What is Google Ads Quality Score? (and Why it Matters)

What is Google Ads Quality Score? This is a question that I get asked all the time (you know, my family is curious 🙂 ). This term appears out of the blue every time advertising on Google is concerned. And it is not by coincidence! In fact, quality score and ad rank play a huge role over the cost of your paid search campaigns.

Now, when it comes to quality score, there are plenty of definitions on the Internet. Why should you read mine then? Because, instead of throwing a bunch of other scary terms that might not ring a bell to you if you are a beginner, I will try to explain it in a different, practical way. Just as I did in my previous article Introduction to SEM for beginners.

I will also answer some other questions related to Quality score that you might want to hear about. So, let´s go!

Behind the Scenes of Google Ads

Let´s say that you are looking for a pair of magnificent, noise cancelling headphones. Your brother just bought a pair to ignore your annoying mumbling about Marketing…so you want to do the same to mute his science conversations.

So, you type “noise cancelling headphones” into Google and a couple of results appear:

google search terms

You seem some good-looking ads from pages that claim that they sell the best noise cancelling headphones in the entire world. Good for them. However, what you don´t see is what happens behind the scenes.

When you typed your search term “noise cancelling headphones“, in the matter of miliseconds dozens, if not hundreds of companies competed in real time to appear in the first positions of your results. They want to grab your attention and make you buy from them.

However, there is only one place for the first result. And one place for the second, and one place for the third…you get where I´m going. This means that the only 3-5 companies will be able to appear on the first page of your results, while other companies won´t appear at all.

And this is where Google Ads Quality Score comes into play.

paid results google - ad rank and quality score

Quality Score and Ad Rank

Having said this, Quality Score is one of the most imporant factors that will determine your ad rank – aka your position on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

There are three main factors that Google uses to decide your ad rank:

  1. Quality Score
  2. Maximum Bid
  3. The Impact of your Extensions

Image credit: verticalrail.com

All of these factors are given a score from 1 to 10 depending on how good (or bad they are).

Factor 1: Quality Score

Google values user experience and for the search engine, it´s really important that the user actually finds what he is looking for.

Whether your ad answers your user´s question, or offers what he is looking for, is determined by Quality Score. Quality Score is different for each keyword that your audience types into Google.

For example, if a user typed “noise cancelling headphones“, Google will try to show all ads that contain the keyword “noise cancelling headphones”, or a closely related keyword.

ad relevance - google ad rank - google ads quality score

This is your ad relevance – and it´s the way Google knows that your ad is relevant to this user because it offers the exact specific product that he is looking for – noise cancelling headphones. Not wireless earbuds, not a sound system, not AirPods.

Companies communicate this relevancy to Google through keywords. Obviously, if you are looking for “blue summer jeans” you won´t see any ads about “noise cancelling headphones” because that´s not what you are looking for. So, this keyword won´t make a match with any ad about headphones.

But this is not the whole picture. In fact, Quality Score is also determined by 3 factors:

Number 1: Ad relevance

As we already explained, ad relevance means that the search term that the user types into Google matches exactly or closely the keywords in your ad. Additionally, any support keywords that provide additional information are taken into account as well:

email marketing software - google ads quality score example

Number 2: Landing page experience 

Landing page experience takes into account various factors such as:

  • Useful and original content that makes the user stay longer without leaving the page;
  • Relevancy –  the search term exactly or closely matches the keywords on your landing page. 
  • Easy mobile and computer navigation;
  • Short loading time – the slower your landing page loads, the worse the experience for the user (and Google knows it!)
  • Readability – the content is easy to read and understand by your audience.

…and others!

Number 3: Expected CTR

Expected Clickthrough Rate (CTR) measures the likelihood of your ad getting clicked by the user after it was shown for a specific keyword. This likelihood depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • How well your keyword performed in the past;
  • The search terms that lead to your ad;
  • Type of device;

And other real-time-auction factors.

If the status of your expected CTR is “average” or “above average“, it means that there are no major issues with the keyword compared to other ones across Google Ads. However, a “below average” status is usually a sign that you need to reconsider your ad text to better match your selected keywords.

Google Ads Quality Score has a “weight’ of approximately 40% of your total ad rank, which means that it’s an extremely important factor for your search engine positioning.

Factor 2: Maximum Bid

The maximum cost per click (CPC) bid is the highest amount that you are willing to pay for a user to click on your ad. It has a “weight” of approximately 50% of your total ad rank. This means that it has the biggest impact on your positioning of all 3 factors (Quality Score, Maximum Bid and Extension Impact).

However, you can see that Quality Score has a huge impact as well, and the combination with the 3rd factor – ad extensions, makes out the other half of the ad rank. If it wasn’t so, the first positions would always belong to the companies that are willing to bid higher – which is not the point!

long term committment buyer saas free trial

Your ad and landing page quality are just as important as your maximum bid. This means that even if you are not the company who bids for the most expensive clicks, you can still get on the first positions!

Factor 3: The Impact of Your Extensions

Along with Quality Score and Maximum CPC Bid, ad extensions are another important component of your Ad Rank. They provide additional information to the person who is searching in Google, and a lot of times can help you get the same amount of clicks for less money because of your ad’s increased relevancy.

However, Google will only show your extensions when your Ad Rank is high enough. This might seem counter-intuitive it first, but it simply means that you might need to increase your bid or improve your ad quality for them to show.

ad extensions - google ads quality score

Why should I care about Google Ads Quality Score?

There are number of benefits that come along with having high-quality scoring ads for a certain keyword:

Lower Cost Per Click (CPC)

Probably the most immediate result that you will see from a high quality score ad is decreased costs per click.

Because you’ve proved to Google that your ad is highly relevant for that specific keyword, it will encourage you to appear on better positions. This way, users will have a bigger chance of discovering what they want.

Having said this, it is important to understand that Google is an intermediary between the company that provides the ad and the user who is searching for something. So, it needs to please both the content provider and the potential customer!

That’s why relevance is such a huge player in ad ranking.

In fact, a high quality score of 10 can get you up to 30% discount off your regular CPC! A low score such as 1, however, might increase it up to 400%.

Higher Ad Rank

Ad ranks are a leading factor for determining how often your ads are shown on the search engine result page (SERP). A high ad rank allows you to bid lower than your competitors while still appearing on the first page of Google.

And of course, higher ad rank also means that you will be more visible than your competitors. Which leads to more clicks and more traffic to your web! After all, traffic and lead generation are the main reasons companies advertise on Google.

Increased Click Through Rate (CTR)

High CTRs improve your Quality Score and vice versa. Let me explain.

If you’ve been running campaigns for a while, you’ve accumulated some historical data. Every once in a while, Google will check into this historical data to ensure the relevance of your ads and keywords.

A high CTR is an indicator that you are providing relevant ads to your target audience. As a result, your Quality Score also increases, meaning that Google will continue to display your ads more prominently.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion

This awesome feature allows you to personalize your ads to the searcher’s query. It automatically places the search term of your user within the headline of your ad. This not only results in increased ad relevancy, but also increases the chances for higher CTR.

However, Dynamic Keyword Insertion is a feature that has to be earned. How? Exactly, by increasing your Quality Score!

What is the most important factor about Google Ads Quality Score?

According to Search Engine Land, the two most important factors for Quality Score are Landing page experience and Expected CTR:

google ads quality score percentage by importance

Each of these two factors amount for 39% of the total weight for achieving a high quality score. The third factor, ad relevance, amounts for 22%, which makes it slightly less determining. However, it is really important to ensure that your ad is relevant for your users!

How do I check my Google Ads Quality Score?

Finding out the Quality Score of your ads is easy. The command itself is not enabled by default, but you can check it quickly by following these steps:

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads Account;
  2. Select the campaign and ad group that you want to check the score of;
  3. Click on the Keywords tab in the left column:

keywords tab - checking google ads quality score

4. Select Columns at the top of the table:

google ads columns

5. Click on Quality Score from the drop down menu, and add all the elements that you wish to see:

Now, you should be able to see it in your Google Ads dashboard!

That was all for today! As always, I hope you liked my article, and thank you for taking the time to read it! See you in the next one!

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