Understanding how Google ranks your PPC ads is the first step in mastering PPC and running effective PPC campaigns. Many webmasters wrongly believe that increasing your CPC bids across your campaigns will ensure a higher ad rank, however, this is not always the case.

What is Quality Score?

Quality score is a measure of Google’s interpretation of your keywords and PPC adverts. To think of an example, we have all heard of our credit score. Credit scores affect your ability to get finance or a good interest rate. In a similar sort of way, quality scores affect your paid adverts in terms of ranking positions, cost, and overall effectiveness.

Elements of quality score are: expected click through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience. These factors will determine how much you pay per click and the positions of your ads.

Quality score is graded from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. Depending on whether your score is good or bad, Google will give a boost (or penalty) to your keyword. The net effect of this generally means that the better the quality score, the lower price that will be paid per click of the ad.


How is it calculated?

To understand this, let’s consider the three factors which were mentioned above, as the most important to your quality score:

  • Click-through-rate.
  • Relevance of advert.
  • Landing page appeal.

It would appear that each of these three individual factors are graded in terms of ‘below average’, ‘average’ and ‘above average.’ To quantify what each of these statements mean, ‘average’ would mean that it roughly compares with your competitors who have the same or very similar keyword.

Figures are then assigned to reflect these parameters. For example, something scoring below average may only have 1 point or none at all, while something scoring above average may have 4 points. The sum of these three is added together and an extra 1 point is given. The final calculation then seems to make the actual quality score.


Worked example:

Keyword X has the following characteristics.

Click-through-rate:         average                 2 points.

Relevance of advert:       above average       3 points

Landing page appeal:      below average       0 points

(+ 1 point added)            =                               6 points.

6 would then be the quality score in this example.

How To Improve Quality Score?

As Quality Score determines how often your ads appear and at what visibility, if you notice your keywords have low quality scores then you should proactively work on your campaigns so they meet Google’s criteria.

Expected Click Through Rate

Click through rate is the percentage of users who clicked on your ads divided by how many users saw your ad. To achieve a higher click through rate, you need to improve your ad text to be more enticing. Why should the user click through? Include any promotions or discounts that you are running and ensure to push any USP’s that make you stand out from your competitors. Ad extensions can also increase the likelihood of a user clicking on your ad as they increase the size of your PPC listing and allow you to add additional information.

Read our article on the top 5 ad extensions you should be using for PPC success.


Ad Relevance

Ad relevance is how Google determines how well your keyword matches the text in your ads. Looking at your current PPC ads, if someone searches for a keyword you are and your ad shows up, would it make sense to the user for your ad to appear? Ensure all the keywords in your ad groups are relevant to what you are offering and optimise your ads with these terms.

Read our article on 5 common & crucial PPC mistakes you are making.


Landing Page Experience

Landing page experience is determined by how relevant your landing page is to the keywords and ads in your ad groups, as well as how well your landing page performs. Slow loading landing pages with pop-ups and other bad practice elements that do not provide a good user experience tend to not appear due to a poor landing page experience. Ensure your landing page is fast loading and directly relevant to the ad you are targeting to that page.

Read our guide on how to create a landing page that converts.


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