Truths and Myths about Quality Score

Qual­i­ty Score remains one of the most impor­tant aspects in Paid Search. Qual­i­ty Score is a diag­nos­tic met­ric that affects cost per click and ad posi­tion­ing and there­fore has a direct impact on effi­cien­cy and prof­itabil­i­ty of any Paid Search campaign.

Google nev­er pub­lished a full list of fac­tors impact­ing the Qual­i­ty Score. How­ev­er, in the last months, Google released the “Set­tling the (Qual­i­ty) Score**”** whitepa­per and shed some more light into the met­ric and its com­mon mis­con­cep­tions. Here are the most impor­tant takeaways:

  1. Qual­i­ty Score Is a Help­ful Diag­nos­tic Tool, Not a Key Per­for­mance Indicator

Many adver­tis­ers track and mon­i­tor Qual­i­ty Score as if it was a main KPI, which con­tra­dicts the Google whitepa­per. How­ev­er, con­sid­er­ing the influ­ence Qual­i­ty Score can have on your costs and per­for­mance it’s hard to de-empha­sis this point. The three key com­po­nents that affect the Qual­i­ty Score are:

The whitepa­per points out that the Qual­i­ty Score is not a real-time qual­i­ty mea­sure for each auc­tion, but rather a gen­er­al diag­no­sis met­ric that presents your over­all per­for­mance. Oth­er fac­tors such as search query, device and loca­tions also con­tribute to the real-time auction.

Fur­ther­more, any improve­ments such as changes to site and ad text will take time to be reflect­ed in the report­ed Qual­i­ty Score.

  1. How You Struc­ture Your Account: Doesn’t Matter

Google states that account struc­ture doesn’t mat­ter, a point that sparked the most con­ver­sa­tion since it can be eas­i­ly mis­un­der­stood. In prac­ti­cal terms, this would mean that we could move a key­word to an ad group with dif­fer­ent ad copy and land­ing pages with­out affect­ing the Qual­i­ty Score. How­ev­er, this is not true, as that would affect the over­all user experience.

Tech­ni­cal­ly, the account struc­ture will not affect the Qual­i­ty Score, how­ev­er, for opti­miza­tions, every adver­tis­er should adhere to the basic AdWords prac­tices of sim­i­lar­i­ties, mean­ing sim­i­lar key­words should be grouped togeth­er in ad groups, the ad copy should derive from them and the user should be direct­ed to a rel­e­vant land­ing page.

  1. Your Ad’s Place­ment On The Page: Doesn’t Matter

Google clar­i­fies that ad posi­tion­ing doesn’t affect your Qual­i­ty Score. There­fore, increas­ing bids and rank­ing in the top posi­tions will not improve your Qual­i­ty Score. It has to be clar­i­fied that expect­ed Click-through-Rate is one of the com­po­nents for the Qual­i­ty Score – not the actu­al Click-through rate. That means that adver­tis­ers need to opti­mize Qual­i­ty Score with­out con­sid­er­ing ad place­ment on the page.

  1. The User’s Device: Does Matter

Google also indi­cates that devices will impact Qual­i­ty Score and there­fore it’s cru­cial to opti­mize not just your desk­top land­ing page, but also your land­ing page for tablet and mobile.

Your Qual­i­ty Score will suf­fer and drag down the Qual­i­ty Score for all oth­er devices if you can’t pro­vide opti­mized mobile expe­ri­ence. Google doesn’t require you to have a mobile site, but land­ing pages should be opti­mized for all devices. If that is not the case, it’s advis­able to hold off with the activ­i­ty, but con­sid­er­ing the strong mobile growth in the last years, mobile opti­miza­tion should be a pri­or­i­ty for any organization.

For opti­miza­tions, con­sid­er the entire cus­tomer jour­ney from ad copy to land­ing pages to improve your Qual­i­ty Score across all devices.


Over­all, Qual­i­ty Score is an impor­tant met­ric in Paid Search, that when com­bined with a cul­tur­al paid search strat­e­gy helps to opti­mise the over­all cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. The main goal is to serve the per­fect ad to the user’s search query and direct them to an opti­mised land­ing page. Focus on the over­all cus­tomer expe­ri­ence and the Qual­i­ty Score will follow.