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Quality Score – The Magical & Mysterious Metrics

Quality score is a rank given on a scale of 1-10 which you can find for any of keywords in your AdWords account. QS is a numerical approximation suggesting  the user an indication of how significant your keywords, adcopy and landing page are to a user when he or she runs a search query.


Keep in Mind: QS is being calculated every time users run a search query.


If you have a high Quality Score, means Google believes that (in terms of quality) your ad has immense potential and is relevant to the user. On the contrary, if you have a low Quality Score, then your ad is not important to a user who is having a look at your ad. However; keep in mind that having a high quality score doesn't necessarily mean that your ad will be shown.


It was in August 2005, when Google decided that they must bring in some kind of revolution in the keywords world. And Google introduced Quality Score which determined whether a keyword is high quality or not.


You can find Quality Score for each keyword by adding quality score column as shown in the below screenshot:

QS column.png


Update in 2012

In 2012, Google introduced more transparency in the form of the status hover meant for a keyword. The new ratings come with a relative scale that will make the user understand if their ad relevance, landing page capability and expected click through rate is fine or not or in short is average, below average or above average. See screenshot:

QS Analysis.png


Is Quality Score Important?

Google is at the vanguard in the search industry and it wishes to be at the forefront. Google wants to make sure that the ads users are viewing are relevant to their search. Google believes in providing best user experience.


Quality score is an important metric because it plays an important role in calculating Ad Rank. Higher Ad Rank reduces cost per click and most likely helps you achieve top position above organic results. When your Ad rank is higher than your competitor – your ad will most likely show on one position above your competitor.


Lets have a look at formula that determines ad rank. Quality Score is not a constant metric, as it varies every time the user runs a search query. The calculation of Quality Score happens for auction (every time the user runs a query.)


Ad Rank = Quality Score X CPC bid.

Updated in 2013: Ad Rank = Quality Score X CPC bid (+) ad extensions and formats.


How Quality Score affects your keyword?

  • Keyword actual CPC: High Quality Score will lead to low CPCs, means you pay a smaller amount when your keyword obtains a higher Quality Score.
  • Eligibility for ad auction: Quality Score plays an important role to determine whether your ad is eligible to go into the ad auction.
  • Position of the ad: Quality Score plays an important role to determine the ad position in relation to competitor ads on the ad auction.
  • High Quality Score results to higher ad positions and more likely to appear above organic search results.

Moving forward, let's talk about why the Quality Score for some keywords is low. If the ads are not relevant the Quality score will be low. Lack of relevancy gives you bad quality score. Also, if the landing page is not relevant to the users search query, you will see low Qs, if landing page loading time is high then Quality Score can be low. If the CTR is low, you will see bad quality score. Every AdWords account behaves in a different way, strategy that works for one account might not work for other accounts.


CTR (click through rate) is the most important and significant component of QS. One can improve CTR which automatically improve Quality Score, as well as the ad quality by employing certain strategies which are shared as follows:

  • Make specific ad clusters: In an ad campaign, one should try and add specific adgroup for specific theme as that would make the ad cluster relevant for the user.
  • Inclusion of keywords in the text (ad): When keywords are added in the text of the ad (try to add in headline), people will relate to it as it is directly related to their search queries. When a user will view his or her search words in the ad, he or she will think that this ad holds relevance. Adding keyword in display url is also a good idea.
  • Careful selection of keywords: Keywords which you are using in your campaign should be directly related to your landing page and should be relevant to the goods and services you are advertising. Also the keywords in the ad text should be directly related to the theme of the landing page.
  • Simplicity is the key: The ad copy should be interesting and appealing with a phenomenally strong call-to-action that catches the eyeballs of users.
  • Powerful call-to-action: Using words like buy, order, sell, sign up and more are direct and words which people often use in their search queries.
  • Use Ad Extensions: Ad extensions have a direct impact on CTR. Adding sitelinks, phone number, address, reviews helps improve CTR and thus QS.
  • Keep a check on the search terms to view what search phrases yours ads have been activated for. Any inappropriate keyword must be added to the negative keywords list.
  • Review the performance of your campaign in order to regularly develop CTR.
  • Keep a check on your search term report for new keywords and add new keywords in relevant adgroup. Try to create direct and targeted ads. Test relevant long tail keywords.
  • Bid competitively to get the top positions. Better your ad position, higher the chances of improvement in CTR. Improved CTR led you to better QS and then low CPC. Manual bidding is great option to achieve this.
  • Exact Match Impression Share: Review this report and try to improve exact match impression share. Higher the exact match impressions share higher the relevancy between search terms and keywords.

Points to remember:

  • Quality Score is being calculated every time a keyword takes part in an auction.
  • To calculate QS Google AdWords consider only Exact Match CTR of the Keyword. It means they do not consider clicks from phrase, broad and BMM search query. The CTR for calculating QS takes into account only clicks when the search query exactly matched the keyword. Reference Uncovering Quality Score & Ingredients of the Quality Score Sauce

For example: if the keyword is "cell phone repair" in broad match & search query are

cell phone repair - This search query will be factor in QS.
cell phone repair shop - This will not be a factor in QS
iphone repair - This will not be a factor in QS


  • Quality Score for a new keyword are based on average QS of all the competitors who are advertising using the same keyword.
  • Initial QS is not based on your campaign performance until you receive significant statistics. It takes significant impressions for QS for your keyword to be recalculated.
  • Quality score on display network exists but not visible in AdWords campaigns.

Well, friends reading improving Quality Scores is not an overnight assignment but takes weeks and months, so patience becomes our buddy here.

about Neha Gupta

I live in New Delhi, India. I have been working on Paid Advertisement since 2010. I am Independent Paid Advertising Consultant & Also Providing Part Time Google AdWords Training. I am a keen learner & look forward to learning new things/strategies every day at the same time I like to help others to the best of my knowledge.

March 2014

Great article - thanks for sharing!

Trevor_Stewart Top Contributor
March 2014

Nice work NeHaGupta! Just shared it in the Partners Community, really enjoyed it. Thanks

John Paul Google Employee
March 2014

Excellent article, Neha! Thanks for sharing such great insight on Quality Score.

MosheTLV Top Contributor
March 2014

Great comprehensive article on one of Adwords major subjects!

Mickey W
March 2014

This is great - thank you so much - I was explaining this to a client today and this will help to use this info to explain to clients in a more comprehensive manner.


You Rock!

Nisal L Rising Star
March 2014

Nice article and i learnt some new things, Thanka Neha Smiley Happy 

March 2014

Well structured and comprehensive. Thank you!

March 2014

Wow @Neha Gupta  good one! Loved the way you have explained it in simple language

pankaj1782 Top Contributor
March 2014
Nicely written and cleanly explained. Well done Neha Smiley Happy
March 2014

Basic info, no special insights. My favourite tip - good buget helps on QS very much!