Why Google’s Quality Score matters and how to improve yours

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Do you know what Google’s Quality Score is, and how it is worked out?

If you produce online adverts for search engines, you should – as it’s central to your visibility online.

Here we look at the components that make up ‘quality’ in Google’s eyes and share tips on making your ads more search engine-friendly.

What is Google’s Quality Score?

The Quality Score is a metric used by Google to influence the rank and cost per click of ads on its results page. Similar metrics are used by Yahoo and Bing to determine ad rank and cost on their own sites.

The exact calculation that determines the position of ads is something of a closely-guarded secret among the search engines. It’s a combination of the amount advertisers are willing to pay for the ad (the bid) and the Quality Score – but the exact weight given to each is not revealed.

What does the Quality Score mean for your paid ads?

The Quality Score affects the cost per click (CPC) of your Google ad content. You will be charged more per click for content that has a lower Quality Score.

It’s therefore very important to understand what contributes to the score. Reducing your cost per click can have a significant impact on the cost and ROI of your paid search campaigns. Knowing the factors that determine the score enables you to ensure that your content meets Google’s criteria.

What factors determine the Quality Score?

Although no search engine has released details of how their specific score is calculated, they have shared information on some of the factors that go to make it up.

  • Click-through rate

The previous click-through rate of the keyword and associated ad is the most important factor to Google when working out the Quality Score, and a major factor for all three of the search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing).

As well as considering the specific CTR of the keyword and matched ad, Google also takes into account the historic CTR of the overall AdWords account associated with the advert.

  • Relevance of your ad copy

The words in your ad need to be relevant to the keyword you are bidding for – Google wants to deliver ads to its users that accurately reflect what they are looking for.

  • Load time of your landing page

The speed at which the associated landing page loads is another key factor for Google. This is a significant factor in determining rank in SEO (and one of the 5 SEO basics we explored in a previous blog), so it stands to reason that it’s valued equally highly in paid search.

  • Landing page quality

This means whether your page has content relevant to the ad and the keyword you bid for. When assessing quality, search engines also consider the amount of content; whether it’s original and how easy the site is to navigate. This applies equally to mobile sites as desktop ones – read more about mobile compatibility and the link to SEO.

Google has helpfully produced its own Developers’ Guide, which provides advice on what it considers good content. Read more in our blog on What is high quality content – tips direct from Google.

  • Geography

Is your business based in or targeting a specific geographic area? Geographic relevance also impacts the Quality Score. Google will look at your account’s performance in the area you are targeting when determining the score.

Ensure your ad content gets a high score

There’s little point spending time and money on paid search if it doesn’t deliver results.

Understanding how Google and other search engines – including Bing, which is growing in popularity, particular among certain demographics and markets – assess your ads for quality is essential.

By understanding what will boost your score, you can create ads and landing pages that hit the sweet spot for Google and its peers:

  • Pick your keywords carefully, and make sure the content in your ads and on your landing pages are clearly relevant to them.
  • Revisit your landing pages not just in terms of content but load time too, and make sure they work as well on a mobile device as a desktop.
  • Check that all your AdWords activity is as good as it could be – as CTRs across your ads will be taken into account when the search engines calculate your Quality Score.
  • If you work in a regulated business, don’t forget the need for Compliance team approval – as the FCA regulates online content and ads in the same way as any other financial promotion.

If you want to audit your landing pages and ensure they stack up against the search engines’ criteria, you can start by reading our 10 ways to make your website mobile-friendly. You can download a free copy here.

Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.

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