Guide to Google Quality Scores

Note: This article was written a number of years ago but remains relevant enough to include.


Quality score is the thorn in the side of many marketers who use Google AdWords.

Those $5 and $10 bid prices on what should otherwise be cheap keywords can cause havoc to campaigns.

So how do you get around that?

That’s a great question. The exact way that Quality Score is calculated is not known. In the same way, as we guess at the factors that help produce good organic rankings in the search engines, we have to guess at what makes for a good Quality Score.

This document outlines what we’ve found to work in our own efforts. In saying that, we don’t treat these as hard and fast rules because every now and again what happens in practice, doesn’t seem to relate to our theories. These are also all white hat tactics. No layers and iframes will be covered in this document.

So treat these as rules of thumb. That’s the most anyone can really offer. We use these personally.

There are several elements that we’ve seen to have a strong impact on increasing Quality Score (and lowering bid price). These are some of the things we try to focus on.

Domain Name

Keyword-rich domain names seem to go well, especially if they are new. We’ve had brand new domain names with no domain history and attached some thematically keyword-rich subdomains to them and they have gone well.

Think about buying domain names with some page rank or existing content as well.

Domain Quality

The quality of the domain is a considerable factor. We find we always do better on domains that have a history, some page rank and are on a similar theme.

Nonetheless, we’ve still bombed on some campaigns attached to PR6 sites so it’s not the be-all and end-all.

Site Content

It helps if the whole site is thematically related to your PPC campaigns. From the landing page, you should try and link into such a site to allow the AdWords bot to spider the rest of the site.

If you don’t have a site like that, take stock of the kind of markets you plan to promote with PPC. Then build content sites around those markets which you can plug into.

Page Content

The landing page content is obviously very important. There should be a strong link with the original keyword and the text ad.

Using the SpeedPPC System you can dynamically change 1 landing page to match the keyword and ad group exactly.

I explain how to pass over the keywords in the URL and then dynamically insert them into the page in the SpeedPPC Manual.

So using this method you can pass the keywords into the title tags, the meta tags, the alt tags, the header tags and throughout the contents of the site. This helps make your page relevant for not only Quality Score, but also for conversions.

Check out the guide to see how to do that. You might also want to check out the landing page templates as well to see it in action.

I always aim to have at least 500 words of relevant content on your page.

File and Directory Naming

If you have read about the way you can create dynamic landing pages by passing variables in the URL in the SpeedPPC manual, you take this one step further whereby you rewrite the URL so those variables that you are passing in the URL end up looking like directory names.

For example

would turn into

You do this by adding a simple line into your .htaccess file. The SpeedPPC Manual shows you how to do this.

Click Through Rates (CTRs)

It certainly helps to have a higher click CTR on your ad group very quickly. You might wish to spend more than you would want to for the first few days to get your ad into a higher position so it gets more clicks. Once the CTR is up, you can then reduce it down to a profitable level.

Keyword > Ad Relationship

There should be a strong relationship between your keywords and your ad. This is not a huge factor, but it helps with CTR’s which in turn helps with improving your Quality Score.

Perhaps it naturally helps improve Quality Score. This, I’m not sure of.

Keyword > Landing Page Relationship

As I mentioned earlier, you should try to match the contents of your landing page back to the keyword. We teach this in the SpeedPPC Manual.

Ad > Landing Page Relationship

There should be a very strong link between your ad text and your landing page text. Try and make sure that you are using the same text in your ads as you are on your landing pages. This has some really good effects.

Helpful Elements

These are some elements that are good to try and achieve. Some of them are more difficult and can be out of your control.

Others are just helpful things that sometimes work.

Account Performance

This is something that is sometimes out of your control or at least is too late to be able to do much about.

It seems that Google looks at your historical performance to determine if your campaigns are going to be good.

So it pays to delete campaigns quickly that are not achieving a good quality score.

Perhaps over time, you can get good historical performance which makes it easier to get a good Quality Score.

Campaign Performance

The entire campaign performance will affect your individual ad groups. You should be careful not to let your poor performing ad groups pull down your high performing ones.

Outgoing Links

Try throwing in relevant links to authority sites like Wikipedia. I’m not 100% sure it does very much, but I’ve seen some evidence of it.

Unique Content

There has been talk around the fact that you must have unique content on your landing pages. While I haven’t seen that do much at all, I’m guessing in the future it might be a problem.

So try to write your own content for your landing page.

Also, try and create as much variation between your landing pages as possible.

Using dynamic variables in your landing pages will help this. 

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