Anyone with a pulse can set up Google search ads. But getting them to rank well and convert is a whole other ball game.
It’s probably one of the reasons some businesses opt for professional help.
The question is, how does Google determine which ad deserves a top spot and which one doesn’t?
First, it’s your bid amount. The higher your bid, the more you’re likely to rank higher. But try imagining if that was the only determining factor. It would be a bidding war where only the rich could afford to rank well.
Plus, people would rank even the trashiest pages if they had the money.
To combat this, Google introduced Quality Score, which also considers the relevance and quality of your ads and landing pages. Even with a lower bid, you can still rank higher if your ad and landing page are deemed more relevant and valuable to users.
So, to determine your Google Ad Rank, Google takes your bid amount and multiplies it by your Quality Score. The result is your Ad Rank, which determines where your ad will rank compared to other ads.
In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into:
- The true definition of Quality Score and why it matters
- How to Improve Your Quality Score and Ad Rank
- How having a high-quality Score can save you money in bid costs
What’s Google Ads Quality Score?
Quality Score is Google’s way of measuring the relevance and quality of your ad and landing page to ensure a positive user experience. It takes into account various factors, including:
How Google Calculates Their Ad Quality Score
- Expected click-through rate: How likely are users to click on your ad based on relevancy and position?
- Ad relevance: How well your ad aligns with your target keywords.
- Landing page experience: How user-friendly and relevant is your landing page to the ad and keywords?
Google uses a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest quality score. A higher Quality Score means your ad is more relevant and valuable to the user, hence lower cost-per-click (CPC) and better ad placement.
Google compares the score to a warning light for your car’s engine. If the light is on, it means something needs to be fixed. Similarly, a low-quality Score indicates there are areas in your ad or landing page that need to be addressed.
How to Check Your Quality Score
- To check your Quality Score, log into your Google Ads account and click the “Campaigns” icon. Then, click the “Audience” => Keywords => Content drop-down in the menu section.
- Click Search Keywords
- In the upper-right corner, click Columns => Modify columns for Keywords”
- Open the Quality Score section to see the current Quality Score and the improvement status.
- Choose the statuses that you wish to apply to your statistical table:
- Quality Score
- Ad Relevance
- Landing Page Exp.
- Now, to view your past quality score for the reporting period you selected, choose one of the following metrics:
- Quality Score (hist)
- CTR (hist)
- Ad Relevance (hist)
- Landing Page Exper. (hist)
- Click Apply
Why is Quality Score Important?
Google is nothing without the user. The search engine’s top priority is providing users with relevant and valuable content. Profitability and everything else come second.
With over 5 billion people relying on Google search every day, it makes sense that Google would want to prioritize user satisfaction.
Quality score is what makes Google ads relevant to the user. By rewarding ads with higher quality scores, Google ensures that users are presented with ads that are most likely to meet their needs and interests.
Quality scores also denote Google’s values. The search engine company believes that advertisers should be rewarded for creating ads that are genuinely helpful and relevant to users, not just for having the highest bid.
The score also tells Google which sites or landing pages follow their rules and guidelines, helping them maintain the integrity of their search results.
You must learn to think like the user to understand Google and everything it does or stands for.
When a user clicks on an ad, most likely they want to:
- Find the most relevant information to their query
- Get their desired products or services
- Have a positive browsing experience
Google collects user feedback through various actions. In this case, they would be interested to know:
- If the ad’s copy is exactly what the user was looking for and if the landing page delivered on the ad’s promise.
- If the landing page is user-friendly and provides a positive experience
- If the user clicked on any links or interacted with any elements on the landing page
The more checkboxes you can tick off on Google’s user satisfaction checklist, the higher your Quality Score will be, and the higher your ad will rank.
Simply put, your quality score drives your ad rank and, ultimately, the success of your ad campaign. It’s not just a number; it’s a reflection of how well you’re meeting Google’s standards for advertising.
How to Improve Your Quality Score
Now that we understand the importance of Quality Score, let’s discuss how to improve it:
Learn to Organize Your Campaign, Ad Group, and Keyword Structure
Learn to divide your campaigns into smaller ad groups centered around a specific theme or purpose.
By doing so, you can create more targeted and relevant ads with keywords that directly relate to the content on your landing page.
The idea is to create various ad groups in a granular structure, adding relevant keywords to each. Each ad group should target a specific audience and their search intent.
You want to be as relevant as possible while at it. Don’t try to reach everyone. Instead, target a specific niche audience.
Here’s an example: Say you have a campaign for a sports clothing brand. You can create separate ad groups for specific products like “soccer cleats,” “running shoes,” and “basketball jerseys” instead of lumping them all together.
- Soccer Cleats: Ad -> Keywords: yellow soccer cleats, Nike soccer cleats, etc.
- Running Shoes: Ad -> Keywords: Nike running shoes, best running shoes, etc.
- Basketball Jerseys: Ad –> Keywords: Lakers basketball jersey, LeBron James jersey, etc.
Let’s say you sell organic beauty products. You can create ad groups with keywords that are related to your brand’s philosophy, target audience, or product type:
- Ad Group 1: Anti-aging Products -> Keywords: organic anti-aging cream, natural wrinkle serum, etc.
- Ad Group 2: Cruelty-free Products -> Keywords: vegan makeup remover, animal-friendly skincare, etc.
- Ad Group 3: Sensitive Skin Products -> Keywords: hypoallergenic moisturizer, gentle cleanser for sensitive skin, etc.
- Ad Group 4: Organic Haircare Products -> Keywords: sulfate-free shampoo, organic hair oil, etc.
- Ad Group 5: Online Beauty Store -> Keywords: online organic beauty shop, natural cosmetics online, etc.
- Ad Group 6: Beauty Product Delivery -> Keywords: same-day beauty product delivery, express shipping for cosmetics, etc.
Keeping your campaign structure organized and granular will help you create ads with more targeted keywords and align with your audience’s search intent.
That can positively impact your Quality Score by making your ads more relevant and specific.
So, how do you create an effective campaign structure? Here are a few tips:
- Divide your campaigns into themed ad groups, as discussed above.
- Use keywords that accurately reflect the content on your landing page and match the search intent of your target audience. Avoid using broad or unrelated keywords.
You can use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to find relevant and high-performing keywords for your ad campaigns.
Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs can also help you conduct extensive keyword research and identify top-performing keywords in your industry.
- Regularly review and update your keyword list to ensure they are relevant and high-performing.
- Leverage negative keywords to filter out irrelevant search queries and improve the quality of your traffic.
Learn to mix broad match, phrase match, and exact match keywords in your ad groups to reach different target audience segments.
You can also use modified broad-match keywords to reach a broader but still relevant audience.
Broad-match keywords will drive traffic to your ads, traffic that might not be as relevant but still has the potential to convert.
On the other hand, phrase and exact match keywords will reach a more specific audience, giving you better chances of conversion.
For example, Adidas Predator soccer cleats is a phrase match keyword. Your ad will appear for any search query containing “Adidas Predator” in the same order.
An exact match keyword is much more specific and would only trigger an ad if the user searches for “Adidas Predator soccer cleats,” exactly as it appears in your ad group.
Modified broad-match keywords allow you to reach a broader audience while maintaining control over the specific terms that trigger your ads.
For example, +Adidas +Predator soccer cleats will show your ad for any search query containing “Adidas” and “Predator” in any order.
Write Relevant and Compelling Ad Copy
Your Google ad copy plays a crucial role in attracting clicks and driving conversions. So, how do you write relevant and compelling ad copy?
- First, include the best-performing keywords in your ad’s headline, description, and URL slug.
- Use a language that resonates with your target audience. That could be through the use of buzzwords, phrases, or slogans that they are familiar with.
For example, if your target audience is athletes, you can use phrases like “performance-enhancing” or “elite-level” to catch their attention.
- Highlight unique selling points and differentiators in your ad copy. That could be free shipping, a limited-time offer, or a special discount.
- Use action-oriented language and include a clear call-to-action (CTA) that directs users to take a specific action. For example, “Shop now” or “Sign up today.”
- Use ad extensions like site links, callouts, and structured snippets to provide more information about your products or services.
Here’s an ad example that scores high in all these departments:
- Headline 1: Limited Time Offer: Get 20% off on all running shoes
- Headline 2: Elevate Your Performance with Our Elite Running Shoes
- Headline 3: Shop Now and Save Big on Our Top-Selling Running Shoes
Description: Don’t miss out on this exclusive offer. Upgrade your running game with our high-quality, performance-enhancing shoes—free shipping on all orders.
Display URL: www.example.com/running-shoes
Final URL: www.example.com/running-shoes?discount=20percent
- Site Links: Explore our full range of running shoes.
- Callouts: Top-rated by professional athletes.
- Structured Snippets: Styles available for men, women, and kids.
Optimize Your Landing Page for Conversions
Your ad can be perfectly crafted with the most relevant and compelling copy, but you risk losing potential customers if your landing page does not deliver on its promise.
Think about the user and what happens to them after they click on your ad. What do they expect to find on the other side? A good landing page should:
- Match the intent of your ad and deliver on its promise.
- A clear, concise message resonates with the user’s search query.
- Be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and have a fast loading speed.
- Include relevant and high-quality visuals, such as product images or videos.
- Have a strong call-to-action that directs users to take the desired action.
- A/B test different elements of your landing page to constantly improve and optimize its performance.
- Optimize your landing page for SEO to increase organic traffic and improve its quality score. Start by including relevant keywords in your page title, meta description, and throughout the content. You also want to get other sites to link back to your landing page, as this improves its authority and ranking.
Have a simple and streamlined conversion process. For example, if you want users to sign up for your newsletter, only ask for necessary information like email address and name.
Be mobile-friendly as more and more people are using their phones to search and make purchases online.
Ad Format and Dynamic Headlines
In 2024, the only type of text ads available are responsive search ads. This format allows you to enter multiple headlines and descriptions, tested and optimized by Google’s machine-learning algorithms to show the most relevant combinations based on the user’s search query.
These ads include up to 15 headlines and two descriptions, allowing you to test different variations and find what works best for your target audience.
Dynamic headlines are also becoming increasingly popular, where the headline is dynamically generated based on the user’s search query.
For example, if someone searches for “running shoes,” they might see an ad with the headline “Shop our selection of running shoes” instead of a generic headline like “Buy the best running shoes.” That adds personalization and relevance to your ad, increasing its chances of catching the user’s attention.
Other considerations that boost your CTR
- Use ad scheduling to show your ads at the most relevant times for your target audience.
- Implement negative keywords to avoid showing your ads for irrelevant searches.
- Use location insertion to dynamically insert the user’s location in your ad, making it more relevant and personalized.
- Leverage audience targeting to reach specific demographics or behaviorally targeted audiences.
- Utilize ad customizers to show dynamic content based on the user’s device, location, or other factors. It allows for a more tailored and personalized ad experience for each user.
- Count-down ad customizers can also create a sense of urgency and encourage users to take action before time runs out on a limited-time offer.
- Keyword insertion can help increase relevance and click-through rate by dynamically inserting the user’s search query into your ad text. However, be cautious when using this feature, as it can sometimes lead to irrelevant or awkward phrasing.
Include as Many Relevant Ad Extensions as Possible
While ad extensions don’t directly impact your quality score, they can significantly improve your ad’s visibility and click-through rate.
Ad extensions make your ad more appealing to potential customers by providing additional information about your products or services.
They expand your ad, increasing the space it takes up on the search results page making it stand out more among competitors.
Ad extensions also give users more options and ways to engage with your business, increasing the likelihood of conversions.
Some popular ad extensions to consider using include:
- Sitelinks: Direct users to specific pages on your website related to their search query.
- Callouts: Highlight unique selling points, promotions, or awards, such as “Free Delivery
- Structured snippets: Showcase specific categories or styles for your products or services.
- Call extensions: Allow users to call your business directly from the ad with a click-to-call button.
- Location extensions: Display your business’s address and location on Google Maps.
- Price extensions: Show prices for different products or services within the ad.
- Image extensions: Include images within your ad to visually showcase your offerings.
- App extensions: Promote and link to your mobile app within the ad.
- Lead Form extensions: Allow users to submit their information directly through the ad, making it easier for them to convert.
Constantly Update Your List of Negative Keywords
Negative keywords waste your advertising budget and can negatively impact your quality score if your ad continuously appears for irrelevant searches.
That’s why it’s crucial to regularly review and update your list of negative keywords to avoid these pitfalls.
Start by identifying irrelevant or broad search terms that trigger your ad but bring in low-quality or uninterested traffic.
You want to add those terms as negative keywords to prevent your ad from showing for them in the future.
Example: If you sell high-end designer shoes, but your ad is showing for the search term “cheap shoes,” you may want to add “cheap” or “inexpensive” as negative keywords to avoid attracting users who are not interested in your premium products.
Similarly, consider adding negative keywords for specific locations or audiences irrelevant to your business.
Continuously monitoring and updating your list of negative keywords will help ensure your ad is only shown to highly relevant and interested users, improving its quality score and ultimately leading to a higher click-through rate.
Adding new negative keywords should be a continuous process. As your ad campaign progresses, new search terms irrelevant to your business arise.
Regularly reviewing and updating your list of negative keywords will help you stay ahead and optimize your ad’s performance.
So, how do you find and update your negative keywords?
In your left-hand navigation menu, select “Keywords” and then click on the “Search terms” tab. You will see a list of all the search terms that triggered your ad here.
Scroll through this list and identify any irrelevant or low-quality keywords, and under the “Added/Excluded” section, exclude them as negative keywords.
You can also use negative keyword tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to help identify potential negative keywords to add to your list.
What keywords to exclude as negative keywords
- Irrelevant search terms: Avoid showing your ad for completely irrelevant search terms unrelated to your business or products.
- Broad match keywords: If you’re using broad match keywords, add any variations of those keywords as negative keywords to avoid showing up for unrelated searches.
- Low-quality traffic: Review and exclude any low-quality or uninterested search terms that are not likely to convert into customers.
- Location-specific keywords: If your business only operates in a specific location, exclude any keywords related to other locations where you do not offer your products or services. Likewise, if you sell online and ship worldwide, consider excluding location-specific keywords that are too broad or irrelevant.
- Competitor names: Avoid showing your ad for searches that include competitors’ names unless you offer a clear comparison or alternative to their products or services.
Your Bid Strategy Matters
Your ad’s position and visibility on the search results page depend heavily on your bidding strategy.
All else held equal, the higher your bid, the more likely your ad will appear in a top position. However, that’s not to say you should always bid the highest amount possible.
When determining your ad’s position, Google considers both your maximum bid and ad quality.
One way to strike a balance between bidding enough to compete for top positions and maintaining profitability is by experimenting with different bidding options, such as manual bidding, target CPA (cost-per-acquisition), or enhanced CPC (cost-per-click).
Manual bidding allows you to set your own maximum bid for each keyword. That gives you more control over your ad spend and allows you to tailor bids based on performance and profitability.
Target CPA bidding uses machine learning to automatically adjust your bids to help you achieve a specific cost per acquisition or conversion.
Enhanced CPC bidding also uses machine learning to adjust your bids in real time based on the likelihood of a click resulting in a conversion.
Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages, so it helps to experiment and find the right bidding strategy for your business’s goals and budget.