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How to Improve Your Quality Score by Building The Appropriate Framework

White Shark Media

11 years ago



Making sure that your Quality Scores are as high as possible is one of the key factors in maximizing the possible ROI from your
AdWords campaigns. You can work tirelessly on improving your conversion rate or lower your bidding, but a difference of 3 Quality Score points can radically increase (or lower!) your profits.

There are countless blog posts, books and guides on how to optimize your Quality Score with x amount of tips to magically get a higher Quality Score.

Even though many of these lists are great for reference that’s not how I personally optimize for Quality Score. The best way to improve your Quality Score is to make sure your campaigns enable a high Quality Score to appear.

In this blog post I’ll explain in detail how I improve Quality Score by starting over and why you should do the same.

Improving Your CTR Has The Biggest Effect on Quality Score

The ultimate factor in determining your Quality Score is your CTR. Achieving a high CTR should therefore be your biggest concern when it comes to improving your Quality Score.

I therefore make sure that I refer to Quality Score optimization as CTR optimization instead. This puts me in the right mindset and achieving my goal becomes more real.

Make Sure Your Landing Pages Aren’t Limiting Your Quality Score

When you’re first activating your AdWords account you’ll probably notice that you don’t have any historical CTR that can be used to calculate your Quality Score.

Google will therefore use the other factors (ad relevancy, landing lage, keyword quality) in order to determine your Quality Score in the beginning. Even though your Quality Score can be radically different after a few weeks of activating your AdWords campaigns you should aim at getting a head start as early as possible.

The best way to get ahead is by making sure that your landing pages and general campaign relevance are as high as possible.

Maximize Your Keyword, Ad and Landing Page Relevance

To get the highest CTR possible you often need to focus on relevance. The relevancy factor is important for two reasons:

    1. Part of your Quality Score is determined by ad relevance
    2. The better your relevance is the higher your CTR will often be

Let’s take a theoretical example. If someone is searching for cheap iPad covers and you present them with the following ad, you will in most cases see a low CTR:


Analyzing this ad you’ll find that:

  • The ad relevancy is very low
  • Your assumed CTR will be low as well

When someone is looking for cheap iPad covers and your ad focuses on expensive iPad covers, then you’ll expect a low CTR.

This doesn’t have to be an entirely bad thing for revenue and ROI, but Quality Score wise you’re doomed to fail.

When experimenting with keywords that do not lie within your website’s realm of relevance try to write ads that are unconventional. This can in some cases help to improve your Quality Score:


They might not convert well for you, but if you can find an unconventional ad like this that converts, then your ROI will be several times greater than if you have an ad with low keyword-relevancy.

Never Allow Slow Loading Landing Pages

Slow landing pages are fast becoming a very important element in your Quality Score. 2 years ago I worked with a smaller account in the kids clothing industry.

We had been working hard for three months slowly building our campaigns and mainly focusing on rebuilding our Quality Scores. At the end of the 3 months we had 10/10 Quality Scores on all our main keywords and we had a great profit margin.

But then disaster hit.

Something happened within the shop system so the image compression technology stopped working from one day to another. The loading time of our landing pages increased 4-fold.

Our conversion rate was quickly cut in half because of the bad loading time.

In two weeks our Quality Scores fell from a visible Quality Score of 10/10 to 7/10 and 6/10. The lower QS and lower conversion rate destroyed our profit margins and we had to go into crisis mode.

The AdWords campaigns were paused until the system could be fixed and when we launched them again we didn’t see any change in Quality Score for over a month. It simply didn’t want to get better.

Our Google Rep said that we couldn’t do anything else but wait for the Quality Scores to increase. The waiting time had however destroyed profits for my Client and with my rather high fee, made her decide to manage without my services as she couldn’t afford to pay me just for “waiting”.

Eventually, the Quality Scores climbed back up to 10/10, but it took around 3-4 months and a lot of profits were lost.

Build a Framework For Your Account That Enables a High-Quality Score

Instead of simply changing a few ads or adding negative keywords to an account, the art of improving Quality Score should be about building the correct framework for success.

If your account structure is built in such a way that it makes it difficult for you to increase relevancy, you then have to reorganize it. It is the only way to go.

Therefore Quality Score optimization as an afterthought rarely works and you should seriously consider uprooting your campaign and starting all over if you’re hit by low-Quality Scores.

Find below my recipe for success when it comes down to Quality Score optimization.

The Basics Need to Be In Place

  • High keyword – ad – landing page relevance
  • No broad match keywords
  • Negative keywords
  • Opt-out of the Display Network

Pick the right keywords

An important factor in building your Quality Score is to properly start off. Some keywords will undoubtedly have a higher Quality Score and CTR than others.

By choosing keywords that are highly relevant to your business and letting them be the foundation of your AdWords campaigns, they will work to build your campaign Quality Score and overall account Quality Score.

Having high campaign and account Quality Scores will help when starting new keywords in the future (albeit it can’t turn a bad keyword into a good one).

I like to start out cautiously with a very low threshold for irrelevancy. If I have a site about iPad covers, then I would focus on iPad cover keywords:

  • Leather iPad Cover
  • iPad Cover for kids
  • Cheap iPad Cover
  • Buy iPad Cover

Unless I had categories for Cases, Bags, Protectors etc. then I wouldn’t even think to start keywords in these themes.

They might be relevant for our future campaign, but when the goal is to obtain the highest relevancy and CTR, your irrelevancy threshold should be very small.

Using Brand Names as Keywords in The Beginning

If your brand is well known then running brand campaigns for the first month has been a recognized strategy as they usually result in very high CTRs and their relevancy can’t be matched.

I don’t see the need to be that strict, but if you can afford to wait to activate your campaign then it might be a good step as an extra precaution. I have however started countless campaigns with 10/10 Quality Scores without having to start out with brand campaigns.

Structure Your Account for Maximum Relevance

To ensure the highest CTR in the long run you need to be very meticulous about your account structure. Just grouping keywords together because they “sound alike” or “they’re basically the same thing” will not cut it.

Try to think in themes.

Think about how your chosen keywords apply to the associated ad. If they don’t fit perfectly, then create new ad groups for these keywords that don’t really fit.

Always Have Misc. Ad Groups

The normal procedure when deciding whether keywords should have their own ad groups is by looking at their search volume. If the search volume is high enough, you can then put them in their own ad groups.

This approach will always leave a lot of keywords out. I’ve seen in countless occasions keywords being included in the ad groups that are most relevant to them.

Avoid this at any cost.

Your well-structured ad groups and your keywords perfectly aligned to them will be ruined if you start adding extra and less relevant keywords to the mix.

Create instead an ad group called Misc. Testing that can be used to test all these keywords you’re not sure to be getting enough searches to justify creating their own ad groups.

Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion to ensure a relatively high ad relevancy. Once the ad groups have been running for a couple of days, or even weeks, you’ll know exactly which keywords deserve their own ad groups.

Write Ads That Entice Users To Click Them

Finally, you should focus your ad writing in ways that allow your ads to get the biggest amount of clicks without being unprofitable.

There is a fine line between attracting everyone (= low conversion rate, low ROI) and attracting too few (= low CTR, High ROI) when it comes to ad writing.

When writing your ads you should try to attract as many users as possible and thereafter try to play around with the techniques mentioned in this PPC Associates blog post.

Your most important goal in the beginning is to achieve a high-Quality Score while still being profitable.

Sculpt Your Impressions so They Match Up with the Most Designated Ads

Before activating your campaign you should do one last thing (to) as a safety measure. If you’re only using exact match keywords, then you can skip this practice.

Keywords that have the same wording can be triggered by the same search terms. A good example of this is the recent AdWords campaigns we started for ourselves.

We used the keywords:

    • Google Ads Management
    • Google AdWords Management

Google considers Ads and AdWords to be one and the same, which means that when we have Google Ads Management in broad match modifier, a search for Google AdWords Management can trigger the Google Ads keyword/ad combination.

This results in a possibly lower CTR as the ad we had written for Google Ads Management didn’t contain the word “AdWords”.

To ensure the highest relevancy, you should therefore add keywords from other ad groups as negative keywords for each one.


Ad Groups:

    • iPad Covers
    • iPad Cases
    • iPad Bags
    • iPad Protectors

In the iPad covers ad group you should add case(s), bag(s) and protector(s) as negative keywords.

This approach however, requires an eye for details. In the example above it’s not too far stretched that somebody might be searching for iPad cover protector. Be careful not to exclude too many searches.

More Quality Score Resources

Do you have questions about Quality Score?

Quality Score is one of the returning subjects when I’ve taught AdWords or answered questions from Clients.

If you have a question about Quality Score, feel free to reach out in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.