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Is quality score hurting your paid search campaigns?

Paid search is an important element to any digital fundraising strategy. And like all other channels, it requires constant optimization to remain effective.

And of all the things that lead to an effective paid search campaign, quality score is the most important.

In this blog, we’re walking through the basics of quality score, how it’s determined and what you can do to improve your ranking if it’s lower than expected.

What is a quality score for paid search?

Quality score is Google’s way of giving you an idea of how well your ad quality stands up to other advertisers. Microsoft Bing has a similar quality score for its paid search ads.

In both platforms, quality score “grades” on a scale from 1-10 how relevant your keywords, ads and landing pages are to the user’s search query and intent. Each quality score is assigned at the keyword level.

To check your quality score, follow the instructions listed here.

How is quality score determined?

According to Google, quality score is determined by the assessment of three key factors:

  • Expected Clickthrough Rate: How likely is it for your ad to be clicked when shown? The more relevant an ad is to an audience, the higher the expected clickthrough rate.
  • Ad Relevancy: Is your ad relevant to a user’s search intent?
  • Landing Page Experience: This takes a look at the relevancy of the landing page your ad is driving traffic to.

Each of the three components listed above is evaluated based on other ads with the same keywords, and is assigned a status of below average, average or above average. If your keyword has a below average or average status, this is a good indicator that there are further optimizations you can make to improve your quality score.

More on that in a little bit.

Why is Google’s quality score important?

The higher your quality score, the higher Google perceives the quality of your ads. With a higher quality score, you’ll become eligible for ad auctions, higher ad positions, cheaper cost-per-clicks and better clickthrough rates (CTRs).

A low quality score is a good indicator that you’ll need to review your search strategy, keyword selection, landing page or ad text.

How to improve your quality score

If your quality score is lower than it should be, here are a few tips to help you improve it:

1. Use relevant keywords

Make sure the keywords being used are relevant to the user’s search intent. It’s also important to make sure your ads and landing pages are relevant to your user’s search intent.

For example, if you’re a nonprofit aiding in disaster relief efforts in the Caribbean and Latin America and you use “travel to Haiti” as a keyword and in your ad copy, that keyword is not relevant. In this case, it would be better to use something like “earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.”

2. Keep your account structure and keywords organized

This will help you write more relevant ads. For example, if we use the keywords “donate dog food to my local animal shelter,” “low cost dog vaccinations” and “how to crate train your dog” in the same ad group, then it’s difficult to write ads tailored to each of those keywords.

3. Utilize search term reports

These reports will help you identify when your ads are reaching irrelevant search traffic. This helps make your keywords more relevant to the search results, improving your quality score.

4. Update your ad copy

Be more compelling and include clear calls to action.

5. Use relevant landing pages

Any landing pages used in your ads should be relevant to the user’s search intent. If a user clicks an ad and ends up on an unrelated page, you’ll lose their interest quickly.

A good quality score is the foundation to any successful PPC strategy. By prioritizing your quality score, you’ll see higher clickthrough rates, more traffic to your website and increased conversions.

Ashley Carmickle

Ashley oversees PPC and Google Ad Grant efforts at RKD Group, helping manage how we optimize conversions across our client's marketing platforms. Ashley is actively involved as an ambassador for the Ad Grant Certified Professionals, a cohort designed to develop and share best practices across the Google for Nonprofit member community.

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