What is a Keyword Quality Score and How to Improve It | Varn


26 April 2023

What is a keyword Quality Score and 10 Tips on How to Improve It

The ‘Quality Score’ measurement Google & Microsoft automatically apply to keywords in every paid search campaign on their platforms is often confusing and overlooked. Confusing because, as is so often, advice on how to leverage quality score is woolly and difficult to measure outside of Google. Overlooked because it applies at the lowest levels of paid campaigns and is therefore easily forgotten in favour of Ad Rank as a main KPI.

But Quality Score is important if you are assessing campaigns at a keyword level and wondering why your competitors are achieving higher impression shares based on a better ad rank. QS, or your ad quality for any given keyword, affects the ad rank, which is a real-time bidding KPI. 

Google’s About Quality Score page says:

“Quality Score is a diagnostic tool meant to give you a sense of how well your ad quality compares to other advertisers.

This score is measured on a scale from 1-10 and available at the keyword level. A higher Quality Score means that your ad and landing page are more relevant and useful to someone searching for your keyword, compared to other advertisers.”

How useful your ad is to the searcher, along with how much you are willing to pay for a click, are the main determinants on where your ad will be placed in an ad auction.

So the important point to remember, before we give our tips on steps you can take to improve your quality score, is that it is a comparison or diagnostic tool only relevant at single keyword level, it is not a KPI to be aggregated with the rest of your account, or campaign or ad group data. 

Here’s How It Is Calculated

Quality Score is calculated based on the combined performance of 3 components:

  • Expected clickthrough rate (CTR): The likelihood that your ad will be clicked when shown.
  • Ad relevance: How closely your ad matches the intent behind a user’s search.
  • Landing page experience: How relevant and useful your landing page is to people who click your ad.

Each component is evaluated with a status of “Above average,” “Average,” or “Below average.” This evaluation is based on a comparison with other advertisers whose ads showed for the exact same keyword, over the last 90 days. Once you know one or more of the components are average or below average compared to competitors bidding for that keyword you can take steps to improve these components.

Above average quality scores will improve your overall ad rank for those keywords and this, along with your bid, will determine where your ad will be shown on a page relative to the other ads in the auction.

How to check your quality score

One of the main reasons Quality Score is overlooked is simply because you need to customise your column set in the Google or Microsoft platform to get to the diagnostics. When you are at Ad Group Level in your account take the following steps:

  • Select ‘Keywords’ in the left menu
  • In the upper right corner of the table, click the columns icon, then select ‘Modify Columns’
  • Under “Modify columns for keywords”, open the Quality Score section. To view the current Quality Score and its component statuses, choose Quality Score, Landing Page Exp, Exp. CTR, and Ad Relevance to add
  • Click Apply

Now that you can find the QS for a given keyword, you can identify ways to improve your ads, keywords and landing pages.

10 ways to use Quality Score to improve your performance

Improving a quality score will involve making a positive change to any of the three main components:

  1. Expected clickthrough rate: you can improve the likelihood that your ad will be clicked on by making sure the keyword being targeted, and close synonyms, are included in titles and descriptions in the ad copy
  2. Expected clickthrough rate: make your ad copy offer more compelling to your target audience with promo and price extensions and targeted titles
  3. Expected clickthrough rate: Include USPs in your titles that reflect your audience’s needs and desires, like free shipping, or next day delivery
  4. Expected clickthrough rate: Include a variety of calls to action in your headlines and descriptions 
  5. Expected clickthrough rate: utilise as many ad extensions as possible as these are useful for providing more relevant information and making the ad stand out
  6. Ad relevance: match the ad text directly to user search terms or keywords
  7. Ad relevance: have small groups of similar keywords in one ad group so you can tailor ads more specifically to the audience and search term 
  8. Landing page experience: take searchers to the most relevant page on your site that most closely matches the keyword or search term. Copy should be consistent from ad to landing page – text, USPs and CTAs should all match and follow on from ad text
  9. Landing page experience: improve page loading speeds. Slow speed is perhaps the biggest factor in whether a searcher even looks at your landing page. You only have a 3 second or less window
  10. Landing page experience: look at each landing page from a conversion rate optimisation point of view. How could you better structure your page to get users to take the action you would most like?

Quality Scores therefore should point you towards improvements that can be made at ad group structure, keyword relevancy, ad copy relevancy and basic landing page levels. Better quality scores will enable you to be more competitive at auction time as they feed into better Ad Rank, lower CPCs and higher positions in the results pages. It’s a way of improving your search engine advertising bottom-up, making sure the building blocks of a successful advertising campaign are as strong as they can be before relying on increasing spend or reducing CPA or ROAS targets to achieve a healthier bottom-line.

If you need any advice on your paid search engine advertising please get in contact with one of our paid media team and we will be happy to help.

Article by: Jenny, Search Intent Manager More articles by Jenny

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