Improving the Quality Score of your keywords in Google Ads can make a huge difference to your ad performance. Higher ad placement, better click-through rates, and cheaper clicks are just some of the benefits that come with it. However, scoring a 10/10 isn’t precisely the easiest thing to do, and it can be confusing even for advanced Marketers.
And although there isn’t a single formula that will guarantee you success, it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve it!
Here are some of my top tips for improving your Google Ads Quality Score:
1. Start With Your Keyword Research
Many people don’t think about it this way, but having a good quality score actually starts with your keyword research.
You see, one of the first things that Marketers learn when they start with Digital Marketing, and especially Google, is the concept of relevance. People go to Google to search for something specific that they want to find about.
Google, apart from being your favourite search engine, is also a company that seeks profits. Which is not a bad thing – that’s why all companies exist in the first place, right?
Well, this means that it’s in the best interest of Google to provide the user who is searching for an answer with the best answer possible. It wants to give information that is relevant to this user. If it doesn’t, the user will just go to another search engine, and there isn’t any profit in that.
Now, having understood this, let’s go back to our keyword research.
Let’s say that you are a boutique shop that only sells cocktail dresses and nothing else.
If you go for generic keywords such as “dresses” or “dresses online” in your ads, no matter how well you’ve worked them within your ads, you indicate to Google that you are selling all kinds of dresses. Which, in your context, isn’t true.
So, what might happen is that your ads might start showing for beach dresses or everyday dresses. This is not good for anyone:
- Not for the user who is searching for a light dress for the beach;
- Not for you, who isn’t able to offer what the user is looking for;
- And definitely not for Google, who isn’t providing a relevant result for the user, and is ruining its credibility as a trustworthy search engine.
For this reason, improving your quality score in Google Ads really starts with selecting the right keywords for your business. They need to be specific and true to your product/s. This way, you can make them more relevant to the user’s search.
2. Targeted ad groups
Now that you have your specific keywords, it is time to organise them around targeted ad groups.
For example, let’s say that you sell green, red, and blue cocktail dresses.
Instead of throwing them all within a single ad group, it is better to separate them into 3 different ad groups:
This way, you can separate all keywords related exclusively to blue dresses, such as:
- Elegant blue cocktail dresses;
- Blue cocktail dresses for women;
- Blue cocktail dresses brand X;
- Brand Z blue cocktail dresses;
And so on, and so on, for all your dresses of colours.
The idea is to create small, yet targeted ad groups around the different patterns of your keywords. Obviously, the example with the colour was just one of hundreds of other options.
Doing this will help you create keyword-specific ads to refine the search of your audience. The main point is to increase the relevance of your ads to the user’s search, thus improving the quality score for your keywords.
This way, if a user looks exclusively for “blue cocktail dresses“, you will show up with an ad that offers exactly blue cocktail dresses, resulting in improved relevance and higher quality score.
3. Exact vs Broad modified match keywords
Another really great way to improve your quality score is to create an exact group and an opposite broad group for your targeted keywords.
What this really means is that your exact ad group will have exact match keywords, such as:
- [red cocktail dresses]
- [red cocktail dresses brand X]
- [red cocktail dresses madrid]
Exact match keywords, as the name suggests, are keywords that match exactly the search of your audience.
This way, you limit keywords that could be less relevant for your business, or at least for this ad group in specific. These super-specific keywords also allow you to create more targeted ads that only mention red cocktail dresses, and only appear when these specific keywords are present (no close variants).
And because your keyword matches exactly the search term of your user and the keyword in your Google ad, its relevance increases. And your quality score as well!
Broad modified keywords, on another hand, include the keyword AND close variants of the keyword that include all terms identified with a plus:
- +red +cocktail +dresses
- +red +cocktail +dresses +madrid
For example, the broad modified keyword +red +cocktail +dresses can trigger any result that include all three keywords – red, cocktail, and dresses (or a close variant), such as:
- selling red cocktail dresses second hand;
- selling red and blue cocktail dresses and skirts;
As you can see, broad modified match keywords are less specific, and can be less relevant. By leaving them in a separate group, you ensure higher relevance and quality score for your exact group.
You will use this group for the rest of your keywords to improve the quality score of your other group, and to not miss keyword opportunities that you didn’t have in mind in the first place.
4. Use Negative keywords
Another way you can improve your score is to use negative keywords.
What? You would ask.
Well, yes. Negative keywords are the keywords that you don’t want your ads to appear for, but you can use them to your advantage.
For example, let’s say that you are a distributor of the headphones Bose. In other words, you only sell one product – headphones, of one brand – Bose.
Because you only sell this specific brand, you don’t want to appear for any other headphones brand that users might look for.
However, if you want to bid for more generic keywords such as:
- Wireless headphones;
- High-quality headphones;
- Noise cancelling headphones;
You will need to tell Google that you don’t want to appear for all these searches that doesn’t involve this specific brand. And you do that by using negative keywords.
This way, you can prevent your ads from showing up for, let’s say:
- Wireless headphones Samsung;
- High-quality headphones Sony;
And so on. Sometimes, it can be very tedious to be constantly adding new negative keywords, but it is a great way for refining your audience’ searches. This way, you can better adapt the keywords that you want to actually show up for to your ads.
And remove any unnecessary, irrelevant “background noise” keywords.
5. Optimize your ad copy
As we already saw in the previous points, you will need an ad copy that is closely tailored to your specific keywords.
By distributing your keywords into small, targeted ad groups, it becomes easier to write ad copies that match them closely:
6. Landing page
One of the most important factors that affect the quality score of your keywords is the quality of your landing page.
There are multiple elements that need to be worked on to provide a good landing page experience:
- Quality content – the content should be useful, descriptive, and easily scannable so that the user can quickly find the information that he needs.
- Has enough visuals (videos, images, etc.) to provide value and communicate difficult concepts without being overwhelming.
- It needs to have a clear CTA – a clear and concise Call to Action is key for encouraging the user to take further action.
- Testimonials and reviews are a great element to boost the credibility and trustworthiness of your brand and products.
- Fast loading speed – a good landing page should be able to load quickly. According to Google, 53% of all mobile visitors will abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- Mobile experience – and last but not least, it needs to be responsive for all devices, especially mobile. Mobile traffic accounts for more than 50% of the global web traffic.
And of course, relevance
And most importantly, your landing page needs to be relevant to your ads and keywords.
The more specific and keyword-targeted is your landing page, the better. For example, if your ad talks about “Nike sports shoes“, it is always better to take your users to a landing page designed exclusively for Nike sports shoes.
If you take them to a generic page with multiple brands instead, they might not be able to find quickly the Nike shoes that they are looking for. Which will result in worse user experience and they might abandon your page without converting.
keyword nike sports shoes -> specific ad that includes the keyword -> taking the user to a landing that sells precisely Nike shoes.
You see how everything starts to fall in place? This is the powerful combination that shows Google that your ad is relevant for the user’s search.
7. Use Expanded Text Ads
The expanded ads feature allows you to create more informative and descriptive ads.
With expanded ads, you can add a third headline (which is optional), and a second description that can be up to 90 additional characters.
Being able to convey your message in 180 characters (instead of only 90) increases your chances of getting a better quality score for your keywords.
One of the best things about expanded text ads is that you have more space to use long tail keywords, thus boosting the relevance of your ad. This makes it easier for advertisers to include search terms that are longer than normal, and is also easier for the user’s search to match with your ad.
And we are not even talking about simply having the chance to include more useful info about your products! Which might increase your clickthrough rate and improve your overall score.
8. Historical performance / Expected clickthrough rate
Building up consistent, high-quality performance data can have a positive impact on your score as well. Google rewards advertisers that show good and steady performance over a long period of time – at least one year, and can boost their score further.
Obviously, there are no short-cuts for accumulating historical performance data. However, it’s just one more reason why you should constantly be maintaining good results through optimization and account management.
Historical performance can also have a positive impact on your expected Click Through Rate. The expected CTR is an estimate of the likelihood that a user will click on your ad after it has been triggered for a search result.
Historical data is one of the biggest factors considered that Google considers upon calculating your expected CTR for a certain keyword / ad.
9. Be careful with Dynamic Keyword Insertion
Dynamic Keyword Insertion, also known as DKI, is an advanced feature offered by Google Ads and Bing.
It allows you to insert a keyword dynamically into a copy. What does that mean?
Well, it simply means that Google will take the search term of your user and insert it automatically into your ad headline:
Sorry for the Spanish example 🙂 I couldn’t find any in English.
In other words, this feature will automatically include an exact or closely related keyword into the headlines of your ad. The purpose is to better with the user’s search with your ad. So, if the person looks for “cheap flights to Tokyo“, Google might insert the exact same term into your ad (if it fits the headline character limits).
At first glance, it might seem very beneficial for improving your score by ensuring the relevance of the search term to your ad. The exact terms that the person uses appears in the ad, so what could be less relevant than that?
Image credit: klientboost.com
From theory to practice
Well, it sounds very well in theory, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Because the search term is placed within your ad literally, with no adaptations to the rest of the ad, sometimes weird things can happen. For example, I have had search terms that are the exact keyword that I used in the second or the third headline of my ad.
So your ad ends up having two headlines that are exactly the same.
In other occasions, it might seem that your ad is not very well written. If the search term has a typo or a grammar error, the same type or error will show within your ad headline as well. Which might affect your click through rate, decreasing the quality of your keyword.
And of course, last but not least, your brand reputation can end up affected as well.
10. A/B Testing
Image credit: medium.com
Needless to say, you should always be A/B Testing your campaigns and creatives.
For every ad group, you need to have at least two different creatives running at the same time. Three is even better!
The reason why is because Google’s algorithms aren’t simple, perfectly straightforward formulas.
By running different ads at the same time, you increase your chances for achieving higher relevance for your keyword groups. Doing this will give Google has more options to choose from when a user triggers your ads.
This will allow the search engine to choose the option that is the most relevant for this specific search term. Everyone wins, and your quality score improves!
11. Avoid too many keywords within the same ad group
We already mentioned that it is better to separate your keywords into small, targeted ad groups.
However, having too many keywords, even if they are very specific to this ad group, might not always be the best idea.
According to KlientBoost, a high number of keywords within an ad group might dilute your chances for a keyword-ad match. After all, you can’t cover too many different keywords with only 2 or 3 creatives.
And having an excessive amount of ad copies is not exactly the best idea for optimum A/B Testing.
12. Use ad extensions
Although ad extensions don’t impact score directly, they are a great way to increase your click through rate. And, as we already learned, high CTR is tightly related to a high quality score as well.
Ad extensions provide you with more space to include additional and useful information about your products or brand. This helps users find what they are looking for much quicker, and shows Google that your ad is relevant for that keyword.
It is also important to remember that just as ad extensions might improve quality score, they will actually show more if your score is high in the first place.
So, you will need to offer a competitive maximum bid and a high quality score before you can take full advantage of your ad extensions.
This only shows that all elements need to work well together in order to give you amazing results. You can’t just focus on one factor and hope for the best!
13. Use branded keywords
Even if you have a good organic position for your branded keywords, it doesn’t mean that your work stops there.
Branded keywords usually achieve the highest click through rates across an account. The main reason why is because they are the most relevant ones for your brand. After all, you can easily prove your relevancy for them because your whole site talks about your brand!
Because it’s your brand and you can craft relevant ads and landing pages easier than anyone else, you will easily achieve high score for these keywords.
Additionally, users who are using keywords with the name of your brand are already interested in it. Having an ad that gives them the information that they are looking for immediately will inevitably increase your CTR.
On top of that, competition is usually low for branded keywords – which is another win for you!
Conclusion – improving your Quality Score in Google Ads
After reading this article, there are two key concepts that I want you take away with you:
- A/B Testing
The first one, we already talked about a lot. And I will keep on putting emphasis on it.
Everything you do in Google – keyword research, ad groups, ads, landing pages – should be designed around the idea of relevance. You need to help your audience and Google understand what your campaigns are all about. And you need to be able to provide the most useful information as possible.
The second concept applies not only to Google but pretty much to every form of advertising in general. You should never be satisfied with your results to the point that you just leave your campaigns running like that.
No matter what you do, you should be always testing different versions. Different headlines, ads, ad groups…this is the only way that you can actually keep improving.
I hope that you liked my article.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read it!
Now it’s your turn. Do you have any specific questions? Is there something that you think could be missing from the list? Let me know in the comments below!