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Understanding the Google Adwords Quality Score

What is the Google Quality score?

The Google Adwords quality score or factor quality is a value from 1 to 10 that Google itself gives to each of the keywords in an Adwords account in order to determine its quality and relevance. The higher the quality score is or the higher it gets to 10, the lower the Cost per Click (CPC) that an advertiser might pay for each click on his ads.

We might even find ourselves in the situation that two different advertisers are bidding for the same keyword and that the advertiser appearing in a better position, is paying a lower cpc that the competitor.

The amazing thing is that Google calculates the quality score every time a user performs a search, and that is why it is very important to differentiate between the quality score we see and quality score that google works with.

As a guidance, Google indicates the quality of our ads with the quality score. This is very important to keep it in mind since it is an essential information to have when building the proper architecture of your Adwords Account. Just as a reminder, campaigns are divided into ad groups and keywords are grouped into ad groups. Therefore, neither campaigns are divided into sub-campaigns or keywords grouped in group of words. Google has always been very transparent regarding how it wants us to work to get the better ads positions, because, as Google has always said, their aim is to provide the user with what they are looking for. That is the reason why we have to keep that in mind when creating the proper structure for our ad groups, and based on the ads, we will be adding relevant keywords to those ad groups.

Moreover, we have to take into consideration which quality score we have since we can see that on our account, also that this QS does not take into consideration any factor from the auction such as the real time searches, the device, language, placement or hour of the day.

What we have to make sure is to know that both the ad position and whether our ads are displayed or not are affected by the following:

  • Expected CTR
  • Ad relevance
  • User experience in the landing page
  • Bid
  • Other factors

This is what Google calls ad ranking and in the following link you will find more information about it.

Which factors does Google take into consideration to calculate the Quality Score?

There are certain variables which we can use to improve our Quality Score:

  • Ad CTR
  • Display URL CTR
  • Quality Score of the Landing page
  • Ad relevance – Search
  • Geographic Performance
  • Devices

How can an excellent Quality Score influence my action in Adwords?

Well, the answer to this question is very simple, if you understand Google aim, which is no other than to provide an excellent service to its users. Therefore, how is the quality service that Google offers? Well, this is to get users find what they want when they use Google to search.

How does Google rewards/harm the advertisers using the Google Adwords PPC system?

  • Raising/lowering the CPC according to the QS
  • Raising/lowering the average ad position according to the QS

How we see the QS with Adinton

So far, we have seen how Google shares with you information of your QS in order to help us organize and prioritize actions to improve our QS and the campaigns performance.

For Adinton, the Adwords QS is divided into 3 variables, we apply those variables into all our channels as a quality standard and as a guideline to optimize our tasks:


Let’s now begin to break down each of the variables.

CTR on the Quality Score

On the CTR level, we take into account three different dimensions:

  • At the keyword level: This one helps us identify those keywords that have been activated by search terms with little relevance. If we achieve a high CTR at the keyword level, this will be an indication that our keywords are relevant and the search terms match with our keywords.
  • At the Ad text level: This one indicates us which ads are relevant with the search terms users search for. Indeed, we have said search terms and not keywords. Remember that the user does not know our keywords, and so, for an ad to be relevant, this one has to be relevant with the search terms. Our main task is to achieve as many keywords as search terms might be, and therefore, hundreds or thousands of them. ????
  • At the account level: This is our basic guide to check that every month we are doing better or not. We see Adwords as a river, if in a month we have had an important decline in CTR that will affect our whole account. If we decide to undo all those changes that have affected this decline, the account won’t be the same.

Relevance in the Quality Score:

The relevance is measured from three different perspectives:

  • Keyword relevance compared to the search terms:

Those of us that have been lucky to work with Google Analytics when we still could see search terms from our SEO traffic, we were able to see how the vast majority of traffic coming from SEO, was coming as well from “long tailed” keywords. This meant that a medium site, could have hundreds of thousands of search terms as traffic. That is the famous 80-20. Well, I would even dare to bet that in many cases it was 10-90. This indicated us that, users, those wonderful beings, could access our website by using hundreds of thousands of different keywords. Based on that, our main job is no longer to generate thousands of new keywords, that would be impossible. Our main task is to create thousands of new keywords, correctly categorized and organized in order to “hit” the maximum number of search terms in order to organized them and managed them into our ad groups. Do not forget that these keywords are not mere words, they are usually our product, our message, our brand, words have a meaning and life.

  • Ads and search terms relevance:

If the previous point was not taken into account, then we would be talking about the relevance between the ad text and the keywords. But if we are relevant enough, Keywords > Search terms, then we would say that we have to seek relevance between the Ad text and the search term, basically, because users do not write keywords, they write search terms.

Therefore, if we are relevant with Keyword > Search Term, we could say that we have as well to seek relevance with Ad text and Search term. Therefore, if we have an ad that:

  • Is showing what the user is searching for
  • Is different from the competition, either price level, discount, security, quality… In other words, It shows attributes.
  • Invite the user to click the ad
  • Conveys security and lets users be intuitive about what he will encounter in your landing page. This can be done by the Display URl or ad extensions.

If the ad meets the four points above, then it will have a higher possibility of being clicked. And as we have seen before, an ad which has been clicked will > increase CTR > increase QS > Decrease CPC > Increase av. position.

  • Landing page and ads relevance:

It is obvious that when a user clicks on our ad we have to offer what the user is expecting to find as well as what the ad was promoting. Therefore, the landing page should have:

  • The search term, which could be a product/service
  • The attribute of the product: Price, discount, quality….

As an example, if the search term was “buy cheap cars” and the landing page is related to “motorcycle rental”. we will have a higher chance that our quality score will be very low. It seems logical right? Later we will analyze a very particular case.

Landing page quality and the quality score:

By quality we mean the quality of the landing page and the web page it belongs to. For those of us that manage ppc campaigns, quality means all those attributes that will help us to achieve our goals (sales, filled forms…) On the other hand, if we see it in Google point of view, why would a page with no sales be of bad quality? Maybe it might be related that the product shown is more expensive than the competition. Therefore, we hope the product price won’t be a QS variable?

Consequently, we have to see quality as Google engineers understand them:

  • Do we generate engagement? In other words, do we get that the user interacts with our landing page?
  • No bounce rate
  • Interacts with our web page and visit other pages from our site.

A user that has click on our ads and later interacts with our web page, shows interest for what Google has provided him, later search for us again a click again in another of our ppc ads, this shouldn’t be negative right?. We all have the right to compare web sites and prices ???

One of the latest metrics is called DWELL. Dwell time is the time between the user first interaction (PPC or SEO) and returns to the SERP to keep searching.

Since we are not able to know if the user ends back to the SERP, to another window or another value, this is a value we can use as “general knowledge”, by knowing the page views and the time spend per page, we can be satisfied. Another thing would be how we deal with this information when we are sending the user to a landing page which aims to achieve conversions, where if we have a single visit, is because the user has converted since there is no possibility to navigate on the page. In this case, we could create an Analytics event, so every time a user has spent more than X seconds on our landing page we could make this event trigger, so we will be able to “understand” if the user finds the information interesting and relevant.

  • Super conversion rate

At the end of the day, the most important thing for us or for our client is that our Adwords campaigns gain in conversions, sales, leads. This is why it’s extremely important to measure conversions correctly.
We should think that if we have an Adwords account with a satisfying conversion rate, is because our adwords account is correctly optimized. The answer might be “yes” but the cause is not that. What I mean is that, if you have an Adwords account that has conversions, it might be because you might have an Adwords account highly likely optimized on QS, but not because it sells, because in order to achieve a conversion, a user has to navigate on our page and interact with our content.

Based on the case studies we have performed and analyzed, we have found that the super conversion rate influence the Quality Score more than the CTR. Super conversion rate is the percentage of conversions between impressions. It’s like the conversion rate but we use impressions instead of clicks. In that way, we can unite our goals, to sell, with the Google goals, quality in the SERP

  • Other factors:

There are other factors that are important to us and that in some way are transmitted to the quality score. These other factors would be, and for this I ask you to read this with the a user point-of-view:

  • Page speed: how much a page loads its content and how long it takes to close a window?
    Secure server: Does it give you trust a website that asks for your credit card with a non secured web page?
  • Privacy policy…I think we have been one of the few companies in Spain, that Google Adwords have blocked our whole account because a client did not have in their landing page the privacy policy check.
  • Too many ads. If tomorrow your main newspaper website fills their webpage with irrelevant ads, how long would it take you to short down your dwell time?
  • Everything ese you do not like when, navigating on someone’s website.

With all the points stated above, you can more or less give importance to each of them but honestly, it doesn’t matter. What really matter for us is, If the user is satisfied when navigating on our site, we are satisfied and Google will be satisfied as well.

How to improve my Adwords quality score?

Let’s now take action. We have talked already enough about the theory, you will be able to find more information in other blogs. From the basics, we have added our knowledge based on how we work and how we understand the quality score. To try to understand as much as you can about QS is a fantastic task. We enjoy understanding and gaining knowledge of what we don’t understand in order to make things better.
That is why now we will proceed with improving all the variables we have been talking about in order to improve our QS. As a summary, we have been talking about, CTR, relevance, Quality…

How to improve my CTR in my Adwords Ads:

  1. Relevance with the keywords that will trigger the ads.
  2. Use the dynamic keyword insertion.
  3. Use a proper Call-to-Action to encourage clicks.
  4. Beware that the purpose of your ads is not to provide information, is to be clicked.
  5. “Push” or invite the user into the next step, once they have reached the landing page.
  6. The title needs to highlight and show what the user have searched.
  7. Use the Line description 1 to show what the user have searched.
  8. Use the line description 2 to gain the click. An action!
  9. Display URL is also advertising, use it to help the user to understand what he will encounter in your landing page (Reduce uncertainty).

The key is to take care of the Ad text CTR and the keywords. If those two CTR are performing accordingly, then your account will be working positively as well.

How to improve the relevance of my Adwords campaigns?

It is often not the case but a good CTR score without relevance:

Relevance between the search term and the keywords we have.
Relevance between the keywords and the ad texts.
Relevance between the ad text and the landing pages.

We can be make it all more simple rather than relevant and become more coherent. In other words, if somebody searches for “ online marketing agency” and our keyword is “online marketing agency”, Google should be rewarding us because we have the same that the user is searching for. We can see this reward by a lower CPC than our competitors. Moreover, if we have “online marketing agency” in our ad text and a relevant call-to-action, we will have more possibilities to increase our CTR and therefore, our QS and lower or CPC. Additionally, if our landing page is about “online marketing agency” and the user stays in our page.. Google should even reward us more with higher QS and lower CPC and therefore, increasing our visits.

Getting traffic is the key to a successful Adwords campaign, no matter how much CPC we have to pay or the QS we got if there is no traffic.

Quality Score in the landing page:

It is logical that (the order is not important):

  1. Loading page speed. If the user leaves or if the bounce rate increases then the quality score decreases.
  2. Based on our content, images, text description, links… make that the user stay in our webpages and navigates on it as much as possible.
  3. Your country advertisement rules, it requires that all your pages have an informative block regarding the cookie policy and / or use conditions?. We have had Adwords accounts blocked by Google for not satisfying these requirements.

As you can see those other factors such as security, load time, bounce rate, amount of time spent on the website, are factors that Google takes into consideration.

We like to simplify things and we understand that CTR and relevance are variables that could be unify since they are closely linked.

From here we will perform a guideline to plan our work in order to optimize the QS of our account and if you already have an account created and with historical data then you can transform this into a check list.

Adwords account creation:

An Adwords account must have an structure that meets the following goals.

i) Being able to work with thousands of keywords.
ii) That these hundreds of thousands of keywords are properly grouped. Being divided into themes or “families”.
iii) The groups of these keywords must be 100% relevant with the Ad text. Therefore, if for being 100% relevant we have to create hundreds of ad groups then we do it.
iv) The campaigns should be easy to manage, remember that the keywords are your products, or your business. We should be able to stop all those keywords when we are out of stock . Remember that our business is more important than our QS.

Follow the Adwords structure, and example of a good architecture for a Google Adwords campaigns should be:

Campaign > Adgroup > Keyword + Ad text > Landing Pages

And this we multiply “n” hundred times, then we will get the optimal structure between keywords and ad texts, and since we are working with such a big amount of keywords, the search terms that will trigger our ads will increase.

This way we tell Google that once our structured is finished is what we call “keyword ecosystem”. ·What is it about?

We understand that Google checks our campaigns structure in a vertical way:

Campaign > Ad group > Kw + Adtext . As well as horizontal.

What would an horizontal way be in our campaigns?

Basically. Google is interested on knowing which are the “themes” of our campaigns > Adgroups and > Keywords.

In that way, Google can have an accurate idea of what we sell as well as how we spread our budget and where we want to show our ads.

It is a valuable information for Google if it’s able to have a 3D vision of our own account so It can observe which is going to be our strategy of PPC. If we are an insurance company doing SEM and all our keywords are related to insurances as well as with synonyms, even if our landing page are related to insurance, if we create an “insurance for bikes” campaign, this won’t fit to Google and we will probably have a low QS.

Once we launch our campaigns and we gather historical data and statistics, do not forget to access the search terms report in order to detect those search terms that have triggered our ads. From that kind of research, we can analyze if we have to keep creating new campaigns > Keywords or add some negative keywords. This task, depending on the amount of clicks you have during the week, can be done either once per month or once every 15 days.

The most important thing from this kind of methodology is that right from the beginning, you start with an Adwords account with relevant keywords. From that point, if you have low ratios, either CTR or Conversion, then there is something you got wrong.

How do we create our Adwords account with thousands of keywords within minutes?

Back in 2013, we created a tool, which now is integrated inside Adinton, this is able to generate structured and hierarchical ad text > ad groups and > campaigns < Keywords, which in our experience fits perfectly. What we first do is a merging of keywords gathered the themes and by columns.


Later, we decided which bids per match type we want to apply to each of the keywords, as well the url we want to work with in order to encourage relevance between the landing page and the keyword:


Finally, we create the ad text, we can work as well with variables so the relevance between the ad text and the keyword is maximized. We can as well, clone each of the ads to create another call to actions to increase the performance of the ad text.

Finally, we can just export it to a csv and import it to our Adwords account through the Adwords Editor.

As you have seen, everything, absolutely everything is relevant, so we should not have a negative QS or what is the same, our QS should not be less than 6.

From that structure, if we have low CTR ratios or QS then we should:

If we have a low average position, we need to increase the CPC bid.
It might be that we have some search terms triggering our ads that are not related to our business. This might be because we might have some broad match type keywords.
Although the keywords we have are related to our business, Google is giving us a low QS and my CTR is very bad. This is because we are using keywords that might be having a double meaning or maybe there is something in your web structure that Google does not understand. It is like trying to sell a bike in a landing page which sells cars, yep both are vehicles but there is no relation.

More ideas to increase your CTR:

If we have low CTR rate or we want to increase them on our ad text level:

There is no clear call-to-action. We might have very relevant ad text but if we do not have a proper CTA, users will not click on our ads. Remember that the ad text aim is to get the user click on it so you can show them what you sell in your site. Remember that your aim is to make them convert in your landing page and not in your ad.
Add ad extensions, those appear when our ads are in the top 3 positions.
Create urgency or temporarily in the product you are offering with call to actions such as; Last pieces available!
Use Dynamic Keyword Insertions ( DKI)

Do not hesitate to Google for more advices on how to improve your ads CTR.

In order to understand the relation between the QS and the CPC you will end up paying, it is better to watch the following video:



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