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Taking a Wrench to Your Google Quality Score

It may seem a bit early to worry about Google AdWords performance for the upcoming holiday season, but this reporter has already been serenaded by a “Christmas in July” ad campaign for an electronics retailer. Last year we learned nine percent of holiday shoppers planned to buy gifts before Labor Day. Reaching those shoppers makes quality advertising essential to one’s ad strategy.

For Google advertisers, one visible metric to them comes in the form of the Quality Score, a ranking of their ads on a 1-10 scale. Higher ranks mean their quality, relevant ads will be seen by their target audience; lower ranks mean there’s work to be done.

Fortunately Google provides something of an owner’s manual when it comes to understanding Quality Score and more importantly how to tinker and improve it. Better Quality Scores can mean lower costs per click as well as the ability to pull in extra data like prices and ratings into the ad.

Before worrying about the Quality score, one has to consider ad quality, as this affects the ad auction and one’s AdWords spending. Google defines a “big three” of ad quality components as ad relevance, expected click-through rate (CTR), and landing page experience.

Improving those components that show below-average expectations can boost that Quality Score. While Google indicates that Quality Score is “a more general metric presented as a diagnosis of your overall performance” in ad auctions, it does help one know if their adjustments are helping earn better benefits from AdWords.

Google advises that account structure, targeting of other ad networks, and an ad’s position on a page don’t matter when it comes to ad quality. Instead, consider these three elements that Google says do matter.

Consider how the user is viewing one’s ads. More and more people stay connected online with smartphones and tablets, and that’s how many see one’s ads. Improved mobile ad targeting and mobile landing pages help out here.

Relevance to queries continues to matter, making it important to give visitors what they expect when they see and click through an ad. Low relevance makes for unhappy visitors and won’t help one’s ad quality, much less their business.

Google also noted how performance on related keywords matters for ad quality when one is launching new keywords. The upcoming holiday shopping season may be a time when an ecommerce pro is unveiling new products in their product line. Google unsurprisingly suggests investing in growing one’s coverage of relevant searches and particularly where one’s ads have the potential to be higher quality.

These approaches offer the potential benefit of a higher Quality Score and all that comes with it, which one would hope includes greater ad performance and conversions. It’s not too early to get under the hood and look for areas to fix.

David A Utter on LinkedinDavid A Utter on Twitter
David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.