How to improve your Google Ads quality score

Written by Sam Rawson

When it comes to Google Ads, there are a whole host of optimisations you could be working on to get the most out of your account and campaigns. From negative keywords to bidding strategies to ad copy, the changes you could make are endless.

But you’re a Marketer. You don’t have time to be making endless changes to your Google Ads account, there are strategies to manage and reports to create.

In our latest Marketing Download video, I spoke about the four things to look out for in order to get the most out of your Google Ads. One of them was quality scores.

Here’s your in-depth look at exactly what you should be looking for and what optimisations you can make to generate a better quality score.

What is a Google Ads quality score?

Quality scores are assigned by Google and rate your ad at keyword level on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best. Breaking it down into the three pillars, each metric is given a rating of ‘below average,’ ‘average,’ or ‘above average.’

Screenshot showing below average quality score
Screenshot showing above average quality score

The exact algorithm that generates these scores is somewhat of a minefield and a topic for another time, but we do know the score can be optimised on the following:

1. Expected CTR
2. Landing page experience
3. Ad relevance

These three attributes contribute to your overall quality score. Bing Ads users, Microsoft uses the same ranking factors, so this all applies to those ads as well.

How to find the quality scores column in your Google Ads manager

Quality scores are set at keyword level so you’ll need to go through into a single ad group before you’re able to view your quality score. Scores will differ across your account based on keyword selection, match types, landing pages and more.

Once you’re at keyword level you’ll see ‘search keywords’ in the top bar.

Screenshot of Google Ads Manager showing 'search keywords' title to indicate the user is at keyword level

If you still don’t see quality score as one of your columns, you might need to add it in.

Go to columns > modify columns

Screenshot of Google Ads manager showing column modification

Search quality score in the search bar.

Screenshot showing Google Ads manager search bar

And hit ‘apply.’

Screenshot of column set application

Why are quality scores so important?

As an agency, we’re constantly talking to our clients about their quality score and a lot of people don’t realise the impact they’re having on their overall Google Ads campaigns. 

Google’s aim is always to give the best experience to their users as possible, this includes serving them with what they view as the best ads. So, to try and discourage marketers from producing crappy ads, there are some serious penalties for low quality scores.

Infographic showing how quality scores impact CPC

This infographic shows how the amount your CPC is directly impacted by the quality score your ad receives.

5 is the Google benchmark, meaning your ads are of an average quality and you’ll be industry standard CPC for a given keyword.. 

Achieve the worst score of 1 and you could be paying up to 400% more than your competitor who’s serving average ads, placing you at a huge disadvantage and causing a lot of wasted budget.

On the other hand, a perfect 10 quality score could be providing you a massive 50% discount on the average CPC, a big competitive advantage and one of the best ways to get more conversions from your budget.

It literally pays to produce great ads.

 

So, what can you do to improve your quality score and achieve better results from your campaigns?

The first criteria your score is measured against is expected CTR.

How is expected CTR calculated?

Your expected click-through-rates and the quality scores associated with them are a result of past, present and future CTR performance.

Google looks at how well your keyword has performed historically, based on the average position of your ad.

It also collects data on your current CTR, which feeds into your expected click-through for the future.

A combination of these predictions and data form the expected CTR assigned to your ad.

What CTR should you be aiming for?

As I’m sure you’re aware, it’s not easy to place a benchmark number on metrics like CTR. Goals will differ from business to business depending on overall conversion rates, average conversion value etc.

The next best thing is to look at some industry benchmarks.

The following chart shows data from Wordstream on the benchmarks for KPIs across a range of industries.

Attorneys and legal businesses, for example, have an average click-through of 4.24% on their ads. Whilst the arts and entertainment sector can enjoy CTRs of 11.43%.

Infographic showing industry benchmarks for CTR and other metrics

How to improve your expected CTR

1. Set up precise ad groups

When setting up ad groups, Google will often prompt you to add a tonne of keywords to a particular group, and whilst they want you to produce high quality ads, this isn’t always the best idea.

The more keywords you have in a singular ad group, the less likely it is that your headline copy will match the user’s search query, leading to low CTRs based on relevance.

Setting up precise ad groups, segmented based on a singular product or service will allow you to more closely match the keyword.

 

2. Utilise ad extensions

Ad extensions are the extra links you often see accompanying Google Ads. They could be site links (shown below), call, promotion or price extensions.

ClickUp ad with ad extensions

Including ad extensions will often have a significant positive impact on your CTR, not only because they give the user more options, but also because they allow your ad to take up a larger proportion of space on the SERP.

 

The second factor considered in the quality is landing page experience.

What contributes to landing page experience?

As a Marketer you’ll have knowledge of landing page optimisation and best practices in UX, however, Google have their own set of rules.

There are four elements of a landing page that Google assesses to rank your landing page.

 

1. Ease
A landing page should be easy to navigate and understand.

2. Reliability
Your page should be consistently reliable across all platforms, with every element on the page working as it should.

3. Relevancy
Your ad and landing page should match up in terms of content and intent.

4. Trustworthiness
Provide enough detail and information about your product or service so that it’s seen as being trustworthy and honest.

How to improve your landing page experience

1. Improving ease.

The ease of a landing page is all about how smoothly your potential customer can complete the conversion or purchase.

Making your landing page easy to navigate by having a sticky header, bold CTA buttons and clear sections all help with improving the users’ experience.

Your copy and the way it’s presented also contribute significantly. Sometimes we’re guilty of getting carried away and writing long paragraphs of text, but let’s be honest, when was the last time you actually read a big chunk of text on a landing page? (If you have, please send the incredible page to us, we’d love to see what magic they’re performing).

The point is, chunks of text take time to read and process and people are short on time. Break your paragraphs down into easily digestible bullet points and lists for a quick consumption.

 

2. Reliability

Does your page load quickly? Does it look uniform across all devices? Is it on brand? These are all factors that contribute to the overall reliability of your landing page.

 

3. Relevancy

I’m sure you’ll agree, one of the most frustrating things is clicking on a SERP result and finding yourself on a page that has no relevance to what you searched for.

To avoid this frustration for both your user and Google, your landing page should include the main keywords that you’ve used in your ad headline, and convey the same message as your ad. This includes body text throughout your page, the overall sentiment of your copy and any CTAs.

 

4. Trustworthiness

Consumers are unlikely to buy a product or invest in a service they don’t trust, so your landing page needs to provide enough information to prove that your product is going to be a worthwhile investment.

Adding reviews, testimonials and general social proof to your page all contribute to the feeling of trust.

 

So by now we should have great scores for the expected CTR and landing page experience, and we can move onto looking into ad relevance.

What does ad relevance measure?

Ad relevance, sometimes referred to as keyword relevance, looks at how closely your ad relates to a user search query. The better matched your ad copy and headline is, the higher your quality score is likely to be.

For example, a search for “SaaS Marketing Agency” shows this ad in first place:

SaaS Marketing Agency Google Ad

This is likely to have a great quality score for ad relevance because the headline directly matches the search query. It also mentions SaaS products in the ad copy.

How to improve your ad relevance quality score

1. Keep your ad groups organised

Under each of your Google Ads campaigns you should have separate ad groups for each of your services or products. 

You can see here that there are multiple ad groups under the same campaign, set up for different products.

Ad Groups

This means that when someone searches for “sterile gloves,” your ad headline can be more specific and include the word ‘sterile,’ making someone much more likely to click and increasing your quality score.

 

2. Establish a keyword strategy

Choosing which keywords to bid on can be a long and often tedious process but it’s one of the most important factors in the success of your Google Ads campaigns.

In-depth consumer research is massively important and will inform the keywords you choose for your campaigns. Think about how your consumers talk and what kind of language they use to ensure you’re picking the most relevant keywords.

You could also think about bidding on long-tail keywords, which might have less search volume but often lead to higher quality traffic because the user is searching for something more specific. This will also help you creative ad headlines and copy specific to a niche search term.

 

3. Include keywords in your ad copy

As well as including your keywords in your ad’s headline, your description should also mention some of your chosen keywords.

CRM Google Ad

This ad appears on a search for ‘CRM for small business’ and you can see that, as well as the search query being included in the headline, it’s repeated in the ad copy. This is going to increase your relevancy score and your overall click-through-rate.

 

Improving your quality score is just one of the factors in a well optimised Google Ads account, but it can go a long way in reducing your CPC and providing a greater ROI on your campaigns.

Keep an eye out on our LinkedIn page for my next Google Ads performance video.