google now states that quality score is a diagnostic tool to help advertisers improve their usage.

Quality score is seen at the keyword level and is measured on a scale between one and 10. Higher numbers are better scores, indicating a higher degree of relevance.

How your ads can be affected by quality score

Quality score affects your advertising efforts in many different ways, including:

  • Whether or not your ad is eligible to be shown
  • Where your ad will be placed, such as in a higher, more prominent position, or lower, in a less prominent position
  • Whether your ad will be shown with ad extensions
  • The amount you pay per click on your ad

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The three components of quality score

Quality score takes many different factors into account, but those factors generally fall under three categories. They are:

Expected CTR (click-through rate) – This is Google’s calculation of the rate at which your ad will generate clicks. To perform this calculation, Google analyzes how well your ad has performed in the past.

Ad relevance – This factor analyzes the degree of relevance between your ad and the words the searcher used in their search.

Landing page experience – This component considers the degree of relevance and usefulness of your landing page (the page people see after clicking on your ad). Among many other factors, expect Google to determine if, where, and how relevant keywords are used on the page; the page load time; and if the page contains any prohibited content, such as malware.

Quality score assigns a status of “Above average,” “Average,” or “Below average” for each of the three components. This status is generated by comparison with other advertisers using the exact same keyword over the previous 90-day period.

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How to check your quality score

You can check your quality score in Google ads in the keywords panel. You’ll need to customize the columns showing in the table to add the quality score-related data. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Select Keywords in the left-side menu.
  3. On the top-right side of the table, click the Columns icon.
  4. Scroll down to find the Quality Score category of columns.
  5. Choose from the available options to add columns for quality score data.

How to improve your quality score

As I mentioned above, there are several important ways your advertising efforts are affected by quality score. In fact, your quality scores could be the make-or-break factor in whether your advertising efforts are affordable and productive or not. Here are some tips for trying to improve quality scores:

  • Add columns in the keyword panel to see which quality score components could be improved upon.
  • Make an effort to match the language used by your prospects when they search Google. For example, try to use the same words in your ad as they tend to use in their search terms.
  • For better keyword focus, be sure to have ad groups based on tight themes. This way you can be sure to have ads that closely relate to the targeted keywords.
  • Promote a unique benefit to your product or service (to improve click-through-rate).
  • Experiment with different CTAs (calls-to-action), which could improve click-through rates.
  • Include specifics in your ad, rather than being too general.
  • Consider the intent of the person searching and try to match what they are looking for.
  • Make sure your landing page is mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, and fast-loading.