Why Do My Ads/Keywords Have Such a Low Quality Score?

One of the key metrics to keep an eye on in AdWords is Quality Score. To quote Google directly, Quality Score is “an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing page. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions.” Quality Score is measured on a 10 point scale, where 1 is poor, 5 is average and 10 is perfect. While 6-8 is a realistic range to aim for, 5 may be sufficient and 10 is not impossible to achieve.

Ensuring a high-quality score for your ads keywords boil down to the three components mentioned in Google’s definition.

Ad Relevance

The term, “relevance” can be somewhat arbitrary and misleading for advertisers, so it’s important to again borrow Google’s definition: “How closely the elements of your ad campaign match what a person seems to be looking for.” To illustrate ad relevance, let’s use “golf clubs” as an example keyword. If your ads only focus on “golf apparel” or “golf bags”, that particular keyword probably isn’t going to receive an optimal Quality Score. It’s a good rule of thumb to include the keyword in the ad’s headline and copy to achieve relevant ads for your potential customers. “Relevance” is also evaluated on how closely the landing page that the ad takes potential customers to matches the term being searched.

Expected Clickthrough Rate

Expected clickthrough rate, another criterion of Quality Score, is a bit more tricky. Here, Google is examining your ads to predict “how likely it is that your ads will get clicked when shown for that keyword, irrespective of your ad’s position, extensions, and other ad formats that may affect the visibility of your ads.” For keywords with low expected clickthrough rates, advertisers should take a look at their ad text to make sure that it’s closely related to that particular keyword.

A couple of other notes about expected clickthrough rate:

  • AdWords uses historical data to consider how well a keyword has performed in the past, based on its average position.
  • ECR is just a prediction – you can find the actual clickthrough rate (CTR) within the columns of your campaign.

Landing Page Experience

Arguably the most important criterion from a lead generation perspective is landing page experience. Google will analyze the landing page of your ad for usability, relevant and useful content, page load time and more. It’s extremely important to take potential customers to pages for products or services that they are looking for. Once they reach your landing page, they should be educated on that particular product or service first and then given the option to purchase/learn more. If your landing page for your golf clubs ad just has “golf clubs” as an H1 tag, a “Buy Now” button, and little information about the clubs, it will not receive a high Quality Score.

While Google generates a handsome amount of revenue from advertisers, it is in the business of providing searchers with (exactly) what they are looking for as quickly as possible. Thus, it’s important to take a step into the shoes of your potential customers when trying to optimize the Quality Score of your keywords and ads.

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