What is ‘Quality Score’ on a pay-per-click campaign and why is it important?

“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” – Henry Ford


What is quality score?

It is a numeric score measured out of ‘10’ awarded by Google based on the relevance and connection between your keywords, advert text and landing pages.

Essentially, it is a measure of whether Google thinks you’re delivering up a tight PPC campaign for the benefit of the end user – the higher the score the better you are working it.

Additional factors that contribute to Google’s ranking systems include your click through rate (CTR) and ‘follow on’ user interactions (i.e. how long they stay on the page, whether they continue to visit other pages, download additional content, etc) as these actions also tell Google if you are serving up good quality information.

What are the benefits of a good quality score?

The primary benefit is either a reduction of cost for your advert or a boosting of position without having to pay for it.  Either way it’s a good end result.

Additionally the higher your quality score, the more likely Google will be to ‘reward’ you by adding on ‘ad extensions’ to your adverts, thus increasing the chances of more clicks.

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Secondary benefits include the ‘unsaid confirmation’ that your landing page is correctly targeted towards the keywords your prospective customers will use – this means that your website is well targeted for organic search engine optimisation as well as the PPC campaign.

How to improve your quality score

Google provide the guidance openly and you can access an overview of quality score here: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/6167123 … however, the main areas to focus on include:

  • Improve your adverts – if your adverts use the same words, phrasing and language as your prospects then your click through rate is likely to improve
  • Provide Google with multiple adverts per individual ad group – this allows Google to match the advert to your prospects language more effectively (remember, Google want them to click!). Google recommends a minimum of 3 adverts being set up per ad group.
  • Carefully manage negative keywords to reduce the times your ad is shown to the ‘wrong kind of search’ – this has the impact of improving your click through rate (which is one of the metrics Google uses to establish a quality score) and, of course, saving your budget
  • Carefully consider your keywords – could you add in more precise phrases or change the way Google matches your keywords (the vast majority of poorly performing ad campaigns use simple ‘broad’ matching (where Google displays your ad ‘whenever’ they think it might be relevant) … changing to phrase match, exact match or adding a broad match modifier, etc may well benefit your campaign – Google provide examples of these match types here: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2497836?hl=en-GB
  • Improve your landing pages to be relevant to the keywords – Google wants to see the same things your prospects want … a high degree of relevance from the keyword, through the ad text and the resultant landing page – simply clicking through to a home page is rarely as good as landing on a page dedicated to the specific search.
  • Check the user experience based on different devices – are your landing pages easy to use on a smartphone compared to a tablet compared to a desktop … this has a bearing on your quality score.

Having the best quality score doesn’t guarantee success but it does mean that Google thinks you are making the effort to deliver good results to someone searching – and that, in itself, is a great accolade to aim for.  If you have strong quality score metrics then your focus should then change to ‘campaign improvement’ such as your bid adjustments based on device, timing of campaigns, negative keywords, etc.

Ultimately, though it will save on cost to have a higher quality score, Google’s quality score isn’t a perfect reflection of quality, and so we recommend you don’t get bogged down chasing a 10 on every keyword. This could mean neglecting real qualitative improvements that yield greater results than saving a few pennies here and there.

In Google’s own words, “Be relevant, be compelling and drive traffic to landing pages that deliver on what you promise in your ad, and you can feel confident that your score should reflect that quality.”

In truth, setting up and managing a PPC campaign can be hard, technical work.  Google does provide all the information and support you could ever need but it takes a lot of time to learn all the elements and you might be well advised to seek expert help if you’re in a hurry.

Blunt advice on PPC management from Yorkshire Powerhouse
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