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How to Improve Your Google Ads Quality Score: 5 Proven Methods

how to add someone to google ads

Ever wondered how to improve Google Ads quality scores?

In this article, we’ll explore the Google Ads quality score and how to improve it using five proven methods professionals use to optimise their ad profitability.

Google Ads Quality Score measures how relevant, helpful, and clear your ads are to the person seeing them. The higher your Quality Score, the more auctions at a discounted rate.

In essence, you’re rewarded for having more relevant ads.

The Google Ads Quality Score is calculated based on relevance, expected ad CTR and landing page experience.

As you guessed, Google uses these factors to determine how relevant the ads are to the search query and whether they are likely to provide what is being searched for accurately.

“So even if your competition bids higher than you, you can still win a higher position โ€“ at a lower price โ€“ with highly relevant keywords and ads.”

Source: Google

This means that just because you have the highest budget among your competitors does not mean that it’ll guarantee you the top spot on the ad search results.

illustration showing the impact of quality score on cost per click for google ads. when the score is below 5, the cost per click is higher. on the other hand, when the score is above 6, the cost per click is lower. the image is a helpful visual aid for understanding how quality score can affect the cost of running google ads campaigns.
How quality score impacts cost per click google ads

How to improve Google Ads quality score: 5 proven methods

1. Group your ads based on your audience’s intent

If you think about your entire customer journey, you’ll realise that everyone is on a different path in life.

Some people are looking to buy stuff. Others are just poking around for answers. It’s just the nature of the internet.

Your Google Ads must be strategised based on how people use Google. You need to separate people who are ready to buy now from those who aren’t.

For example, “near me” or “buy” keywords are likely associated with someone looking to purchase something right now.

For example: “locksmith near me“.

We call these types of keywords bottom-of-funnel keywords (BOFU). These are the highly coveted keywords that most advertisers bid for.

a screenshot of google's search engine results page (serp) showing various locksmith services available in the uk. the page displays a list of locksmith companies with their website links, and contact details, including phone numbers and addresses. the results are sorted by relevance, and the search query was related to locksmith services in the uk.
Google SERP of locksmith services in the UK

Whereas if someone has more topical questions, like “what is” and “why is”, then they are not likely to buy anything right now (although they could be persuaded).

For example: “what does an emergency locksmith do?“.

These types of keywords are called top-of-funnel keywords (TOFU). These are the keywords that content marketers target to get ranked in search engines organically (SEO).

Makes sense, right?

BOFU keywords are different for every business, so it’s not an exact science. It relies on your common sense and knowing your audience.

a visual representation of the marketing funnel with three stages labeled as tofu, mofu, and bofu. the top stage, tofu, represents the awareness stage, the middle stage, mofu, represents the consideration stage, and the bottom stage, bofu, represents the decision stage. the after-purchase stage is at the very bottom. this image is a helpful tool for understanding how customers move through the different stages of the marketing process.
Source: Web Ascender

So how does this affect quality scores?

When you’re creating campaigns that are trying to target everyone, you’ll find that your ads will tank fast.

This means low CTRs, low conversions, and low clicks.

The reason is that you’re entering into auctions where competitors have more specific ads than you. And it’s really that simple.

I’ll give you an example. If someone types in “what is a fishing line?”, who do you think would win:

A. the person bidding on “fishing lines” using a broad match keyword, and the ad goes to a page that sells fishing lines.

B. the person bidding on “what is fishing lines” using a phrase match keyword, and the ad goes to a blog article about fishing lines.

The answer is obvious. Option B would not only win the auction, but they’d get it cheaper for following Google’s mission to bring relevant searches to the world.

This is why you must start separating your campaigns and ad groups based on your audience’s intent and what they’re expecting to see.

We call this Single Intent Ad Group (SIAG) a relatively new term in the industry. So I always refer people to Single Theme Ad Groups (STAG) instead.

This just means you’re structuring ad groups based on the intent of your target audience’s search term.

2. Choose your match types carefully

This section will crossover with the one you’ve just read, but critical distinctions must be made. As you’re already aware, there are three match types: Broad match. Phrase match. Exact match.

There are tonnes of articles that already explain the difference between keyword match types. So I won’t go through them here.

But I want you to focus on this trail of thought around intent.

the image illustrates a comparison for keyword match types, with options for broad match, phrase match, and exact match on the left side, and 'looks like,' 'appears for,' and 'could match' on the top. by showing the resulting match types at each intersection, this image provides a visual representation of how keywords can be matched in online advertising and seo.
Broad phrase exact match types google ads

Depending on your niche, broad-match keywords can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Usually, new ad managers will sprinkle in or make all of their keywords broad match.

Meaning that they’re bidding for any search term under the sun around a particular topic. This confuses the Google Ads algorithm because it doesn’t know who specifically you’re trying to target.

If you use buy golf balls as a broad match keyword, you’d likely target both people looking to buy golf balls AND people looking to buy golf ball materials to resell.

Not ideal at all.

So unless you’re monitoring search terms and managing your negative keywords every hour, every ad dollar is potentially wasted on irrelevant search terms by using broad match keywords recklessly.

Don’t get me wrong; there is a time and place for broad match keywords. But that place belongs higher up the funnel (TOFU or MOFU).

There are notable exceptions to using broad match with smart bidding. But that’s only advised if you have a massive eCommerce store or service-based business with historical CPAs and ROAS.

the image shows 3 columns featuring broad match, smart bidding, and responsive search ads. broad match finds new and high-performing queries, smart bidding delivers the right creative at the right price, while responsive search ads automatically generate the most relevant creative.
Source: Google

As mentioned in the previous section, depending on your business model, I recommend separating ad groups based on BOFU and TOFU search intent.

Your TOFU ad group would include many broad-match keywords to capture people who may be problem-aware.

But you’d still be responsible for monitoring the search terms to optimise your negative keywords.

Your BOFU ad group should mostly contain phrase and exact match keywords. Again, there are exceptional cases where you would use broad-match keywords for your BOFU campaigns, but that depends on your strategy.

By structuring your ad groups in this way, you will inevitably fulfil your obligations to Google by providing more relevant ads that match your audience’s search query.

Assuming that your landing pages reflect this new keyword grouping structure and are relevant to each search query, your Google Ads Quality Score will improve substantially.

3. Use dynamic keyword & location insertion (search ads only)

This is perhaps one of the most underutilised features I see ad managers NOT using in their responsive ads. Yet it’s perhaps the most powerful of them all.

When you think about it, the only job of the ad is to win the click. That’s it. And that doesn’t mean winning it by writing spammy clickbait.

I mean compelling someone to click on your ad and fulfilling that promise on the landing page. That’s it.

So other than employing sales psychology tactics (use of numbers and power words) and direct response copywriting, what else can you do to create winning ads that improve your Google Ads Quality Score?

Enter dynamic keyword insertion and location operators.

a screenshot of a google ads setup with fields for dynamic keyword insertion and location operators. these features allow for customised ads that automatically include relevant keywords and location information based on the user's search query.
Source: JRR Marketing

As you guessed it, this feature allows you to inject keywords and locations into your ad content automatically.

Let’s say you own a pizza shop that delivers to all areas in Melbourne

Instead of writing ad headlines for each suburb, you could use a location insertion code that will dynamically insert the suburb based on where the user is searching from:

A headline example would look like this: We deliver to {LOCATION(City)}.

See how powerful this is?

Likewise, if you’re bidding on a range of keywords, it can be impossible to include them in all your content.

So you’d inject your keywords by using {KeyWord:Example} (replacing “Example” with a backup word just in case the keyword you’re bidding for is too long).

4. Optimise your landing page’s content

Gone are the days of getting away with injecting invisible SEO that only bots can see. Google’s algorithms are only getting smarter.

This is why you need to focus on quality content. As you may be aware, Google released an update called the “Helpful Content Update“.

In a nutshell, it’s an update that aims to remove and penalise websites that are not helpful to the user’s search query.

image depicting google's guidelines for creating helpful content. the guidelines emphasize the importance of prioritizing people-first content that is useful, demonstrates expertise and depth of knowledge, and serves a clear purpose.
Google’s Helpful Content Update rules

This directly ties into your ads. As you know, the Google Ads Quality Score is based on landing page experience and relevancy.

If you mislead someone, you’ll naturally suffer from people leaving your website immediately and having low engagement rates.

The best way to think about it is to put yourself in the shoes of a Google Engineer.

If you see a website that is either irrelevant to the user’s search query, hard to navigate, hard to read, doesn’t have a privacy policy, spammy, or otherwise, you would penalise that website, wouldn’t you?

I advise that if your ad landing page includes any negative trait mentioned above, go back and fix it. It’s that simple.

And an important one, if your landing page includes any flagged or banned keywords, your ads will be penalised.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to run your ads, but it does mean your quality score will go down dramatically.

You’ll be paying more per click than your competition.

Likewise, if you’re bidding for a range of keywords and only a few of them show up in your landing page content, you may also be penalised with low-quality scores.

5. Continually nurture your account

This is an easy one. If you don’t spend time nurturing your ads by continually refining the keywords, content and landing pages, your more relevant competitors will eventually take over.

Similar to SEO, it’s a zero-sum game.

New players will always enter the field with larger budgets, better content, and a higher level of focus.

And I don’t mean to over-optimise your Google Ads account. You do need to let the algorithm do its thing.

What I’m trying to say is that you need to improve your account continually.

Try new landing pages.

New ad groups and campaign opportunities.

Optimise your negative keyword lists and locations.

It’s all common sense. But a lot of businesses don’t have time to do this. That’s why they employ a Google Ads specialist to do this instead (sneaky plug).

Your Google Ads Quality Score will naturally improve by nurturing your ad account.

By being a better advertiser and genuinely helping people find exceptional services, you’ll see results without having to try.

a screenshot of a google ads interface displaying 6 columns: keyword, status, quality score, impressions, clicks, and ctr. the table shows data on the performance of various keywords used in google ads campaigns. the columns provide information on the status of each keyword, its quality score, the number of impressions it has received, the number of clicks it has generated, and its click-through rate (ctr).
Source: Search Engine Land

Knowing how to improve Google Ads quality score…

As you’ve learned throughout this article, a lot of common sense is required if you want to improve your Google Ads Quality Scores.

Don’t do dodgy things to game the system, and you’ll be rewarded for it.

Be strategic, methodical, and helpful. That’s all there is to it, other than implementing sales psychology and applying changes based on data.

Google Ads management is a lot of work. It’s not a one-time fix kind of job. You need to nurture your account like you’re growing a gorgeous garden.

Josiah is a multi-award-winning digital marketing consultant and former journalist for the Australia Times. He now helps 6-7-figure brands as a Fractional CMO to generate predictable leads and sales growth.โ€‹

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