What is Google Quality Score and What is its Impact on Ads?

What is Google Quality Score and What is its Impact on Ads?
Devik Balami |
quality score

Quality Score is a grading system which Google uses to rate the quality and relevance of an ad with the searched keyword. Google is always striving to improve the quality of the ads listed on their websites to improve the user experience. Quality score is a reflection of that.

Google strives to present ads which are most relevant to a user’s searches, resulting in more clicks on ads, and advertisers paying a cost per click (CPC) associated with that search. This helps Google’s advertising revenue. Google is also keen on presenting ads that have the highest probability to convert into sales for the advertiser, helping them maintain customer trust and loyalty, while allowing them more budget to spend on ads. Therefore, it makes sense for Google to show ads that are most relevant to a user’s search.

Quality Score is based on a scale between 1 and 10, where 1 is the lowest score and 10 is the best score possible. An ad’s Quality Score is an aggregated estimate of the overall performance in the ad auctions, showing advertisers how relevant Google believes their ad and landing page is for a specific keyword.

Another factor in ad performance on Google is Ad Rank. Per Google, “Ad Rank is a value used to determine your ad position (where ads are shown on a page relative to other ads) and whether your ads will show at all”. This rank is calculated from your max bid amount and Quality Score, which is calculated based on the following attributes:

  • Your ad quality
  • Expected click-through rate (CTR)
  • Context of searches (like location, device, and time of the search)
  • Other ads for that keyword
  • Search results
  • User signals/attributes
  • Nature of search terms
  • Landing page experience
  • Expected impact of ads extensions and other factors

Why is Quality Score Important?

First, platforms like Search Intelligence tool and Ad Intelligence provides you with information and insight to boost your boost your ad performance. As ads start converting, you are rewarded with a higher Quality Score, which amplifies your ad campaign optimization process.

Google calculates the actual CPC based on Quality Score and Ad Rank. This implies that you can spend less to get a higher Ad Rank position, while the actual CPC for the advertiser’s ranking on the keywords is calculated as:

Your Price = The Ads Rank of The Advertiser Below You/Your Quality Score + 0.01

quality score importance

How Does Google Determine Quality Score?

There are three main factors that Google uses to estimate your Quality Score:

1. Expected Click-Through Rate (CTR):

How likely is someone to click on your ad if it shows up for the specific keyword a user may search?

Above all, Google does not want to show irrelevant ads to their users. Google charges advertisers by clicks, and it would not look good for Google if the ads on the auction did not get clicked. Advertisers may start looking for alternative platforms, so it makes sense for Google to want users to click on more of the ads on their auction. Things that can affect your click-through rates are:

Things that can affect your click-through rates are:

    • Not utilizing ad extensions on your ads
    • Not targeting ad campaigns to the right user groups
    • Pricing your products either too high or too low from your competitors.

2. Ad Relevance:

Does it make sense for Google to show your ad for that specific keyword?

This measures how closely related the keyword is to your ads. Google gives a status of below average, average, and above average regarding the relevancy of ad to your keyword. Having a below average status means that your ad is not very related to the ad group. It is important to have a status of average or above average to have a higher probability of getting chosen by Google for the auction.
Things that affect your ad relevancy are:

    • Your product feed — Is all the information on your feed 100% correct?
    • Image enrichment — Do your image quality and specs meet Google’s requirements?
    • Optimize Product Title — Are your product titles optimized per your customer’s search intent?

3. Landing Page Experience:

Is the information provided on your landing page the same as what is being offered on your ad itself?

This is Google checking to make sure that your website’s landing page is relevant to the user that clicked on your ad. This is to ensure that the user gets a seamless experience while going from clicking the ad to navigating through the landing page that the click takes them to. You should make sure your landing page is clear, useful, and relevant to the customer’s search. The information provided on the landing page should be same as what is being offered on the ad itself.

Landing page experiences are affected by the ease of navigating around the pages, the page load speed and the quality of the pages on different devices. Landing pages are typically where the conversion to sales happens, so it is crucial to enrich the data on your landing pages.

How Does Quality Score Impact Ad Performance?

We analyzed the Quality Score data on 2,182 keywords from several of our clients in the Health and Beauty category to see how these Quality Scores affected the cost per clicks, cost per conversion and ad ranking.

See a summary of our findings is shown on Table #1 below:

Total Keywords


  • 48% of the keywords had a Quality Score of 5 or less (A score under 5 is considered below average)
  • 51% of the keywords had a positive score meaning 6 and above.
    • 32% of the keywords had a good Quality Score (between 7 and 9)
    • 12% of the keywords had the highest possible score of 10

1. Quality Score Improves your Ad’s Impression

As shown in Graph #1 below, the number of impressions per keyword is significantly higher on the ads with a Quality Score of 9 to 10, with the cost per click being much lower, supporting the importance of improving Quality Score.

impression per keyword and cpc

2. Quality Score Optimizes Ad Rank with Lower Cost per Click (CPC)

Similarly, we looked at the effect of Quality Score on Ad Rank. Our data showed ads that have a higher position in the ad auction typically have a higher Quality Score, as depicted by Graph #2 below. The graph also shows that the CPC is decreasing, as the Quality Score is increasing and improving the ad’s ranking.

average ad position

3. Quality Score Improves Click-Through Rates (CTR)

Next, we looked at what percentage of ads were being clicked on, in addition to the CPC. Graph #3 below highlights the importance of having a higher Quality Score. It shows that the chances of your ad being clicked is significantly higher with a Quality Score of 9 to 10 (27%), versus a  score of 1 to 2 (2%).

Graph #3 also highlights the fact that, even though the total cost is higher keywords with Quality Score of 9 to 10, the CPC is significantly lower than those with lower Quality Scores. The CPC is highest for scores in the 1 to 2 range, costing almost $2 per click. Scores above 7 cost less than a dollar per click, on average.

cost per clicks & click rate

4. Quality Score Creates Better Sales Conversion

Just clicking on an ad is not enough. The final goal is conversion to sales and generating revenue. Therefore, we looked at the data on the effect of Quality Scores on conversions and cost per conversion. Per Graph #4 below, we found that cost per conversion is much lower if you have a higher Quality Score. The average cost per conversion on keywords with a score of 9 to 10 is $10, whereas keywords with scores of 1 to 2 is $35. Ads with a score between 9 and 10 also had conversion rates of almost 7%, which is exponentially higher than the rest.

average conversion rate

The data analysis and graphs above show why it is important to have a high Quality Score and how it can impact impressions, clicks, conversions, Ad Ranks and helps to maximize ROAS.

In Conclusion: How can you Best Improve Your Quality Score?

As stated above, we now know the three main factors that heavily affect Quality Scores: click-through rate (CTR), ad relevance, and landing page experience. As such, the following are some optimizations an advertiser can do to improve their Quality Scores:

  • Improve your CTR:
    • One of the best ways to improve CTR is by using Google Shopping ad extensions. They help differentiate your ad and stand out in the ad auction.
    • Knowing your exact target market can help you target specific areas/regions or audiences that may be more likely to click on your ads. Organizing your keywords into smaller groups makes it easier to attach it to a specific ad campaign.
    • Use repricing tools for dynamic pricing to make sure your prices are comparable to, if not cheaper than, your competition.
  • Boost your ad relevance:
    • Optimize your product feed with the correct information such as GTIN, image, title, attributes of the product, description, product category, etc. to increase your ad relevancy.
    • Enrich your product images with the right Google specifications.
    • Understand the intent of your customers to write better and more relevant product titles and descriptions.
    • Analyze the top-ranked ad content, understand the factors affecting Google ad impression and position, then optimize your ad’s content.
  • Design a positive landing page experience:
    • The information provided on the landing page should be the same as what is being offered on the ad itself.
    • The landing page load speed is fast and it’s easy to navigate.
    • The landing page is optimized on all devices, such as mobile, tablet, and desktop.
    • Make sure the landing page data is enriched (i.e. remove inaccurate, outdated, and irrelevant information, and constantly update obsolete records with correct and up-to-date information).

Final Thoughts on Quality Scores

Features that influence Quality Score play a crucial part in how Google decides where the ad is ranked, and which ads show up in the ad auction. Next to the ad bid, Quality Score is the most influential metric in Google Adwords. Sometimes, a higher Quality Score can be even more influential than a higher bid amount in the ad rankings. Therefore, it is vital to keep track of your Quality Scores and try to improve the lower ones.

Ad Intelligence tool gives unprecedented insights into competitors and their ad contents, such as product titles, product images, product attributes, landing URLs, prices, ad extensions, shipping labels, etc. These factors influence Google Quality Scores and affect ad rankings. Having this level of granular data and information can enhance the quality of your ads, improve your Quality Scores, and lower your ad spend.

GrowByData Article Originally Published at Retail Touch Points on February 22, 2021.