Neon stars with text Google Ads & Quality Scores

Google Ads & Quality Scores

Most of us are familiar with the fact that quality score has great importance in our Google Ads accounts and campaigns, but how that quality score is determined is a little more difficult. We are already able to check keyword-level quality scores within our Google Ads accounts, but what about everything else? With these scores determining the impact of your ad campaigns, it’s important to be familiar with each type.  

Account-Level Quality Score

The account-level quality score takes into account each action that has occurred within an ad account and how performance has been. This includes how any keywords have performed, and the Click-Through Rate (CTR) for any ad campaigns. Lower scores ultimately result in a low-quality score, which can reduce future keyword performance.

Google does not publish account-level quality scores; in fact, Google has not stated that it is a tracked metric. Even though we can’t see it publically, we have been able to determine that accounts containing longer history and better performance are performing better than newer accounts or accounts with poorer performance. Since historical performance determines the success of upcoming campaigns, it’s important to focus on your quality score over time, since improving a score involves managing campaigns with better scores that reduce the impact of any negative scores.

Clock changing time

Keyword-Level Quality Score

Keyword-level quality scores tend to be the first quality score we think about, as we can see it within Google Ads accounts. Google rates this score on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best and is determined by the performance of an ad for search inquiries matching your keyword. 

Within this keyword-level quality score, we can identify additional information that determines the quality scores ranking.

  • Quality Score
    • Determined by the relevance of a keyword, ad, or landing page to a user.
  • Ad Relevance
    • Determined by the relation of keywords to the ad copy.
  • Landing Page Experience
    • Determined by the relevance of a landing page to the user.
  • Expected CTR
    • Using historical information to determine the odds a user will click on an ad when it’s shown.
  • Quality Score (Historic)
    • Based on the reporting time frame, the historic quality score is the last known quality score.
  • Ad Relevance (Historic)
    • Based on the reporting time frame, the historic ad relevance is the last known ad relevance score.
  • Landing Page Experience (Historic)
    • Based on the reporting time frame, the historic landing page experience is the last known landing page experience score.
  • Expected CTR (Historic)
    • Based on the reporting time frame, the historic expected CTR is the last known expected CTR.

Ad Group Quality Score

Ad Group Quality Score takes a look at each campaign and provides its average rating. This is important to know so that any poor-performing campaigns can be identified and modified. This score is not visible within accounts, but is an average of keyword quality scores for each ad group. Ads with a low CTR can be edited to improve ad group quality scores, but even when edits are performed, the previous history still has an impact on the quality score. Think of your quality score like writing in a notebook. Even if you start on a new page, what you wrote previously still remains.

Think of your quality score like writing in a notebook. Even if you start on a new page, what you wrote previously still remains.

Ad-Level Quality Score

All ads within a campaign are analyzed based on their CTR to determine their ad-level quality score. Each ad within a campaign can receive a different CTR, so poorly performing ads can negatively affect your quality score. This means it’s important to monitor ad campaigns, so any poorly performing ads can either be paused or deleted. Since past account history impacts quality scores, pausing or deleting ads doesn’t change what has already been done, but prevents these ads from affecting your account further.

Landing Page Quality Score

With the landing page a user is taken to from an ad can greatly influence the overall end-user experience; Google pays attention to the quality of a landing page. There are three main factors that Google looks at to determine a landing page’s quality, transparency, navigability, and original and relevant content.

  • Transparency
    • Information contained within your ad campaign should match what is on your landing page. An ad needs to remain transparent and match only what can be successfully offered.
  • Navigability
    • Once a user is on your landing page from an ad, they should be able to quickly and easily locate the corresponding information.
  • Original and Relevant Content
    • Content on your landing page should be relevant to what is contained within the ad copy, keywords, and campaign. This content should be unique, meaning it can’t be found anywhere else, and be beneficial to the user.

Mobile Quality Score

Quality score remains the same across all devices, including mobile, tablets, and computers, but the mobile quality score will differ between mobile devices and desktops. Since mobile devices are often able to track a user’s location and determine the distance between that location and the location of a business, that can be used to determine a mobile quality score.

Phone showing a result for a business and a map

Display Network Quality Score 

Since the Google Display Network is a bit different from the Google Search Network, it makes sense it’s scored a little bit differently. The display network quality score looks at ads in the Google Display Network and the historical performance for both that website and other similar websites. With display network campaigns needing to be tailored to match where they will be shown, evaluating these campaigns separately from campaigns in the search network can provide the most accurate information.

The way a campaign’s bidding is set up will determine what factors are taken into account when looking at the historical performance. Campaigns that use the Cost-Per-Click (CPC) bidding strategy use the historical CTR of an ad and the quality of the landing page, whereas campaigns using the Cost-Per-Thousand or Cost-Per-Mille (CPM) bidding strategy are determined by only the quality of the landing page.

Why Quality Score is Important

Just as a business aims to provide a positive customer experience that turns a potential customer into a current or recurring customer, Google aims to provide a positive user experience by providing the best quality search results that are relevant to their search inquiry. The quality score provides a representation of how well a business’s ad campaigns match their user’s searches.

For a business, the quality score has a major impact on where an ad will rank within the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and the amount required to win a bid. A low quality score can also result in keywords being excluded from auction availability.

Ads within the Google Search Network follow the same formula to determine ad rank, ad rank = CPC bid x quality score. With this ad rank formula, bids can be won at a lower amount when a business has a higher quality score.

The Google Display Network determines its ad rank a bit differently than the search network does. Keyword-targeted ads use the formula ad rank = display network bid x quality score. Ads that are placement-targeted use the formula ad rank = bid x quality score.

Google Search and Display Network formulas on coral paper with teal and blue paper.

Common Misconceptions

Quality score is determined using the historical data of an account, meaning pausing, deleting, or restructuring an ad will not impact its current quality score. Over time, that ad will have less impact on your quality score as new data is accrued on ad campaigns.

Keywords will have the same quality score regardless if a search matches its broad, phrase, or exact match. Since the match type doesn’t determine the quality score, changing the match type will not have an impact on the keyword-level quality score.

Since the way quality score is determined is different between the search network and the display network, these scores do not impact one another. With these scores being independent, it raises the importance of evaluating ad campaigns with different networks separately.

Ads that have a higher ad ranking typically have a CTR that is higher than ads with a lesser ranking, which is why Google takes this rank into account when determining a quality score. Ads with a higher ranking do not receive a higher quality score just because of this ranking.

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