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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, ad 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


Updated in 2015

Quality Score for any new keyword will be 6 by default. Average of all three factors that determines QS i.e. Expected CTR, Ad Relevance and LP Relevance. Read more here.


Updated in 2016

September 12, 2016 you will start seeing null (--) quality score for new keywords and for the keywords lack enough clicks and impressions. Read more here.


Updated in 2017

Introduced new columns for better quality score reporting. Read More here. Now you can add Quality score reporting columns as show in screenshot below:Campaign Management – Google AdWords.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.


Let’s 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 2013Ad 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, callout, 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 longtail keywords.
  • Bid competitive 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 ScoreIngredients 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


  • July 29, 2015 Google announced Quality Score for any new keyword will be 6 by default. Average of all three factors that determines QS i.e. Expected CTR, Ad Relevance and LP Relevance. Read more here. Google announced yet another change to Quality Score - Starting September 12, 2016 you will start seeing null (--) quality score for new keywords and for the keywords lack enough clicks and impressions. Read more here.
  • 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.

Rakesh M
August 2015

 Thanks neha, very impressive. Quality score is an imp factor when we close to client aquisition. explaining about all these terms client had ended up meeting Smiley Happy


Best Regards,


Hung-Hsun H
August 2015

Hello Neha,


Thanks for your post, it's really helpful! I've always have a question about quality score as an AdWords newbie.


"If I don't narrow down my targeting. Even though no one click my ad because they deem it irrelevant to what they are looking for, it's still not good to my business. Because broad targeting->lower CTR->lower Quality Score->higher bid."   


Is the conclusion above correct? Thanks a lot in advance!



Hung-Hsun Huang

Sumanth Sridhar Rising Star
August 2015

Nice one Neha!

Neha Gupta Top Contributor
August 2015

@Hung-Hsun H Yep. Majorly, it's all about relevancy. Show ads to relevant users and give users better experience. No point if we get many clicks but users clicking ads are not relevant.

Jithin C
August 2015

Useful article and much useful reference links given.. Thanks a lot..

Arpan Banerjee
August 2015 - last edited August 2015 Neha Gupta Top Contributor

Thanks neha mam. The article you shared is fantastic and lots of queries which i have are very clearly mentioned in it.

Ashish D
September 2015

Hi Neha,


Thanks for sharing such a valuable and detailed information.


I have a query. As you wrote "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." and taking the example that you gave i.e. "cell phone repair" in broad match. As you explained the QS of this Broad Match keyword will be calculated on the Exact match query i.e. 'cell phone repair' and none of the other mapped keywords.


Now consider a situation. I am running [cell phone repair] keyword in exact match in separate ad group and I have added [cell phone repair] as Exact Negative in the ad group where "cell phone repair" is running in Broad Match. So, how will Google calculate the QS of this Broad match keyword now because the Exact query is in negative?




September 2015

Hi All, 


I have the same question as Ashish D. Waiting for someone to reply. 



KathleenG Community Manager
September 2015

Hi @A G and @Ashish D,


Quality score is based on exact match performance on Google search. The performance of the keyword on broad and phrase match has no effect on front end Quality Score. This means that if you have a broad or phrase match keyword, the quality score will be mapped to the exact match version of this - it has nothing to do wtih the negative keywords.

Ashish D
September 2015
Hi Kathleen, Thanks for the response. Quite interesting. I have a couple of more questions on this so that we are on same page. Now let's consider two scenarios: 1. We have a keyword 'buy furniture' in broad as well as exact match in two separate ad groups. We have added exact negative [buy furniture] in the ad group where the same keyword is running in broad match. So, does that mean, the QS of broad match keyword will be calculated based on exact match keyword running in other ad group (as we have added it as exact negative in broad match ad group)? Please advise. 2. We have 'buy furniture' keyword running in only broad match. We have added [buy furniture] as exact negative in this ad group. No exact match keyword exists anywhere in the account. By doing so, no exact variation of this keyword will be triggered/mapped. So, how will the QS of this broad match keyword be calculated? Please let me know if my questions are not clear. Regards, Ashish