What is Quality Score?

Erica Opsvig May 24 2016

What is quality score

Quality score is a metric in Google AdWords, Bing Ads and other platforms that combines historical performance and relevance of your ads, keywords, and landing pages to a user’s search query.

Quality Score (QS) can also be a helpful warning signal when there are particular ad groups or campaigns in a PPC account that need to be optimized; as a rule of thumb, the better your Quality Score, the better your ads perform. Quality Score is graded on a 1 through 10 ranking scale, with 10 being the best.

Quality Score is comprised of several things, such as expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. Whenever your ad competes in an auction, Google evaluates these factors. Your Quality Score is then combined with your maximum cost-per-click bid to determine your Ad Rank. Ad Rank determines where/when an ad appears in the search results.

To improve ad position for a given keyword, advertisers are presented with two options: increase the maximum cost-per-click bid, or improve the Quality Score of the keyword.

In Google AdWords, Quality Scores for each keyword can easily be viewed. After logging into an account and navigating to the keywords tab, hover over the white speech bubble in the status column of your keyword.

Advertisers with a high Quality Score may see something like this:

Quality score example

Advertisers with a poor Quality Score may see something like this:

Bad quality score example

Understanding what Quality Score is and how it plays into your PPC performance is important for all PPC advertisers to understand.

What are the factors that go into Quality Score?

While the exact formula for calculating Quality Score for AdWords in unknown, we do know the main factors that are taken into consideration:

  • Historical click through rate (CTR): This is based on historical clicks and impressions built up over time. If people who see an ad click it at a high rate, that indicates to Google that the ad fulfills a searcher’s need.
  • Landing page quality: The landing page associated with each ad and keyword should be relevant to the search query, useful, and user-friendly.
  • Keyword relevance: The ad should match the user’s search intent. When the keywords you bid on closely relate to the ad triggered, there is a better chance they will relate to the user’s search query.
  • Geographic performance: How well the ad performs in the geographical targeted region.
  • Targeted devices: How well the ad performs on different devices, such as laptops, tablets, and mobile devices.

Understanding these factors can help advertisers improve quality score over time.

Why should I care about Quality Score?

Quality Score is a reflection of the health of your campaigns and influences overall account performance. Advertisers looking to rank in the top positions in the search results while not paying a premium should focus on achieving high Quality Scores.

Quality score directly influences:

  • Actual cost per click (CPC): Higher Quality Scores allow you to bid for top positions, so achieving a high QS can help stretch your PPC budget.
  • Ad position and top of page bid estimate: High QS can lead to higher ad positions which will help clickthrough rates.
  • Cost per conversion: By paying less per click, advertisers tracking conversions could see significant decreases in the cost they pay per conversion. Additionally, by creating highly relevant ads and landing pages, conversion rates will increase anyway.

Overall, Quality Score should not be used as a key performance indicator for your account. However, monitoring QS across a PPC account can be a good diagnostic tool when looking at overall performance. By working through Quality Score best practices, advertisers should see an increase in the performance statistics they value most.

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