5 Tips for Increasing Your AdWords Quality Score

  |  June 27, 2011   |  Comments

Learn how to increase your Quality Score to get higher ad placement, higher click-through rates, and lower minimum bids for keywords.

Those of you running AdWords campaigns know that Google assigns a Quality Score to each keyword in a campaign. This score can have dramatic effects on your campaign performance and can give you an edge if you know how to increase your score. The idea is to award those advertisers who are providing the best experience to searchers from keyword query to landing page. Not just to those who have the most money behind their campaigns. If you provide a positive experience for searchers, you will find they, along with Google will reward you.

Quality Score is a dynamic variable assigned to each of your keywords that essentially affects your ad rank and the cost per click. So for a higher Quality Score, you can achieve a higher ranking at a lower cost. So how is a Quality Score determined? There are three factors:

  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Ad relevance - the relevance of the keyword or search query to the ad
  • Landing page - the relevance and reputation of your landing page to the ad and the search query

To learn more about how Google calculates the Quality Score, see its AdWords Help Center. Let's now look at five tips for increasing your Quality Score.

1. Structure your campaigns into smaller yet targeted ad groups. By structuring your campaigns into targeted ad groups, you are elevating the relevancy between the search query and the ad. So set up your campaigns with many ad groups that are specific and related to the keywords it contains. This can be a challenge but well worth it in the end. Don't have just one or two ad groups with all of your keywords in them. You cannot maintain a high degree of relevancy this way. Additionally, have a smaller number of keywords per ad group. The smaller the number of keywords per ad group, the better. Good examples of types of keyword variations are plurals and singulars and other close associations.


Look at your list of keywords and group them into logical groups or themes like branded, non-branded, specific products, or services. This will help you as you set up your ad groups and keep them focused and relevant. Also, don't forget to include negative keywords lists for even better performance.

Account organization is the key to efficiently managing a good Quality Score as well as increasing your click-through rates. So take the time to methodically plan, set up, and structure your account, campaigns, and ad groups and you will find they will run much more efficiently and bring you your desired results.

2. Optimize keyword ad copy. Choose ad copy that is closely tailored to your keywords. This will increase the relevance of your keywords to each of your ads. Not only will this help you increase your Quality Score, but it will also help to increase your click-through rate. Be sure to get your keywords into your ad copy as well. You can do this manually or use dynamic keyword insertion (DKI), which can insert them automatically. Matt Van Wagner has some great tips on how to use DKI to help with placing your keywords into your ad copy.

3. Target your landing pages. Your landing pages should be designed to contain content that uses your targeted keywords for each ad group. It may not be practical to design a landing page for each ad group, but it will help to increase relevancy. A highly relevant landing page will also help you with increased conversions. If your searchers read your ad, then click through and they land on a page that fulfills their expectations, then you are likely to have happy visitors that may turn into customers.

To check on how Google sees your landing pages and which keywords they are relevant to, try using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and type in the landing page URL into the "website" search box. You will get a list of keywords that Google thinks it is most relevant for.


4. Know the Quality Score factors. Brad Geddes of bgTheory has a nifty Quality Score Chart with all of the scoring factors you can use to view the different Quality Score types. (Chart below is reformatted from the original.) Use this or one of your own to help track your campaign and insure you have covered all of the bases.


5. Decrease your landing page load times. Landing page load time has become an important consideration in calculating Quality Score. Take the time to check the load times on each of your landing pages and see what can be done to reduce them. Some of the factors that contribute to longer load times are:

  • Meta refreshes
  • Slow redirects
  • Multiple redirects
  • Interstitial pages
  • Slow server
  • Large page size

You can use Webmaster Tools or Page Speed to test your landing pages and check their speed. Here is a list of best practices for speeding up your website.

These tips will help you streamline your campaigns, increase your Quality Score, and help you be more competitive. The fruits will be higher ad placement, which will lead to higher click-through rates and lower minimum bids for keywords, which means lower campaign costs. It is well worth the effort.

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Ron Jones

Ron was president/CEO of Symetri Internet Marketing, which provides strategic SEM consulting and training. Ron was actively involved in the SEM community and spoke and trained at conferences and seminars. Ron also served on the Board of Directors for SEMPO and was one of the authors for the SEMPO Institute Fundamentals and Advanced courses.

Ron also published a book called Keyword Intelligence: Keyword Research for Search Social and Beyond. This book outlines various methods and tips for conducting keyword research but more importantly outlines many ways to use keyword research for social media, site design, content development and marketing, and even traditional marketing and branding.

Ron passed away on June 30, 2012.

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