This article explains the Google Adwords Quality Score, also known as QS, which you’ll encounter in the Google Adwords editor and the online Adwords interface. The QS influences the costs and results of your campaign greatly. When working with Google Adwords the Quality Score of your keywords is the most important thing to understand.
After reading this article you will know:
- What the Google Adwords Quality Score is
- How your Quality Score is determined
- How your Quality Score affects your Adwords campaign and spendings
What is Google Adwords Quality Score?
Adwords uses the Quality Score or QS metric to rate and rank your keywords. The QS of a keyword is one of the 4 factors which determines where (if at all) your ad will be shown (position) and how much a click will cost you. The other three factors are: your max. CPC bid, the QS of your competitors and the max. CPC bid of your competitors.
The QS your keywords get is determined by Adwords based on 3 criteria:
- history (click-through-rate / CTR)
- relevancy of your ad
- quality of your landingspage
History is determined by comparing your CTR on a specific postion to the average CTR on that position. Is your ad generating a better CTR than average? You’re building great history. Is your Ad getting a lower CTR? You’re going to be feeling it in your wallet (lower QS means higher costs, we’ll get to that soon).
A QS of 1 is terrible, while a QS of 10 is perfect. QS shouldn’t be treated as a ‘grade’, it can be a good decision to advertise on a keyword you only have a QS of 4 on. You will be paying more per-click than you have to though.
How your QS affects your campaign
Quality Score directly influences your ad position (and thus the amount of traffic you will get) and the CPC. First I’ll explain how your QS affects the position on which your ad will be displayed, this is called Ad Rank.
Quality Score and Ad Rank
The advertisements displayed by the Google Adwords network are ordered by Ad Rank. The ad with the highest Ad Rank gets position one. I’ll explain the formula for calculating an ads Ad Rank (which is based on Quality Score and max. CPC using an example.
Ad Rank formula Ad Rank = QS * max. CPC
example: I target the keyword ‘Seiko vintage watch’ and Adwords gives me an QS on this keyword of 8. I set my max. CPC on € 0.35. My Ad Rank will be 8 * 35 = 280. One of my vintage watch selling competitors also targets ‘Seike vintage watch’ and gets a Quality Score of 7, he decides to set his max. CPC on € 0.41. His Ad Rank will be 7 * 41 = 287. My competitors Ad will be shown in position 1 while I will be in position 2. Increasing my QS to 9 would raise my Ad Rank to 315 and put me in first place, without increasing my bid (green).
I’ve addes ‘someone else’ in the image just to complete our top 3 advertisers. (it’s no good being 2nd if it means being last also)
Quality Score and cost-per-click
Now we’ve figured out how the QS determines where our ads are shown it’s time to explain how your QS also decides how much you’ll pay per click. We’ll use our ‘Seiko vintage watch’ example from above (I love Seiko vintage watches). Lets assume for the first example that I didn’t raise my QS to 9, so I’ll still be in 2nd place with an Ad Rank of 280.
CPC formula (max. CPC of ad below you * QS of ad below you) / your QS
So my actual cost-per-click will be the Ad Rank of the person below me divided by my QS. I’ll update the picture and I’ll add in the CPC calculations in blue.
Effectively this means:
- A higher Google Adwords Quality Score can have your ad placed on a better position
- If your QS is lower than 10 you are paying more than you could be paying
- By increasing your QS you could force your competition to pay more per click
Need to know more about your quality score? Feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comments section below or via Twitter. You should also keep an eye on this website, I’m working on an article about raising your Quality Score.