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google quality score: what is it and how do you improve it?


When clients ask, “How much is it to get to the top of the page with PPC?”, we tell them it depends heavily on their industry, competition and quality score. In some cases, you may get a higher position for a lower CPC than the competitor below you in the search rankings due to a superior quality score.

Your quality score affects your cost-per-click (CPC) which, in turn, affects your ROI. If you can improve your quality score, you can improve your ROI. Sounds simple? Don’t be fooled! In this blog, we will cover what a quality score is, how Google determines your quality score and how you can improve it to increase your ROI.

what is quality score?

Quality score is a rating from one to 10 based on the overall relevance of your ads and landing page when a user searches for your target keywords. Providing a general guide as to whether your ad and associated landing page are useful to the user, the quality score also includes expected click-through-rate (CTR), ad relevance and landing page experience.

why does google use quality scores?

Google wants to ensure users get the best possible experience and most relevant search results for their queries. The more relevant your ads and landing pages are to the user, the more likely Google will award you a higher quality score which can lead to lower CPCs and better ad positions.

how does google decide on your quality score?

While quality scores are made up of many things, there are three factors that play a big role in your quality score determined by Google:

landing page experience

Does the information on the landing page accurately reflect what your ad is offering, and vice versa? Your website will likely to have many different pages. To create the best user experience, you need to ensure the landing page is home to relevant information that satisfies what the user has searched for.

The content of your landing page is critical. High-quality, keyword optimised content is required, alongside relevant photos or rich media, an easy to use navigation, as well as a clear CTA and methods of contact. If Google can see the keyword relevancy to your landing page content, it will award you a higher quality score.

Not only is the quality and relevancy of the landing page important, but Google also considers the back end of the landing page such as the structure, coding, desktop and mobile page speed and how it relates to the rest of your site.

ad text

The text in your PPC ad is an important part of determining the quality score. In Google AdWords you have:

  • 3 Headlines with up to 25 characters

  • 2 Description lines up to 90 characters

  • Display URL

Your first headline should always be your keyword to help increase ad relevance to the users search query and encourage a higher CTR. To do this, we recommend you have no more than 20 keywords per ad group, so that you can keep your ad groups tightly themed and ad copy relevant. If you don’t have that many keywords, you should consider adding more match types like phrase match, to allow your ad to appear against varied search terms.

The Description Lines can be harder to get right, but this is your opportunity to show off about your brand or product. Ideally, it needs to include persuasive and interesting content, relevant keywords, your CTA and your USP to ensure you stand out from the competition. This can be a tricky balance to strike but one that we have plenty of experience getting right. Don’t forget to follow best practice and create at least two variations of your text ads and also have a responsive search ad within the ad group. This will allow Google to rotate the ads and ensure the platform serves more impressions for your best performing ad copy.

campaign structure

Although it’s important to get the customer-facing elements of your PPC campaign spot on, you need to get the campaign structure right too. To do this, ensure every ad group has two to three ads with a slight variant. By mixing up the words and phrasing as well as including your negative keywords, Google will recognise you’ve been proactive with your campaigns.

When Google can see a campaign is progressing and developing, it helps to boost your quality score. Now you’re aware of what Google considers when determining your quality score, the tricky part is increasing it.

how can you improve your quality score?

1) use keywords in your display url

Use best practice in your Display URL, make good use of Path 1 and 2 and your keywords. This helps to increase your CTR as users are shown a relevant URL to their query. The URL doesn’t have to match the destination URL as long as your domain name is included.

2) use smart bidding to make your cost-per-clicks efficient and competitive

When you start a paid media campaign, you will inevitably begin with a lower score. Google won’t give you a 10 from the start - you have to earn it. By using Smart Bidding, you will enable auction-time bidding which will ensure your bids remain competitive and are weighted towards your campaigns goals. For example, Maximise Conversions bidding will focus the smart bidding strategies on getting more users to convert when they reach your landing page. Google’s Ad Rank formula looks like this:

Ad Rank = Bid X Quality Score

This means that Google looks at two main factors when choosing which ads to serve against a user’s search query. Your bid, if using Smart Bidding, is based on your campaign goals. Your quality score is determined by following best practices. If you’ve done everything right, you’ll find that your ads are appearing in higher positions while keeping your Avg. CPCs efficient.

3) improve your landing page experience

Working on the overall landing page experience is one way to improve your quality score.

Consider your keywords carefully and ensure that you have a relevant landing page to send users to once they have performed their search. Make sure that the landing page content is relevant to the keyword and it’s working effectively. Long page load speeds, particularly on a mobile device, will negatively impact user experience, so try and ensure it loads within a couple of seconds to avoid bounce.

A good example is to consider a user searching for white trainers. A relevant landing page would be dedicated to white trainers with appropriate content and fast page load speeds. A poor landing page would be sending a user to a landing page with “red shoes”.

Consider factors such as how useful your landing page is to the people who click on the ad. Is it well-structured? Does the page have relevant information that relates to the user’s search query? Is the content high-quality? Is the page easy to navigate? Is there a clear CTA and contact links provided? Other features could also include how your banners are displayed, whether too many pop-ups appear on the page and how fast the page loads. Each of these attribute towards the difference between a positive or negative user experience that leads people away from your brand.

Conducting basic CRO testing, you can understand any barriers you have to conversion and how to reduce them. Experts in CRO, we aim to improve user experience to get the most from your PPC traffic once it lands on your site.

key takeaways

As a PPC agency, we know a lot of work goes into improving quality scores and that work has a big impact on your paid media campaign success. Using the tips in this blog, ensure your PPC landing pages are relevant and well optimised, ensure your ad text is enticing and features your target keywords and ensure the structure of your campaign has been set up properly. These considerations can help boost your quality score, lowering your CPC and, if you maintain your conversion rates, can generate a higher ROI.

If you have any questions on quality score and how to improve yours, contact our PPC experts today.

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