How to Use Historical Quality Score Data for Better Ads

How to Use Historical Quality Score Data for Better Ads

Lisa Raehsler

Are your PPC advertising campaigns performing as well as they could be?

Truthfully, in the world of paid search, there’s always room to improve.

That’s why Google AdWords recently released improvements to quality score reporting. This data can help you create even more relevant PPC ads.

What are the key improvements for advertisers?

You can:

  1. View results at scale: AdWords has added quality score component columns to the keyword tab.
  2. Access historical quality score performance data: It’s easy to see how your score has changed over time.
  3. Export your data: This makes it easier to analyze.

How Google Calculates Quality Score

Quality score is the name of the metric AdWords uses to determine where a PPC ad should appear in the paid search results and how much the advertiser should pay per click.

The quality score is tied to three main components:

  • Ad relevance.
  • Landing page experience.
  • Expected CTR.

These are key components to monitor and optimize when reviewing the quality score data in the new columns.

How to Use Quality Score Reporting

Quality score can be viewed at the keyword level in AdWords.

quality score reporting components

You can use the “quality score” metrics to create a custom view.

Save these columns for future use and quick insight into quality score performance.

quality score custom view

In addition to seeing the historical/last known quality score for the reporting period, you also can dig deeper by changing the time periods.

quality score time range

With these new insights, you can focus on areas that need improvement.

Let’s look at an example:

Below average ad relevance quality score

If you were managing this PPC account, you now clearly see where you need to focus your efforts to raise the quality score:

Ad relevance.

You can also manipulate date ranges to see if there is any valuable historical information.

In this example, it hasn’t changed. It was (and still is) “below average.”

Let’s examine the three key components contributing to quality score that can be optimized to improve performance.

1. Ad Relevance

The closer the connection between the keyword and ad copy, the higher the keyword relevance.

Usually, you see poor ad relevance because:

  • Someone who lacks PPC experience created the ad.
  • Ads were copied from one ad group to another without editing the keywords and tailoring them to the ad copy for the new ad group.

Having a proper account structure will improve relevance. Make sure your campaigns and ad groups are smaller and contain highly targeted themes.

Top Tips

  • Start out by ensuring the top keywords are in the ad copy. Try to incorporate these into the headline, body, and display URL if possible.
  • Determine if the keywords should be moved to a different or new ad group, or be removed from the account.

2. Landing Page Experience

A great landing page experience is essential if you want to turn those clicks into conversions.

The landing page should be easy to navigate and the advertised product should be featured clearly on the page.

If there is a form or download on the page, tell the user what will happen after they take action. For example, once the form is submitted, they will be directed to a free trial. Or, once they click on the “download” button, a PDF brochure file will begin to download.

For the purposes of quality score, we want to ensure that the keywords from the keyword list and ad copy are carried over to the content on landing page.

For example, if the keyword is “feather pillow”, then the ad should include “feather pillow” in the copy and “feather pillow” should also be included on the landing page. Having “down pillow” isn’t good enough, even if it’s close contextually.

Make sure your landing page content is relevant and useful to the searcher. This will help improve your quality score.

Advertisers also want to look at landing page performance. Google has a tool that will show page speed on mobile and desktop and mobile friendliness.

Google's mobile speed testing tool

More than half of visitors leave mobile sites when pages don’t load within three seconds, according to Google.

Some common causes for longer load time include slow/multiple redirects, large page size, or a slow server.

Google’s tool also provides a downloadable report with technical details that can be passed along to the web developer for troubleshooting.

AdWords also reviews mobile landing pages, so performance of landing pages from a mobile perspective should be a consideration for all advertisers.

Top Tips

  • To improve usability and conversions, use copy on the landing page to communicate to the user what will happen next when they complete an action.
  • Use the Google tool or a similar one to gauge the current landing page performance. Check more than one page to ensure the results are consistent.

Expected CTR

AdWords calculates an expected CTR representing the likeliness of the ad receiving a click when it is served. The expected CTR doesn’t take ad rank or ad extensions into consideration.

The expected CTR is different from the CTR in the AdWords account. The expected CTR is estimated based on how the keyword performs in the account along with other advertisers’ accounts. Pausing keywords also pauses the quality scores, so they will not change over time.

Low CTRs or a below average expected CTR could occur for a variety of reasons. One of these is the ad copy not being closely connected to the keyword. For example, someone searching for “feather pillow” is less likely to click on an ad for “best pillows.”

Oftentimes, even though the keyword and ad copy are closely connected, the keywords could be triggered by irrelevant searches. This can be discovered in the search terms reports by examining the individual queries and themes triggering ads.

Focusing on negative keywords and keyword match types can improve CTRs, which will improve your quality score.

Top Tips

  • Check below average expected CTR to ensure the ads are matching the keyword grouping.
  • Prevent irrelevant searches from triggering ads by creating negative keywords and tightening up match types.

Final Thoughts

Historical quality score data is incredibly helpful for identifying any optimization you need to do to improve your ad relevance, landing page experience, or expected CTR. Use it to start making smarter decisions and better PPC ads now!

Image Credits

Screenshots by Lisa Raehsler

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