Why Quality Score is Important

Google AdWords Quality Score
Google AdWords Quality Score

Many paid search (i.e. PPC) marketers wonder how they can improve the performance of their campaigns without having to raise bids and cost. The answer lies in improving your quality score. By improving your quality score you can raise your average position and lower your average cost per click at the same time. Google calculates ad rank on every search performed on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

Ad Rank = CPC bid × Quality Score

Ad rank will determine where you end up on the SERP and how much you actually pay for a click. Raising bids may be a quick solution to raising your ad rank if you are looking to get more traffic.  However, quality score has a greater long term benefit to your campaigns because it does not increase cost in your accounts and will increase your account ad rank, with sustained benefits.

What is quality score?

Bing Ads Quality Score
Bing Ads Quality Score

Quality score is a one to ten rating (one being the lowest and ten being the highest) based on a Google or Bing Ads algorithm which determines how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing pages are to a person seeing your ad.

Imagine the following. You’ve been working hard and finally decided to take a vacation. You are keen to spend a few relaxing days in the wine country, so you search on Google for relaxing hotel Napa Valley.

Amongst the results, one of the ads reads “Wine hotel Napa Valley, relaxing four star hotel in the country, the perfect getaway, now 20% off.” When you click on the ad you are brought to the hotel’s website which provides a nice introduction to the hotel and provides details on the 20% off special. You are sold, and you book your vacation straight away.

In other words, you searched and you found exactly what you were looking for. That is what Google aims to achieve and considers a great user experience.

Google aims to always provide only the most relevant ads when someone searches on Google. With every search, AdWords considers thousands of ads and will only show those that are most likely to provide what the person was looking for.

How do you know if your ads seem to provide a good user experience? This is reflected in the quality score. AdWords calculates a quality score for each of your keywords by looking at a variety of factors including relevance to the words people searched for, whether or not people found your ad relevant and clicked on it, the quality of your landing page, and many more.

Based on these insights, AdWords assigns every keyword a quality score of one to ten, with ten being the highest and one being the lowest. Each keyword’s quality score is updated regularly taking into account any changes you made and the number of clicks you received, so having a strong quality score is important in order for your ads to be successful.

However, quality score also plays a key role in determining your ad’s position and how much you’ll pay for a click. In general, the more relevant your ad the higher your quality score, and the higher your quality score the better your position and the less you will have to pay for a click. In other words, Google rewards you for providing an ad that provides a positive experience to people who search for your products, click on your ads, and visit your website.

To see how your quality score stacks up, log in to your AdWords account and take a look at your keywords. Click on the speech bubble icon next to each of your keywords for quality score details. If you’re not happy with a keyword’s quality score, don’t worry. There are ways to improve it.

For tips on how to make your keywords or ads more relevant, take a look at our resources on how to select relevant keywords, write good ads, and provide a good user experience on your site.

Being successful with AdWords means getting your products or services in front of the people who are most likely to become your customers, and a high quality score can help make that happen. Sign in to your AdWords account at adwords.google.com and review your keywords’ quality score now.

Quality score helps determine the cost you pay for a click of your ad and your ad’s position on the SERP. Quality score is based on these three factors:

  1. Click through rate
  2. Ad relevance
  3. Landing page experience and relevance
Quality Score Ratings
Quality Score Ratings

How is quality score calculated?

Expected click-through-rate (CTR)

A rating that shows how well your ad is doing against your competitors’ ads, weighted against your position on the SERP. In my opinion, this is the most important of all the factors. Keywords and ads with a high click through rate are weighted more heavily in the calculation of quality score.

Ad relevance

How closely related the search query is to your ad that is displaying.

Landing page experience/relevance

How relevant your website’s landing page is to the search query and the ad displayed and how user friendly your website is.

Improve click through rate

Click through rate is essential to having a good quality score in your campaigns and on your keywords. The quickest way to increase click through rate is by working on your ad copy. You should always have several ads running at the same time testing different messages to see which is performing better. While it is understood that click through rate is not the most important KPI (Key Performance Indicator) as you should always focus on ROI (Return on Investment) and conversion, you should always consider click through rate as an important factor when picking the winning ad. Here are a few tips that should increase your click through rate.

  • Test new ad copy often
    • Create new ads that stand apart from your competitors as many ads look the same
  • Add more negative keywords to decrease unwanted impressions
  • Remove keywords with a very low click through rate
  • Use as many ad extensions as you can. It will take up more real estate on the SERP
    • Site-link extensions should always be used

Improve Ad Relevance

If your keyword is not relevant to your ad, you should consider restructuring your ad groups so you can make more relevant ads for your keywords. You should also check your search term report to confirm what type of searches your keywords are triggering.

Improve Landing Page Experience/Relevance

There are several factors to consider when you receive a low landing page rating.

Destination URL

Where are you sending people when they click on your ad? You should send them to a relevant page based on their search result. If possible, avoid sending people to your home page as there may be a more relevant page on your website. Or build a landing page that will help increase conversions.

Mobile Site

Users who click on your ad from a mobile device and do not get a mobile friendly site will have a poor user experience which negatively impacts your quality score. If you do not have a mobile friendly site or landing page, I recommend that you make it a part of your online marketing strategy going forward as it can have a big impact on your ROI. In fact, a responsive site or landing page is generally the best choice.

Load Time

Long load times negatively impact your quality score. You can use free online tools to check how long your landing page takes to load.

Types of Quality score

Account Level

This is determined by the historical performance of your account. To improve your account level quality score, it is recommended that you eliminate poor performing keywords and ads by pausing or deleting them. Accounts that have a longer history of good performance are believed to have a better account level quality score than a newer account. Google has not confirmed this, but it is generally accepted that older accounts with good history get an added benefit.

Keyword Level

This is the quality score that Google and Bing/Yahoo provide to you in your account under the keyword tab. Keyword level quality score is determined by the performance of search queries that exactly match your keyword.  Match type does not affect quality score.


Quality score is an important factor in your account and should be reviewed on a regular basis if you want to increase performance. Remember that Google is always trying to provide the most relevant content in response to a person’s search query, so make sure you have relevant keywords, ads, and landing page content when your ads are triggered. Click through rate is the most important aspect of quality score so continuously test ad content to get the best results. Review your search query report for keywords to negative match and keywords that you can add to your account. Pausing or deleting poor performing keywords and ads is essential to building good account history, so I recommend doing a full audit on your account every few months. Changes in account performance can be a result of diminishing quality score, so know your quality score for your top performing keywords so you can quickly determine if that is where the problem is.


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