Using Quality Score as a Diagnostic Tool

Using Quality Score as a Diagnostic Tool
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Brad Geddes

Published on December 5, 2016


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Quality Score is an often-discussed component of PPC accounts as outside of your bid and ad extension usage; it’s a major factor in increasing your ad’s position without having to increase your bids.

However, one of the primary ways to use Quality Score is often missed. Instead of thinking of it as purely an auction component, you can also think about it as a recommendation tool.

Auction vs Interface QS

There are two main Quality Scores that first need to be discussed before we show how to use this tool for recommendations.

The auction Quality Score is what is used in the real-time ad position auction when determining your ad’s position. This Quality Score is not what you see in your account. The real time Quality Score examines your keyword and ad pairing to the searcher’s query and intent to determine your ad’s position. The ‘intent’ is almost impossible to fully define as there are factors such as geography, previous search history, device information, and so forth that can affect how likely a user is to click on your ad, the user’s intent for their search, that determines this information.

For a quick example, consider the word ‘java’. This word could be a programming language, an island, or another word for coffee. If you were selling a programming course about java, you might have a nice Quality Score if the user had previously searched for ‘online coding courses’; but you might have a poor Quality Score for the same query if the user searched for ‘trips to Java’.

Since you cannot see the auction Quality Score as it has too many possibilities to ever display; what is shown inside your PPC account is the ‘interface Quality Score’.

This is the number you can examine and use its recommendations to improve your account’s performance.

Quality Score Components

If you hover over the status icon next to a keyword; you will see your Quality Score along with the detailed status for that keyword:

There are three main components of Quality Score:

  • Expected CTR: how often are users clicking on your ads
  • Ad Relevance: how useful is your ad for that keyword
  • Landing page experience: do you provide a good user experience on that keyword’s landing page

These factors can’t accommodate for all of the real time components since you’d need to see this information for every search query, ad, geographic, etc combination. Instead, this is a recommendation of what you can do to help improve your ad’s relevance for that keyword.

Using Quality Score as a Diagnostic Tool

The last question is what do you do with this information?

If you see that your expected CTR is low; then you can test your ads to improve your expected CTR.

If you see that your ad relevance is poor; then consider the ad and keyword’s pairings. You may need to move the keyword to another ad group where the ads are more relevant to that keyword, create a new ad group for that keyword with a better ad, or test ads within your current ad group.

If you see that your landing page is poor, then consider other pages on your site that could lead to a better user experience or test your landing pages to improve how well users interact with your website.

Most of the steps you will take to improve Quality Score will consist of improving your account organization, creating good websites or landing pages, and great ad testing.

Conclusion

While Quality Score is a major factor in determining your ad rank; that Quality Score is known as the auction Quality Score and cannot be seen within your account.

What you see in your account is the interface Quality Score. This is a recommendation on how to improve your keywords, ads, and landing pages. Quality Score was built as a recommendation tool. Using it purely for ad rank purposes defeats the purpose of the recommendations that it gives that can help you improve your account long term.

Consider the user experience. If a user searches for a specific keyword, what is the best ad and landing page experience you can give that user? By answering this simple question; you can start to increase your Quality Scores and use the diagnostic metrics inside of the search engines to see how your Quality Scores are improving. 

About the Author

Brad Geddes is the author of "Advanced Google AdWords", and founder of Certified Knowledge, an online source where the Paid Search community comes together for PPC training, tools, and advice. Brad makes it his mission to share his expertise in Paid Search with online marketers so they can build successful online campaigns that generate business. He frequently writes columns for Search Engine Land, co-moderates the AdWords forum on Webmaster World, has spoken at more than 35 conferences, and has led more than 60 AdWords seminars.


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