Quality Score Google’s X Factor

Google cal­cu­lates Qual­i­ty Score every time a search is per­formed for one of your key­words. Google says the score can affect your ad auc­tion eli­gi­bil­i­ty, your keyword’s cost-per-click, your keyword’s first page bid esti­mate, your keyword’s top of page bid esti­mate and your ad posi­tion.

Google’s Tan­may Aro­ra post­ed a big expla­na­tion of Google’s “Qual­i­ty Score sauce” in the AdWords Com­mu­ni­ty forum, offer­ing a bit more per­spec­tive (hat tip to Bar­ry Schwartz).

First, the rel­e­vance of a key­word is not entire­ly deter­mined by its pres­ence on the land­ing page or the num­ber of times it’s been men­tioned on the land­ing page,” says Aro­ra. “It’s not about how appro­pri­ate we find the key­word to the product/landing page but how appro­pri­ate the users find it. In oth­er words, the num­ber of users click­ing on your ad when they search for that key­word.”

Sec­ond, when we add fresh key­words, ini­tial­ly, they’re award­ed a his­tor­i­cal Qual­i­ty Score based on their pre­vi­ous per­for­mance on Google.com,” says Aro­ra. “And only once the key­word starts accru­ing sta­tis­tics, the sys­tem then eval­u­ates its Qual­i­ty Score based on its recent per­for­mance. This doesn’t hap­pen dynam­i­cal­ly but is a grad­ual process.”

Aro­ra talks about one more key ingre­di­ent: “We take into account the exact match CTR of the key­word, as it’s a bet­ter indi­ca­tor of the effec­tive­ness of the key­word. (The exact match CTR refers to the num­ber of times the key­word has trig­gered an ad when the search term exact­ly matched the key­word.) For exam­ple, if our key­word ‘red shoes’ is in broad match, it trig­gers our ad even for search terms like ‘red shoe’, ‘for­mal shoes’, ‘horse shoe,’ etc. How­ev­er, the exact match sta­tis­tics point out exact­ly when the key­word ‘red shoes’ trig­gered our ad and was clicked on by the user when he searched for the exact search term ‘red shoes’.”

There’s plen­ty more to be said…

Qual­i­ty Score is an esti­mate of how rel­e­vant your ads, key­words, and land­ing page are to a per­son see­ing your ad,” Google explains in its AdWords help cen­ter. “Hav­ing a high Qual­i­ty Score means that our sys­tems think your ad, key­word, and land­ing page are all rel­e­vant and use­ful to some­one look­ing at your ad. 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.”

Sup­pose Sam is look­ing for a pair of striped socks,” Google says. “And let’s say you own a web­site that spe­cial­izes in socks. Wouldn’t it be great if Sam types ‘striped socks’ into Google search, sees your ad about striped socks, clicks your ad, and then lands on your web page where he buys some spiffy new striped socks? In this exam­ple, Sam search­es and finds exact­ly what he’s look­ing for. That’s what we con­sid­er a great user expe­ri­ence, and that’s what can earn you a high Qual­i­ty Score.”

Google says it cal­cu­lates qual­i­ty score by look­ing at your keyword’s past click­through rate, your dis­play URL’s past click­through rate, your account his­to­ry (the over­all CTR of all ads and key­words in your account), the qual­i­ty of your land­ing page, your keyword/ad rel­e­vance, geograh­pic per­for­mance and your ad’s per­for­mance on a site.

Google Chief Econ­o­mist Hal Var­i­an gives a good expla­na­tion of qual­i­ty score in this video from 2 years ago:

In anoth­er help cen­ter arti­cle, Google dis­cuss­es how to improve your ad qual­i­ty by cre­at­ing “very spe­cif­ic” ad groups, choos­ing your key­words care­ful­ly, includ­ing key­words in your ad text, cre­at­ing sim­ple, “entic­ing” ads, using strong calls-to-action, test­ing mul­ti­ple ads, and reg­u­lar­ly review­ing cam­paign per­for­mance.





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