Are You Dissatisfied with your PPC Results? You Must Improve your Quality Score

You should care about your Quality Score

– if you’re paying too much
– if your competitors seem to be beating you, or
– if you’re dissatisfied with your PPC results.

What is Quality Score?

Quality Score measures the usefulness of your advertisements to searchers and helps determine

  • if your ad is eligible to be displayed alongside a searcher’s search results
  • your minimum bid and minimum first-page bid
  • how much you pay every time a searcher clicks on one of your sponsored ads
  • the position in which your ads appear in the sponsored search results.

Quality Score is a good predictor of the results you’re likely to realise after a searcher clicks on your ads and winds up on your site as it measures the relevancy of your keywords, ad copy and landing pages.   By bidding on relevant keywords, with relevant and descriptive ad copy and creating descriptive and relevant landing pages, you’re more likely to attract qualified leads and achieve higher conversion rates.

Quality Score is a Google-devised system that measures advertising quality (relevancy) so that searchers find what they are looking for and advertisers are rewarded for creating ads that searchers want. Google considers a high quality ad is one that is relevant to the search query, accurately describes the product and is relevant to an original landing page.

Google evaluates these and other factors on an on-going basis and assigns you a Quality Score – between 1 and 10 – for each of the keywords that you’re bidding on in Adwords.  The more relevant your ad, the better your ad copy and landing page, the higher your Quality Score.  Relevant ads are rewarded with the opportunity to be displayed, lower costs and better placement.

How is Quality Score Calculated?

Quality Score is calculated in real-time every time your keyword matches a search query and your keyword has the potential to trigger an ad.  Quality Score is used to influence your keyword’s actual cost-per-clicks and estimate the first page bids that you see in your account. It also determines if a keyword is eligible to enter the ad auction that occurs when a searcher enters a search query and, if it is, how high the ad will be ranked.  The following factors are used to compute the Quality Score.

The historical clickthrough rate (CTR) of the keyword and the matched ad on Google
CTR is the number of clicks your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown (impressions) via Google search. Your ads and keywords each have their own CTRs, unique to your own campaign performance. CTR is the most significant component of Quality Score because it directly indicates which ads are most relevant to your searchers.  For example, a well targeted keyword that shows a similarly targeted ad is more likely to have a higher CTR than a general keyword with non-specific ad text.  The more your keywords and ads relate to each other and to your business, the more likely a searcher is to click on your ad after searching on your keyword phrase.

The relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group
This simply means that the keywords in your ad group must be relevant to your ads.  Keywords in the ad group should be repeated in the ad text.

The relevance of the keyword and matched ad to the search query
The keyword that a customer searches for (the search query) needs to be relevant to the keywords in your ad group and the ad itself.  The match type is not taken into account win computing Quality Score.

Your account history, measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account
Google takes your entire history into account when determining CTR. Google favours the recent history and gives advertisers plenty of room for improvement through constant refinement.  In order to optimise  accounts, Google encourages you to run targeted tests on your bids, creatives and keywords.

The historical CTR of the display urls in the ad group
This point refers to the url that is displayed in the ad, not the url that the customer is directed to after clicking the ad. This should be relevant to the keywords in your ad group.

The quality of your landing page
The three main components of a quality website are relevant and original content, transparency and navigability.  Google crawls your landing pages to calculate these and other usability factors.

Relevance – Searchers should be able to easily find what your ad promises and the link to the page on your site should provide the most useful information about the product or service in your ad.
Originality – Feature unique content that can’t be found on another site.  You must provide useful content that is relevant to your ad.
Transparency – In order to build trust with users, your site should be explicit in three primary areas – the nature of your business, how your site interacts with a visitor’s computer and how you intend to use a visitor’s personal information, if you request it.
Navigability – Provide a short and easy path for searchers to purchase or receive the product or offer in your ad, avoid excessive use of pop-ups, pop-unders and other obtrusive elements throughout your site and ensure your landing page loads quickly.

The Importance of Quality Score

Quality Score affects the important metrics of a PPC campaign – impressions, ad position and ad cost.

Each time a searcher conducts a search, Google Adwords conducts an internal ad auction to determine which advertisers have ads it deems eligible (relevant enough) to appear alongside the searcher’s search results. Quality Score partly determines if a keyword is relevant enough and hence eligible to enter an ad auction.  The more times an advertiser’s ads are deemed eligible to enter the auction, the more impressions (and exposure) they will receive.

Ad Rank/Position
To determine ad rank/position, Google multiplies your maximum CPC bid by your Quality Score.   To avoid continually raising maximum bids, you must improve your Quality Score.

Ad Price/CPC
Quality Score determines how much you pay per click  – the higher the Quality Score, the lower the actual CPC and it may be that this is lower than your maximum bid.

Premium Positioning
To appear in the prominent region above the organic search results, it is especially important that these ads be high quality and Google places extra emphasis on Quality Score to determine which ads to show in this location.   Because premium ad positions cannot simply be bought by raising bids, it is a compelling for advertisers to focus on improving Quality Score.

How to Improve your Quality Score

Most of the factors that affect Quality Score centre on relevance – select relevant keywords, segment keywords into relevant groups, write relevant ad text, create relevant landing pages and so on.   This will increase your clicks and your CTR and you are also implicitly outlining a strategy to improve all the factors that go into calculating Quality Score.  The first step in increasing CTR is getting more clicks and there are a number of things to do:

Continuous keyword discovery and targeted keyword research
Pick specific keywords that are highly relevant to the products and services that you provide and your ads are more likely to be clicked on.  You need to constantly introduce new keyword opportunities into your keyword portfolio and assess the relevancy of those opportunities.

Keyword grouping and campaign organisation
You need to create tightly knit ad groups with keywords and ad text that are based on a common theme.  The next step is to create small, highly relevant Adwords ad groups that show a high level of searcher intent so that you can write extremely clickable ad text.

Write relevant ads
Create compelling ads that speak directly to the searcher’s query.  To do this, it is important to remember which keywords make up your ad group and which keywords are driving the most traffic.  Ensure these keywords appear in your ads and then use ad rotation to test finding the messages that most resonates with your audience.  Elements to test include headline, punctuation, benefits, call to action CTA and dynamic word insertion.

Are You Happy With Your Quality Scores?

Find your Quality Score in your account – if your scores were 5 (out of 10) or less, then PPC is costing you a lot more money than it should and you need to take remedial action to increase your Quality Score – if your scores are 6-8, then you still have work to do to increase your Quality Score.

Patterson Digital Marketing’s US partner is a Google-certified expert with marketing specialists choosing the most effective keywords, ad groups, writing relevant ads, split testing for maximum effect and designing landing pages. Optimising PPC is complex and you have to know what you are doing.

If you are not happy with your past PPC results or you just want a third party review, ask us for a FREE Adwords Performance Grader to see if your QS is costing you and how to fix it.

Patterson Digital Marketing can generate loads of new enquiries and sales through its management of your PPC campaigns. Email us at or call us now at (09) 449 1005 or (027) 489 5009 so we can provide you with a free in-depth consultation on your PPC campaigns.

Chris Kirkham