Google AdWords system calculates a ‘Quality Score’ for each of your keywords. Quality scores range from 1 to 10. High Quality Scores (8-10) mean that your keyword will trigger ads in a higher position and at a lower cost-per-click. Google looks at a variety of factors to measure how relevant your keyword is to your ad text and to a user’s search query. A keyword’s Quality Score updates frequently and is closely related to its performance.

Here is a more detailed description of Quality Score, the particulars of the Quality Score formula, and instructions on viewing and improving your Quality Score from Google Adwords:

About Quality Score

A Quality Score is calculated every time your keyword matches a search query — that is, every time your keyword has the potential to trigger an ad. Quality Score is used in several different ways, including:

  • influencing your keywords’ actual cost-per-clicks (CPCs)
  • estimating the first page bids that you see in your account
  • determining if a keyword is eligible to enter the ad auction that occurs when a user enters a search query
  • affecting how high your ad will be ranked

In general, the higher your Quality Score, the lower your costs and the better your ad position.

Quality Score for Google and the Search Network

  • The historical clickthrough rate (CTR) of the keyword and the matched ad on Google; note that CTR on the Google Network only ever impacts Quality Score on the Google Network — not on Google
  • Your account history, which is measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account
  • The historical CTR of the display URLs in the ad group
  • The quality of your landing page
  • The relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group
  • The relevance of the keyword and the matched ad to the search query
  • Your account’s performance in the geographical region where the ad will be shown

Other relevance factors

Note that there are slight variations to the Quality Score formula when it affects ad position and first page bid:

For calculating a keyword-targeted ad’s position, landing page quality is not a factor. Also, when calculating ad position on a Search Network placement, Quality Score considers the CTR on that particular placement in addition to CTR on Google.
For calculating first page bid, Quality Score doesn’t consider the matched ad or search query, since this estimate appears as a metric in your account and doesn’t vary per search query.

As you can see from the QS description, it is very important to watch your quality scores in order to control the ad spend on Google and other search engines.  If you’re managing PPC campaigns by yourself then follow these 3 steps:

  • Pause or delete the low quality score search terms
  • Rewrite ads that have low click through rates
  • Optimize your landing pages for relevant content or create new landing pages that are themed to a specific set of key phrases.

I hope these tips help you get even better returns from your Pay Per Click  advertising dollars. For more in-depth and detailed analysis of your search terms, PPC campaign organization and web site optimization requirements, retaining an SEO consulting firm can lead to reduced costs and improved ROI.

One Response to “What is the AdWords “Quality Score” and how is it calculated?”

  1. Dustin says:

    Great article! I was trying to explain this to my GM last week and he was having trouble getting his head around it. You get the point accross quite well.

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