How to Ace the AdWords Quality Score

Courtneys Adwords Post
Courtney Culligan
November 22, 2016

9/10. 4/10. 7/10. Am I judging an Olympic sports team? No! Rating new horror movies on Rotten Tomatoes? Nope. I’m actually analyzing different Quality Scores on Google AdWords.

Although that probably doesn’t sound as engaging as sports or movies (well, maybe for some it does), it’s extremely important in the digital marketing world.


What makes up a Quality Score?

There has always been a lot of discussion over what does and doesn’t go into an AdWords Quality Score. While there are slight differences between the three major search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo), here are the concrete factors that go into a Google AdWords Quality Score.


1) Expected click-through-rate

Without a doubt, expected CTR is the most important factor that Google analyzes to determine your QS.

If Google sees that your ad is not only being viewed a lot, but also receiving substantial amounts of clicks along with it, they will determine that your PPC ad is relevant to your customers’ needs. This boosts your QS.


2) Ad relevance

If your ads are showing up for searches that are completely unrelated, you can bet that’s hurting your QS.

Customers do not want to see “Football Homecoming Shirts” when they are looking for “Blue Homecoming Dresses” and neither does Google. Google wants to see ads that have relevant keywords within the copy. 


3) Landing page experience

Are potential customers leaving your site seconds after they click on your ad? Are they not finding what was promised to them in the title or ad copy? Landing page experience is the third and final factor that comes into play for overall Quality Score.

Users want ads to be a “what you see is what you get” experience. They do not want to click on an ad and discover that they were misled. Relevancy is key in order to score high in this category.


Where are Quality Scores located?

The first step in perfecting your Quality Score? Knowing where to find it.

If you’re AdWords-savvy, follow these steps. If not, you can always ask your account analyst. 

  1. Log into your AdWords account
  2. Decide on which campaign you’d like to investigate
  3. Click on the keywords tab
  4. Hover over the white speech bubbles next to the status of each keyword



AdWords provides your ad’s quality score out of 10 and will point out the performance of each factor in Quality Score. It will state either below average, average or above average relative to all other keywords found on AdWords.

Ideally, you want a quality score that is 7 or higher. 5 is OK; anything under means there are issues with your ad or landing page that must be fixed.


How can a low Quality Score hurt me?

Low Quality Scores can lead to two things: lower ad rankings and higher costs per click. If your ads do not have the 3 components listed above, you will be penalized for it.

A low ad ranking is bad news. It means your ad will be positioned lower on the SERP–potentially even below-the-fold.

Costs per click will also rise if your ad content is irrelevant and unappealing. A low Quality Score is a way of telling you that your ads are not meeting the needs of customers.


How can you improve your Quality Score?

So you’ve discovered that your ads need some work in the QS department. Now what? Fortunately, there are lots of different routes to increase your QS.


1) Keyword research & organization

Dive deep into research! We use Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and other tools to help us get the gears churning on new relevant and valuable keywords.

Don’t forget to organize all keywords into ad groups that make sense. This will help to sift out keywords that have no place in certain ads.

Lastly, take out the trash! Irrelevant keywords only cause headaches. By adding negative keywords, you can say goodbye forever to terms that have nothing to do with your ad.


2) Edit ad text

Testing out ad copy that potentially reaches different audiences or demographics is a good way to figure out if your site is being marketed to the right people.

Maybe your T-shirt company will perform better if advertised to twenty-somethings or only the West Coast. Customizing ad text to cater to a certain crowd will excite more people about your ads. This will in turn increase CTR, leading to a higher quality score.


3) Optimize landing pages

Cohesion is key! Landing pages should make total sense from the moment you click on the ad all the way to making a conversion.

The pages on your site should mirror the ad groups’ content in order to maximize relevance for the customer. 


There you have it! The mystery of the quality score is solved. Any remaining QS questions? Tweet us at @Perfect_Search.  

Courtney Culligan
Senior Manager, SEO & Content

Courtney Culligan is a DePaul University graduate, but she still loves cheering on her home state’s baseball team. (The Minnesota twins, obviously.) Her dream birthday present might include a German Shepard and a trip to Japan.

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