Pay-Per-Click Quality Score

The Most Important Aspect of Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Many online advertisers are not aware of the value of a high Quality Score. In this article we will describe

  • What it is
  • Why it exists
  • Why it is important
  • How you can improve it
  • The biggest quality score mistakes

I’ll just use Google as an example, but it applies to all ad platforms that calculate a Quality Score. Bing uses a Quality Score. Facebook uses a Relevance Score, which is similar. There are others.

What Is Quality Score?

Quality Score is a way for online advertising platforms like Google, to rate your advertising.

Each keyword in your campaign is assessed a quality score between 1 and 10, with 10 being the highest.  Here is how Quality Score is calculated:

  • Your click-through rate (CTR).
  • The relevance of each keyword to its ad group.
  • Landing page quality and relevance.
  • The relevance of your ad text.
  • Your historical AdWords account performance.

Why Does Quality Score Exist?

The short answer is that it helps Google earn more revenue.

Google makes money when people click on an ad. So, advertising platforms like Google need to protect themselves from poorly performing ads. It’s definitely in Google’s best interest for all of the ads presented to be highly “clickable”.

Conversely, it is not at all in Google’s interest to have an ad that no one ever clicks taking up valuable space on a page.

Why would an ad not be clicked? Mostly, the biggest problem is that the ad is appearing in an inappropriate search. Lack of rigid controls allows the ad to be available where it shouldn’t be available. Geography, demographics, and time of day are just three of several possibilities to define your ad placement.

Imagine an ad for take-out pizza appearing at 8:30 AM to people over 65 years old only on desktop devices in the wrong city. It will get views, but not clicks. So when it appears to the best possible audience at the best possible time, it will be hampered by its poor performance earlier in the day (or week or month). The Quality Score accumulates over time.

Why Is Quality Score Important?

Doubling your Quality Score is like doubling your budget without adding any additional funding to your account!

Quality Score directly impacts the advertiser’s budget. It’s not that ads that perform poorly are punished. Ads that perform well are rewarded – in two ways.

  1. Improving your Quality Score leads to increases in bidding power. If your bids are increased, your positioning is better. If your positioning is better, then your Quality Score improves. It’s a positive circular effect.
  2. Improving your Quality Score reduces the cost-per-click (CPC). Roughly speaking, if your Quality Score doubles, then your CPC is cut in half.

How Can You Improve Your Quality Score?

Think “relevance”!

The keyword should match the ad content and should also match the content of the Landing Page.

You’ll have to be careful if multiple keywords have ads pointing to the same page. One page is not going to be relevant to multiple keywords.

Set Up Controls

The first step is to apply controls to wherever controls are available to you.

Account setup
Make choices about who would see your ad, where they are located, and the days or time of day if that’s relevant.

Choose the best keywords. This is where the account usually gets into trouble. There’s a fear of missing an opportunity no matter how improbable that opportunity might be. Save your money for the best opportunities and forego the one in a million opportunity. Be ruthless. If it is a low probability that someone will click on your ad, it will still be shown to them. If they are not clicking, then your Quality Score is going down.

Account Management
Comb through the “Search Terms” under the Keywords tab in your Adwords account. Those are the keywords where people actually clicked your ad.

If there are irrelevant keywords, add them to the negative keyword list as phrase match keywords but also consider adding broad match negative keywords to keep those from coming up as part of other keyword phrases.

Landing Pages
Create landing pages for Ad Groups. The Ad Group should be a few closely related keywords that can use the same ads, the same landing page and still be relevant.

The landing page should give people whatever they need to take action.

The Biggest Quality Score Mistakes

1. Pointing all ads to the home page of your website. The home page is not going to be relevant for every keyword, or every ad. There is not a single page that can be relevant for multiple Ad Groups.

2. Keeping low probability keywords “just in case”. Keep your best keyword at the top of the page 24/7 and you’ll be much better off than chasing all sorts of low probability keywords that might generate a sale someday.