The Complete Guide to AdWords Quality Score (With Free Resources & Template)
Back in June, we introduced AdWords’ newly-released metrics Historical Quality Score in this post. Historical Quality Score is a very valuable metric for marketers — it reflects how relevant your ad is to the user-specific search query. Quality Score, together with other parameters, such as user’s location, device, time of the day when the query is made determines where your ad should be positioned and how much you should pay for the bid.
The article will help you understand what Historical Quality Score consists of, what role it plays in your AdWords account, how you can report it using our Free Template.
Digging Deeper into Historical Quality Score — what does it consist of?
There is no doubt that QS is an important metric — by increasing it your ad gets more exposure and you CPC decreases. Next, I will tell what is a Quality Score comprised of and how it is calculated.
3 components of Historical Quality Score
Quality Score consists of 3 components, which are:
- Expected CTR reflects how well your keyword has performed in the past, based on your ad’s position;
- Ad Relevance (Creative Quality Score) indicates how well did you manage to come up with keywords that would match the user’s query exactly (note, that this doesn’t mean that a keyword’s match should be “exact” type) and how relevant are those keywords in your ad copy;
- Landing Page Experience is an evaluation of how well-designed, relevant and informative your landing page is for the user.
Each of those factors is graded as “Below average”, “Average” or “Above average”.
How is Historical Quality Score Calculated?
But how much exactly does each of those factors affect the calculation of Quality Score? This calculation is an algorithm that Google keeps in secret, however some marketing experts have run experiments to find it out. Brad Geddes, the founder of AdAlysis, thoroughly researched this question and described how he came up with the formula for QS calculation in his article on Search Engine Land. According to Brad’s theory, both landing page experience and expected click-through rate account for 39% of the Quality Score, whereas Ad relevance accounts for 22%.
The formula for QS calculation is: 1 + Landing Page Experience weight + Ad Relevance weight + CTR weight.
In the article, Brad gives a great example for the Quality Score calculation:
“For instance, let’s say you have these factors:
- Landing Page Experience: average — 1.75 points
- Ad Relevance: above average — 2 points
- CTR: average — 1.75 points
Then your Quality Score is: 1 + 1.75 (LPE) + 2 (Relevance) + 1.75 (CTR) = 6.5. As Google doesn’t show fractions, this is rounded to a 7, which is seen inside your account.”
Key takeaway: after QS is broken down by 3 factors it is easier to see a change in what factor affected an increase/decrease in QS.
How QS is it related to other metrics?
As Google has already mentioned in their AdWords “Best Practices” series of articles explaining Quality Score:
“Another way to think of the Quality Score reported in your AdWords account is as warning lights in a car: something that alerts you to potential problems.”
Google suggests that marketers focus on long-term performance goals, and improve user experience while they achieve those goals. Quality Score is an indicator of how well your ads are performing.
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As I mentioned earlier, Quality Score is an estimate of the quality and the relevance of your keywords, ads, as well as landing pages in relation to the users’ search queries. Hence, Quality Score is related directly and indirectly to all ad performance metrics of your ad.
Metrics directly related to Quality Score
Wordstream in their white paper, “Improving the Quality Score: the Value of Being More Relevant” has identified 2 main important metrics that the Quality Score affects, which are Impressions and Cost per Click.
According to Wordstream, the higher your Quality Score is, the lower your minimum first page bid estimate is, which consequently allows you to rank higher and then get more impressions. Cost Per Click is calculated according to the following formula, where Quality Score plays a big role:
(Ad rank to beat/Quality Score) + $0.01 = Actual CPC
Quality Score should not be looked at in isolation from other metrics. Our template provides you Impressions — , Cost — and Click — weighted Historical Quality Score. Why are those weighted averages important? Let’s look at the Impressions — weighted QS. Imagine that you have 300 keywords in your account. 150 of those keywords have very low Quality Scores and all get hundreds of thousands of impressions. The other 150 have very high QS’s, however the total number of those keywords’ impressions is much lower than the total number first 150 keywords got. In a situation like this the overall Quality Score is much lower than 5 (average), and reflects the true situation.
In addition, with the template you can easily see each of the three components weighted by impressions.
Metrics indirectly related to Quality Score
The main idea behind Quality Score is not to manage an account and ads to optimize them for better QS, but rather to use this metric as a diagnostic tool. Quality Score is indirectly related to CPA and ROAS among other metrics, which altogether reflect the “health” of your account.
As mentioned earlier, Quality Score affects how much you pay per click. Johnathan Dane from KlientBoost went further and described how impactful Quality Score is on other metrics:
Thus, the higher your Quality Score is, the easier it is to have a lower CPC and consequently a lower CPA. “However you should be extremely careful” — Jonathan continues — “Quality Score is not a key performance indicator. Cost per conversion and conversion rates are.”
Quality Score reflects the performance of your ads. However, it does not reflect the post-click experience or the final results of your marketing efforts. Conversion rates, Cost per Conversion and ROAS are a better reflection of your results.
Also, an excellent Quality Score does not necessarily mean that your cost per action becomes lower. For example, you have a great ad that receives a high Quality Score and gets top Ad Rank after many auctions. The visitor enters the landing page, which loads fast and contains all the relevant information about the product. The visitor is content and starts making a purchase. However the process of purchasing becomes difficult due to poor user flow. The visitor decides not to make a purchase after all, and quits the website. After that happens to many of your visitors, your CPA increases.
That is to say, not only is it important to get high QS, it’s equally crucial to make sure the post-click user experience is great and leads to many conversions.
Key takeaway: It is important to remember that Quality Score reflects the only quality of each ad and always analyze Quality Score together with other metrics to get a better understanding of whether your marketing efforts lead to success.
Supermetrics’ Historical QS Template — what is in it and how to use it
In order to make Quality Score analytics easier for you, we’ve put together a nice reporting template, which allows you to:
- Track how your QS has changed over time for each particular campaign and immediately see campaigns that have low QS and require attention.
- See Quality Score, weighted by Clicks, Impressions and Cost metrics
- See the scores of Expected CTR, Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience, each weighted by Impressions
- Compare QS with metrics, such as CTR, CPC, Average Position, and others
- Set up automatic refresh and alerts for monitoring your QS
The template also offers a powerful query builder to analyze your QS in different granularities and answers various questions on QS. The query builder helps you:
- Monitor each keyword’s’ quality score along with other metrics (CPC, Conversion Rate, Cost and many more)
- See what keywords have high/low traffic and high/low QS to decide whether you should get rid of those keywords or keep them or change them.
- Filter keywords and their matchtype by campaign to easily locate them in your account.
All you need to do to start using the template is to Install the Supermetrics Add-on , and add the template from the Add-on’s Template Gallery!
I’ve got QS analyzed. What next?
After you have analyzed Quality Score, each of its’ components, other metrics and identified your areas for improvement, it is time to start working with them! You can run experiments to see if your metrics are improving, and monitor the results to compare with the old data. I have put together a list of useful resources to help you get started:
Profit With AdWords: 3 Steps to a High Quality Score by Neil Patel
Improving Quality Score: the Value of Being More Relevant whitepaper by Wordstream
Useful articles on how to improve Ad Relevance (Creative QS):
Keyword matchtype and negative keywords:
Match Types & Quality Score — The Truth At Last by Acquisio
Keyword grouping in the campaign:
Useful articles on how to improve Landing Page Experience:
Useful articles on how to improve Expected CTR:
2 Little Known Ways To Increasing CTR And Quality Score by Certified Knowledge
In this blogpost we digged into the topic of Quality Score a bit deeper and saw that it is a very useful metric, that reflects the performance of your ads. QS provides great insights when broken down into components and analyzed together with other metrics. I hope you learned more about Quality Score from this article, and I will be happy to hear your thoughts on QS reporting in the comments!
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