Running Google Ads can be a great way to boost your website’s visibility and reach potential customers.
However, it takes more than good ad copy and images to snag that coveted spot on top of Google’s search results. Like everything else on Google SERPs (search engine results pages), the search algorithm favours ads that are helpful and relevant to the user.
To help advertisers create successful ads, Google has created an ad diagnostic tool called Quality Score (QS). But what is it and how does it work? We’ll discuss that, plus strategies to boost the quality score of your Google Ads, in this comprehensive guide.
Think of the Google Ads ecosystem as a massive auction house. There are limited ad spots available, and countless advertisers are trying to claim those spots. So how can you improve your chances of getting one or more of those top ad positions and how much you’ll pay per click?
The answer is through each of your ad campaigns’ quality score (QS).
Rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest) and available at the keyword level, it’s how Google measures your ad campaign versus those of other advertisers.
Your quality score estimates your ad’s quality and relevance based on three main factors:
A high quality score not only gets you better ad positions, but also tends to lower your costs-per-click (CPC). CPC refers to how much you pay Google each time your ad is clicked. So not only does a high QS save you money in the long run, but it also helps you get more clicks (and conversions!).
A low quality score can result in your ad being less visible or not appearing at all. Not only that, but you’ll likely end up paying more per click to make up for the low quality of your ad.
With that said, Google expressed the following about QS:
In other words, don’t take your ad’s quality score in isolation. It’s not the be all and end all of your campaign’s success. There are other factors at play, such as your ad spend and ad quality, that will also affect your results.
Still, it’s safe to say that your ad’s QS should be as high as possible to give your campaign the best chance for success.
To calculate an ad campaign’s quality, Google examines the following components:
Together, those components may be assessed as:
In addition, Google also contextualises an ad’s quality in relation to other ads being shown in the preceding 90 days for the exact same keyword, aka the historical impressions for that keyword.
In some cases, you may see a “-” in your quality score report. This simply indicates a lack of data. For example, if there aren’t enough searches for that exact keyword, Google may not have enough information to generate a quality score.
You can find your ad campaign’s quality score in your Google Ads account. To check it, simply follow the steps below:
Note that you can also segment your quality score data by day, to see how it changes over time.
Given that quality score is not an input in the Google Ads auction process nor a KPI, you may be wondering if you can ignore it altogether. We recommend you don’t. It can actually have a huge impact on your ad campaigns. Here are some of the best reasons why quality score is essential:
The lower your CPC, the more clicks you can get for less money. A 2013 study found that the average QS was 5.
One point lower – or a QS of 4 – can increase your CPC by 25%. A score of 1 can make your CPC 400% higher than CPC for ads with a QS of 5. On the other end of the spectrum, ads with a QS of 10 enjoy a 50% lower CPC.
To illustrate, let’s say an ad with a quality score of 5 has a CPC of $1. That same ad with a quality score of 4 would have a CPC of $1.25, while an ad with a quality score of 1 would cost $4.
Ads with a quality score of 10 would only cost $0.50 per click. Quality score, then, has a direct impact on how much you’ll pay for each click.
In the Google Ads auction process, ad rank is determined by multiplying two factors: quality score and maximum bid. Therefore, the higher your quality score, the lower your maximum bid can be while still maintaining the same ad position.
In other words, you pay less versus your competition while still getting the same ad exposure. Quality score can also impact your ad’s position in other ways. For example, if you have a low quality score, you may see your ad only appearing on the very bottom of the search results page – even if you have a higher maximum bid than your competitors.
Ads with a higher quality score tend to get more impressions than ads with a lower quality score. This is because high QS has a cascade effect – it boosts your position, which means more people can see your ad, you get more clicks, and so forth.
On the other hand, low quality scores can limit your ad’s reach, and even render your ad invisible to searchers.
In short, the better your quality score is, the higher your ROI, since it can reduce ad spend while increasing traffic, impressions, and conversions. Conversely, a low quality score can sink your ad campaigns, and make it very difficult to be profitable.
So, what’s a good quality adwords quality score?
To answer that, you need to understand that there are actually two types of QS: the Auction quality score and the visible quality score, which is what we’ve been focusing on so far.
The only difference between the visible QS and auction quality score is that the latter is determined when there is a relevant search, as opposed to the historical data used to calculate the former.
In general, we recommend aiming for a quality score of 8-10, which is considered excellent.
But if you’re targeting low-intent keywords, which are keywords that people are using early on in the research process, a good quality score may not have to be that high.
This is because searchers using these keywords are generally not ready to make a purchase yet, so they’re less likely to click on ads, no matter how well-targeted or well-written they are.
As a result, even ads with a quality score of 10 may not get many clicks from low-intent keywords.
If you learn that your ads currently have a low quality score, don’t get discouraged. There are several QS improvement techniques you can apply to increase it. Let’s walk through each one:
If your ad relevance is average or below average, you’ll need to make some changes ASAP. The first step is to match the ad language with the keywords. For example, if your keyword is “red sneakers,” your ad should mention “red sneakers” in your ads or a close variation thereof.
On top of that, your ad groups should also contain as few disparate terms as possible. So, if you’re selling multiple but unrelated products (e.g., clothes and kitchenware), it’s best to create a separate ad group for each product rather than lumping them all together.
Apply themes to your keyword groups as well. That way, you can make sure that each group is tightly focused on a particular topic.
For example, if you’re selling running shoes, you might want to create separate ad groups for different types of running shoes, such as “trail running shoes” or “marathon running shoes.”
To raise your expected CTR to an above-average level, experiment with different ad copy.
Try using different calls to action or offers in your ads. You might also want to play around with the ad’s format, such as using a video or image. As for your ad text, make them as concise and compelling as possible.
In addition, it can also be helpful to create multiple versions for each ad group and then use A/B testing to see which ones perform the best.
Think of your Google Ads as an experience, not just a post on the SERPs. Therefore, you need to welcome users who click on those ads and give them the information they need, whether it’s product details, pricing, or reviews.
To that end, you’ll want to make sure that your ads’ landing pages are relevant to the keywords and ad copy. Aside from that, they should also be well-designed, with a strong call to action, and easy to navigate.
It can also be helpful to include engaging content on your landing pages, such as videos, GIFs, free ebooks, or product demos.
You’ll want to split test your landing pages as well. This way, you can figure out which design elements and calls to action work best in getting users to convert.
The right keywords for your ad group aren’t always the most obvious ones. You’ll need to do your research to figure out which ones are most relevant to your products or services.
One way to do this is by using the Google Ads Keyword Planner tool. This tool allows you to research keywords and get estimates for their search volume and competition level.
Don’t be quick to dismiss long-tail keywords, either. While they may have lower search volume, they’re usually more specific to what the user is looking for. And that dramatically boosts your relevance score, CTR, and conversion rate.
Furthermore, we also recommend deleting any keywords with low QS. Aside from dragging your whole Google Ads account, you’re also wasting money on keywords that simply aren’t working.
Part of your keyword strategy should include negative keywords. These are words or phrases that you don’t want your ad to show up for.
As an example, let’s say you’re targeting the keyword “brand-new luxury SUV.” You probably don’t want your ad showing up for keywords like “cheap,” “used,” or “sedan.”
Identifying them as negative keywords means your ads will only show up for users looking for new luxury SUVs. This, in turn, means only interested people click on your ads, reducing spend, improving interested impressions, and boosting your QS.
To create a Google Ads campaign that resonates with users, you need to understand who your target customer is. This involves creating a customer persona, which is a representation of your ideal customer.
Your customer persona should include information such as demographics, interests, pain points, and goals. Once you have a persona created, you can map out the user journey.
The user journey is the process that your persona takes to go from being a stranger to becoming a customer.
Mapping out the user journey will give you a better understanding of what keywords and ads are most relevant to each stage. Additionally, it will also help you create more targeted and effective ads and landing pages.
Ad extensions are extra pieces of information that you can add to your ads, such as your phone number, address, or links to specific pages on your website.
There are a few different types of ad extensions, including sitelink extensions, callout extensions, and structured snippet extensions.
Sitelink extensions are links to specific pages on your website that you want to highlight.
Callout extensions are short snippets of text that highlight your unique selling points.
Structured snippet extensions are lists of items, such as your services or product features.
These ad extensions are a great way to improve your ad’s CTR and quality score, and also make them more noticeable among other ads. On top of all that, they’re also helpful in getting users to the right page on your website, which is important for a good user experience.
Site speed, or how quickly your pages load, is an important aspect of UX. Slow loading pages can be frustrating for users and may even cause them to leave your site. Of course, this is true for landing pages as well.
Check the design and functionality of your landing pages as well. If your pages are difficult to navigate or don’t work properly, users will likely leave. This will hurt your QS and waste the click you paid for.
The most successful Google Ads focus on creating a great experience for users instead of just trying to sell them something. Google’s quality score tool can tell you how well your paid ads are meeting that goal.
Are they relevant and cohesive? Are you using the right keywords, and do your landing pages welcome users and guide them to what they’re looking for? If not, then leverage your Google Ads quality score data to improve your campaigns.
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