Just as Google wants to deliver only the most relevant, authoritative, and useful search results to its users, it also wants to provide only the best ads through its AdWords program. A very important factor that dictates which ads show up in search results is called Quality Score – the metric by which an ad is measured for relevance and value.
Quality Score 101
The term Quality Score is used by Google for how they measure the value of bid-based ads. The concept of this metric, however, applies to all pay per click (PPC) ad providers such as Yahoo! and MSN. They might call it differently and use varying methods and factors to calculate it, but it remains a relevant and significant factor.
In a nutshell, Quality Score takes into consideration the keyword you bid on, the ads displayed for that keyword, and the landing page the link directs users to. It is an evaluation of how valuable and relevant all of the above are in a query request through Google Search. Since Quality Score is used to determine such important facets of PPC as ad placement and cost per click (CPC), it literally pays to understand at least its basics.
What about PageRank?
Some people might confuse PageRank with Quality Score – which is understandable. PageRank, however, is an entirely separate, albeit related concept. PageRank is a measure of your website’s authority and significance dictated by the number and quality of the websites linking to it. Quality Score scores the relevance and usefulness of PPC keywords, ads, and landing pages.
Therein lay the major similarity: both assess the quality of a webpage. Quality Score, however, focuses on landing pages and how well they are designed for search users who follow the links to them. On the other hand, PageRank only assesses inbound links and is a direct factor in organic search and not paid search.
Factors that Affect Quality Score
So what factors should you tweak to ensure higher Quality Scores for your ads? Established factors that Google tells us about include:
• Past Click through Rate of Keywords (CTR) – The past CTR performance of a keyword you bid on is used to calculate its Quality Score, given how the weight of user interaction usually indicates how relevant an ad is to a keyword.
• Past CTR of Display URL – Past CTR performance of display URL is also factored in for the same purposes as above.
• Account History – Overall past CTR performance of ds and keywords in your AdWords account. Think of it like a bank credit score.
• Landing Page Quality – The design and usability of your landing page.
• Relevance of Keyword to Ad – Is your targeted keyword a perfect fit for your ad?
• Relevance of Keyword to Search – Just how relevant is your targeted keyword to a search phrase used in a query?
• Geographic Performance – Campaign success in targeted locations.
• Site Performance – Same as above, only for websites.
Aside from these transparent factors, search engines that have PPC campaigns have openly admitted to other factors at work that they would rather not divulge. Rational speculation leads many to believe that such facets as on-site conversion also lend weight to the Quality Score calculation, like a combination of landing page performance and history.
Quality Scores are calculated every time a keyword you bid on is used in a search request, and throughout the day you are shown an aggregate average of your keywords’ Quality Scores.