Quality Score is the foundation of the Google Adwords Ad Rank algorithm, determining if and where your ads show and how much you pay per click. Your account has many levels of Scoring, placing a “grade” on each campaign, ad group, keyword, ad, landing page and essentially your entire account.

Google doesn’t exactly confirm “how” they calculate Quality Score, but they do provide the general idea behind their science and we have combined our knowledge and research to bring you this guide to Google’s Quality Score.

Account Level Score

Your entire account is being graded based on a back-end calculation of the historical performance of all keywords and ads within your account. A poorly structured account, with many low Quality Score keywords and ads with low click-through-rate (CTR), will bring down your account’s overall Score.

The age of an Adwords account is also an important factor in your Account-Level Quality Score. Google will favor an old account with established historical data over a new account with little or no data. Quality Score is a game of patience, and it can take months to develop a good quality score or see improvements after changes have been made to an existing account to improve Quality Score. Restructuring or rebuilding your account structure will reset your historical data to zero and must be done within the same account.

Campaign Level Score

The Campaigns within your Account are structured using Ad Groups. Poorly performing Ad Groups can bring down the Scores of Ad Groups which are performing well within a Campaign. Ad Groups that are performing below average within a Campaign should either be improved, paused or moved to new Campaign.

Ad Group Level Score

Ad Groups are made up of ads and keywords (and other targeting criteria), and Adwords is grading your Ad Groups based on their overall performance. Keywords with below-average Quality Scores can affect Keywords with above-average scores. Ads with below-average CTR can affect ads with above-average CTR. This is because your Ad Group averages are entered into the Ad Rank at auction. Improving, pausing, or separating your lower-performing keywords and ads helps you achieve a better overall Ad Group "Score".

Keyword Level "Quality Score"

Quality scores are given to Keywords and are provided for you within your Adwords account for keywords targeting Paid Search. Each keyword is graded based on the historical performance data of search queries that exactly matched your keyword, regardless of match-type. Each Keyword must reach an “Impression Threshold” minimum number of impressions before Quality Score reflects its performance within your account. Once this threshold has been achieved, look to CTR as an additional indicator of performance. Use (1.5%) as a benchmark minimum CTR requirement for your keywords. Newly introduced keywords will start with lower Quality Scores.

Ad Level Score

Google wants to show ads that are clicked or viewed by people who find your content to be relative to their interests. Therefore, the CTR of each ad is factored together to calculate Quality Scores based on your ads. It is important to make sure your ads are receiving an above-average CTR and are highly relevant to the keyword you are targeting. You can pause poor-performing ads without affecting your overall Ad Group Score, but editing an ad will erase all of its performance data.

Landing Page Score

Your Landing Pages are also given Scores based on if they provide the user with relevant and original content, transparency, and navigability. Bounce rate and time on site are factored into Landing Page Scores for Search Campaigns. Landing Page Quality Score is directly tied into your Keyword Quality Scores (in addition to ad CTR) so make sure to have plenty of keyword-rich and relevant content on your Landing Pages. Make sure that your website loads for everyone quickly, on all devices.

Display Network Scores

Scoring within the Google Display Network add a few additional parts to the scoring equation, varying per bidding option. In the Display Network, Adwords is also looking at the Placements (websites) where you ad was shown, in addition to ad/keyword performance and relevance of your landing page. For CPM bidding, the quality of your landing page is calculated within your Score. For CPC bidding, the CTR of your ads and the quality of your landing page is calculated within your Score. Aim to stay above the Relative Click-Through Rate, which is the average CTR of other advertisers competing for impressions on the same websites.

What is Ad Rank and Why is it Important?

Ad Rank is the equation determined by Google to calculate if and where ads will show up in every auction. Google has developed and continues to improve their Quality Score algorithm to ensure that ads (and landing pages) are relevant to the users when they are displayed, offering an excellent user experience.

Chris Harkey
Published: May 7th, 2017

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