Search and Content Quality Score in Google AdWords

This is the first in the three-part series on Google AdWords‘ Quality Score. The first article will discuss Quality Score in general, and the second will look at what factors Google uses to determine landing page relevancy. The final part will discuss ways to analyze AdWords data and how that analysis can be used to increase Quality Score.

pay per click blog iconOne of the biggest mysteries of a Google AdWords campaign for many small businesses is Quality Score (QS). Google introduced this feature several years ago to measure how good of an experience a searcher will have, depending on the search query, keyword, and landing page. Let’s take a look at how Quality Score is calculated, and some ways to optimize it.

Each keyword in an Ad Group is assigned a Quality Score number, ranging from 1-10. A score of 1 is the lowest, while 10 means that the keyword has received the highest score available. Quality Score determines the visibility of an ad, and can stop ads from displaying (or from displaying in higher positions) if the Quality Score is too low.

It should also be noted that only the exact match keyword type is taken into account when determining the Quality Score. These keywords are usually marked in brackets in an actual AdWords campaign, [like so]. Here is the formula for calculating Quality Score and the actual cost per click that advertisers pay, which is dependent on the QS:

Ad Rank = [keyword] Quality Score x Max Cost Per Click
Actual Cost Per Click = (Ad Rank to Beat / Quality Score) + $0.01

The most important factor that Google takes into account in determining Quality Score is the Click-Through Rate (CTR). This is normalized by position, so an ad in the #1 position on the search page will have a greater expected CTR than an ad in the #7 position, for instance. The QS is also determined in the search partner network based on the Click-Through Rates of ads on those networks. Other factors that are used to determine QS are the ad copy, the display URL of the site, geographical factors, and account history.

The main goal here, as with all things from Google, is relevance, another important factor in Quality Score. The keywords should be relevant to the ad copy in the ad group. The keywords and ad copy should be relevant to the content on the landing page of the website. Thus, relevance and Click-Through Rate are two of the most important factors that make up QS.

The landing page itself is not a positive factor for Quality Score, but it can have a negative effect. A relevant landing page won’t help you, but an irrelevant one can hurt you. They can result in a penalty much more likely than they can result in a boost to QS.

When discussing the Quality Score of ads running on Google’s Display Network, the QS is determined at the Ad Group level, not the keyword level. This is an important difference. The Click-Through Rate of ads on related content sites is used to calculate the QS, and Google also takes into account the relevance of the landing page.

Thus, businesses should focus on improving their QS in search advertising first, before tackling Display Network advertising. The most important factors to consider when optimizing Quality Score are the Click-Through Rate of the keyword, overall relevancy between the keyword, ad copy, and landing page, the company’s account history with Google, and the landing page itself.

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