Last updated: December 23, 2021

Tenscores

First, What Is Google Ads Quality Score?

A grading system used by Google to decide whether an ad is good enough to be shown in the sponsored space of the search results, at what position it will be shown and how much to charge for each click.

Google | Wikipedia | Tenscores

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DOES IT MATTER?

Reason #1

Your ad's cost-per-click (CPC) depends on it, as shown in the formula:

CPC = a QS ❏ Expand
This formula was revelead by Google in 2009. Today, we do not know everything that goes into the number a, but we can assume that whatever goes into it is divided by Quality Score, which results in wide differences in costs as shown below:
Here are the Quality Score penalties and discounts, and how they translate into percentage increases or decreases in cost-per-click (CPC).
Below is a real world example of the cost-per-click at each quality score of one advertiser. Join Tenscores to see this data for your own Google Ads account.
CPC At Each Quality Score For one Google Ads advertiser

Reason #2

Your ad's position (Ad Rank) on Google's search results depends on Quality Score. The higher the Ad Rank, the better the position. The first ad on Google is always the one that has the highest Ad Rank.

AdRank = b image description QS ❏ Expand
This formula was also revelead by Google in 2009. Today, we do not know everything that goes into the number b, but we can assume that whatever goes into it is multiplied by Quality Score.

Differences between Ad Rank and Quality Score

Although both concepts might appear similar on-page, in reality, they are not.


Quality Score is a parameter provided by Google that allows advertisers to monitor the quality of their ads. Google calculates Quality Scores using CTR, Ad Relevance, Landing Page Experience and other factors. Advertisers use the score to determine whether or not their campaign needs optimization.


From the formula above, it can be seen that Ad Rank and Quality Score are directly correlated. A higher Quality Score can increase your Ad Rank and reduce your ad costs, but it isn't the only factor.


Apart from the quality score, there are other factors that influence Ad Rank. Additional factors include your bid amount, ad quality (CTR, Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience), Ad Rank thresholds, auction competitiveness, the context of search, nature of search term, etc. You can check out all the factors shared by Google itself here.


Hence, we can see that Ad Rank does take into account the factors from which Quality Score is calculated but there are other factors too that Google uses to rank and display the ads to the users which not only depends upon the ad quality but also on the searcher's context (location, query, other user signals and attributes).

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Where to find Quality Score in Google Ads

In campaigns that are targeted on Google Search, each keyword has a Quality Score. But it is hidden by default. Here's how to add quality scores column in your Google Ads account:

  1. Click the "Keywords" tab
  2. Click "Columns" then "Modify columns"
  3. Choose "Quality Score" in this new section
  4. Select "Quality Score" in the list of options
  5. Click "Apply" to save

You should now have a Quality Score column in your data as shown below.

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WHAT ARE THE QUALITY SCORE COMPONENTS?

In theory, the main factors that go into the calculation of Quality Score are:

  1. Expected Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
  2. Ad Relevance
  3. Landing Page Experience.

That is a simplifed view of quality score components and they can be seen in your Google Ads account.


In practice, there's a better way to think about Quality Score factors towards optimizing it effectively.


1.

The base
User Experience

"Relevance" and "Landing Page Experience" can be combined under the umbrella of User Experience. They simply mean that the user finds what was promised in the ad, and that they have a good experience when they reach your website.

RELEVANCE

Keywords, ads and landing pages must be related to each other.

Landing page relevance
LP Experience

Your landing pages should provide a good user experience by providing what was promised in the ad, by making it easy to find out more about your business and by being explicit about how their information is used.

landing page quality


2.

The Boost
Historical CLICK-THROUGH RATES

Historical click-through-rates have an overwhelming impact on Quality Score. Users vote on the quality of your ads with their clicks. If you have a proven history of getting better CTR than others in your market, you get the best score.

SEARCH
80%
Historical CTR
factors
15% Relevance
factors
5% Other
  • Historical CTR Factors
  • Relevance Factors
  • Other
  • Ad/Keyword
    History
    Historical click-through rate (CTR) of the keyword and the matched ad on the Google domain.
  • Account History
    Account history, which is measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account.
  • URL History
    The historical CTR of the display URLs in the ad group.
  • Geo History
    Account's performance (in terms of CTR) in the geographical region where the ad will be shown.
When there's no history in your account, Google will use other advertisers' historical performance on specific keywords to evaluate what Quality Score you should be granted. It is up to you to exceed performance.
SEARCH PARTNERS

Sites such as AOL.com, Google Images, etc

80% 15% 5%
Quality scores for Search Partners works the same way as Google.com. Although performance on these sites varies considerably from performance on Google Seach, it has NO impact on quality scores of your Google Search campaigns. It usually is good practice to separate your Google Search campaigns from Search Partners campaigns. Learn how.
DISPLAY
AUTO Placements
  • Historical CTR Factors
  • Relevance Factors
  • Other
80% 15% 5% Semantic relevance of the ads and keywords in the ad groups to the site. connect The ad's past performance on similar sites in terms of CTR. connect
Managed PLACEMENTS
CPC BIDDING
90% 10% Landing page quality.
The historical CTR of the ad on similar sites. CPM BIDDING
100%
Landing page quality.
  • Landing page quality plays an on/off swith role in the display network campaigns as well.
  • Quality score for display network campaigns is not visible anywhere in the Google Ads interface.
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WHAT DO THENUMBERS MEAN?

A 7/10 Quality Score is the recommended number and can be considered sufficiently high quality score. Going above 7 is great but not always achievable and may not be worth the effort. Anything below 7 is a sign that something is wrong and should be worked on.
  • 1 Dead
  • 2 Sick
  • 3
  • 4 Weak
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7 Good
  • 8 Excellent
  • 9
  • 10
  • Dead If you get a 1/10, you're in trouble. Google has or is about to ban your website. You'll hardly get any traffic and your costs will be exorbitant.
  • Sick At 2/10 and 3/10, your keywords are suffering. You're not getting all the traffic you could and you'll be charged very high prices for such bad scores. To go from 2 or 3 to 7/10 will require quite some expertise.
  • Weak These keywords need your attention and getting them above 7 should be accomplished without much trouble. Simply follow the flow chart at the bottom of this page. You'll most likely need to regroup your ad groups and write better ads.
  • Good You've accomplished what you needed in terms of quality. Google likes what you're doing in comparison to other advertisers and you're not being penalized in terms of traffic or costs.
  • Excellent The holy grail. By achieving this high quality score, you've surpassed Google's expectations and your performance is above average compared to other advertisers. Your costs are being discounted and your ads are appearing in prominent positions and more frequently.
  • The jump from 7/10 to anything above is not linear and sometimes doesn't make sense. Keywords often go from 7/10 immediately to 10/10 with no transition to 8 and 9.

HOW TO INCREASE QUALITY SCORE To A PERFECT 10/10

First, in every single case, getting a 10/10 Quality Score happens when your ad click-through-rate (CTR) is much higher than all advertisers competing in your ad auctions. 2X or 3X higher. Here's a summary of how to improve Quality Score:
  1. Structure your ad groups by intent: The best ad in the world will fail if it's not talking to the right person. The message you write needs the right foundation: ad groups that are structured in families of search intent, where each keyword shares the same intent as it's neighbors. Tenscores does this automatically and it increases the Ad Relevance factor.
  2. Improve click-through-rate (CTR) continuously: When structure is right, focus the rest of your time on testing new ads, relentlessly. Test one new ad every 200-500 impressions. You wan't to double or triple your ad CTR. Do this until your Expected CTR is above average.
  3. Use CTR to improve Landing Page Experience: What you learn when testing your ads will tell you what to put on your landing pages for a seemless user experience. The ad you write that gets the best attention is only a summary of what the user wants to see on your landing page. You will find that this also improves conversion rates.
It's not that hard if you follow that advice, and most importantly if you improve your ad writing skills. It is not easy to get there, but on that journey, you will learn a lot about the people you're trying to reach in ways that will improve your entire conversion funnel. Below is a visual flowchart to help. Print it, hang it on your wall.
PDF | JPG | PNG
How to increase Quality Score - Flowchart

Frequently Asked Questions about Google Ads Quality Score


What is Quality Score in digital marketing?

All digital advertising platforms use a version of Quality Score to rank ads and decide how much to charge advertisers for them. Facebook ads use the same logic, so does Microsoft ads quality score. The most important factor in each is click-through-rate, or anything that measures user engagement. User engagement, like CTR, is the strongest signal of the quality of an advert.

What is a good Quality Score?

A 7/10 Quality Score is the recommended value and is sufficient. Going above 7/10 is great but not always achievable and may not be worth the effort. Anything below 7/10 is a sign that something is wrong and should be optimized, click costs are being penalized.

What are the three main factors that determine ad quality?

  1. Click-through-rates (CTR) at every level: keyword CTR, ad CTR, display url CTR, account CTR, etc... (90%)
  2. Relevance: are your keywords closely related to your ads and landing pages?
  3. Landing page experience: does your website load quickly, is it transparent and do people find what they're looking?

What about display network quality score (content network quality score)?

Although display campaigns don't have a visible quality score in the Google Ads interface, they do have one internally. This invisble quality score is felt when campaigns fail to gather impressions. The factors influencing it are the same a search campaigns, however, the CTR required to compete on display network are much lower.

What does it mean when I see the message "Rarely shown due to low quality score"?

This message is an indication from Google that your quality score is so low that your ads are rarely displayed. In order to remedy such a situation, it is recommended to evaluate the keyword first. Should you really be advertising on that keyword? If the answer is yes, then start by bidding agressively at the beginning in order to gather some impressions and clicks then make sure that your ad is attractive enough to earn the click. Read this article for help with ads.

How is Quality Score and Ad Rank calculated?

The formula for Ad Rank is: Max. CPC x QS

The higher your Quality Score, the higher your Ad Rank meaning that your ads will be seen in higher positions on Google.

How often does google recalculate quality score?

Every time someone searches for a particular keyword and an ad shows up, its Quality Score is calculated. Dramatic changes in CTR have a quick impact on Quality Score and you can expect Quality Score to increase within a day or even less. However, it does take some time for the new quality score value to show up in your account if you have made changes to the landing page.