There’s a burning question on many clients’ minds that we’re often asked: what is Google Quality Score, and does it matter? I’ll answer the first part of that question, but yes, it absolutely matters. If you’re investing in paid media through Google Ads, a high Quality Score has the power to reduce your cost per click and, better yet, your cost per conversion. In other words, it can help you get more from your ads and improve your ROI. Sounds pretty good, right? Let’s dive deeper into the details and how to increase yours.
What Is Google Quality Score?
Before we work on improving it, you should first understand what a Quality Score is. Google explains it like this:
“Quality Score is a diagnostic tool meant to give you a sense of how well your ad quality compares to other advertisers. This score is measured on a scale from 1-10 and available at the keyword level. A higher Quality Score means that your ad and landing page are more relevant and useful to someone searching for your keyword, compared to other advertisers.”
The cool thing about Quality Score is that it pinpoints areas of weakness in your ads and landing pages, so you’re alerted to what needs to be improved. It’s a great tool to help you iterate and elevate your paid media efforts.
How Is It Calculated?
Again, let’s look right at how Google tells us Quality Score is calculated, which is based on the combined performance of the following components:
- Expected clickthrough rate (CTR): The likelihood that your ad will be clicked when shown.
- Ad relevance: How closely your ad matches the intent behind a user's search.
- Landing page experience: How relevant and useful your landing page is to people who click your ad.
Each of these components is rated as either “Above average,” “Average” or “Below average.” The scores are then compared against other ads that have been shown for the same keyword over the past three months. It’s about as quantitative as you can get with ad performance, and can be extremely enlightening.
How Can I Improve My Quality Score?
More than anything, you’re probably wanting me to share how to boost your quality score so you can make your paid media ads more relevant, useful and effective. So, here are some best practices that are relatively easy to implement and can make a big impact.
- Revisit Keywords
One of the biggest problems with low quality scores is poorly researched keywords. You should start by researching the most often used keywords that relate to what you’re advertising, but take your time. Rushing this process can lead to failing to think things through - and ultimately making mistakes. Use Google Keyword Planner to identify keywords, and aim for a mix of both short and long tail keywords. Your goal is to discover which words and phrases people use most often when looking for a particular service or product you offer, and to then pare down your list based on the ones with the highest search volumes and conversion rates. One very important step that many folks miss is to also create a list of negative keywords. Just as negative buyer personas are crucial to avoid targeting the wrong buyers who will cost you money and time, negative keywords help you avoid paying for clicks that won’t get you conversions. For example, let’s say you sell window frames for houses and chose the keyword “frames for homes.” But, you find you get a lot of interest from people who want picture frames, which you don’t sell. You could then set “picture frames” as a negative keyword, and reframe (pun intended) your main keyword to be something like “window frames for homes” so it’s more specific and clear. Continue to refine and adjust on an ongoing basis to get as relevant as possible.
- Organize Keywords
Once you have your list of keywords figured out, it’s time to give it some structure. As we mentioned above, Quality Score is largely determined by relevance, so your ads and landing pages need to be ultra-specific. Group together keywords that are suited for particular ad campaigns. For instance, let’s say you own a personal training gym. If your ads are generic about personal training, you’ll be forced to go with a competitive keyword (and likely end up with a lower Quality Score). Instead, get very targeted and put together campaigns for each specific training service you offer. One ad and landing page campaign should focus on your one-on-one kickboxing lessons, while another should zero in on your private yoga training - and so forth. This way, each campaign can be crafted around a unique audience with targeted messaging and very relevant keywords, thus boosting your Quality Score. Remember, too, that your keywords should be used in multiple places in every campaign. For best results and a better score, include them in your headlines, ad copy and landing page or web content.
- Invite Action
Of course, what good are ads if they don’t drive the viewer to do something? Decide on a strong call-to-action (CTA) for each of your ads. To get extra bonus points, try to keep your CTA close to your keywords and landing page copy as well. Going with the personal yoga training example above, a CTA like “learn more” will fall flat and won’t help your score. A CTA like “sign up for your first free private yoga session today” instead is more likely to match your keywords and drive conversions.
- Increase Speed
Finally, look at your speed. Do your website and landing pages load quickly? If not, you could be hurting your Quality Score. Run some tests to find out how you score on desktop and mobile speed, and then optimize your site to improve this. Speed may not seem related, but it’s actually part of the “landing page experience” calculation criterion. If it takes too long to load, someone who clicked on your ad may get annoyed and give up, lowering your conversions and increasing your cost per click. Your Google Quality Score is a complex calculation, but you have the power to improve it if you follow the steps outlined here. Still need help? We regularly guide clients toward a better Quality Score, and would love to do the same for you. Give us a call!