Understanding Your Google Ads Quality Score

Whitney Stewart

Everyone is familiar with the quality score displayed for each keyword in your Google Ads account. This is the quality score displayed at the keyword level. Many people don't realize that there's more going on here than meets the eye, and it's not always possible to fix a Quality Score issue with just the keyword-level QS provided by Google Ads. There is more to investigate, and you may need to do some research to solve the entire problem. This guide will teach you about the various types of Google Quality Scores, why they are important, and common Quality Score myths. It will also provide a list of actions you can take to improve your Quality Score.

Types of Quality Scores

Account Level Quality Scores

The account-level quality score is calculated based on how well all of an account's keywords and ads performed previously. Even though Google does not officially state that this Quality Score exists, most people agree that there are levels of Quality Scores beyond the keyword-level Quality Scores that can be seen.

If your account contains a large number of low-quality keywords and ads with low click-through rates (CTRs) that have not performed well in the past, they will reduce your account's overall Quality Score and make it more difficult to add new keywords because they will begin with lower Quality Scores overall.

In addition, the account-level Quality Score reflects Google's preference for older accounts over new ones. A well-used account with a long history will outperform a new one. When you try to improve your Quality Score for a low-performing account, it can take months to see results. It may be tempting to start fresh with a new account. However, starting over is against Google Ads rules, so you must "start over" within your current account by restructuring and adhering to the rules for keyword, ad, and landing page relevance.

Most people have different ideas about how to handle keywords with a low Quality Scores. Some argue that you should delete them as soon as it becomes clear that they will not work, while others argue that you should simply pause them. Either option is good for low-quality keywords because they will stop collecting data and become less important to your overall account score once you delete or pause them. However, before you delete those keywords, consider how many searches and leads they have generated for you. If you remove keywords from your account, Google will treat them as duplicates, making it difficult to re-add them later.  So, before you delete anything, make sure it's something you can't live without.

Ad Group Level Quality Scores

The Ad Group-level Quality Score can help you determine which aspects of a campaign need improvement. For example, if the keyword QS is low in one ad group but high overall, such as a 7, you can determine which ad group requires your attention first. To increase your ROI, focus on the areas with the lowest average QS first.

To increase the QS of an ad group, you should change how your campaigns and ad groups are configured, as well as change ads with low CTR. Moving your ad groups around is a good way to keep your account organized. When you move things around, your visible history is cleared, but the history used to calculate your Quality Score is retained.

Note: The 'Ad Groups' tab in an account does not display the ad group quality score. Instead, it displays the average of the keywords' quality scores within that ad group.

Keyword Level Quality Scores

In the Google Ads interface, you can see the quality score that Google assigns your keywords. The quality score for a keyword ranges from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best and 1 the worst. Your keyword-level score is determined by how well search queries that exactly match your keyword perform. As a result, your quality score for a keyword will remain consistent regardless of the type of match.

It's crucial to keep in mind that up until it receives a sizable number of impressions in your account, a keyword's QS is based on how well it performed previously on Google.com. A significant number refers to a large number, such as thousands. This is referred to as the impression threshold. Once the keyword receives a large number of impressions, its QS will begin to reflect how well it performed in your account, and previous performance will be less important. This is especially important if your account contains a large number of keywords that receive few impressions: these keywords will not be judged based on their own QS in the account.  You can't really change a keyword's QS until it reaches a certain threshold of impressions.

When reviewing keyword QS in your account, you will notice the following:

Quality Score: This shows how relevant the keyword, ads, and landing page are to the person viewing the ad.

Ad Relevance: How closely keywords match up with ad copy.

Landing Page Experience: How useful the landing page is to users viewing the page.

Projected Click-Thru-Rate (CTR): Based on past performance, the chances that an ad will be clicked when shown.

Quality Score (historic): The last known quality score during the reporting period.

Ad Relevance (historic): The last known ad relevance during the reporting period.

Landing page Experience (historic): The most recent score for landing page experience during the reporting period.

Expected CTR (historic): The last known CTR during the reporting period.

Tips to Boost Ad Impressions:

Look at the impression share data. Impression share is the percentage of times your ads were displayed out of the total number of impressions for which they were eligible to appear. If your impression share is low, you can improve performance by increasing daily budgets or bidding to rank higher.

Make match types less strict or add broad match keywords. Keywords that are only used in phrase and exact match will have slow impression growth and longer ramp up times in terms of QS. If you want to do this in a planned way, start with the keywords or ad groups that get the most clicks. Make the themes less strict so that the keywords aren't too specific. Keywords should not be too specific, or no one will be able to find them. It's easy to find new keywords that are relevant to your current ad groups in Google Ads. Just go to the Opportunities Tab.

Look at CTR as a measure of performance for campaigns whose keywords have gotten a lot of impressions. If both the keyword CTR and the ad CTR are low (less than 1.5%), it means that users aren't finding the ad relevant to their query. The ad can be more specific to the theme of the ad group.

Ad Level Quality Scores

The click-through rate of the ads in each of your ad groups will be different. This is one of the things that helps determine your Quality Score. If you have a lot of low CTR ads in your ad groups, they could be contributing to a low Quality Score, as Google Ads takes into account all of your ads when calculating your scores. Adding Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) ads to your Search Network campaigns is a natural way to get more clicks on your ads. If a user's search query doesn't go over the character limits for the ad, DKI ads will show it in the ad. Your DKI ad is more likely to get clicked than a non-DKI ad because it seems more relevant to the user's search. But a word of caution, be very careful when using these ads. Watch our for ads that aren't converting despite a high CTR to avoid ruining your ROI. You can pause ads that aren't doing well without hurting your Quality Score, but if you change an existing one, it will erase its history.

AdWords also looks at your Quality Score to decide if your ads will show extensions. You shouldn't always aim for first position for all of your ads, because it isn't always the most profitable spot. However, if you want to use extensions like sitelinks to boost your click-through rate, you'll need to have a competitive bid and a good Quality Score. A few weeks ago, Google started testing adding the domain to the first line of the ad. However, the ad has to be at the top of the page to be eligible.

Landing Page Quality Scores

Google always talks about the three most important things for a landing page to have: original and relevant content, clarity, and ease of navigation. That's why Google is the best search engine: they want advertisers to make good websites that users will find useful and relevant. Following Googles rules for a good landing page is also more likely to help turn visitors into customers and boost ROI.

The interface will tell you if there is an issue with your landing pages when you hover over the speech bubble for a keyword’s Quality Score. Google doesn't say that there is a Landing Page Quality Score outright, but we have seen this term used in older Google help articles. The quality of your landing page does affect your keyword's Quality Score. Along with Google's landing page guidelines, keep in mind that your landing pages are also being looked at by a real person. This has happened more than once. So, there's always another chance to make things better. It's especially important to have great usability and a quick load time.

Display Network Quality Score

Your Quality Score on the Google Display Network works a bit differently than the Search Network. Google Ads will consider your ad’s historical performance on the site you are eligible for and similar sites. Ad and keyword relevance to the site are still important, as is the quality of your landing page.

There are different ways to bid on the Display Network, and the factors that affect your DN Quality Score will change depending on which one you pick.  If the campaign uses a CPM model, QS is based on how good your landing page is. If it uses CPC bidding, QS is based on the ad's historical CTR and the quality of the landing page.

Testing different ad types can help you to improve your Display Quality Score. You may find that image ads are going to do better on certain sites than responsive ads, and you’ll want to cover both bases in case a site doesn’t allow for single images. The more options you have and the more tests you run will help to improve your CTR. Remember: the Display Network is an entirely different beast, and you’ll need to target your ads to the appropriate sites and demographics with the tools available to you. We also recommend separating your Search Network campaigns from your Display Network campaigns so you can better manage them.

There is one other way to raise your GDN Quality Score: look at your click-through rate. Looking at this metric will help you figure out how your ads compare to others on the same websites. Google Ads has a column for this metric that can be used on the Campaign and Ad Group tabs. To find the relative CTR, just divide the GDN campaign's CTR by the CTR of the other ads that are running in the same places. Your GDN Quality Score can go down if your relative CTR is low. If you think yours could be better, start by looking for possible exclusions. You can do this by using site and category exclusions, changing your ads, adding negative keywords, and using contextual targeting.

Mobile Quality Score

Google says that the Quality Score for mobile ads is calculated the same way no matter what kind of device you use (computers, iPads, smartphones, etc.). However, the system does use device location and location extensions data to figure out the distance between the user and the business location when that information is available.

Computers and phones with full Internet browsers calculate a Quality Score for ads the same way, but your ad will have a different QS on a phone than it does on a computer. If you split a combined campaign that is targeted to all devices, like computers, mobile phones, and tablets, so that mobile is separate from desktop (which is how Google suggests you set it up), you might see an increase or decrease in your Quality Score in either campaign after the migration, but nothing has really changed. The Quality Scores for the different platforms were added together to make your combined campaign. When you split them up into separate campaigns, you'll be able to see what each Quality Score was.

The Importance of Quality Score

Quality Score is important because it shows how relevant your ads are to people's search queries. Good Quality Score helps Google make sure that the ads people see are relevant to their search queries. They want to keep being the best search engine.

There are a lot of reasons why Quality Score is very important to advertisers. This metric tells Google Search Network whether a keyword can even be put up for auction and, by extension, whether your ad will show up for a user's query. Quality Score and CPC bid also determine ad rank, which is very important, especially for advertisers who don't have a lot of money to spend.

Here's how to figure out your ad rank on the Google Search Network: Ad Rank = CPC bid × Quality Score

Because Quality Score affects ad rank, advertisers on a tight budget can work hard to make their accounts work better and still get to the top of the ads, even if their bid is lower than a competitor's bid with a lower Quality Score. The Quality Score also has an effect on where ads show up on the Google Display Network. For ads that are targeted with keywords, the ad rank formula is: Ad Rank = Display Network bid × Quality Score

Google looks at your bid, either for the ad group as a whole or for each placement, along with your ad group Quality Score when it comes to placement-targeted ads on the GDN.

For placement-targeted ads on the Google Display Network, this is how the ad rank is calculated: Ad Rank = Bid × Quality Score

Quality Score ultimately impacts the health and success of your account. If your keyword's Quality Score is too low, it might not even be able to go into an auction. This means that your ad won't show up and compete for a searcher's attention. It's likely that your ad rank will be low if your Quality Score is low. This will mean that your site will get less traffic and your ROI will be lower.

Myths About Quality Score

We’ve laid out the different types of Google Ads Quality Score and why Quality Score matters in an account. The next subject we’d like to tackle is Quality Score myths.

Myth #1: Changing the Match Type Changes the Quality Score

Google doesn't really look at keyword match type when figuring out Quality Score. This means that if you have a broad match, a phrase match, and an exact match for the same keyword in your account, they will all look the same. Based on an exact match with a query, Google will figure out a keyword's QS. The keyword pink slippers that is a broach match will have the same Quality Score for the search query pink slippers as it would if it were an exact match. So, changing the match type of a keyword does not directly change the Quality Score of that keyword.

When ads or keywords are stopped, the quality score goes down.Quality Score is based on how well your keywords and ads do, so pausing ads or keywords won't change it. There is no Quality Score to be earned if they are not active and are not being shown or put up for auction.

Myth #2: The Search Quality Score and the Display Quality Score are linked.

These Quality Scores are different from each other, as was already said in the guide. To begin, these Quality Scores are based on different factors. Second, Google's search network and display network are very different from one another. It would be very hard for them to affect each other. How well you do on one won't affect how well you do on the other.

Myth #3: Getting higher positions helps your quality score.

This seems to be true at first glance, but Quality Score is actually changed to account for differences in ad position. Google knows that higher positions naturally get higher CTRs than lower positions, so they change their formula to break up the way those higher positions work to make it less self-reinforcing.

Myth #4: Getting rid of or rearranging low-QS elements erases their history.

It's not true. Google says that even if you pause, delete, or reorganize an account element, it will still have an impact on your account history. Even though changing these things won't delete your account history, Google still suggests that you get rid of keywords and ads that aren't working because they could hurt your account history in the future. Over time, as more performance data is collected, these elements that don't work well will have less of an impact, but they will never go away completely.

Why Did My Quality Score Go Down?

Here are some things that might be causing your low Quality Score. If you want to improve your Quality Score, make sure you follow these steps:

• Check the URLs of your destinations. Are your landing pages different now than they were before? Are any of the URLs on the list broken? Do all of them lead to landing pages that work?

• There are some symbols that might break your destination URLs. Here is a list of what you can use instead:

• Backward and forward slashes (\) should be changed to a dash or a blank space.

• Take out the commas and put in a dash or a blank space instead.

• Put nothing in place of the apostrophes.

• Put nothing in the parentheses and press "Enter."

• You should use a dash or a blank space instead of an ampersand.

• You can use Webmaster Tools or Google Analytics to check how fast your site is. Google defines a slow load time as the regional average plus three seconds. If your page's load time is longer than this, it could be hurting your Quality Score.

• Learn about the things that can cause a page to load slowly.

• Check out Google's extension for Chrome and Firefox that speeds up pages

• Change ads that don't get many clicks. Google says that a low CTR is less than 1.5%.

• In each ad group, you should have at least three long-form ads.

• Make sure that your ads use the best keywords.

• To increase CTR, you might want to use Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) ads.

• Do a review of your accounts and reorganize as needed.

• Keywords with a CTR of less than 1.5% and few or no conversions might be worth pausing.

• Make ad groups that are smaller and have a clearer theme.

• For each ad group, make sure the landing page is very relevant.

• If you don't already have any, you might want to add broad match keywords. A Quality Score is given to new keywords that you add to your account based on how the account has been used in the past. A new keyword doesn't get its own Quality Score until it reaches the impression threshold. If you're only using phrase and/or exact match, you might want to add broad match to help the keywords reach the impression threshold so they can start getting their own Quality Score.


It's critical to understand the various types of Google Quality Scores and their importance. Account-level Quality Scores are calculated based on previous performance, while ad group-level Quality Scores help identify areas for improvement. To improve your Quality Score, start over within your current account by restructuring and adhering to Google Ads rules. It's crucial to consider the number of searches and leads generated by low-quality keywords before deleting or pause them.

If you would like help with your Google ad account, please feel free to book a FREE, no obligation consultation.

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