What Affects Keyword Quality Scores in Google Adwords?

The quality score of keywords is one of the two main factors that go into where a text ad places on the search engine results page (SERP). For this reason the quality scores in Google AdWords can have a huge effect both on the cost and success of any campaign. While bid is relatively straight forward, the factors that play into your quality score can be a bit more difficult to manipulate. This post will help you to understand the factors involved with quality scores and some simple suggestions on how to begin to improve them.

There are three factors that affect quality score that can be found within the keyword tab on an AdWords campaign. On the Keyword tab of any campaign, hover over the speech bubble in the Status column to bring up a window like the one below. It displays the three factors of the quality score and how each keyword rates. Each factor can receive a rating of Below Average, Average, or Above Average.

What Effects Keyword Quality Scores in Google Adwords - Factors

Expected Click-Through Rate

The first of these factors is the expected click-through rate, which Google defines as:

A keyword status that measures how likely it is that your ads will get clicked when shown for that keyword, irrespective of your ad’s position, extensions, and other ad formats that may affect the visibility of your ads.

As with most of the metrics that Google uses to measure what ads rank high, this is a fairly abstract definition. The best way to look at this is that this is a general equation about the effectiveness of your ads within the confines of the keywords in the ad group. Expected click-through rate can change with time as ads gain historical data and search volume. However, if you find yourself with low expected click-through rates make sure that the keywords you are using are relevant and specific to the ads and landing page you are using them with. For example a keyword such as “black wireless keyboard” would have a much higher expected click-through rate than just “keyboard”.

Ad Relevance

The second factor is ad relevance, which has a very straight forward definition. Google defines ad relevance as:

A keyword status that measures how closely related your keyword is to your ads.

Ad relevance is checking to see if your text ads within that ad group have copy that is compatible and related to that particular keyword. This is one of the major reasons that it is good to separate out keywords that are not relevant do each other into different ad groups. It is hard to maintain a high ad relevancy score if you have a large and diverse group of keywords all within the same ad group.

If you are having issues with ad relevance, first make sure your ad group is not over-populated with keywords that do not have enough in common. A second thing to take a look at is if you have used that keyword and/or pieces of that keyword throughout your ad copy. Both of these can help to improve the quality score in this area.

Landing Page Experience

The final factor that counts toward quality score is landing page experience, which is defined by Google like this:

A measure that Google uses to estimate how relevant and useful your website’s landing page will be to people who click on your ad. Landing pages with higher ratings are usually well organized and have text that relates to a person’s search terms.

Google wants to ensure that users who search this keyword will find what they want on the landing page. For that reason, it is very important to vary landing pages to meet the expectation of the keyword. For example, if the keyword for a clothing site is t-shirt, it would be more appropriate to land them on a category page of t-shirts than on your homepage which likely will have less to do with t-shirts. Take the opportunity of selecting a landing page to place someone exactly where they would have the best chance of converting. You can change the landing page in the destination URL portion of your ad copy as well as the Destination URL column within the keyword page.


What Effects Keyword Quality Scores in Google Adwords - Destination URL


I hope this helps with diagnosing some of your low quality score issues and if you have further questions or comments, please leave them below!


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  1. Joel Huang says

    Great Tips!! it is always recommended to use phrase match keywords max 10-20 in order to improve quality score in separate ad groups. Thanks for sharing a wonderful article.

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