What are quality score and ad rank?
Where your paid search ad appears is the result of a number of factors. Ad Rank is a measure of content quality for the paid ads and landing page that measure what digital experience they provide to a user.
At a high level, think of Ad Rank as having six factors:
- Your bid – When you set your bid, you’re telling Google Ads the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. How much you actually end up paying is often less, and you can change your bid at any time.
- The quality of your ads and landing page – Google Ads also looks at how relevant and useful your ad and the website it links to are to the person who’ll see it. Our assessment of the quality of your ad is summarized in your Quality Score, which you can monitor—and work to improve—in your Google Ads account.
- The Ad Rank thresholds – To help ensure high quality ads, there are minimum thresholds that an ad must achieve to show.
- The competitiveness of an auction – If two ads competing for the same position have similar ad ranks, each will have a similar opportunity to win that position. As the gap in ad rank between two advertisers’ ads grows, the higher-ranking ad will be more likely to win but also may pay a higher cost per click for the benefit of the increased certainty of winning.
- The context of the person’s search – With the ad auction, context matters. When calculating Ad Rank, we look at the search terms the person has entered, the person’s location at the time of the search, the type of device they’re using (e.g., mobile or desktop), the time of the search, the nature of the search terms, other ads and search results that show on the page, and other user signals and attributes.
- The expected impact from your ad extensions and other ad formats – When you create your ad, you have the option to add additional information to your ad, such as a phone number, or more links to specific pages on your site. These are called ad extensions. Google Ads estimates how extensions and other ad formats you use will impact your ad’s performance.
Why ad quality matters
The quality components of Ad Rank are used in several different ways and can affect the following things:
- Ad auction eligibility: Our measures of ad quality help determine the Ad Rank thresholds for your ad, and therefore whether your ad is qualified to appear at all.
- Your actual cost-per-click (CPC): Higher quality ads can often lead to lower CPCs. That means you pay less per click when your ads are higher quality.
- Ad position: Higher quality ads often lead to higher ad positions, meaning they can show up higher on the page.
- Eligibility for ad extensions and other ad formats: Ad Rank determines whether or not your ad is eligible to be displayed with ad extensions and other ad formats, such as sitelinks.
Overall, higher quality ads typically lead to lower costs, better ad positions, and more advertising success. The Google Ads system works best for everybody—advertisers, customers, publishers, and Google—when the ads we show are relevant, closely matching what customers are looking for.
About ad relevance
Ad relevance measures how closely related your keyword is to your ads.
There are three possible statuses your keywords can have:
- Above average
- Below average
Having an “average” or “above average” status means that there are no major problems with this keyword’s ad relevance when compared to all other keywords across Google Ads.
A “below average” status means that your ad or keyword may not be specific enough or that your ad group may cover too many topics. Try creating tightly-themed ad groups by making sure that your ads are closely related to a smaller group of keywords.
Use this status to help identify keywords that might not be relevant enough to your ads to perform well.
It’s possible for a keyword to have a high Quality Score and low ad relevance (or vice versa) because Google Ads looks at a number of different quality factors when determining Quality Score. Even if your overall Quality Score is high, looking at the individual factors can help you identify potential areas for improvement.
To see the ad relevance status for your keywords, hover over a keyword’s status in the “Status” column. You’ll be able to see ratings for expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience.
Paused keywords will retain whatever scores they had when they were last active. Therefore, it may not be useful to look at these scores over time. We encourage advertisers to focus on active keywords when looking at their Quality Score sub-metrics, since these scores will be constantly updated.
Landing page experience: Definition
A measure that Google Ads uses to estimate how relevant and useful your website’s landing page will be to people who click your ad. Landing pages with higher ratings are usually well organized and have text that relates to a person’s search terms.
The landing page experience status describes whether your landing page is likely to provide a good experience to customers who click your ad and land on your website. You can use this status to help identify landing pages that might be hurting your chances of making conversions like sales or sign-ups. You should make sure your landing page is clear and useful to customers, and that is related to your keyword and what customers are searching for. All these factors can play a role in determining your landing page experience status.
Your keywords can have one of three statuses: above average, average, or below average.
- An “average” or “above average” status means that there are no major problems with this keyword’s landing page experience when compared to all other keywords across Google Ads.
- A “below average” status means that you might want to consider some changes to improve your website’s landing page.
Understanding landing page experience
Landing page experience is Google Ads’ measure of how well your website gives people what they’re looking for when they click your ad. Your landing page is the URL people arrive at after they click your ad, and Google Ads analyzes it through a combination of automated systems and human evaluation. The experience you offer affects your Ad Rank and therefore your CPC and position in the ad auction. Your ads may show less often (or not at all) if they point to websites that offer a poor user experience.
This article explains how you can improve your landing page experience. For specific instructions on how to optimize your website for mobile, see Principles of mobile site design and Create an effective mobile site.
Before you begin
Landing page experience is different from policy violations. If your site violates Google Ads policy, you receive no landing page experience rating at all, and your ads don’t run.
You can improve your landing page experience by taking any or all of the following steps:
- Offer relevant, useful and original content
- Make sure your landing page is directly relevant to your ad text and keyword.
- Be specific when the user wants a particular thing: If someone clicks on an ad for a sports car, they shouldn’t wind up on a general “all car models and makes” page
- Be general when the user wants options: If someone’s looking to compare digital cameras, they probably don’t want to land on a specific model’s page
- Provide useful information on your landing page about whatever you’re advertising.
- Try to offer useful features or content that are unique to your site.
- Promote transparency and foster trustworthiness on your site
- Openly share information about your business and clearly state what your business does
- Explain your products or services before asking visitors to fill out forms
- Make it easy for visitors to find your contact information
- If you request personal information from customers, make it clear why you’re asking for it and what you’ll do with it
- Distinguish sponsored links, like ads, from the rest of your website’s content
- Make mobile and computer navigation easy
- Organize and design your page well, so people don’t have to hunt around for information.
- Make it quick and easy for people to order the product mentioned in your ad.
- Don’t annoy customers with pop-ups or other features that interfere with their navigation of your site.
- Help customers quickly find what they’re looking for by prioritizing the content that’s visible above-the-fold
- Decrease your landing page loading time
- Make sure your landing page loads quickly once someone clicks on your ad, whether on a computer or mobile device.
- Consider turning your landing page into an Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP).
- Make your site fast
- See how your site scores on mobile speed, and get quick fixes to improve it. Test your site.
- See our guide to Create an effective mobile site.
How to check your landing page experience
- Sign in to your Google Ads account.
- On the page menu, click Keywords.
- In the “Status” column, hover over (or tap) each keyword’s status to learn about its performance.
What happens after I make improvements?
The Google Ads system visits and evaluates landing pages and websites on a regular basis. If you make significant changes to improve your landing page experience, you may see higher ad quality (and higher Ad Rank) over time. You might not see an immediate impact, but you may see results within days or weeks.
The Google Ads system also visits your landing page to evaluate your mobile site (as viewed by mobile devices with full browsers, like Android devices and iPhones).
If you have a distinct, mobile-optimized version of your site, we recommend you configure your server to show the mobile-optimized site when the Google Ads mobile User-Agent is detected crawling your site. Currently, we use two HTTP User-Agent header to identify Google Ads mobile visits:
- Android: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 5.0; SM-G920A) AppleWebKit (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome Mobile Safari (compatible; AdsBot-Google-Mobile; +http://www.google.com/mobile/adsbot.html)
- iPhone: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 9_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/601.1.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/9.0 Mobile/13B143 Safari/601.1 (compatible; AdsBot-Google-Mobile; +http://www.google.com/mobile/adsbot.html)
By default, the Google Ads system reviews advertised landing pages to assess landing page experience. If you don’t want some of your landing pages to be reviewed, you can follow the steps below to restrict the Google Ads system from visiting those pages.
Tip: Evaluate your landing pages with the “Landing pages” page
The “Landing pages” page includes two metrics that can help you identify which of your landing pages could provide a better experience on mobile devices:
- Mobile-friendly click rate: This rating indicates how mobile-friendly your pages are based on Google’s Mobile-Friendly test.
- Valid AMP click rate: If your pages are AMP pages, this rating indicates how often your pages load as valid AMP pages when people click on your ads. This rating is based on the AMP Validator test.
Optimize your ads and landing pages
Optimize your ads
Your ads are the voice of your products and services. The more relevant and engaging they are to your customers, the more likely they’ll generate results for you.
To quickly gauge your ad performance, you can sort by clickthrough rate or conversion statistics the same way you might with keywords. This way, you can easily see which ads:
- Get clicked on most often
- Generate the most conversions
- Have the best conversion rates
- Bring in conversions at the lowest cost
You’ll want your ads to appeal to customers and accurately describe what you have to offer. Follow these best practices to make sure your ads are optimized:
Match your ads and keywords
Consumers tend to be drawn to ads that seem more relevant to their search. So make sure that your ad text (especially the headline) is closely related to your keywords. This can catch the attention of people who searched for those words, and show that your ad is related to what they want.
It’s important to group your keywords by theme or product, instead of putting all your keywords in the same ad group. This way, you can write an ad that’s directly tailored to that specific theme. And the more closely paired your ads and keywords are, the more likely someone will be interested.
Create different versions of your ad
It can be hard to capture everything you want to say about your business in a single text ad. That’s why you’ll want to write different versions of your ad.
It’s a good idea to have 3 to 5 different ads in an ad group. If you have more than one ad in an ad group, Google Ads will automatically start showing the better-performing ones by default.
In each ad, try using different headlines or description text. For example, you could experiment with:
- Trying different headlines or calls-to-action
- Including certain keywords or brands
- Including specific prices or promotions
Use a strong call-to-action
In your ad text, you’ll want to encourage customers to perform the action that you want them to take on your site. A strong, clear call-to-action tells customers what they can expect and nudges them toward your desired action.
The more specific your call-to-action (that is, the closer it matches your keywords and landing page), the better your chances of a conversion. By choosing the right action phrase, you’ll avoid having to pay for clicks that are less likely to result in business for you.
Highlight what sets you apart
If you have something special to offer, make sure your customers see it. For example, you might be offering a 10% summer discount, an instant rebate, or a free gift with purchase. Calling attention to specific prices or promotions can help influence someone’s decision to click on your ad. The more you can set yourself apart from competitors, the more likely you’ll appeal to potential customers.
Use ad extensions
One way of attracting more customers to your ad is by using ad extensions—a feature that shows extra business information with your ad, like an address, phone number, store rating, or more webpage links. Adding ad extensions can help improve your ad’s visibility and CTR.
Optimize your landing pages
Your landing pages play a big part in turning clicks into customers. When someone clicks on your ad, they expect to land on a page that’s relevant to what they saw in your ad. If they don’t immediately find what they expect, they’re more likely to leave.
Make sure your landing page matches your ad and keywords
Choose a landing page that closely matches your ad and keywords. For example, if your keyword is discount shoes and your ad promises shoes at 20% off, then customers should be able to find and buy shoes at that discounted price on your landing page.
Your landing page should also mirror the call-to-action in your ad text. For example, if your ad encourages customers to sign up for a free tour, then you might prominently feature a sign-up form on your landing page.Think of it this way: The connection between your ad and landing page is the bridge between a potential customer and a purchase. The stronger they’re connected (the more directly relevant they are), the better your chances of a conversion.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
Many of your customers will be visiting your website on a mobile device. On a smaller screen, it can be hard for people to find what they want.
See if the speed of your mobile site is costing you customers, and get quick fixes to improve it. Test your site.
Here are just a few ways to build an effective mobile site:
- Keep it quick
- Make it easy to contact you
- Use simple navigation
Make sure your landing page is easy to navigate
Make it quick and easy for customers to perform the action you want them to take—order your product, call your phone number, or submit an inquiry. Don’t make people hunt around for information they might need. Avoid cluttering your site with too many ads or pop-ups.
It’s a good idea to put important information towards the top of the page. This way, it’ll be immediately visible to customers when they arrive on the page, and they don’t have to scroll down to see it.
Provide useful, unique content
Try to provide useful, original information on your landing page about whatever you’re advertising. Be clear about your product or service and what it does. For example, you might consider adding reviews that show real opinions from other customers.
Actionable strategies to improve your Ad Rank
1. Focus on creating ads that are more relevant and useful
Quality really matters.
Google looks at your ad’s expected click-through rate by taking into account your ad’s historical clicks and impressions.
But it also looks at your ad’s relevance to the search.
How do you do that?
Understand the user’s intent, and mirror this in your PPC ad copy.
Start by thinking about a specific buyer persona, what they want to accomplish or what problems they are trying to solve.
Write your ads in a way that directly answers this need.
2. Make your ad extensions stand out
Your ad extensions need to align perfectly with your calls to action and ad campaign goals.
Google uses the “expected impact of extensions” to determine your ad’s relevance and success. This is a factor in your Ad Rank.
So, you need to use ad extensions that match your CTA.
3. Nail your landing page experience
Google doesn’t just look at the quality of your ad, it scrutinizes the quality of your landing page too.
What kind of experience will the searcher get when they click through?
How relevant, transparent and easy to navigate is your page?
Your goal is to optimize landing pages to deliver an exceptional user experience every time.
Increase your Quality Score using these tips:
Ensure the landing page is relevant to the search terms
Take the visitor directly to the product or service your ad talks about. And make sure the copy in the ad is consistent with the landing page messaging.
The best landing page looks like an extension of the Google Ad. It should essentially complete the advertisement. This means everything about the content design, copy and layout should match the targeted keywords in the Google Ad.
The main thing that you need to do is include the search term in all the right places on the page. The keyword needs to appear in:
- Body copy (at least 1x)
Better yet, automatically pre-filled some of the search enquiry form to make your user experience better.
Here are some more landing page tips:
- Make it easy to navigate
- Make the landing page easy to use on mobile and desktop
- Keep the page load time fast – check your page speed on the free tool, Google PageSpeed Insights.
4. Create super specific ad groups
Another way to make your ads appear more relevant to customers is with ad groups.
Each ad group in your Google Ads campaign should focus on a single product or service.
In other words, be specific.
Every ad group needs to have a tight theme. Every keyword needs to be relevant to the ad group.
So, if you see one keyword that deviates from your theme, create a whole new specific group for it.
One way to approach this is using Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs).
SKAGs have a proven track record of increasing CTRs and quality scores.
Because you have one keyword per ad group, your ads are insanely relevant to the keyword and, therefore, the search query.
SKAGs break your ads into 3 match types:
- Broad Match Modifier: Your ad will only match when the search includes words you select with a + sign. Words can be in any order.
- Phrase Match: The keyword must include the terms you bid on in order and uninterrupted. They can still include other terms before or after the phrase.
- Exact Match: Not as exact as they used to be – Google made changes in 2017so that function words can be added or changed, and it is still an exact match.
SKAGs also let you write ads with customized calls to action (CTAs) and value propositions for every single keyword.
This means every searcher is getting the most specific, personalized offer for their exact search.
You improve your ad ranking without having to bid more.
5. Tailor your landing pages to specific ad groups
Now you have specific ad groups, your next step is to tailor your landing pages to match.
This ensures every landing page is highly relevant to both the keywords and ads.
Okay, it can be time-consuming.
But there is a way to show unique landing pages for each ad group without having to spend time creating hundreds of different pages.
Simply standardize your landing page copy for each campaign, then only edit small and simple parts of the text to customize the offer.
This provides huge increases in performance while saving time.
6. Use your keyword in the ad title and the display URL
It immediately shows people that your ad is relevant to their search. That means they have more chance of clicking through to your landing page.
Then, when they get there, they’ll see that your landing page is also consistent with their search query.
Read blogs on Milestone’s other digital marketing guides:
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Guide to Content Marketing in 2021
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