Quality scores in Google AdWords


Quality scores are a mechanism used by Google to reward good adverts and place poor adverts at a disadvantage. This is a method of automatically policing the AdWords system and keeping the ads more relevant an better for users.

What factors determine quality score?

There are many, but the main ones for the search network are:

  • Click through rate of ads on the search network
  • Click through rate of the keywords in the specific ad on the search network
  • Click through rate of the display URLs in the adgroup for the search network
  • Quality of the landing page
  • Quality of the website as whole
  • Historical quality of the campaign
  • Historical quality of the AdWords account on the specific search engine (language, location) the ad is showing
  • Relevance of the keyword to the other keywords in the adgroup
  • Relevance of the keyword to the adcopy.

These differ slightly for the content network with more focus on the relevance of the keywords and the words in the adcopy to the landing page and the website as a whole.

When looking at the factors affecting quality score, there are three phrases which keep appearing, an these are click through rates, relevance and historical.

Click through rates and quality score

Of we needed to pick just what factor that influences the quality score it  would need to be click through rate. Any good PPC manager will be constantly reviewing the CTRs (Click Through Rates) of every keyword and every ad copy in their campaigns. Responding fast to market changes which alter the CTR is key to successful account management.

Relevance and quality score

A good PPC manager will rarely be content with the website; they will constantly be asking for improvements and comparing different landing pages. This is because the website landing page impacts the performance of the AdWords campaign through its relevance. Ensuring your website appear relevant to Google is not just important for SEO, it also impacts on PPC performance.

Historical factors and quality score

The Google AdWords system looks at historical performance, so an account needs constant and careful improvements. An initial account is given an average quality score, and then this moves up or down in the next few weeks. If you have ever started an AdWords campaign and got good initial results followed by poorer ones this is because the account was poorly managed and the quality score was allowed to drop. If this is the case contact a qualified AdWords manager to properly optimise your account.

The above has shown the three main factors which must be considered when looking at AdWords quality scores. There are many others mentioned on forums, but some have little justification and are very misleading.

Three such myths relating to quality score are:

  • Negative keywords
  • Keyword match types
  • Page load time

Some people argue these impact quality score and others quote Google in stating that they have no effect. So which is right?

Both (the Politian’s answer).

The reason both are right is because although the above have no direct impact on the  quality score (they are not used by Google in calculating the number), they do impact other factors which do influence the quality score. To give some examples,

Adding extra negative keywords might make the CTR (click through rate) better.  It should also make the visitors more relevant and reduce the bounce rate straight off the page. So although there might be no direct influence on the quality score, there are important secondary influences.

Considering page load time, it would be possible for Google to measure this and penalise slow loading pages, but evidence for this with PPC is weak. However a slow loading page will frustrate visitors and increase the bounce back rate, so this secondary effect will adversely impact the quality score.

 PPC Management Services

The best way of achieving good results from an AdWords campaign is to use professionally qualified staff within a marketing agency that provide PPC management in-house. Cornish WebServices provide AdWords management in-house using a team of qualified individuals. These are people who have all passed the Google AdWords exam and so know what they are doing. It is actually unusual for 100% of PPC management teams to have passed the Google AdWords exams, and many agencies use junior staff or those studying for the exams. This does not give the best client results. Cornish WebServices strive to obtain month on month continuous improvements in client accounts through skilled and dedicated optimisation of client accounts. Monitoring the quality score is a very important part of this process.


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