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What is Google Quality Score and why is it important for your campaign performance?

Having a clear understanding of how quality score works in relation to your PPC campaigns, can help you meet your digital marketing goals and drive valuable traffic to your site. There are quite a few questions to be answered, so, here we’ve broken down the basics.

Google measures your quality score on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest. It’s a rating based on the optimisation and relevance of your pay per click (PPC) ad, your keywords and landing page. To determine your quality score and cost per click (CPC), Google estimates the user experience that your ad will provide, based on several things:

Quality Score Factors

Click-through rate – The rate at which users click on your PPC ad.

Landing page quality and relevance – The quality of your landing page and how well it meets users search expectations.

Keyword relevancy – How well your keyword connects to the ads in your ad group.

Historical AdWords performance – How well your previous AdWords campaigns have performed and supplied sufficient content.

Ad relevancy – How closely related your keywords are to your matched ad copy.

Various relevancy factors

Bidding more than a competitor doesn’t always guarantee a higher ranking on Google. However, with a high quality score, you could be outranking other sites while paying a lower price.

There are so many companies and brands aiming to be the most popular in search engines, and they’re often bidding for the same keywords. If you know how to improve your quality score, you’ll have a better chance of standing out.

Ad Auction

Before deciding where to position your ad, Google chooses keywords that are likely to be the most relevant for a search and enters them into an ‘ad auction’. Having a high quality score is essential if you want your ad to be eligible.

How does it work?

The ad auction is a split-second auction where Google assesses how much each advertiser is bidding (max CPC- cost per click), how relevant they are (QS – quality score), and other elements such as ad extensions, which could boost their CTR (click-through rate). Each keyword in the auction is given a score, and the resulting rank determines who gets a higher position.

Ad Rank

Ad rank is the score that Google gives your ad to determine your position on the search engine results page (SERP). To calculate your ad rank in the auction process, Google determines your quality score and multiplies it by your maximum bid.


As mentioned, a high QS can improve your ad rank. A high score means you stand a better chance of winning the auction. It has a further influence as it’s also used in the calculation to determine the CPC.
So, for example, if you had an ad rank of 24 beating position 2 on 20, a QS of 8 would mean you would pay £2.51 (20/8+£0.01=£2.51). Whereas a quality score of 10 would mean you pay £2.01 (20/10+£0.01=£2.01). The higher your quality score, the more the price drops.

Why does Google use Quality Score?

Google relies on income from advertising, so their priority is ensuring users are clicking on interesting and useful ads – having the QS metric means that quality is assured by showing the better more relevant ads in higher positions.

If you imagine that Google ads were often not relevant to your search, you would quickly learn to ignore them and instead scroll down and click on the organic listing. The quality score is maintaining ad standards for users, which keeps their confidence high and ensures they continue to trust and click ads.

It’s essential to remember that by picking relevant keywords and creating compelling ads that land on the right pages – you’ll not only ensure the user has a seamless journey to conversion – you’ll also be rewarded by higher quality scores, often leading to lower CPC’s. Therefore, quality score is an important metric to monitor and optimise to improve your ROI.

How is it calculated & how can you increase it?

Google gathers data about the way users interact with search results as well as analysing ad, keyword and landing page relevancy. Their analysis can determine which advertisers are most likely to provide the best user experience.

We know there are different factors which influence QS, but the score is only an aggregated number – meaning we don’t see individual scores for each component. To help you keep on track, Google does provide data on the 3 main subcomponents, where you can see if you are rated as below average, average or above average.

We’ve listed them below to help you narrow down the main areas for improvement:

•    Expected click-through rate – Google has an expectancy of CTR’s in each market. So, this metric measures how your ad performs in comparison to those expectations. As a result, ads that exceed expectation will be rewarded with an improved quality score. The reason for this is that Google’s users are acting as a live focus group. Users are providing continuous feedback on how relevant ads are, by what they click. This process highlights the importance of ad testing to improve CTR.

•    Ad relevance – If you find that this score is below average, it might be because the themes in your ad groups are too broad. This often leads to results being too generic or even wrongly matched. You can improve this by taking the time to split your keywords into organised, tightly themed groups. You should also identify any negative keywords which could be wasting your budget.

•    Landing page experience – When clicking your ad, are users finding what they’re searching for or are they heading back to search again? Your landing page should be closely relevant to the search, and it should deliver on the original query. We recommend deep linking (to a specific page) if it is more relevant than your homepage is to the ad. Making your landing page easy to use on both mobile and desktop and creating valuable content are ways to increase your score.

How will your brand benefit from an improved Quality Score?

An impressive quality score between 7-10 has a direct positive impact on the success of your PPC ad. A higher score means you’ll be paying less for the clicks, which in turn will reduce the cost of completed actions on your site – which could be anything from a user joining a mailing list to making a purchase. 

When giving you a good quality score, Google is recognising that your ad is attractive to your audience and your landing page is meeting customers’ needs. As a result, they will charge you less for each click.

Improving your quality score is a win-win situation. You’ll be setting yourself up for better ad positions at lowers costs, higher click-through rates, more conversions and an overall higher return on investment (ROI).

Get in Touch

The great thing about PPC and QS is that it’s not just the ‘biggest’ advertisers that will be ranked the highest. Ads with lower bids can still overtake the higher paying competitors if their ads are more relevant to searches. We work with both small and large businesses to improve quality scores and performance on SERP. If you think your quality score needs improving or if you have any other questions, our London digital marketing agency will be happy to help, just get in touch.