Quality Score: Does Your Search Advertising Make the Grade?

Google's Quality Score: Does Your Search Advertising Make the Grade?

When I talk to my clients – all local business owners – about search advertising, I feel like I can hear Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” playing in the distance. Digging into Google’s metrics is sure to be the cause of many headaches, but understanding not just how your ads are performing, but why, is critical to getting more from your search advertising budget.

And one of the most important metrics impacting your search advertising is something Google calls Quality Score, which can positively affect the performance of your search advertising campaign if every piece of your campaign is optimized. But what is it?

What Exactly is Quality Score?

Glad you asked! Quality Score is essentially a way for Google to “grade” your search advertising keywords based on three factors: expected click-through-rate (CTR) of the keyword, the relevance of the ad triggered by that keyword, and the quality of the landing page or website experience. Google created the Quality Score algorithm as a way to help determine the best fit for which search ads to show consumers based on what they are looking for and which will deliver the best experience for their users.

Google assigns each of your keywords a Quality Score on a scale of 1-10 based on the factors above. The higher the number, the better. In my experience, a “good” Quality Score is above a five and an “impressive” one is above a seven. A Quality Score below five usually indicates that your website and/or text ad does not have enough content relating to a particular keyword.

How Does Quality Score Work in Real Life?

Picture this scenario: When Jill searches for rubber ducks in Dallas, it is your job as the premier local rubber duck distributor (say that five times fast) to convince Jill to do business with you. If you are bidding on the keyword “yellow rubber ducks Dallas” and your text ad is written with content that speaks directly to “yellow rubber ducks Dallas,” and the landing page is rich with content about “yellow rubber ducks in Dallas,” Google is going to like this – a lot. In fact, Google will most likely reward you by giving you a high Quality Score for your “yellow rubber ducks Dallas” keyword.

Not only does Google take into account the relevancy of your ad and the content on your landing page in relation to the keyword, but the device in which the search takes place also holds weight, too. If someone sees your ad on their mobile phone, but your website is not mobile-friendly, Google will consider this a negative experience for the user, which can negatively impact the visibility of your ad and lower your Quality Score. Having responsive design implemented on your website will not automatically give you a higher Quality Score, but the ease of navigating your site is taken into consideration when assigning a Quality Score to the keyword that triggered your ad. Website experience is just one piece of the pie, but it’s certainly a piece you cannot afford to ignore.

How Important is Quality Score to My Search Campaign?

Google’s very own Sean Quadlin said it best: “Quality Score is a diagnostic tool, not the end-all-be-all key performance indicator (KPI) to campaign performance. However, a high quality score can definitely help improve overall campaign performance and should never be ignored.”

A higher quality score can bring you a lower cost-per-click (CPC) for your keywords and higher ad position on the sponsored section of the results page. On the flip side, a lower quality score can mean you are bidding more than your competitors for a particular keyword and having your ad still showing up lower in the sponsored search results.

So, it’s important that you optimize every part of your search advertising campaign form your text ads to your landing page to help boost your Quality Score, and in turn, get more ROI from your search advertising.

So, How Do I Earn a Higher Quality Score?

Not long ago, a client of mine asked, “Well, what if we just place the highest bid on that keyword? Won’t that help my Quality Score?”

Unfortunately, the answer is “no”. Keyword bids do not positively or negatively affect your Quality Score. Where it gets confusing is that Quality Score plus keyword bid will affect your ad’s position on the page, but bids do not directly affect your Quality Score. Just bidding higher than your competitors for the same keyword doesn’t mean your ad will show up above theirs.

Quality Score cannot be bought, it must be earned. Through a combination of a solid clickthrough rate, ad relevancy, and webpage experience and relevance, you can earn a better quality score. If your text ad is relevant to the keyword you’re bidding on, and your landing page is rich with content about the keyword, you have a better shot at competing with other businesses.

Effectively Managing Your Quality Score

As you have probably experienced, managing your AdWords campaign(s) can be time consuming and, without a doubt, confusing. If you don’t have time to manage it all yourself, partnering with an organization recognized by Google to have effectively managed quality Google AdWords accounts can help you achieve optimum quality when it comes to your search advertising campaign(s). A digital marketing expert can effectively build, manage and analyze your campaign to maximize your advertising efforts, and proactively monitor performance while keeping Google’s best practices in mind.

What steps have you taken to improve your search advertising’s Quality Score? Let us know in the comments!

Whitney Antwine

Whitney Antwine is a Digital Marketing Expert at ReachLocal in Dallas. Her experience is rich in local store marketing and social media for small businesses to increase brand recognition on the local level, and genuinely connect with their communities using a grassroots approach. Whitney has helped create multiple strategic campaigns for small businesses including social media, experiential marketing, traditional advertising, email marketing and promotions for local and national brands. Whitney enjoys spending time with her family and cooking for friends.

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