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What Is Google Quality Score: All You Need To Know (part 1)

1 August 2018
Jake Gaw
PPC

The caliber of your Google Ads account has long been questioned.
What are the key metrics we use to understand a successful campaign compared to an unsuccessful one? If your click through rate and impressions are down in recent times, what is causing this? You haven’t made any changes recently so why has your Google Ads performance decreased? How do you determine what is going on with your account?

Your ad quality score is one of the key indicators into the success or failure of your Google Ads performance.

After reading this four-part series about quality score, you will understand:

What is quality score?

How is quality score calculated?

How does quality score affect Google Ads performance?

Where do I find my quality score?

In this first part, I will guide you through the very basic knowledge about quality score through the following sections:

A. What is quality score and why is it important?

B. What is a good quality score?

What is quality score and why is it important?

If you are running Google Ads campaigns, chances are you might have heard about quality score before. Type in "quality score" on Google, you will have more than 605 million results in half a second. A lot, right? The enormous number of articles around this topic indicate how important it is. In fact, quality score has a major impact on the cost and effectiveness of your Google Ads campaigns.

Simply speaking, quality score is Google’s way of grading your account. Instead of A’s and F’s, Google uses a simple scale out of 10. 1 is the lowest quality score you can receive and 10 being a perfect quality score.

Your Google Ads quality score is made up of three key components:

1. Ad Relevance - Are my ads closely related to the keywords I'm bidding on?

This component describes how well your keyword matches the message in your ads.

For example, you are a domestic electrician bidding for "electrical services" with an ad about domestic electrical repairs. If a user searches  for "industrial electrical services" and your ad appears, there is a likely chance that you will get a below average score for ad relevance. Obviously your ad seems to be irrelevant to his search. 

Quick tips for above average ad relevance:

  • Ensure a high degree of relevance amongst keywords in each Google Ads ad group
  • Use the keyword in the ad headline

2. Expected Click Through Rate (Expected CTR) - Will people click on my ad?

This metric predicts whether your keyword is likely to lead to a click on your ad. Google calculates this via your past performance, based on your ad position.

Think of it like a sporting team and Google is the coach. If you haven’t been playing well recently, you are not getting picked in the team. It’s the same on the search results page, if Google doesn’t think people will click on your ads then your ad does not deserve an above average expected CTR score.

Quick tips for above average expected CTR:

  • Aim for specific keywords and customise your ad copy
  • Make sure your campaigns are not limited by budget

3. Landing Page Experience - If people click on my ad, will they enjoy the page I take them to?

Imagine you’re having friends over, would you invite them into your home if the place was a mess, and you had no food or drinks prepared. Short answer is no!

It’s also important to make sure the page you’re landing the searchers on is related to the ad they clicked on. If someone clicks on your ad for domestic electrical services, why would I direct them to my sports field lighting page?

via GIPHY

Quick tips for above average expected landing page experience:

  • Offer relevant content on the landing page
  • Make mobile and desktop navigation easy 

Other than Google, no one knows exactly how much each component weights in calculating overall quality score. In fact, Google Ads report only display generic "average", "above average", and "below average". But we all know one thing for sure: if you can achieve a high quality score, Google will reward you with lower costs and higher ad rankings. 

Now we know what quality score is and the criteria used to provide this rating, but what is a good quality score?

What is a good AdWords quality score?

In the beginning, Google automatically assigns a starting quality score of 6 (out of 10) for every new keyword you add to the account. This way, Google rewards you initially for setting up your AdWords account.

A 5 is Google’s benchmark they are not rewarding you or penalising you. Anything below 5 is marked as “below average” and anything above 5 is marked as “above average”. From there, Google uses three factors (ad relevance, expected CTR, and landing page experience) to determine whether to add more points or to downgrade the keyword overall quality score.

But what impact do these scores actually have on my overall account performance? What is the benefit of investing time and money to achieve a higher quality score?

how quality score affects your CPCSource: WordStream

The image above displays how quality score can impact your CPC or cost per click for your keywords. A 6/10 is Google’s initial quality score for your keywords, as your quality score increases, CPC decreases and vice versa. In other words, the higher your quality score is, the less you pay for advertising on Google.

This is Google’s way of punishing you if your ads are irrelevant, or rewarding you should you be providing searchers with a helpful experience for their search query.

Take a look at this example below:

There are 4 home service clients competing against each other in the same industry and in the same location. Let’s make them all electrical businesses (electricians) and they are all located in Brisbane.  In this example all our electricians are bidding for the same keyword.  

Business Max Bid Quality Score Discount/ Increase Actual CPC Ad Rank*
Lightning Electrics $2 10 - 50% $1.61 20 
Speed of Light $4 4 + 25% $3.01 16
Wire Me $6 2 + 150% $4.01 12 
Sparky Home $8 1 + 400% $4.01

 

(*) Ad Rank = Max Bid x Quality Score. Your ad rank is what determines the position your ad will show in the search results page.

In the paragraph above we have discussed quality score and the positive or negative impact it can have on your account.

As you can see Lighting Electrics only has a max CPC bid of $2 for their keywords, where as Sparky Home budget is larger and they can afford a max CPC bid of $8. So therefore Sparky Home should achieve a better ad position as they have paid more, right?

Sparky Home quality score is significantly lower than Lightning Electrics. Therefore when their ad rank is calculated, Lightning Electrics although paying less achieves a higher ad rank over Sparky Home thanks to its high quality score. As a result, Lightning Electrics is saving money and achieving greater results than any of their competitors because they know and understand the importance of quality score.

Therefore in this example with all our electricians bidding on the same keyword, what would be there ad position on Google?  The Ad position would be decided by the business with the highest ad rank.  Therefore Lightning Electrics only bidding $2 would achieve the number 1 ad position with Speed of Light second, followed by Wire Me and then Sparky Home.  Proving how effective quality score can be in saving your business money as well as achieving the highest ad position possible.  Notice in the Actual CPC column of the table what the businesses pay for is not their max bid.  A high quality score also provides you with a discounted rate on your cost per click, whilst still achieving the first ad position.  

Summary

Your AdWords quality score is something that cannot be ignored. You cannot buy Google’s love for your account, you need to invest time into making sure the ads you’re providing are pleasing the three quality score criteria:

  1. Ad Relevance
  2. Expected Click Through Rate
  3. Landing Page Experience

A competitive max bid for your keywords is the final step and then watch the magic happen. It’s important to note your Google Ads account is like a living organism, it grows and needs attention every month to maintain its performance. A well managed account will provide you with the results you need to excel your business.

Stay tuned for my next blog diving into the specifics of How is Quality Score Calculated?

Topics: PPC

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