Why Quality Score matters and how to improve it

Quality Score (QS) is a metric that Google uses to evaluate the quality of your ads. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest score. A higher Quality Score suggests your ad is more relevant to users' search queries compared to competitors’ ads. A lower Quality Score indicates there are areas that need improvement.
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Marek Turnhofer
July 9, 2024

Google's goal is delivering the most relevant ads to the target audience. Quality Score helps determine how well your ad meets this goal. Think of Quality Score as feedback from Google on how well your ad aligns with users' needs and search intent.

How it's calculated

Quality Score is determined by the combined performance of three main components:

  • Expected clickthrough rate (CTR): This measures the probability of your ad being clicked when it is displayed.
  • Ad relevance: This assesses how well your ad matches the intent of the user’s search query.
  • Landing page experience: This evaluates the relevance and usefulness of your landing page to those who click on your ad.

Each of these components is rated as “Above average,” “Average,” or “Below average.” These ratings are based on a comparison with other advertisers whose ads were shown for the same keyword over the past 90 days.

This is how quality score metrics look like for each keyword in Google Ads

Even if a broad match keyword has no impressions, it can still receive a Quality Score if a related exact match keyword in the same ad group has impressions within the last 90 days. The same Quality Score will be applied to both keywords if there are exact match searches corresponding to the broad match keyword.

A rating of “Average” or “Below average” in any of these components signals potential areas for improvement.

This is how Google Ads auction works with quality score

How to check your quality score

  1. Access your Google Ads account and navigate to the Campaigns section by clicking on the Campaigns icon.
  2. Expand the section menu and select "Audiences, keywords, and content."
  3. Choose "Search keywords" from the dropdown list.
  4. In the upper right corner of the table, click on the columns icon.
  5. Within the "Modify columns for keywords" section, locate and expand the Quality Score options. To view the current Quality Score and its component statuses, select any of the following to add to your statistics table: quality score, landing page experience, expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance
  6. Once selections are made, click on "Apply" to update and your chosen metrics appear.
Select all these metrics to include in your report. For historical data, check the boxes marked with 'hist.'

So why should you focus on improving your quality score?

Improving your campaign's Quality Score will come with many positive results.

It can lower your CPC

A higher Quality Score can lead to lower costs per click (CPC). Google rewards ads that are more relevant and provide a better user experience by reducing the amount advertisers need to pay for each click. This means that improving your Quality Score can help you achieve better results with a lower budget, maximizing your return on investment (ROI).

A higher Quality Score saves you money, while a low QS means you pay extra for clicks

Better ad placement

Quality Score plays a significant role in determining your ad’s position on the search results page. Ads with higher Quality Scores are more likely to appear in top positions, increasing their visibility and likelihood of being clicked. This enhanced visibility can drive more traffic to your site and increase the chances of conversions.

Increased ad relevance

Focusing on Quality Score encourages you to create ads that are more relevant to your target audience. When your ads closely match what users are searching for, they are more likely to engage with your content. This relevance not only improves your Quality Score but also enhances user satisfaction and trust in your brand.

Improved user experience

A key component of Quality Score is the landing page experience. By optimizing your landing pages to be more useful and relevant, you can significantly improve the user experience. Faster loading times, easy navigation, and high-quality content can all contribute to a better landing page experience, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.

If you're looking for best practices to improve your landing page, read our article 9 steps to creating a high-converting PPC landing pages.

Tips and best practices for improving your quality score

1/ Keep your keywords optimized and ad groups organized

Effective keyword research starts by understanding what your audience is searching for. Use relevant keywords that specifically describe your products or services. Group similar keywords into closely related ad groups to ensure your ads are highly relevant. It's important to closely match your keywords with your ads for better performance.

Your work is never over, even after doing everything right from the beginning. Regularly review search term reports to identify new keywords to add or irrelevant ones to exclude using negative keywords. This approach not only improves Quality Score but also increases the likelihood of your ad appearing in relevant searches, boosting CTR and conversion rates.

TIP: If you want to have full control over your Quality Score, keep your keywords in exact match and phrase match. Broad match could trigger your ads for less relevant keywords.

2/ Match your ad copy to the search intent

You now have your keywords organized into tightly themed ad groups. It should be easy to discover what your audience is searching for. Your ads should communicate that you can provide the solution to their needs. 

Also consider the desired action. Is your audience searching for:

  • A product or service to purchase?
  • An event to attend?
  • Information about a specific topic?
  • Other objectives?

Ensure that your ad resonates with their ultimate goal. Even if someone is searching for information, they might consider purchasing your service if it can eventually assist them. However, the conversion rate could be much lower.

Here are some best practices what you should mention in your ads:

  • Address your audience's needs. Identify the reasons why they might be searching for your product or service. Describe how your product can solve all their needs.
  • Don't forget to mention your unique selling points (USPs). There might be other ads and organic results appearing right next to you in SERP. Tell your audience why they should choose you over your competitors.
  • Call to action. Use clear call to action copy like “Shop now” or “Learn more”. Basically let them know what is the action they should take next.

TIP: Read the article Best practices for Responsive Search Ads to find even more tips.

3/ Optimize landing pages

Your work does not stop after someone clicks on your ad. They do expect something from the landing page that will eventually lead to satisfaction. If that does not happen, users will leave, making your campaign inefficient.

So what should you focus on when designing your landing page?

Align with user expectations

Users who click on your ad have a specific expectation based on the ad’s message. If your landing page doesn’t meet this expectation or is difficult to navigate, the user will likely leave without taking the desired action.

  • Relevant content: Ensure that the content on your landing page matches the user’s search intent and the promise made in the ad. For example, if your ad is about “office desks,” the landing page should prominently feature office desks.
  • Consistent messaging: Keep the headline and main copy on your landing page consistent with your ad copy to avoid confusing the user.

Improve user experience (UX)

A positive user experience is essential for a high Quality Score. Focus on the design, navigation, and overall usability of your landing page.

  • Fast loading speed: Ensure your page loads quickly, especially on mobile devices. Use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to check and improve load times.
  • Mobile-friendly Design: Make sure your landing page is responsive and looks good on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.
  • Easy navigation: Users should be able to navigate your page easily and find the information they need without any hassle. Avoid clutter and use clear headings.
  • Legible text: Use readable fonts and ensure there’s a good contrast between the text and background to enhance readability.

Call to action and trust

Your landing page should guide users toward taking a specific action, whether it’s making a purchase, signing up, or downloading a resource. That is why you should use strong action-oriented language in your CTA to guide users what to do next.

And never forget to build trust as it can lead to better conversion rate. You can make your page look credible by adding:

  • Testimonials or product reviews
  • Trust badges (Heureka, Trustpilot, etc.)
  • Contact information

TIP: We already have an article that fully covers optimizing PPC landing pages.

And that's it. Let's summarize it a bit. Use Google Quality Score as your campaign diagnostic tool and try to improve it to get even better results. The discount for CPC is really worth it and can make many campaigns much more effective.

Google's goal is delivering the most relevant ads to the target audience. Quality Score helps determine how well your ad meets this goal. Think of Quality Score as feedback from Google on how well your ad aligns with users' needs and search intent.

How it's calculated

Quality Score is determined by the combined performance of three main components:

  • Expected clickthrough rate (CTR): This measures the probability of your ad being clicked when it is displayed.
  • Ad relevance: This assesses how well your ad matches the intent of the user’s search query.
  • Landing page experience: This evaluates the relevance and usefulness of your landing page to those who click on your ad.

Each of these components is rated as “Above average,” “Average,” or “Below average.” These ratings are based on a comparison with other advertisers whose ads were shown for the same keyword over the past 90 days.

This is how quality score metrics look like for each keyword in Google Ads

Even if a broad match keyword has no impressions, it can still receive a Quality Score if a related exact match keyword in the same ad group has impressions within the last 90 days. The same Quality Score will be applied to both keywords if there are exact match searches corresponding to the broad match keyword.

A rating of “Average” or “Below average” in any of these components signals potential areas for improvement.

This is how Google Ads auction works with quality score

How to check your quality score

  1. Access your Google Ads account and navigate to the Campaigns section by clicking on the Campaigns icon.
  2. Expand the section menu and select "Audiences, keywords, and content."
  3. Choose "Search keywords" from the dropdown list.
  4. In the upper right corner of the table, click on the columns icon.
  5. Within the "Modify columns for keywords" section, locate and expand the Quality Score options. To view the current Quality Score and its component statuses, select any of the following to add to your statistics table: quality score, landing page experience, expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance
  6. Once selections are made, click on "Apply" to update and your chosen metrics appear.
Select all these metrics to include in your report. For historical data, check the boxes marked with 'hist.'

So why should you focus on improving your quality score?

Improving your campaign's Quality Score will come with many positive results.

It can lower your CPC

A higher Quality Score can lead to lower costs per click (CPC). Google rewards ads that are more relevant and provide a better user experience by reducing the amount advertisers need to pay for each click. This means that improving your Quality Score can help you achieve better results with a lower budget, maximizing your return on investment (ROI).

A higher Quality Score saves you money, while a low QS means you pay extra for clicks

Better ad placement

Quality Score plays a significant role in determining your ad’s position on the search results page. Ads with higher Quality Scores are more likely to appear in top positions, increasing their visibility and likelihood of being clicked. This enhanced visibility can drive more traffic to your site and increase the chances of conversions.

Increased ad relevance

Focusing on Quality Score encourages you to create ads that are more relevant to your target audience. When your ads closely match what users are searching for, they are more likely to engage with your content. This relevance not only improves your Quality Score but also enhances user satisfaction and trust in your brand.

Improved user experience

A key component of Quality Score is the landing page experience. By optimizing your landing pages to be more useful and relevant, you can significantly improve the user experience. Faster loading times, easy navigation, and high-quality content can all contribute to a better landing page experience, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.

If you're looking for best practices to improve your landing page, read our article 9 steps to creating a high-converting PPC landing pages.

Tips and best practices for improving your quality score

1/ Keep your keywords optimized and ad groups organized

Effective keyword research starts by understanding what your audience is searching for. Use relevant keywords that specifically describe your products or services. Group similar keywords into closely related ad groups to ensure your ads are highly relevant. It's important to closely match your keywords with your ads for better performance.

Your work is never over, even after doing everything right from the beginning. Regularly review search term reports to identify new keywords to add or irrelevant ones to exclude using negative keywords. This approach not only improves Quality Score but also increases the likelihood of your ad appearing in relevant searches, boosting CTR and conversion rates.

TIP: If you want to have full control over your Quality Score, keep your keywords in exact match and phrase match. Broad match could trigger your ads for less relevant keywords.

2/ Match your ad copy to the search intent

You now have your keywords organized into tightly themed ad groups. It should be easy to discover what your audience is searching for. Your ads should communicate that you can provide the solution to their needs. 

Also consider the desired action. Is your audience searching for:

  • A product or service to purchase?
  • An event to attend?
  • Information about a specific topic?
  • Other objectives?

Ensure that your ad resonates with their ultimate goal. Even if someone is searching for information, they might consider purchasing your service if it can eventually assist them. However, the conversion rate could be much lower.

Here are some best practices what you should mention in your ads:

  • Address your audience's needs. Identify the reasons why they might be searching for your product or service. Describe how your product can solve all their needs.
  • Don't forget to mention your unique selling points (USPs). There might be other ads and organic results appearing right next to you in SERP. Tell your audience why they should choose you over your competitors.
  • Call to action. Use clear call to action copy like “Shop now” or “Learn more”. Basically let them know what is the action they should take next.

TIP: Read the article Best practices for Responsive Search Ads to find even more tips.

3/ Optimize landing pages

Your work does not stop after someone clicks on your ad. They do expect something from the landing page that will eventually lead to satisfaction. If that does not happen, users will leave, making your campaign inefficient.

So what should you focus on when designing your landing page?

Align with user expectations

Users who click on your ad have a specific expectation based on the ad’s message. If your landing page doesn’t meet this expectation or is difficult to navigate, the user will likely leave without taking the desired action.

  • Relevant content: Ensure that the content on your landing page matches the user’s search intent and the promise made in the ad. For example, if your ad is about “office desks,” the landing page should prominently feature office desks.
  • Consistent messaging: Keep the headline and main copy on your landing page consistent with your ad copy to avoid confusing the user.

Improve user experience (UX)

A positive user experience is essential for a high Quality Score. Focus on the design, navigation, and overall usability of your landing page.

  • Fast loading speed: Ensure your page loads quickly, especially on mobile devices. Use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to check and improve load times.
  • Mobile-friendly Design: Make sure your landing page is responsive and looks good on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.
  • Easy navigation: Users should be able to navigate your page easily and find the information they need without any hassle. Avoid clutter and use clear headings.
  • Legible text: Use readable fonts and ensure there’s a good contrast between the text and background to enhance readability.

Call to action and trust

Your landing page should guide users toward taking a specific action, whether it’s making a purchase, signing up, or downloading a resource. That is why you should use strong action-oriented language in your CTA to guide users what to do next.

And never forget to build trust as it can lead to better conversion rate. You can make your page look credible by adding:

  • Testimonials or product reviews
  • Trust badges (Heureka, Trustpilot, etc.)
  • Contact information

TIP: We already have an article that fully covers optimizing PPC landing pages.

And that's it. Let's summarize it a bit. Use Google Quality Score as your campaign diagnostic tool and try to improve it to get even better results. The discount for CPC is really worth it and can make many campaigns much more effective.

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Marek Turnhofer
PPC specialist & Content Creator
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