Advanced Pay Per Click (PPC) Certification Program

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Introduction to Quality Score Tutorial

1.2 Introduction

Hello. This is Brad Geddes, the author of Advanced Google AdWords. The Founder of Certified Knowledge and the PPC faculty chair for Market Motive. In this video we're going to introduce quality score. We're going to loot at what it is. How it affects Ad Rank? And look at Ad Rank in particular for a moment. And then to get into the factors that determine quality score.

1.3 Quality Score Overview

So, at a very conceptual level, all quality score is is a one to ten number that's assigned to each keyword, that's a measure of how good the experience Google believes a searcher will have with your ad copy and landing page. A one is the worst, a ten is the best. Now, I'm going to look at why this number is so important. It really determines a lot about your accounts visibility. So, if your quality score is low, your ad cannot show above the natural results or the organic listings. It determines if you can show on certain content sites across your display network, it determines the ad position flow content sites, it determines the placement targeted ads will show up, it determines things like first page bid. ] Your ad rank for the search network which we'll dig into a lot more in a moment. And then if things like site lengths and ad extensions will function and even dynamic keyword insertion. So a lot of your accounts visibility is really determined by quality score. Now, the first thing we need to look at though is ad rank. As ad rank is a function of quality score with some other items.

1.4 Ad Rank Background

So ad rank is where your ad shows up on a search result. And so when we've got ads above the organic listings, then our ad positions are one, two, three on the top. And then four, five, six, seven, etc., down the sides of the page. If there are no ads at the top of the page, then your position is one, two, three, four, five down the side. So knowing you're in position one, two or three doesn't actually tell you if you're on the top of the page or the side of the page. You can see some of that data by going to your account and segmenting top versus other, to see how often a keyword or ad, whatnot, is in the top positions versus the side positions. But Position 1, it could be Position 1 top or Position 1 side. Now, when we look at how much each ad costs for each click, they're often not linear numbers. So you might see the person in position one is paying $0.50 a click. The person in position two is paying $0.75. The one in third position's paying $0.25. Fourth is paying $1. These aren't linear due to how ad rank is calculated.

1.5 Ad Rank Formula

So the way Ad Rank is calculated is Google looks at your Bid information, your Quality Score information, and then your Ad Extension information. It takes these three components together to determine your Ad rank, so Ad Rank used to be very simple because it was your bid times your quality score just made Ad Rank. And with the addition of Ad Extensions its made this more function so it's much more complex. Now when we look at the Ad Rank history and why quality score and critical rates are so important. When Google first launched, Ad Rank was based upon your max CPC and your click through rate. Now this is basically a revenue maximization model for Google. Because if you had someone who was willing to pay a lot for a click, but they never got any clicks because their CTR was low, Google didn't make much money. If you had someone with a lower bid but a really high click-through rate, and Google only makes money on the actual click, then they would actually make Google more money just because they had high click-through rates. Now the problem with this particular model was that you would have very poor landing pages. You would see ads that say just win a free iPod, and of course those got high click through rates. But we want really relevant to users in many cases, so the second iteration of Ad Rank is when Quality Score was introduced several years ago. And Ad Rank became Max CPC times Quality Score, where Quality Score looks at user experience and click through rate. So if you have a landing page unrelated to a key or you have very poor ads, your ads aren't relevant to the search queries then you'd have a lower quality score and you wouldn't get as many clicks or you had to pay more for those clicks. So this was both a revenue maximization model, because a big component of quality score is CTR, and we'll get into all those factors in a moment. But it also looked at user experience, so that way users had good experience with Google Ads, and didn't think of them as advertisements that were intrusive, that didn't lead to good results. And now today, Ad Rank's become a bit more convoluted, Ad Rank is now a function of your Max Cost Per Click, your Quality Score, and your Ad Extensions. So this is still a revenue and user experience maximization model, it just uses more components. Now these are really complex formulas and so what's useful is to try to break them into something more simplistic than those without PhDs and statistics and artificial intelligence can kind of wrap their mind around why Quality Score and Ad Extension data is really important to look at, for your account's visibility

1.6 Ad Rank Illustrated

So when we kind of look at a potential sample formula and no this is actually not the formula Google uses. They use something very very complex. This is something simplistic so that we can understand how these components fit together. Now, Max Cost Per Click has always been 50% of the formula. When Google launched, it was CPC times CTR. Then it became CPC times quality score. So we know Max CPC's always been 50%. Click through rate or quality score has always been the other half of the formula. So now, when we look at this, quality score and ad rank should each have equal shares. An extension that it's really a subset of your quality score information because Google looks at the expected click through rates of using extensions to determine your position and that's really part of what quality score's for too. Quality score, click through rate, and relevancy information. So if we make some basic assumptions, that 50% is Max CPC, 50% is quality score or CTR user experience, we can kind of come up with a basic form that says Max CPC is half of our formula, and quality score may be 80% of this other 50% half, and extensions are 20%. Now those again are just rough numbers, extensions could be 0.1% they could be 0.7%. Unlikely they're higher than quality score by any means. So this kind of gives us a basic way of looking at how ad rank is calculated if we just use something really simplistic for illustration purposes here. So now, what Google needs to determine to show ads in various positions is everybody's ad rank, because they don't know a position before they run a max CPC, inner quality score and extension data for the formula. So if we say, for simple illustration purposes, bids are 50% of position, quality score is 40%, ad extension is 10%. Then we can say, here's your max bid times here's your quality score data times here's your extension data, that's your ad rank. And then Google's going to do this for your competitors. Competitor 2 and so forth. Now, ad rank is a number, means nothing without other competitor's numbers. You can have a thousand ad rank or two ad rank. That number doesn't mean something except in comparison to your competition's ad ranks. So let's put some numbers behind the ad rank. Let's say that you're bidding a dollar and your quality score is six and your ad extension information is also a six. That makes your ad rank with a very simplistic formula a six as well. And six doesn't mean anything without other user data. So let's say you've got a competitor who's bidding a dollar and they have a slightly higher quality score. Their quality score's seven but they're not using any ad extensions. So they get a zero for that. Well, that means even though their quality score is higher, due to them not using extensions, their ad rank is actually 5.6. It's actually lower. You might have another competitor, they're bidding higher than you. They are bidding a $1.25. But their quality score is low. It's a four. And they're ad extensions aren't doing great. It's also four. This makes their ad rank of five. It's still less than yours. In this case because your quality score and ad extension data is better. Even with a lower bid, your ad rank is still higher. So high quality scores can make it so you can bid less for the same position or increased positions. Then Google does this for all the competitors out there. Now again, ad rank now means something because we have both yours and competitor information. So then Google takes this ad rank data, it may say who's got the highest ad rank? Because that's going to be position 1. So our position 1 is our 10 ad rank. Our position 2 is our 6 ad rank. Position 3 is 5.6 ad rank, and so forth. And this is why when we look back to our search results and see nonlinear CPCs. It's because both quality score and ad extensions make a path of formula along with bids of determining positions. So, when we look at this, the way Ad Rank's [INAUDIBLE] bid Quality Score Ad Extension. If we can raise our quality score or include ad extensions, our Ad Rank can increase, even without bidding more. In fact we could even sometimes see our actual CPCs go down as we raise quality scores. Now conversely, if your quality score drops, you may see your position drop or your actual CPCs go up.

1.7 Quality Score & Financials

Then we look at the financials behind this. It used to be really simple to determine actual CPCs. Because an actual CPC is what you actually paid for the click. Your max CPC is what you bid, your actual CPC is what you truly paid to get that click regardless of your max. [00:00:17] Used to be just Ad Rank to beat divided by quality score plus a penny. And now it's ad rank to beat divided by your quality score and extension data plus a penny. The reason to show this is sometimes you hear people say, you only pay a penny more than the competitor below you. [00:00:35] This is completely false information, because if you're bidding $1 and your competitor is bidding $1.25, you can't pay a penny more, because that would be above your max bid. So what you really pay, is a penny more than your next competitor, to beat their ad rank, which is a function of quality score, extension data, and bit. And then finally, spend doesn't affect quality score. Spend affects things like how fast you get data, because you get more clicks. It affects support, it doesn't affect quality score. I have worked with advertisers who spend millions and millions of dollars every single month, and, every once in awhile, they run into quality score issues. And they don't have a magic button that says, raise my quality scores because I spent $8 million last month. They have to go through the same procedures. Any account who spends $100 a month has to go through to raise and increase quality scores. So spend does get you more support. It of course can get you more clicks, you have higher budget. But it doesn't inherently get you better quality scores.

1.8 Viewing Quality Score Data

Now viewing your quality score is easy. Go to the Keywords tab, go into Customize Columns and then under Attributes you'll see Quality Score. And then you can add it and you can see Quality Score by all your keywords in the interface. And then now, if you go into the interface, you hover over the Status column, you can see your quality score for every keyword, as well as some other information about it. Such as expected click-through rates, ad relevance, and landing page experience, which we will talk through in the quality score factors coming up next.

1.9 Quality Score Factors

So we look at the Quality Score Factors, Click Through Rate is by far the number one factor. Now it is important to note that Click Through Rate is normalized by position. So, in a global scale, position one is usually the highest CTR, and position two is a little bit lower CTR than position one, and position three is a little bit lower CTR than position two. So what happens is Google doesn't just give position one the best quality score because they have the best CTR, because that's a natural occurrence. So Google looks at the difference and says, based upon expected Click Through Rates by position, this is what we expect that position to get, what's your Click Through Rate? just straight Click Through Rate though, that makes up the Click Through Rate factor. Click Through Rates also looked up by search partners. So you'll have a Google quality score, and you'll have a search partner quality score, such as AOL and Ask.com. Now you can't see all these segmented quality scores. You'll see one rolled out quality score inside your AdWords account. Click Through Rates also factored by each ad copy, and every display URL, and all the geographies who are advertising it. So you see quality score at a keyword level. However, quality score exists at a level that is your Click Through Rate by search engine, by each ad, display URL geography, and device. And so you don't see all these segments of quality score, you see one overall number, which is why sometimes we need to diagnose quality scores, or how to improve them, which we'll do in the next video. So the second major factor is relevance. How related are the keywords to the ad in that ad group, and how related are the keywords to the ad copy to the landing page? So all relevance items. And this doesn't mean you need the actual keyword in the ad. It means the themes overall need to be the same. So for instance what often happens, is you'll have a query like Chicago real estate. And the mortgage companies go, well, if someone's buying real estate, then they need a mortgage too. So we're going to take these real estate terms and put up ads about mortgages on them. The issue is, is real estate is a location based search. A user looking for real estate information is looking about locations. Mortgage is a financial search. It's about money, not individual locations. So when often a mortgage company would receive low quality scores on keywords about locations, because it's a mismatch. Now if you had keywords that were tulips and your ad copy was, buy a rose bouquet and your landing page was about expedited flower bouquet delivery, you would be okay from a relevance standpoint. Not great, you'll do terrible from a conversion standpoint. Not good user expectations. But at least it's still in this same floral theme. So you don't need the actual words on your pages or in the ads. Same themes are what's very important though. And then your landing page is also used. And we'll walk through landing page individually, and go through all the factors for landing pages. And finally, there's other factors. There's a whole lot of small factors that go into quality score. And these are things that you often can't see, and they go more to the intent of the user, then to data you could effect. So that's why it's most important to focus on the major factors, such as Click Through Rate relevancy and landing pages. And account history is also used, sort of what have you ever done for that account? Is it a good account, is it a bad account, and so forth. Now it's important to know while history is used, most recent information does matter more than overall. So if you've had keywords with historically poor quality scores using some techniques that we'll get to in the next video, you often can increase your quality scores. Now, it's also important to note, that match types don't effect quality score. Often you'll see different CPCs by match types. That has to do with the actual query that triggered your word, and then change in competition and bid levels by query. So when Google determines things like Click Through Rate, for quality score purposes, they look at it when your keyword matches a search query, regardless of match types. So don't obsess over match types, with quality score optimization. Still very important, when you look at your bidding types, and minding search queries, just don't obsess about match types from quality score purposes.

1.10 Landing Page Spiderability

Now next we need to talk about landing pages, because they're very important for quality scores. So number one is Spiderability. Can your page be found and can it be crawled? So for instance, if you have a page that's a 404, not found, page can't be found, can't be crawled, can't get a good quality score. Google doesn't read a lot of flash. They don't do a lot of optical character recognition, OCR, for images. So if your landing page is one big image, you'll often see bad quality scores because nobody knows what the page is about. So number one is really can the page be found and can it be crawled? Now, from a crawlers standpoint, Google will use both Googlebot, and AdsBot-Google to crawl your pages for quality score purposes. They put them in one particular database which is not used for organics. So, quality score and page rank do not have an association with each other. Now, if you block Googlbot from crawling your pages you can still have your pages read for quality score purposes because the bot Adsbot-Google will crawl your page. ]Now all a bot is is essentially a computer program or a server program that crawls the web and indexes information. So all a bot really is is a indexing based type of program. So in Google webmaster tools, you can create an account with google and verify your website and see lots of great data about your sites. But they do have the ability to check your robots text file against the bot to see if Google can crawl your page. So a robots text file is essentially an instruction manual for a robot, for what it can and can't crawl on your website. It lives at yoursite.com or yoursite.coau/robots.txt. You don't have to have one. It's very useful to have one especially when you get into SEO and ranking for organic search. But if you have one and you are blocking bots, then you need to be careful about how you handle it from a quality score standpoint. So what most bots do, if you have a global disallow in your robot's text file. Basically a global disallow says, no bot can ever, ever crawl this page, just go away. Now Adsbot Dash Google assumes that's a mistake. Because Adsbot-google is crawling your site for quality score purposes because you're spending money with Google. So they do ignore global disallows, which normal bots should not, they should obey a global disallow. Now if in your robots.txt file you call it out specifically, you say Adsbot-Google, you can't crawl these pages. Than that bot will not crawl your site, can't index it, can't give you a good quality score. Can't give you any quality score. So all you you really just want to make sure is that Adsbot-Google is not your robot's text file. Normally it's not, it's not a common thing to see. What does happen on occasion is often you'll have an aggressive IT or an aggressive security section within a site that's looking at all the bots that go through it. And they say wow this bot crawled 100 gigs of our site last week, we don't know what is is. We're going to block it. So often it ends up there, when it ends up there, through other means. Just make sure Adsbot-Google does not appear as a txt file. The other thing that's nice, about Google webmaster tools, is you can see crawl errors on your site and see things such as not found pages. This is important, AdWords accounts grow, they change. Websites grow, websites change URL structures over time and sometimes pages just get broken, ads get broken, destination [INAUDIBLE] so forth. And so, if you're sending traffic to a page that isn't found, number one, it's a big waste of money. Number two, you usually end up with low quality scores because there's nothing at that page. So, you also want to make sure you're sending traffic to pages that do exist. It helps a lot with conversion rates. And on occasion then, just make sure all your destination URLs lead to pages which are found.

1.11 Landing Page Relevance

And so just like the previous example of keywords to ads,to landing pages of real estate queries of location, mortgage or financial and that's not relevant from an ad standpoint. Same things goes for landing pages, if your ads are about one item, your landing page is about something completely different. Then you often end up with bad quality scores due to relevance items. Now, if you see landing pages that are not relevant, then what you can do is also use the average keyword tool. Put your URL into the website section of the tool and just see what Google thinks your page is about. Just make sure that they are spidering and their concepts match your own expectations for what you feel the page is covering. If it's not, then you have a mismatch between the two of you and you immediately need to change content around, for quality score purposes, so Google understands what your page really is about.

1.12 Landing Page Transparency

Now another important factor that goes into landing pages is user transparency. With your information and your offers, are you telling a user the actual terms of service, if there are some, how information's used? Don't do things to a computer that your know you probably shouldn't do, like disable back buttons, auto-install software, have excessive pop-ups. But if you collect personal information, then you either have to have a privacy policy or you have to tell users what you're doing with their information. So if you're collecting email address or credit cards or what not, you have to tell the user what you're doing. Now, in many countries, in some states, this is a requirement anyway to have a privacy policy. But if you're in an area it's not required, if you're using AdWords, and you're collecting information, you still need to tell users what you're doing with it. And if you have things like content behind paywalls, you need at least some content preview of the information before user has to give you information. So, make sure when someone gets to your site, they can at least see some information about what they searched for because they do a search because they want an answer to a question. Your website is supposed to tell them that answer or at least how to get the answer in terms of buying products or subscribing to sites, so forth. So you need to give a user some information about what they would find if they did buy your product or subscribe to your site.

1.13 Landing Page Navigation

Also, any pages need some navigation on them. So in January 2007, all the one page wonder sites, those couple hundred paragraphs of scrolling text sites were decimated by quality scores. It's because it had no navigation components. So essentially, Google added navigational components inside. If the user gets to your site, in what they're looking for is not on the landing page, or they just want to learn more about you. Can they find it? So you need some navigation. Now this doesn't have to be featured navigation. It can be below the fold. It doesn't have to be your top aseo navigation. You can still make dedicated pages. Just for landing pages for page search and put navigation in other areas. So for instance, on this Bose landing page for one of their old headsets, they have a full set of navigation. It's below the fold, but you can view all their headsets, learn more about their company, contact them, so forth. So a navigation requirement does not mean that you have to use feature navigation. But you must have some navigation on the sites.

1.14 Landing Page Load Time

Now, Google used to display landing page load time. They no longer display this factor, but load time still matters to them. So essentially how fast does your site load correlated to other sites hosted in your same region? Now this is usually not a really big issue from a highly negative cost gross standpoint for most companies. However, if your site takes 10, 12, 14 seconds to load, you're going to see much, much higher bounce rates and lower quality scores, because users aren't finding what they're looking for, because your page is so slow. Just by increasing page speed, you can often increase conversion rates. The web has taught us to be very impatient, with I want my data now. Or I want my data 30 seconds ago, not in three more seconds. Now see, many sites that have just taken their load times and changed them from four, five, six seconds to two and three seconds and seen conversion rates almost double in some cases. So this is not a factor that's still displayed. But if you have a very slow site and you see that your landing page relevance is low, it's often likely due to the fact that your page is so slow, Google is dinging you on quality score.

1.15 Recap

So, to recap Quality Score and our factors. In our next video, we'll look at how to take this information to increase Quality Scores and really affect them. But Quality Score is just an automated opinion based upon how good of a searcher experience Google believes a user will have with your particular site. Now one is the worst, ten's the best. Now Quality Score is only calculated when the search term, the actual query someone put into the engine, is the same as your keyword, regardless of the match type you're using. We look at the major factors that make up Quality Score. You have click through rate. That's factored by source partners. It's factored by your ad copy, display URLs, geography and normalized for position. Then we have our relevancy. Are your ads, keywords and landing pages all related to each other? Then we have landing page. Does your page load quickly? Is your page actually found? Can it be spidered? Is it related back to your ad and your keyword? If you're collecting information, do you tell users what you're doing with that information? The reason this is all so important is improving Quality Scores can improve your account's performance. They can either raise your positions, lower your CPC's or in some cases even do both at the same time. So, now that we've looked at the factors for Quality Score, in the next video we'll look at taking these factors and saying, how do we make our Quality Scores better with this information?

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