Quality score is an important indicator to gauge the performance of your campaigns.
There are a lot of factors that can affect it directly or indirectly.
You can change your quality score by altering some of the metrics or it can change itself depending on the quality of your ads.
In this article, I am going to explain in detail how quality scores change and how you can make use of those changes to improve your Google ad campaigns.
Briefly about Quality score
Quality score (QS) is an indicator that determines the quality of your keywords and scores them from 1 to 10 depending on their Expected CTR, Ad relevancy and Landing page experience.
You can see the QS in your Google ads account if your hover over the Status symbol next to your keywords or if you add the Quality score column in your statistics table.
The QS can give you a general overview of how your account is performing. But, it should not be considered as the main tool against which you optimize your campaigns.
An 8,9,10 score you get might not necessarily mean your account is performing great. There might still be problems in converting customers, even if you have a high CTR (click-through-rate).
Likewise, 3,4 scores might work great for your business, even if you have a lower CTR, but have a higher conversion rate (by targeting specific keywords related to your business).
To come up with any quality score number, the last changes of these three components are taken into account:
- Expected CTR – shows how likely is someone to click your ads, based on the past performance of your ads or ads of others
- Ad relevancy – measures how relevant your ad text to the searcher intent
- Landing page experience – measures the quality of your landing page and the relevancy of it to the searcher intent
Keep in mind. Throughout the article when I talk about the components, I refer to those three metrics listed above.
Can quality score change?
Quality score can change depending on how good or bad your campaigns are performing. You can also change it yourself by making improvements to the scores of each of the three components of QS.
They all can have Above average, Average, and Below average scores.
Changing some of those components might give faster results than others.
For example, if you have average scores for all of the components of Quality score, you can try to improve the Ad relevancy first. Because you can change it immediately and it can give results right away.
Whereas, increasing the score of Landing page experience would require some time and even the help of a developer to make changes to your landing page.
Therefore, you need to put priority on tasks that give a bigger impact or improve results faster than others.
How to notice the trend of change?
Sometimes it is good to notice a trend of decreasing Quality score and take action before it gets even worse.
In order to notice any change in QS beforehand, you can add columns that show historical changes of Quality scores and their components.
- Quality score (hist.)
- Landing page experience (hist.)
- Ad relevance (hist.)
- Expected CTR (hist.)
All of these metrics report on the latest changes that happened for the selected time period.
You can segment them by week or day to find trends at certain time intervals and fix them accordingly if you find any move towards one direction.
For example, if the historical Quality score has been underperforming week over week, and it dropped from 7 to 4 score, it is an indication that you need to make major changes to one if not all of the components of the Quality score.
At this time, you can look at the history of Expected CTR, Ad Relevance, and Landing page experiences and try to find metrics that are underperforming within that time frame.
Because each component has only 3 types of scoring methods, you may not get a full picture of how your ads are performing (two keywords with “Average” score for all 3 components may receive different 6 and 7 Quality scores).
So, firstly you should try improving components that have changed one or two step backwards such as from Average to Below average or Above average to Average. Then you can start improving components that haven’t changed.
Tip: If you notice the trend of improving Quality score, don’t change any of the metrics and instead try to replicate the same strategy to other ad groups and campaigns.
Signals of Quality score change
There are some signals, which I think can indicate an increase or decrease in your quality scores.
Signal of decreasing
When your ads have a higher position than before and your CTR doesn’t increase after that. That might signal a potential decrease in your Quality score.
Some people might say Quality score doesn’t include the effects of ad positions.
That’s right, but at least the CTR should be higher. If in this case, the CTR cannot go higher, that indicates a lower ad quality.
Signals of increasing
This one is the opposite of the example above and it is easier to understand.
When your ad position doesn’t increase, but you still get a higher CTR, that signals a potential increase in your Quality score.
How often does Quality score change?
Quality score can change daily if you receive enough impressions or clicks for your ads.
Some advertisers can see dramatic increases in a day, while for others it may take several days to get 1 point change.
How to increase your Quality score fast and by several points?
For the people who want to change their QS faster and by a large amount, they need to get exact match impressions in a high volume.
But, Google is not transparent about the minimum number of impressions needed to change the null Quality score (QS with no score) or an existing Quality score to something higher.
What we know from our own experiences and Google’s guidelines that you can change your Quality score faster by targeting exact versions of short-tail keywords, which have a high search volume compared to long-tail keywords.
Here is the answer I got from one of Google ads’ representatives when I asked him a similar question.
Why you need a high search volume?
Because in this way machine learning generates more data and with more data, it is easier to find statistical significance and change your Quality score accordingly.
However, keep in mind that a high search volume can increase the volatility of your Quality score. As a result, you may see a rapid increase and decrease in your score numbers.
So, this answers the question of how to change your QS by several points and faster.
But, it isn’t guaranteed that your Quality score will increase. Actually, it can easily go in the opposite direction.
To avoid that you need to add more negative keywords or long-tail keywords with a higher search volume.
In this way, you can reduce irrelevant ad clicks, increase the relevancy of your ads and improve your Quality score as much as possible.
What changes don’t affect the Quality score?
Most people think that because their ads have a higher CTR than before, their QS improves.
But, in some cases, Google ads excludes the effects of some of the factors like ad positions and ad extensions.
For example, if an ad in the first position gets a CTR of 7% and your ad gets a CTR of 4%, Google ads may see the first position result by comparing it to other ads’ previous performances in the same position and to the second position by excluding the ad position effect.
So, Expected click-through rate (ECTR) of the ad in the first position may equal 3.5% and ECTR of the ad in the second position may equal 4.5%.
Of course, I made it up for the sake of illustration. But, that is the idea behind comparing ads with different criteria by leveling their opportunities.
Same goes for ad extensions, effects in the type and number of ad extensions are excluded when calculating their performances.
Now, you know everything about Quality score change, you can improve your campaigns, lower your CPCs and eventually increase your ROI.
However, as I told earlier, Quality score is not everything and sometimes it may not even correlate with your campaign performance.
But, most of the time it is a good practice to keep that number as high as you can because it summarizes the results of 3 main components that are used in Google ads real-time auctions (ECTR, Ad relevance, Landing page experience).
Now, what is your opinion on using QS in your campaigns?
Do you use it to identify changes or optimize your ads against it?
Let me know in the comments section below…
For any help with your Google ads management, you can contact me through the Contact page.