How to maintain a high Adwords Quality Score

Google uses a metric called “Quality Score” to determine ad placement and price for individual keywords within an Ad Group.

Quality Score Overview

Obviously someone can pay to have an ad in the top three positions, but a high Quality Score will give you a better position (the first position instead of the third, for example) for less, and the difference can be significant (by an order of magnitude).

When thinking about Search Engine Marketing, it’s always important to remember that the search engine’s primary customer is the searcher, not the advertiser. By giving the searcher better ads, even at the expense of short term gain, Google encourages them to stay and continue using the search engine, creating a stronger long term relationship.

How the scores are calculated

There are basically two Quality Scores (though they are combined when we see them): a score that impacts pricing, and a score that impacts ad position on the page.

For calculating a keyword’s minimum price, Google measures:

  • The keyword’s historical clickthrough rate (CTR) in Google search results
  • The relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group
  • The quality of your landing page
  • Your account’s historical CTR
  • The historical CTR of the display URLs in the ad group
  • Other relevance factors (whatever this means)

For calculating a keyword-targeted ad’s position on a search result page, Google measures:

  • The historical CTR of the ad, the ad’s display URL, and the matched keyword on Google
  • The relevance of the keyword and ad to the search query
  • Your account’s historical CTR

How to increase your score

Therefore, maintain a high Quality Score by:

  • Using Ad Groups to group related keywords. Not only will this make your AdWords account easier to manage, but it will decrease your minimum price(!).
  • Using targeted keywords. This will reduce competition, increase your ad’s ranking and its CTR and allow you to…
  • Match ad text to keywords. This will make your ad more relevant to the search query and should also increase your CTR.
  • Make sure your landing page uses your keywords and is generally good. Google will like this.

Links for further reading

  • A keyword’s Quality Score is partially determined by the account’s past performance. So, we should be careful about creating crappy campaigns, because bad campaigns will affect future Quality Scores.
  • Some people claim that a common mistake when starting out is to combine broad, highly competitive terms with a high overall budget and a low CPC (they don’t want to spend their budget all at once). This results in a low click-through rate, however, lowering your Quality Score). The key here is that if you’re going to have broad, crappy keywords, pay a lot to at least get some clicks, instead of getting a lot of non-clicks.
  • Your Quality Score is also influenced by your landing pages. This is what Google looks for in a landing page.
  • Finally, even if your Quality Score is low, here are ten ways to raise it. Of course, these are good ideas to follow regardless.