The Magic Formula Revealed: Quality Score’s Components

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Throughout my years in the online marketing business, there is one area that has continued to mystify and frustrate me in equal measure, and that is Quality Score.

Many still believe that there is no formula and is very much a matter of “striking it lucky,” but I have proven otherwise.

Going back a few steps, Quality Score is Google’s estimate of how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing page are to a person seeing your ad. Having a high Quality Score means that Google think your particular ad, keyword, and landing page are all relevant and useful to someone looking at it. Having a low Quality Score, on the other hand, means that your ads, keywords, and landing page probably aren’t as relevant and useful to someone looking at your ad.

The Quality Score each ad receives determines where your ad places, compared with all the other ads featuring the same or similar keywords, using the calculation: Quality Score x Maximum Bid = Ad Rank.

From Google’s point of view, the purpose of this measurement is to ensure that users receive a relevant result on their search enquiry. For example, if they typed in ‘Plumbers New York’, it would be entirely inappropriate if ads for florists in New Jersey appeared.  This type of result would not be in the advertiser’s best interests either.

A variety of factors influence the Quality Score a keyword is given. When these factors are taken into account, there is little guess-work left on the part of the advertiser.

These factors, that need to be mastered, are as follows:

1.  Keywords

  • Keywords are the most important factors in determining your Quality Score.
  • The keywords that you select need to be relevant to the material in your landing page and your business in general.

2.  Ad Text

  • Your ad needs to be relevant to your keywords. It should not be entirely different.
  • Having your keywords appear in your ad will marginally improve your score, and they will be highlighted in bold.

3.  Landing Page Quality

  • AdWords rates the webpage that your ad links to, known as a landing page.
  • Below are Google’s own recommendationson how to improve  your landing page
    • Relevant and original content – in other words, ask yourself:
      • What is the purpose of your site? (It should be clear to users)
      • Is your content copied from other sites? (It shouldn’t be!)
      • Additional products, features, or reviews that appear on your landing page may lower your Quality Score.
      • Transparency – in other words, ask yourself:
        • Can the user easily learn more about your business (i.e., do you have an “about us,” company info, contact info)?
        • Is it clear to site visitors how you will use their personal information?
        • Navigability – in other words, ask yourself:
          • If your page is conversion-focused, can the user easily access additional information to learn more or answer questions?
          • Is it simple for the user to move around the site, and reach destination content within a few clicks?

4.  Clickthrough Rate (CTR)

  • This is the biggest factor in determining Quality Score.
  • Clickthrough Rate refers to the calculation of how many people who see your ad actually click on it.

It’s definitely easy to get caught up in Quality Score and spend a great deal of time agonising over it and double-guessing your choices. However, I will bring you back to the one aspect that Google values above everything else, even advertising spend – that is, relevancy.

If users don’t readily receive the information they are looking for, Google will lose all of its traffic. Therefore, it’s in Google’s interests to ensure that all users are satisfied with the results they receive from a search. In turn, it is in a business owner’s best interests to receive traffic that will buy from them. After all, if you sell wheelchairs, it won’t be in your favor to only receive traffic from mothers looking for baby strollers. You won’t sell anything!

With this in mind, be specific and use your common sense. What do you sell? What does your business do? Use those as keywords, as well as your location to increase your clickthrough rate. The result for you will be lower spend and better ad position, and ultimately everyone will score – Google, the advertiser and the user.

About the Author

Ben Bradshaw is one of Australia’s online marketing and Google Adwords pioneers. He is the Director of Australia’s largest Australian owned AdWords Management Company, and one of Australia’s most sought after speakers and trainers on the subject. Ben is no stranger to success - not only is he now a self-made millionaire, an author, one of Smart Company's Hot 30 Under 30 among other prestigious award-holders, but he also holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest escape from a straight jacket!

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