In 2005 Google added a quality score to the keyword listings in each AdWords Ad Group. The original quality score was primarily based upon the quality of the ad copy and the click-through rate for an ad. In 2007 Google changed their quality score algorithm to include a rating of the relevancy of the landing page assigned to each keyword phrase. In other words, the content on the landing page and relevancy of the content as it relates to the keyword phrase are now an important factor.
Questions frequently arise regarding what the quality score is and how it affects the bids for keyword phrases. According to Google, the higher a keyword’s Quality Score rating, the lower the minimum bid price and the better the ad position. This means that the quality score is a factor that should not be ignored, because it can significantly affect your minimum bid prices. Google is looking for high quality ads that link to meaningful pages that get results.
Their motivation is obvious. Higher quality ads and higher quality landing pages produce better results for advertisers, members of the Google AdSense program that display ads, and Google itself.
How to display the Quality Score for your Keyword Phrases
Along with the recent changes in the quality score algorithm, Google now makes the quality score visible in the AdWords, but you have to turn it on.
Step 1: Click the Customize Columns hyperlink.
Step 2: The hyperlink should turn into a drop-down box. Select Show Quality Score.
The Quality Score column should now display just to the right of the Status column.
How to Improve Your AdWords Quality Scores
If the Quality Scores for all of your keywords display Great, you are in good shape. However, if you see a Poor rating, your minimum bid will jump from a few cents to sometimes over $1.00. Some people have reported minimum bids that jumped up to $10.00. This is most likely due to highly irrelevant content on landing pages, you do need to monitor this, because Quality Scores do change periodically. I also suspect that there is a bug in the Quality Score algorithm. There have been a few incidents where the landing pages were highly relevant and the keywords showed strong click-through rates, yet the keyword still generated a Poor rating.
The following are ways to improve the Quality Score.
- Always use a landing page that contains relevant content Spiders cannot read images and hyperlinks are not the same as content. Spiders never "see" a web page; they can only dissect the HTML code that is sent to a browser.
Many home pages do not contain any content. Spiders need content to determine the relevancy of a landing page, which means that the landing page should reflect the keywords and the text in the ad. If the landing page does not contain at least a few hundred words of content, it may not be a good idea to point your ad to it. Add relevant content to a page before an ad is pointed to it.
- Strengthen the wording of your ad text Higher click-through rates (the number of clicks versus the number of ad impressions) will improve a Quality Score. If most of your keywords show click-through rates (CTR) of 0.05% or lower, your ad copy may not be attracting users or your keywords may be too generic and thus you are not attracting targeted users. Consider strengthening the wording of your ads to entice more users to click on them. Also, consider using negative keywords so that your ads do not display when users are searching for unrelated products or services. One interesting aspect of the CTR is that only the CTR for Google search pages is used for determining the Quality Score.
- All keywords in an Ad Group should be related and relevant An Ad Group should contain a small number of closely related keyword phrases. Don’t stuff 50, 100 or more keywords into a single Ad Group. Many of these keywords will inevitably be only loosely related and will result in a Poor score. Make sure that all keywords are related to each other and the keyword theme for your landing page matches the ad copy and the keywords. Slight deviations from this sometimes results in a Poor rating.
- Point each keyword phrase to the most relevant landing page AdWords allows you to point each individual keyword to a differnt page in a site. This not only makes good sense with respect to the Quality Score; it also makes good marketing sense.
- Do not use content from other web sites Web sites that copy content from other sites frequently find their web page demoted in rank due to duplicate content filters. Google specifically recommends that landing pages, “Feature unique content that can’t be found on another site.” If you have an e-commerce site and you are using content from a product manufacturer’s or distributor’s site, it may be wise to re-write all of the content on your landing page before pointing and ad to that page.
- Meta tags may play a role HTML title tags and meta tags may play a role in determining landing page relevancy. The HTML title tag plays a very strong role in determining the keyword theme for a page in natural search results, and most likely strongly influences AdWords, as well. Make sure that the HTML title tag reflects the strongest keywords in an Ad Group.
It may be beneficial to include the strongest keywords in the text in the Description Meta Tag.
- Make sure that your site is not in violation of Google’s guidelines Read through Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and make sure that your site is not in violation of any of these rules.
The Keyword Analysis Page
One final tip is that AdWords offers a Keyword Analysis page, which does help pinpoint problems with a Quality Score. To access this page, make sure that the Keywords tab is selected in an Ad Group. Click the icon that looks like a magnifying glass, just to the right of each keyword. A dialog box will pop up. You can ignore the text about ads not showing, unless that is an issue. The text is a bit misleading, because some people think it means that their ads are not currently showing. It merely provides a list of reasons why your ads might not show. Click the link near the bottom of the dialog box that displays, “Details and Recommendations.” This will sometimes provide relevant information about a poor score.