Google hasn’t become one of the world’s most valuable brands by accident. It’s their relentless focus on delivering quality search results that continues to set them far apart from their ever-dwindling list of competitors.
So when it comes to creating and managing your Google Ads campaign, it should come as no surprise that ad quality matters a great deal. In fact, high quality ads can lead to both increased ad ranking and lower cost-per-clicks.
Quality Score: More Than A Number
Google is continuously seeking to create a search experience that is relevant for users and profitable for advertisers. One way they ensure this happens for paid search is through a variable called Quality Score.
Contrary to popular belief, Quality Score (numbered 1-10, with 10 being most ideal) is not an exact representation of real-time ad quality – there are just too many factors to consider during each auction to adequately capture a specific number. Instead, Quality Score should be treated as an alert to potential problems (like a warning light in your car).
To carry on with this analogy, if your car’s check engine light suddenly started flashing, would you try to trick it into stopping? Hopefully not! You’d likely head for the nearest service station to figure out what’s wrong with your car – and then you’d get it fixed. Quality Score is kind of like that. Your main priority should be on helping the user (keeping your car properly serviced), not trying to game the system.
So at the risk of running the car analogy out of gas, how do you keep your Quality Score cruising? For starters, here are three key components that impact Quality Score and how you should approach them:
1. Ad Relevance: ensure that your ad creative is fully aligned with your user queries (searches on a search engine). For instance, if the search is for striped socks and your ad mentions striped socks (not just socks), this will produce a higher Quality Score.
2. Click-thru Rates: focus on improving your click-thru rates (within your account, you'll see messages if your ads are performing at, above, or below average for expected click-thru rates).
3. Landing Page Relevance: focus on creating the most helpful and relevant landing page experience for your users’ search queries.
With these three components in mind, here are some key areas you should focus on to maximize your Quality Score:
- Break your ad groups into more tightly related terms that better align with your ad creative
- Write ad creative with different headlines, benefits, reasons to believe, and calls-to-action
- Test dynamic keyword insertion ad copy that pulls the user's query into the ad itself
- Use conversion rates to identify higher performing keywords (use this information in addition to Quality Score to find areas of opportunity)
- Focus on the user's needs by considering intent from the query, addressing the need in the ad creative, and ensuring the landing page clearly addresses the user's needs
- Design for your KPIs (e.g. lead generation, phone calls, store locator)
- Keep your messaging and content simple and focused so it aligns with the user’s needs and intent
- Remove as many 'escape points' as possible and design the page to funnel users into your desired action
- Use your Quality Score to filter and find higher volume keywords with opportunities to deliver better performance
Finally, here is what does and doesn't impact your Quality Score:
Does Have An Impact:
- Ads and landing pages that are relevant to the intent of the user's query
- Performance of related keywords when launching new keywords
- The user's device and the related user experience on that device (make sure you create a great mobile experience for your mobile users)
Has No Impact:
- Your ad's placement on the page
- Running on other ad networks, or other Google platforms
- How you structure your PPC account and campaigns (yet, this does affect your management and other performance factors beyond Quality Score)
In conclusion, ad quality is just one component of Quality Score. And Quality Score is just one more tool in your PPC toolbox. But it should only be used as a guide, not a metric. So if you’re chasing numbers, stop! By focusing on the big picture – including relevant ads with high volume keywords and properly aligned landing pages – your PPC performance will soar.
But don’t just take our word for it. To quote Google: “Be relevant, be compelling and drive traffic to landing pages that deliver on what you promise in your ad, and you can feel confident that your score should reflect that quality.”
And who can argue with them?
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