When managing your Google Ads campaign, you might be alarmed when you log in and see in red letters that one or more of your keywords is Rarely Shown (Low Quality Score).

Quality Score is a number from 0-10 assigned to each of thekeywords you're targeting in your campaigns, with the highest number being themost desirable.

When you look at the Quality Score of your keywords, you should be concerned for any that have a score under 7. That's because lower Quality Scores, as Google will often tell you, negatively impact your campaign.

A low Quality Score means you’ll have to bid more fora top spot and even then there is no guarantee your ad will show. It might show momentarily then drop from sight completely.

According to WordStream, "a perfect Quality Score can discount your CPC by about 50%; a heinous Quality Score can increase costs by400%. "

Why Quality Score Is Important for Your Google Ads Campaign

Google doesn't show ads based on the highest bid, as in a true auction. Ads with high bids, but no clicks do not make Google money.

Instead they look for ads that they think will get clicks and then factor this into your ad position.

AdRank is your bid times your Quality Score. This determines which position your ad will appear in.

This system also means that even if your competitor is willing to bid more, your ad could still appear higher even though your bid is lower.

It’s a win-win for both Google and for advertisers. They get money because their displaying ads that get clicked. And it rewards marketers with smaller budgets who are more creative with their ads.

If you want to get more clicks for your money and a better response from those clicks, then you'll want a high Quality Score. This also applies if your running ads on Microsoft.

How To Find Your Quality Score

Quality Score is not something that shows up when you first log into your AdWords account.

Since Quality Score relates to your keywords, you find it by first clicking the keyword tab. Unless you’ve already added Quality Score, it won’t appear by default on your page.

Click modify columns, the small icon that appears among a group of icons at the top of your keyword list. There you’ll see a variety of categories to choose from including Quality Score.

Google gives you a number of options related to Quality Score and it can be a little intimidating. I don’t recommend adding most of these as it will simply overwhelm you with information you won’t really need.

Modify your columns to show the metrics most relevant

I recommend adding Quality Score and the three elements that make up your Quality Score. Ad Relevance, Landing Page Experience, and Expected Click Through Rate.

I’ll be going into detail about each of these three elements and how they impact your score. And what to do to improve each in order to improve your Quality Score.

By the way if this is the first time modifying your columns, this is the time to clear your screen of irrelevant metrics.

You’ll see policy details and final url, neither of which probably apply. When you first click modify columns you’ll see your active columns along the right. Click the x next to the columns you want to eliminate. You can also move the columns about if you want to rearrange them. Just drag and drop them in the order you want.

How Quality Score Is Determined and How To Improve It

Quality Score is dynamically generated. It’s constantly being revised, but only when your ads are running.

As mentioned, Quality Score is predominantly based on three criteria. If you receive high marks for all three categories, then you'll likely have a good score. If you see below average for one or more categories, then your score will be lower.

Quality Score is based on three elements

Here are the three categories and what do to do if your getting a below-average mark.

When looking to improve Quality Score, keep in mind that you're not doing this just to improve your score. It's to improve your conversion rate, as well, which is more important.

Expected Click-Through Rate

The expected click-through rate is what Google expects an ad todo in the position it shows up in the search results.

The ad in the top spot is expected to have a higher click-through rate than the ad below it. And the anticipated click-through rate continues to drop down each position.

Google uses historical date to determine how many clicks an ad typically gets in each position. This is often what your competing against,as well as the ads of your competition.

Below average means your ad isn’t doing as good as ads that typically in that position.

The best way to improve your click-through rate is to improve your ads. This is why you’re constantly testing out new ads in order to improve results.

In each ad group, I typically have two expanded text ads and one responsive. This way you can see which ads perform the best and then introduce new ads to replace the least successful ad.

Use your ad copy to differentiate your services or products from your competition. Also highlight aspects of your business that would sell them on choosing you.

Read my article on How to Create Successful Expanded Text Ads on Google AdWords to learn more.

Yet, there are other ways to improve your click through rate. Read my article on How To Improve Your Click-Through Rate.

Don’t forget that your ad is only one element of your ad campaign. Ad extensions are also factored into your ad so give this careful attention,as well.

The more extensions that you can use (provided their relevant to your business), the better off you’ll be.

Your ad will take up more space and provide more information than what can be found in just your ad copy.

Another way to improve click-through rate is simply to lower your impressions. In the beginning, you might be showing up for variations of your phrases that don’t benefit you. 

When reading the search term report you’ll find a number that don’t apply.

Adding negative keywords will not only avoid wasted spend but reduce your overall impressions. Even if your clicks don’t go up, your click-through rate will go up.

Ad Relevance

Ad relevance refers to how your ad relates to the keyword searchers are typing in. A below average mark is Google’s way of telling your ad is relevant to the keyword your targeting.

For example, if your ad targets the phrase plumbing emergency, but your ad is about leaky faucets, then searchers are not as likely to click on it.

One of the best ways to make an ad relevant to a keyword phrase is to incorporate the words into your ad copy, particularly in the titles.

This is why you break your keywords into ad groups in order to ensure the words being targeted are best served by the ads in that group.

Some agencies suggest doing SKAGS, where you have a Single Keyword in an Ad Group so an ad is hyper-relevant to a keyword. I don’t recommend this. It involves a lot more work and doesn’t always have the expected payoff.

Instead, I adhere to what others call STAGS, Single Themed Ad Groups. This involves having all keywords that have a similar meaning being grouped together.

If the ad isn’t relevant to a keyword in a group then either move it to an ad group that is more appropriate. Or create a new one.

One way to determine a problem with a keyword is to see if one word has a significantly lower Quality Score then the other phrases, then it needs to be reviewed.

Landing Page Experience Below Average

Landing page experience is one of the more difficult categories to improve on, particularly if you can’t make changes to your website.

The landing page is the page your prospect is taken to when they click on your ad.

In an ideal world you would have a landing page specific toeach ad group. Unfortunately, this isn’t realistic for most businesses.

The success of your campaign is often dependent on your prospects find what they’re looking for.

What compelled them to click on your ad? Whatever motivates them should be addressed on the landing page.

I don’t have the space to properly go into what makes a successful landing page. Books have been written on the subject and I’ve taken courses with some of the top experts that encompassed hundreds of hours.

The main thing to remember is that whatever motivated them to click on your ad, should be evident on the page they land on.

If your advertising a product, then take them to the product page as opposed to your home page, where they will have to search for it.

I’ve seen campaigns where advertisers targeted products or services that weren't even mentioned on their site. They assume that the searcher will assume they have what they’re looking for and fill out a form or make a call. This isn’t going to happen.

One thing to keep in mind is that Google has labeled this landing page experience and not landing page content. This is an important distinction.

It’s not just the content that is evaluated but the visitor's experience in reaching and landing on your page.

If your page has a slow load time, this could be a negative factor. If the site isn’t mobile-friendly, then this will impact your page negatively.

Why a Low Quality Score Isn’t Always Bad

It’s easy to get caught up in improving your Quality Score, but there are times when you can’t improve your number no matter what you do.

The main thing to pay attention to is if the phrase is still getting impressions and most importantly clicks. I’ve had accounts I’ve worked on that I couldn’t get higher Quality Scores for some of their keywords. Yet, they were still showing, and they were generating leads.

Another time you're guaranteed to have a low Quality Score is when you bid on a competitor’s name. Since you can’t use their name in your ad or on your landing page, your automatically at a disadvantage.

If you're determined to target competitor names I’d recommend having them in their own campaign with their own budget.

You also typically see a lower Quality Score if your using broad match keywords. This is because you show up in so many additional searches than you would if you were using any other match type.

I’m not a big fan of using broad match, but if you're having success with this strategy, then you can live with a lower score.

What About New Keywords

When you first add a new keyword to a campaign, you'll notice that is has no number.

Google gives it a null number meaning you'll see a “—" in the table.

As your ad runs and begins to generate impressions, you may start to see a Quality Score.

Yet, even if you have a number of impressions, there is no guarantee you'll see a score. It's actually based on the number of impressions from exact matches of your keywords. If this is a limited amount it could take time for a score to appear.

Why the Same Keyword May Have Different Quality Scores

One would think that if you use the same keyword in more than one ad group, that the number would be consistent among all the groups. This isn't the case.

This is because the landing page, the ad creative, or the targeting could be different for the words in each ad group. Unless all the elements are the same, the scores will differ.

This is why in one ad group a keyword could have a score of 7, while this same keyword could have a score of 4 in another ad group. This means the first ad group will have more impressions for that keyword then the second will have.

Quality Score & the Google Ads Display Network

The focus of this article is Quality Score and how it affects search campaigns. This doesn’t mean it's not a factor in display, but I’m not going to go into detail here.

One reason is that many display campaigns don’t even rely on keywords for their targeting. And when keywords are part of the strategy then the methods to improve Quality Score is different than in search.

Since it's not often a factor in display I do want to address campaigns that target both search and display together. It’s not an option I recommend, but if you are doing it this way, the Quality Scores for display won’t impact results in search.

Historical Quality Score in Google AdWords

In May of 2017 Google finally listened to all its ad agencies and marketers that had been asking for the ability to see their historical Quality Score. What this means is that you now can see how your Quality Score for specific keywords has evolved over time.

Hopefully, it has shown improvement, but if you find it's actually gone down, then its time to make some of the changes I suggested.

Historical data can be found by again modifying your columns and adding additional metrics.

Don't misunderstand all of this. Your bid is still an important part of where your ads appear.

You might have a great Quality Score, but if your bid is significantly lower than a number of your advertisers you won't necessarily overtake them unless their Quality Score is truly bad.

If you and a competitor have similar Quality Scores, then who has the higher bid will win.

If you want to get more out of your marketing dollar, then work to improve your Quality Score. It can take time to get results, but in the end you’ll see a much higher return on investment and you’ll connect with the prospects most interested in what you offer.

If you don't have the time or the experience needed to improve your Quality Score, then consider hiring a Google AdWords Consultant to help with your campaigns. Contact me today to learn how I can assist your business. I offer Google Ads Management Services in addition to consulting'training.