If you use PPC as part of your digital marketing efforts, you’ve probably heard the term Quality Score in the past. The Google Adwords Quality Score is an indication of the quality of your selected keywords, ad text and landing pages. This score helps you understand how competitive you’re ads are for the niche your targeting.
Google assigns your ad a score somewhere between 1-10, where 10 is the highest possible score and 1 is the lowest.
Does Quality Score Really Matter
The short answer is, absolutely. It can be very easy to pass over or ignore your ad quality score but improving it one of the easiest ways to get your ads to rank in higher positions and lower your cost per click (CPC).
Quality Score is a Calculation of Ad Relevance
Quality Score is specifically the result of measuring the relevancy of…
- The keywords your bidding on to the users’ search queries
- Your keywords to your ad copy
- Your keywords to your websites’ landing page
- Your landing page to the ad copy
When these things come together and overlap, the result is a ‘perfect 10’ Quality Score.
In short, this means your keyword is related to the landing page, it’s related the users’ search query, and the search query is related to the ad copy.
Quality Score Directly Impacts How Much You Pay Per Click
Your quality score times your CPC (cost per click) equals a number, this value is then used to determine where you’re ad ranks in this specific search auction. This directly dictates how much you will spend.
For example, if you have a quality score of 1 and a competitor has a quality score of 10, you will have to pay 10 times more to outrank your competitors’ ad.
In this same example, if you bid $1, your competitor will only have to bid 0.10 to outbid you and have their ad outrank yours. They will save 10x over your cost and drive more traffic.
A low-Quality Score can have a dramatic impact on your PPC cost and ultimately your sales volume.
Don’t worry! It’s easy to improve your Quality Score!
How to Optimize for Quality Score
There are three components to Quality Score and as you optimize these components you’ll see your quality score improve. Those components are…
The keywords your users are searching and your ad copy must be relevant to each other. If your ad relevance score is low, here are a few ways to improve it.
- Make your ad groups smaller! More ad groups allow for more ads and more ad copy. This allows you to focus your ad copy more specifically on search queries.
- Look for ad groups with keywords that shouldn’t be addressed by the same ad. For example, if you own or manage a car dealership and are advertising trucks, you would want ad groups for Ford trucks, Chevrolet trucks, RAM trucks, etc. Perhaps for your purpose (and the keywords you’re bidding on), it makes sense to further break down the ad groups into Ford 1/2 ton trucks, Ford 3/4 ton trucks and Ford 1 ton trucks. This provides another opportunity to change the landing pages as well to something more specific to the ad. A ‘truck’ ad going to a ‘truck’ page is great, but a Ford 1/2 ton truck ad would be more relevant and score higher going to a Ford 1/2 ton truck landing page.
- Speak to the users intent. If the search query is asking for pricing, include pricing or promotions in your ad copy. This improves the users’ experience and also greatly boosts your Ad relevance.
- Add negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing on irrelevant queries. If you sell pickup trucks, the search “toy pickup trucks” or “pickup truck accessories” may trigger your ads. If the users’ search matches your ad, the ad relevance will drop significantly!
Landing Page Relevance
You need a great landing page and be mindful of what ads you have linked to it. Sometimes it can make sense to create multiple landing pages specifically tailored to your ads. (Be sure to use Canonical URLs to prevent duplicate content!)
Users expect to get what they click on. If your ad speaks about getting a yellow squirt gun for $15, the landing page better have a yellow squirt gun for $15 on it. If not, your quality score will take a big hit!
Here are a few things you can do to boost this score.
- Check your bounce rate. A high bounce rate would indicate that you’re sending traffic to the wrong page or there is a disconnect between the users intent and the content your offering.
- Check the basics. Make sure the page is working well on a technical level. Make sure all the buttons work and the next steps are clear.
- Send traffic to landing pages that are closely related to the users’ query or keyword.
- Do NOT send everyone to the homepage.
- Send users to the right content or product specific information.
- The landing page must feel like a continuation of the ad. Keep that conversation you’ve set up already going! If you are promoting a deal in the ad, that deal needs to be highly visible on the landing page.
- Use your current analytics, in this case, conversion rate, to tell you if users consider this page relevant. Are they taking action and doing what you want them to?
- Make sure you have a mobile optimized site and people are automatically directed to it instead of the desktop site when using a mobile device.
- Measure your page speed. Lower speeds will negatively impact your quality score as users bounce before the content is visible.
Expected Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Search engines are really smart and have some idea of what your expected click-through rate should be. Check to see if it’s average, below average or above average. If it’s below, take a look at your ad text.
Expected CTR is about ad creativity that motivates the user to take action.
Experiment with different calls of action and be sure to highlight a unique benefit to your product or your service that stands out against your competitors.
Try being ‘super specific’ in your ad text. Be sure the search query matches the ad text.
Understand the difference between search terms and the users’ query. Sometimes users search for what they call an object versus what it’s actually called. Make sure you write the ad copy with the intent to speak to the user.
Be aware that bidding on a competitors brand terms and phrases, we call it conquesting, can lower your expected CTR. It also can violate some search engine guidelines.
Quality Score is a great indicator of what’s actually going on – on your site. You can use to lower your overall CPC costs, dramatically improve your CTR and achieve your real goals of improving sales, profitability, sign-ups and more.
We don’t have a magic wand you can wave to improve your quality score, but if you follow these tips, you’re bound to make dramatic strides forward.