Quality Score: What is it and How Does it Impact PPC?

Quality Score: What is it and How Does it Impact PPC?

If you want to make an impact with your digital marketing, especially when it comes to PPC, you need to take your Quality Score into account.

Pay per click (PPC) advertising is an important part of the overall fabric of digital marketing, but it can be intimidating for some. There are a lot of elements that make up a good PPC campaign, and missing even one of them can lead to poor results and a campaign that doesn’t provide ROI.

One of the aspects that’s commonly missed is Quality Score. Part of the reason for this is that it’s not something that’s highlighted often, and when it is, it tends to be seen as a small piece of the PPC puzzle that can be safely overlooked. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Your ad campaign’s Quality Score will have a major effect on how successful it is. However, many people don’t realize that it works the other way as well, with high-performing campaigns leading to better Quality Scores in the long run. Getting this right can lead to a virtuous circle that can be a huge boost to your digital advertising.

What is a Quality Score?

Like many aspects of PPC and digital marketing, only Google employees know the whole truth about Quality Score. However, there’s a lot we understand about this particular metric. First of all, it’s a number between one and ten that reflects how relevant and high-quality your ads - and the keywords associated with them - are.

Google then uses this number to determine how much you’ll be charged for each person who clicks on your ads. This is referred to as cost-per-click (CPC). It also helps towards determining your overall ad rank.

So, how does Google determine what number your campaign gets? We know the elements that go into it, but not how much each is weighted. Mostly, it’s to do with how relevant your copy is to the campaign you’re running. For example, Google takes the relevance of keywords to the ads with which they’re used into account, as well as the quality of the landing pages your ads lead to.

However, another important factor is your click-through rate (CTR), which refers to the percentage of people who see your ad who then go on to click on it. It also takes your past AdWords performance into account. Essentially, Google uses the Quality Score to work out how useful, relevant and appealing your ads are to your audience.

This means that writing high-quality, relevant ad copy using keywords that make sense in context can lead to a higher Quality Score, which then contributes to your campaign being more successful, which gives you a higher CTR, increasing your Quality Score. To a certain extent, it’s a virtuous circle, making it an important thing to get right.

How does it affect PPC?

So, how’s this going to affect your PPC campaigns? Put simply, the higher your score, the cheaper and more effective your campaigns are likely to be. The first aspect of this is to do with the CPC area of PPC. Google essentially gives a discount for ads with a Quality Score higher than its benchmark of five, while increasing the cost for those with a score of one to four.

A study by WordStream found that:

  • Ad campaigns with a Quality Score of 6 were discounted by 16.7%
  • Those that were able to reach a perfect 10 could be discounted up to 50%
  • A score of 4 increases the cost of a campaign by 25%
  • If you only manage a Quality Score of 1, this could increase the amount you pay by 150% or even 400%

Of course, most campaigns are intended to get conversions, not clicks. This is another area affected by Quality Score, with cost per conversion decreasing for every point a campaign’s score goes up. One study found the price went down by 13% for every one-point rise in Quality Score, while another found that it was more like 16%.

Can you improve your quality score?

So, if you’re stuck with a Quality Score of five or below, what can you do? The list of possible options is long enough to deserve its own article, but essentially it all falls under the same umbrella: you need to make sure your ad campaign is useful and relevant to the audience you’re hoping to attract.

If you assume you need to somehow ‘trick’ Google to succeed, you won’t get far. The search engine simply wants to make sure the content that gets put in front of its users is as high-quality and relevant as possible, and the same goes for ads. If you keep this in mind while designing your PPC campaign, you’ll likely find success.

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