How to improve keyword Quality Scores

Quality Score (QS) is one of the key features of an Adwords campaign that could determine true success from failure. The quality score for each keyword is rated on a scale of 1-10 and it is an estimate of the quality of your ads and landing pages triggered by your keywords.

It’s one of two factors that determine your Ad Rank – and the other is Cost Per Click (CPC). So calculating Ad Rank is easy and the formula is:

Ad Rank = CPC bid X Quality Score

Ad Rank is simply the determination of your ads position in the results – and that includes where your ad shows on the page in relation to competitors and whether the ads are eligible to show at all. Ad Rank is calculated each time your ad is eligible to appear in the auction results, so your position can fluctuate each time depending on your competition.

Other factors considered in the calculation of Ad Rank are the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.

An example of quality scores that will need improving:

Poor Quality Scores

This is an example of a good keyword quality score and what you should be aiming for:

Good quality scores

To see your keyword quality scores, click the keyword tab and hover your mouse over the speech bubble next to any keyword’s status.

These are the 3 factors that determine your quality scores and you will want to improve any that are ‘Average’ and ‘Below Average’:

1. Expected Click Through Rate

Expected click through rate is a measure of how likely your ad is to be clicked for a specific keyword irrespective of ad position, extensions and other formats that may affect the visibility of your ad.

This is a prediction, so it differs from your average Click Through Rate (CTR) which is shown in the column section of your account. It is an estimate that assumes that the search term of the searcher will match the keyword exactly.

The three possible statuses of expected click through rate are ‘Below Average’ ‘Average’ and ‘Above Average’. If it is below average, then it means you should consider changing your ad so that it closely reflects your ad group’s keywords.

2. Ad Relevance

Ad relevance is about ensuring that each ad in the ad group is heavily related to the keywords in that ad group. Many advertisers get this wrong, through adding a large number of keywords that are not directly related to each other and then creating text ads that don’t include some of the keywords in the headline or the description.

With hundreds of keywords in an ad group for example, it would be nearly impossible to have all the keywords in the ad and this will affect quality scores. People are likely to click an ad that has their search term in the headline, description and URL – and this will help to boost click through rates.

One feature used by more advanced users is Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) to make ads more relevant. Now, you should be careful with this feature especially if you have broad match keywords and there is a potential to drive searches from people who search in all kinds of ways.

Sitelinks can also help to make your ads more relevant because you can promote other pages on your site, which could be more relevant to searchers.Your click type reports will reveal to you which are your most popular sitelinks and you can then look for more prominence for them and the benefits searchers are looking for on those specific pages.

3. Landing Page Experience

No matter how well written your ads are and as effective as you intend them to be with high CTRs, you won’t see much success if your landing pages don’t deliver the promise that you made in your ads.

This is one of the biggest quality score problem we encounter with clients that approach us to manage their Google Adwords accounts. The explanation for this is quite simple! Many advertisers believe that all they have to do is create superb campaigns, bring high volumes of traffic to their sites and see the money rolling in.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Landing page experience is perhaps the most critical factor to high engagement and conversion rates and a poor landing page experience is usually due to the following:

• Missing Call to action (CTA) – without a CTA, visitors will be confused about what to do on your landing pages and they are likely to do a number of things including clicking the back button.
• Slow loading pages – visitors won’t stick around if pages take long to load. Aim to reduce page speed load times to below 5 seconds
• Poor website usability – Website usability is a big topic on its own and involves optimising your pages to ensure that they are easy to navigate and users can complete conversion actions on your site
• Ineffective website copy – If your copywriting skills are not up to scratch, then you should hire a copywriter that will create copy that is engaging and is targeted to your visitors.
• Trust and website quality – Your site should give visitors confidence that you can deliver on your promises. They should be assured that it is secure and that if they supply you with their personal details. If not, then they are likely to leave and go straight to your competitors

Keep a keen eye on key metrics such as bounce rate, average time on site, page views because these will inform you how effective your landing pages and website are at engagement.


To improve your quality scores, you should work on these three main factors and improvement ad extensions to make them more relevant to searches. Contact Search Optimise to find out how we can assist you to improve your quality scores and enhance your ROI.

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Mike Ncube About Mike Ncube

Mike Ncube is Head of Search at Search Optimise and has a passion for all things PPC and Web Analytics

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