Quality Score. Even those who have not heard of it soon do after starting their first Adwords campaign. Most advertisers, if not all, have been faced at one time or another with a “Rarely shown due to low quality score” message. Which only begs the questions, what is a quality score and how do I increase it?
Quality score is the backbone of Adwords. Google wants quality ads on their search engine as well as their partner sites. Quality is another way for them to say relevant. From there, your QS is used to calculate where your ad will rank and how much you will pay when someone clicks on it.
There are three components to QS. First, your keyword must be relevant to your landing page. If you sell round plastic widgets, you are not relevant if your keyword is “square wooden widget” and it certainly is not if it is “long rubber thingamabob”. Yet, time and again I see advertisers simply not using the proper keywords.
The keyword relevancy portion of your QS accounts for about 25% of your score. It also appears that you either are relevant or you’re not, there is no “in-between”. That would be like saying “I’m a little bit pregnant”.
You can see if Google thinks your keyword is relevant or not by hovering your cursor over the speech bubble to the right of each keyword under the Status column. Normally if you see a QS of two or three, the likely reason is because of a keyword relevance problem.
There is also a landing page load time which is about 10% of the total. The rest, about two thirds of the quality score, is your click rate.
Click rate is how the system determines quality. After all, if your ad is clicked on by searchers twice as much as another, it must be more relevant. At the very least, it is more attractive.
One very important thing to keep in mind is that quality score is calculated by position. This only makes sense. Ads in higher positions will naturally get clicked on more often and thus get a higher CTR than those in lower positions. You therefore cannot compare the click rate of an ad in first with one in tenth. You can however compare ads that show in a particular position. If yours gets a higher CTR, you get a higher QS.
Quality Score is therefore the number that tells you how well you are doing against competitors. It doesn’t matter the position you are in or your absolute CTR. Questions about “is a 2% CTR good” are irrelevant. The proper question to ask is “what is my QS”. I’ve seen 1% click rates on keywords in the top positions with a QS of ten just as I’ve seen a QS of ten in eleventh position or QS of six with a 7% click rate.
So to increase your QS, you must increase your CTR, no matter your position. Increasing your bid will not help. Sure, it will increase your CTR because you have better position but normally, if your QS is six in tenth position, it will likely be six in first.
Learn more about Adwords with my free ebook (PDF document) ‘Adwords FAQ’.