Google Quality Score and Ad Rank

If you are a seasoned paid search professional you should be well aware of Google Quality Score, how it is calculated, judged and what a huge impact it can have on the rest of your marketing efforts. If you are still a little bit foggy on the details, we are hoping that this blog post will clear a few things up. First of all…

What is Quality Score?

Quality Score is a numeric value ranging from 1-10, 1 meaning poor and 10 meaning excellent. Quality score will apply to all keywords within your account. It is also worth remembering that this score is historic and will also be transferred across to a new keyword if that same keyword had been active previously.

How is it calculated?

There are many different factors that Google take into account when calculating your Quality Score;

  1. Ad relevance – The relevance of your ad text to the given search term.

  2. Landing Page relevance – The relevance of your landing page to the given search term.

  3. Expected CTR – Is your CTR within the range that Google expect for the given search term, please note this is also position dependant. So don’t think that if you place your ad in position 1 that the expected CTR will increase.

  4. Display URL Performance – This is why it is always best to test different Display URL variations, as Google use your CTR of different Display URL variations within their Quality Score calculation.

  5. Historical/Account Quality Score – This is very hard to measure indeed, but Google take into account the overall historical quality of your account when calculating its Quality Score. That is why it is always suggested that you house all of your keywords within one account and never start a new account because you will lose your historical Quality Score.

  6. Geographical Performance – Google take into account your performance within your chosen geographic targets.

  7. Device Performance – Same as above, your device target performance is also analysed.

  8. Other ranking factors – The rest of the calculation Google keep very close to the chest. However a good rule of thumb is if you manage to keep the customer happy then Google will also be happy.

All of these factors are closely linked to the concept of relevance. Google’s mission is to ensure that users of their search engine are shown the most relevant listings to the search query they have selected, so that those users will come back again and make them more revenue. With this in mind, your AdWords campaigns should be crafted in the most relevant fashion.

How often does Google calculate a keywords Quality Score?

Your keywords Quality Score will be updated and all of these factors will be taken into account every time that keyword triggers a search term in Google. The Quality Score that is shown in your Google AdWords account is an up to date figure and you are unfortunately unable to see the score historically. However, at the end of this post we have a little BONUS that will help you with this issue.

How does Quality Score and Ad Rank work?

Ad Rank is unfortunately not a metric that you will find anywhere in the Google Adwords system, it is what Google use to decide who should display in which position in the final auction.

Ad Rank = Quality Score x Max. CPC

Below is an example of three advertisers who are all eligible to appear for the keyword [nike air max ones];


So as you can see although Advertiser C has the highest bid, their advert is only appearing in position #3 because the Quality Score of the keyword is so low. They will also be paying much more money for this position than Advertiser A or B will for their positions. Now the example above is just for illustration purposes, the difference in CPCs will not be this drastic, however if you invested more time and effort to improving your keyword Quality Score with new ads, ad variation testing and landing page optimisation you will start to notice a big impact.

How can I improve my Quality Score?

The main issue that can really affect Quality Score is improper site architecture. What we mean by this is your Campaign and Ad Group structure; you must make sure that you do not have conflicting or different terms within the same ad group. For example if you are advertising a flower delivery service, you might have an Ad Group for ‘Red Roses’ and an Ad Group for ‘White Roses’. It would be best practice to ensure that there are no ‘White Rose’ keywords within the ‘Red Roses’ campaign.

A good rule of thumb when building your AdWords account is to follow the structure of your own website, this will help you to make sure that your ads and keywords are relevant to the landing pages that you actually have on your website.

Bonus quality score script checker

Below is a Google AdWords Script that will allow you to export an average of you account Quality Score into Google Docs. This will help you to track if your optimisations are having a positive or negative effect.

All you need to do is save a copy of this Google Sheet in your Google Drive;

Once this is saved copy and paste the URL into the SPREADSHEET_URL section of the script and add the script into your google account. You can schedule this Daily or Weekly depending on how often you would like to report on account Quality Score.