If you’re interested in showing your Google AdWords ads at the very top of the first page of the search results, then you’re going to need a stellar Quality Score. In this post, we discuss how to improve your quality score.
Fortunately, it’s possible to make some changes to your campaign so that you can improve your score.
In this article, we’ll go over how you can improve your Quality Score and move ahead of the competition in AdWords ad placement.
What Is the Quality Score?
Simply put, the Quality Score is a rank from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. It’s a measure of the quality of a user’s experience with your ad.
In part, the Quality Score determines where your ad gets placed. But it’s not the sole determination of where your ad ends up.
You can think of it like a credit score. Even if your credit score is stellar, but you have no income, you’re still going to have trouble getting a loan. On the other hand, if you have a decent income but a low credit score, you’re likely to pay a higher interest rate.
That’s how the Quality Score works. It’s just one factor that determines the position where your ad appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
What Is Ad Rank?
The Ad Rank is a calculation that’s dependent on your bid, Quality Score, and ad extensions. It ultimately determines where your ad shows up.
For example, if you have an Ad Rank of 20 and your next closest competitor has an Ad Rank of 18, then your ad will show on top and the competitor’s ad will show in second position.
So even if your competitor’s Quality Score is a little bit higher than yours, you can still land in the top spot with a higher bid. Of course, that will eat into your return.
That’s why it’s usually best to focus on improving your Quality Score rather than increasing your bid.
“Rarely Shown Due to Low Quality Score”
If you jump on AdWords, check your reports, and find that some of your ads are “rarely shown due to low quality score,” then you’ve definitely got some room for improvement.
You’ll only see that message if your score is 2 or lower.
In that case, you’ll have to make some changes to your ads so that they’ll show up in the search results. Otherwise, what’s the point of running an AdWords campaign in the first place? Before we talk about how to improve your quality score, lets discuss the factors.
The Factors That Affect Your Quality Score
There are 3 factors that affect your quality score:
- Expected click-through rate (CTR) – the percentage of people who will likely click on your ad when they see it
- Ad relevance – the overall relevance of your ad to your keyword
- Landing page experience – a measurement of both the user-friendliness of your landing page and its relevance to the keyword
We’ll go over each of these factors in some detail.
Remember, you’re not the only one trying to make money off your ads. Google wants to make money, too.
That’s why the search giant prioritizes ads that are likely to get the most clicks. Those clicks earn revenue. That is why they matter to improve your quality score.
So what’s the “right” CTR? That depends.
A CTR of 40% might be very good for your ad if you have limited competition. On the other hand, a higher CTR might not be good enough in a very competitive environment.
Keep in mind, though, that the Quality Score is based on expected CTR. In other words, Google is trying to predict the future.
How does it do that? It uses an algorithm that’s in part based on intent.
For example, if somebody Googles “blue jeans,” what is that person really trying to do? Make a purchase? Study styles? Compare prices?
That keyword doesn’t have a whole lot intent attached to it, so a lower CTR might be just fine.
The “right” CTR is based on the keyword itself. There’s really no magic number that’s right for every case.
In fact, as of this writing, the #1 ad spot for “blue jeans” is a company that offers video conferencing! It’s also in first place in the organic results.
Of course, Google also looks at the history of the keyword to determine the expected CTR. That will weigh in on your Quality Score as well.
Ad Relevance (Important for Improving Your Quality Score)
Ad relevance, as the term implies, refers to how relevant your ad is to your keyword.
For example, if you’re selling casual shirts online and you want to appeal to people who are shopping for Hawaiian shirts, you’d probably want to run an ad when people search for “discount Hawaiian shirts.” In that case, you’d choose “discount Hawaiian shirts” as one of your search terms.
Now imagine that people who search for that term see your AdWords ad that looks like this:
John’s Casual Shirt Shop
Great casual shirts at the best prices!
That ad isn’t terribly relevant to the search term “discount Hawaiian shirts” is it? There’s nothing in the ad itself to indicate that you’re even selling Hawaiian shirts.
Instead, consider running an ad like this:
John’s Casual Shirt Shop
Discount Hawaiian shirts for men and women!
Bingo. It’s likely that Google will consider that ad much more relevant to the search term than the other ad.
Bottom line here: keep your ads relevant to the search term. If you’re running multiple search terms, run a specific ad that’s relevant to each one.
The Landing Page And Improving Quality Score
The last of the three factors that affect your quality score is the landing page.
Google determines your Quality Score by looking at your landing page in two ways. First, it looks at how relevant the page is to the keyword. Second, it looks at the overall user-friendliness of the page.
Let’s take a look at each one of those items in turn.
The first thing you want to do is make sure that your landing page is relevant to your search term. If there’s any kind of disconnect, your score is likely to take a hit.
For example, let’s say you’re running the ad from above about selling discount Hawaiian shirts. People who click on the ad are taken to your home page for “John’s Shirt Shop” which shows lots of casual shirts but no Hawaiian shirts.
It’s safe to say that users won’t be happy with that landing page.
That means Google won’t be happy with it, either. You can expect your Quality Score to suffer.
Instead, why not send users to a page that offers Hawaiian shirts on sale? After all, that’s exactly what people who search for “discount Hawaiian shirts” are looking for.
Google will like that as well. Your Quality Score will almost certainly shoot up.
The next thing you need to look at on the landing page is the user experience. Is the page easy to navigate? Does it have a professional design? Does it look great on all devices (especially mobile devices)? Does it load quickly?
If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” then don’t expect a high quality score. It’s important that you provide your users with an awesome experience when they visit your landing page.
One great way to test the user-friendliness of your page is by running it past Google Page Speed Insights and the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. If you get poor marks from either test, contact your development team to improve the page.
Now that you know the basics about the Quality Score, it’s time to look at some tips to improve it.
Use Small Ad Groups
Google recommends 15-20 keywords per ad group. That might seem like good advice because it’s coming from Google, but the reality is that you’re better off with smaller ad groups.
In fact, some people suggest having only one keyword per ad group. However, this is not always the best option, especially with larger accounts.
Why is it important to have small ad groups? Because of how the ad relevance affects your Quality Score.
Remember, your ad should be relevant to your keywords. If you’re running a single ad for several different keywords, it’s not likely that it’s going to be relevant to all of them.
Let’s revisit the ad for Hawaiian shirts. As you recall, the keyword selected for that ad is “discount Hawaiian shirts.”
That keyword also happens to be the exact text that we ended up using in the ad:
John’s Casual Shirt Shop
Discount Hawaiian shirts for men and women!
Now suppose your ad group also includes the keyword “buy Hawaiian shirts.” That seems like a great keyword to use because it has purchase intent.
But that exact keyword isn’t part of the ad text, is it?
That’s why some people recommend only one keyword per ad group. It’s a great way to improve the Quality Score.
Another advantage to using a small ad group is that you can also use a landing page that’s relevant to the ad group. That will also improve your score.
Use Negative Keywords To Improve Quality Score
Too many digital marketers ignore negative keywords, but they can improve your Quality Score.
Negative keywords are words that you add to your campaign or ad group that you want Google to ignore. In other words, when people search for those keywords, you don’t want to show them your ad.
Why is that important? Because you’ve determined that people who use those search terms are probably not in your target market. As a result, it’s unlikely that they’ll click on your ad and your CTR will suffer.
For example, let’s say you’re running an online store that sells only casual shirts. In that case, you should eliminate the keyword “dress” because you aren’t selling dress shirts.
Use Expanded Text Ads To Improve Your Quality Score
Using expanded text ads is a great way to snag a high Quality Score.
Why? Because they allow you to have ads that are 50% longer than traditional ads. That gives you more space to include longtail keywords.
If you can fit longtail keywords into your ad, then your ad is more likely to be relevant to the keyword. That will improve your Quality Score.
For example, suppose you want to reach people who are searching for “Game of Thrones T-Shirts on Sale.” With expanded text ads, you’ll have room for the whole longtail keyword plus a little marketing text.
That’s going to improve your CTR.
Stop Using Dynamic Keyword Insertion
Dynamic keyword insertion enables you to plug the user’s keyword in your ad copy. It seems like a neat feature, but it’s not likely to improve your Quality Score.
For starters, if you’re using single-keyword ad groups, then you don’t even need dynamic keyword insertion.
Second, it can lead to unpredictable results. You could end up creating ads with irrelevant messaging. That doesn’t come across as good marketing.
Finally, a keyword inserted into a headline probably won’t do as much good as a well-written example of ad copy. It’s best to craft your own message with power words and use it to promote your products or services.
Again, that will help you with your CTR. Don’t get me wrong, dynamic keyword insertion is a cool feature that has its place, but be careful when it comes to improving your quality score.
Use Ad Extensions To Improve Quality Score
If you’re not familiar with ad extensions, they add a wealth of information about your business, such as your location, product prices, reviews, and ratings.
Google uses ad extensions to calculate your Quality Score. That’s why you should use them in your ads.
It’s especially important to use ad extensions if your competitors are doing so. Otherwise, you’re already at a disadvantage on ad placement.
Improve Your Landing Page Content
Another great way to spike your Quality Score is to improve your landing page content.
For starters, make sure that you use keywords in the title and meta description parts of the page. They should also appear in your content and subheadings as well.
It’s also a good idea to use a customized landing page for each ad group. That’s especially true if you’re following the single-keyword strategy discussed above.
With a customized landing page, you have complete harmony between your keyword, your ad, and your landing page. That’s guaranteed to help your Quality Score.
If you find it impractical to manually create a single landing page per ad group, consider using something like dynamic text replacement. Alternatively, talk to your development team about marketing automation solutions that enable you to quickly create landing pages for specific keywords.
You might find that it’s easier than you realize.
Improve the Landing Page User Experience To Improve Quality Score
It’s also important to give your customers a positive experience on your landing page.
As we’ve seen, you should run your landing page URL through Google Page Speed Insights and the Mobile-Friendly test. But there’s more to user experience than just speed and design.
First, make sure that the exact offer you presented in your ad is also presented on the landing page. Otherwise, visitors might think that they’re getting duped.
Also, display your business information clearly on the landing page. That’s how you’ll establish trust.
Another way to establish trust is to include social proof. Be sure to display quotations from satisfied customers.
Use Branded Keywords To Improve Your Quality Score
You should run ads with branded keywords even if you already show in the first organic position for those keywords.
Why? Because your combined CTR between the ad and the organic result will be greater than the CTR of the just the organic result.
More importantly, you’ll likely find that branded keywords give you the highest CTRs of all your ads. They’ll definitely give you a great Quality Score.
Keep in mind that people who search for branded terms are usually interested in making a purchase. So branded keywords help with your ROI as well.
Wrapping It Up Improving Your Quality Score
If you’re suffering from a low Quality Score, don’t despair. You can improve it by using tight ad groups, making your ads relevant, and improving the quality of your landing page.