Understanding Google Ads Quality Score

Quality Score is a diagnostic tool that helps compare the relevance of your ads and landing pages for a specific keyword, against that of other brands bidding for the same keyword (or search term). It is measured on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being extremely good. The Quality Score for keywords in your campaign can be checked on the Keywords Report (we will show you how in a little while).

A very high Quality Score is synonymous with strong relevance between the ad, the landing page and the keyword. It can nudge Google to get more impressions for your ad compared to competitors bidding for the same ad. It can also help you identify areas that need improvement in your campaign, like ad assets, landing pages and keyword selection.

How Google Quality Score affects campaigns

Let’s see how Google’s Quality Score affects your ad campaigns.

Quality Score can boost a keyword’s performance metrics

A high Quality Score for a keyword in your campaign helps your campaign’s ad stand out among competitors bidding for the same keywords. This results in much better performance metrics for the keyword.

Although this score may not seem like a direct factor that impacts performance, its components influence your ad impressions. If these factors are rated low for the keyword, your ad may not appear or appear less, affecting its reach.

Good Quality Score can result in better use of ad budget

Google uses an internal ranking system to choose which ads are displayed to users. This is called “Ad Rank”. This ranking system also decides the position the ads appear.

This ranking system relies on quality score as one of the metrics to determine ad quality. Keywords with higher quality score, results in boosting the Ad Rank. Ads appearing higher in search results get more engagement. Higher ad quality results in better use of ad budget, and may also lead to reduced ad spend.

One study shows that for keywords with extremely good quality score, CPC may reduce by upto 50%. But for keywords with low quality scores, CPC may increase by upto 400% than normal.

How to check Quality Score for campaign keywords on Google Ads dashboard

Checking the Quality Score for keywords in your campaign is very straight-forward list of steps:

  1. Navigate to the Keywords page of your campaign on the Google Ads dashboard. You will be shown the keywords report along with metrics associated for the keyword.
  2. Click on “Modify Columns” above the table in the report to enable more columns for the report.
  3. Enable these columns:
    1. Quality Score
    2. Landing page experience
    3. Expected CTR
    4. Ad relevance

Also to improving the quality of Google Ads, understanding each component used to calculate is very helpful.

Understanding Quality Score

The first step to improve is to review the metrics that are used to calculate the Quality Score.

  • Expected clickthrough rate (also called as eCTR or Expected CTR)
  • Ad Relevance Score
  • Landing page experience

Each of the above metrics are assessed as “Above average”, “Average” or “Below average”. This is determined by considering the advertising history for the keyword across brands in the past 90 days, and also depends on the time of the day, the device of the user, etc.

These metrics help you determine whether next action items to improve Quality Score, so it is important to understand what they mean.

Expected Clickthrough Rate (eCTR) for keywords

While CTR is the actual percentage of users that clicked on the ad. Google provides “Expected CTR”, as a benchmark based to compare your CTR against. Expected Clickthrough Rate is shown as below “average”, “average” or “above average”. This is Google’s comparison of your Ad’s CTR against the historical CTR of ads by (different brands) for this keyword and similar keywords.

If your keyword’s eCTR is above average, this contributes to a higher quality Quality Score for the keyword.

Apart from being a component of Google Ads Quality Score, eCTR can help you determine if the CTR you are seeing for your keyword’s ads are similar to what other brands are/were experiencing. eCTR can be one of the metrics to consider when removing non-performing keywords.

Checkout our other article about how to improve the CTR for your Google Ads campaigns.

Ad Relevance Score for keywords

Google Ads uses its machine learning systems to measure the relevance of ads with the landing page content. A higher Ad Relevance Score indicates that your ads and your landing page content are relevant to the keywords and search terms that it is being used for. A higher Ad Relevance Score also indicates that the ads and landing pages are suitable for the users searching for the keyword and related search terms.

This metric trickles down to different assets for the ad like the headline, description, images, etc that are used in the Ad. So this is also a good measure of what Google Ads thinks about different Ad Assets that comprises the Ad.

Users searching for “how to get leads for business” could also be interested in building a website for their business. Advertising for this keyword with offers to build a website might result in a low Ad Relevance Score and may even cost you higher due to this reason. Your ad and your search terms are not related. But this could help you you experiment a bit in search of better performance (and keywords) since you can reach the same audience.

Landing Page Experience for keywords

Landing Page Experience indicates what Google Ads thinks about your Landing Page and how it relates to the keyword and ad.

For example, if your ad promises to teach users how to build apps a website for your business, then your landing page must convey that promise clearly, along with supporting information and links.

For keywords in the same ad group, and using the same landing page, the Landing Page Experience score is attributed to all keywords in the ad group.

How to improve Quality Score on Google Ads

Improving the Quality Score on your Google Ads campaigns requires improving the Quality Score components/metrics that were discussed above.

Ensure keywords are related to the landing pages

The campaign keywords and the content on the landing pages must be related. Advertising for foreign vacation packages to customers looking for high-spend credit cards can result in Quality Score being penalised. Google Ads rewards ads and keywords that cater to the user’s intent with good quality score. Ensure to pick keywords that are related to the intent.

Optimise landing pages for mobile devices

The landing pages must be mobile responsive and optimised for mobile devices, without which the experience on mobile devices can lead to increased page load times and higher bounce rates. This results in losing conversion opportunities. This impacts your Landing Page Experience score.

Review landing page copy and CTAs

Landing pages must contain relevant information for users. The copy on the landing page must be appropriate for the search term (or keyword) and must also match the content of the ad. Google evaluates the consistency to ensure users receive accurate and valuable information.

Apart from having content relevant to the ad, linking to relevant information on your landing page also helps prove that your website provides detailed and useful information, which further increases the relevance and quality of your ad.

Ensure to review and update landing pages when required so that the messaging on the landing pages and the ads are consistent. Outdated or inaccurate information can affect the reliability and quality of your landing page.

Is Quality Score the only north star for optimising campaign performance?

As Google themselves mention, Quality Score is a diagnostic tool. They do contribute to Ad Rank in some way. But if your ads can consistently show better engagement, acceptable performance metrics, and has expected Return On Ad Spend (ROAS), then there is no reason to optimise for anything more.

Quality Score is a lagging metric. Use the Quality Score as you would use a mile marker when driving. It can help you determine if where you might be going wrong, but sometimes, as a campaign manager, you know better when you see the metrics yourself.