Playing the Ads Game: How to Improve Your Quality Score

How to Improve Your Quality Score

Google Ads can be overwhelming, to say the least. Keywords, ad groups, quality scores… how does it all work? Never fear. We’ve summarized the process below and then included a few tips to help you up your Ads game.

Keywords are the words or phrases Internet users are typing into search engines. So Google takes advantage of this by selling ad space to businesses that pay for access to those keywords. There’s no shame in this game — Google makes money, users quickly find what they’re looking for and businesses are connected with their target markets. Everyone wins.

That is, businesses who do it right win. Literally. When you buy access to keywords, you’re actually buying the opportunity to “bid” on ad space that appears when someone searches those keywords. Google, of course, wants the highest-quality, most relevant ads to show up, so the powers that be grant keywords a quality score to measure performance and ensure only the best ads/sites are shown first. The algorithm that determines who “wins” the ad space is majorly complex, but your quality score plays a big role.

This is where knowing your quality score and the factors affecting it come in quite handy. As with any game, a strategic plan is a must. There are numerous factors that affect your quality score, but the most important are:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)—This is how often an ad is clicked after appearing in a search.
  • Keyword Relevance—Are your keywords relevant to their respective ad groups? Remember ad groups are a set of keywords shared by an ad.
  • Messaging Relevance—Does your ad message match the keywords in its group?
  • User Experience—Once a user clicks on your ad, does the landing page load quickly and then provide helpful information?
  • Historical Performance—Because performance is evaluated historically, it can take time to accrue a high-quality score or improve a low score.

With consistent evaluation, progress can be made over time and possibly expedited with some of the following tips and tricks.

  • Begin by researching keywords. To ensure you’re using top-performing keywords, find out what relevant words and phrases appear in the most searches.
  • Create small ad groups. Remember you’re going for quality, not quantity. While some may advise having large ad groups, it’s harder to build targeted ad campaigns that way. Strategists now recommend a larger number of small groups consisting of one to ten words.
  • Run new keywords on broad match. While having keywords on a phrase and/or exact match is more targeted, new words must initially reach an impression threshold before obtaining their own unique scores. Thus, running new keywords on broad match helps them reach more users in a shorter time period.
  • Avoid generic ads. Create messaging that highlights one product or service for which target audiences are looking.
  • Make sure ad messaging matches the keywords in the ad group. If the keywords match a search and generate your ad, but the ad is generic and/or irrelevant to the search, the user will not click on it. Again, be strategic with your messaging.
  • Focus on user experience. Once a user clicks on your ad, the corresponding landing page should load quickly and contain useful, relevant information, including some of your keywords.
  • Double-check URLs, making sure all lead to working landing pages.
  • Monitor click-through-rates. If an ad isn’t performing well, rewrite it, and if keywords aren’t performing well, pause or delete them. The historical performance of these elements won’t go away and will continue to factor into your score, but eliminating them will help gradually improve your score with time because they no longer have a negative impact.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so remember that it takes time to improve your quality score. But Google also likes consistency, so if you periodically monitor your campaigns, adjust for low-scoring elements and keep up the good fight, you’ll eventually hit a home run, or sink a hole in one, or sit on the Iron Throne—whichever game-winning analogy you prefer. And if you’re more of a team player, give us a call. We’re always here to help.