Quality Score Tips & Tricks
Unless you are just getting started with AdWords, you’re probably familiar with quality score. Depending on how familiar you are with Google’s Ad Metric, you likely have a love/hate relationship with it. I want to change that relationship to make it a bit more loving and a lot less frustrating by helping to show you a few simple ways to improve your quality scores and save advertising dollars.
Quality score is Google’s metric that works in tandem with the bid you set in order to determine your Ad Rank.
Ad Rank = Bid X Quality Score
The Ad Rank formula is very important to note because it reinforces that Google’s priority is the user experience of its searchers. If your Ad Rank were determined simply by your bid, the advertisers with the largest budgets would dominate. By factoring in quality score, Google allows people to compete based on relevance to searches in conjunction with bid price which helps to level the playing field for small advertisers as well as large.
A lot of factors are involved when calculating quality score but for everyone’s sanity, I will only focus on what’s most important with an emphasis on what is inside of our immediate control as advertisers.
- Keyword relevance to other keywords in the same ad group
- Ad relevance to the keyword
- Ad relevance to the query
- Landing page experience
- Expected Clickthrough Rate
- Historical CTR
- Account based CTR
Step 1: If it’s not measured, it’s not managed
You’ve heard the expression. This goes double for AdWords. Keeping track of the quality score of your keywords, as well as your ad groups, campaigns and overall account is a great way to quickly gauge the health of the account.
One way to check your quality score is by hovering your mouse over the status bubble next to the keyword. This is not scalable. A better way is to customize your columns in the AdWords interface to show quality score. While you’re at it, add the competitive metric “Lost Impression Share based on Rank”. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Adding the quality score column allows you to quickly see how your keyword ranks, but does not tell you information about the overall ad group, campaign or account. Don’t worry, you can have this information sent to a Google spreadsheet on a daily basis quickly and easily. Russ Savage provides free scripts at FreeAdwordsScripts.com and one of my personal favorites of his is an overall account level quality score tracker. This script is easy to install and you can schedule it to run daily, weekly, monthly etc. in order to see how your quality score improves or decreases over time.
Step 2: Increase Relevance
Once you are tracking your quality scores, it’s time to focus on improvement. The most common advice you will hear is to restructure your account into highly relevant and tightly knit campaigns and ad groups. This will always be your first step towards improvement. Once you have tight knit ad groups with ads that are pertinent to your keywords in each ad group, you need to focus on the other factors that may be bringing your scores down.
Step 3: Identify the Problem
One of the fastest ways to identify which areas are most relevant to improving each keyword is by using the information (limited though it may be) that Google provides for you as a jumping off point. Below you can see that the first area you would want to diagnose for this keyword is the landing page.
When optimizing for quality score, people often over look landing pages in favor of doing work inside the AdWords interface. This is a huge mistake. Check and see where people are going from your ad. Is the page relevant to your ad text? Does it include the keywords from the ad group? Does it have a clear purpose and provide useful information or is it confusing and likely to produce high bounce rates? Make sure you do everything you can to improve the user experience of your landing pages. Not only will this improve your quality score, but also it is an important factor of improving your conversion rate as a whole.
Step 4: ABT = Always Be Testing
Some advertisers get so wrapped up in pulling different levers in AdWords that they forget about the ads themselves. At the end of the day the ads are what searchers see and are a hugely important part of the process. A great way to incorporate ads into your workflow while optimizing for quality score is to always be testing new ads and pausing or deleting the lowest performers. Look for ads that have a CTR of below 1.5% and rewrite or pause them. Keep testing your ad performance until you have found what works the best… Then keep testing.
Step 5: Identify Opportunities
Another step I like to take when analyzing quality score is to select an ad group and segment the keywords by “Top vs. Other”.
This allows you to compare your click through rate based on your position and whether it was above the organic results, or in a lower position. This report allows you to identify opportunities where by being in a higher position, your quality score is being improved and you are able to save on your cost per click. Below is an example of this.
It is important to note that this is not always the case. Here, the Avg. CPC is less when in a higher position. This tells us that the quality score is higher in the higher position (hence the decrease in Avg. CPC) and that we should consider increasing the bid on this keyword. Often times this will not be the case and if costs increase, it is important to look at your conversion data and see if it is necessary to reduce your Max. CPC.
CTR will always be a large factor in quality score but it cannot be looked at as the only factor. If you have high click through rates, but also high bounce rates, your quality scores can still tank.
Getting a handle on your quality scores at the account, campaign, ad group and keyword level can be tricky. However by being diligent, the benefits in terms of ROI can be enormous. Don’t be lazy. Take the time to set the account up the right way and give it the ongoing attention it needs to prosper. By monitoring quality score and taking active steps to improve it, you can set up your account for success for the long term.