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What To Do With Keyword Quality Scores

High keyword quality scores mean the search traffic my campaign is getting is good for my purposes, that I'm attracting the "right" searchers--because high quality scores are closely related to high click-through rates. They also mean I'm paying less for each click!


Each keyword phrase in a Search campaign has a Quality Score assigned to it. This score reflects the system's evaluation of how "appropriate" the keyword phrase is for the campaign--whether or not it's closely related to the ad(s) and the website.


When you add new keywords or keyword phrases to a campaign, the initial quality score is based on an evaluation of how well they have performed for advertisers who have used them in the past. After they have been active in your campaign for a while, the Quality Score will change to also reflect how well (or poorly) the keyword phrase is actually performing in your campaign. The longer the keyword phrase is active in your campaign, the more closely the quality score reflects onlyperformance in your campaign.


Quality Score is important for two reasons. First, the higher a phrase's quality score, the less you have to bid and pay for each click. Second, the quality score is used when figuring the Ad Rank for the ad, and only the ads with the highest Ad Ranks are shown to the searcher.


Quality Score is a dynamic, not a fixed number. It's calculated every time a keyword phrase is eligible to be matched to a searcher's query. A keyword phrase can have a Quality Score of 9 when matched against one search term, but a Quality Score of 4 when matched against a different search term.


Having said that, let me add that it's more common for quality score to vary by only a point or two, as long as you're using Phrase or Exact as the match "type" for your keyword phrases.


To improve quality score, add three simple steps to your weekly campaign performance evaluation.


#1 - Always check the search terms to see what search phrases your ads have been triggered for--make sure you add any search terms that aren't appropriate to your negative keyword list.


#2 - At the same time, keep an eye out for new keyword phrasess--search terms that get a reasonable amount of traffic and are good descriptions of your product or service. People don't always search using the words or phrases we thought they'd use--there's no better source of new keywords than your search term report.


#3 - Monitor the performance of all your ads, testing new messaging to constantly improve performance (CTR).


Do pay attention to your quality scores--they control how much your advertising is going to cost, but lowering cost is the end result of performance improvement.


Focus on the improvement. Eventually your quality scores will start to rise--and in the meantime you'll already be reaping the benefit of attracting more interested website traffic and probably seeing higher conversion rates.


Check your scores weekly or monthly, mine your search terms for good positive and negative keyword ideas, and make sure your ad messaging is the best you can create.


about Theresa Zook

I am co-owner of All About Clicks, an agency focusing on SEM & SEO for SMBs. To explain that jumble of acronyms, we work with our clients to enable their businesses to compete successfully in today's connected marketplace. Contact us (at for information or to discuss having your account reviewed.

November 2012

In our current (recently started) campaign some keywords with higher CTR appear rated with lower quality score than other keywords, which show much worse CTR. If I interpret correctly your article, this occurs because the initial value of the quaility score is taken form how these keywords worked for other advertisers and, if our CTR keeps good, the quality score will impove with time. Is this reasoning right? This would mean we just should keep these keywords running, OK?  

December 2012

The information contained in this post as well as the information contained on the Google page regarding Quality Score is totally bogus.  I have been an advertiser on Google since the beginning and have approximately 70k keywords active.  The major factor in Quality Score has little to do with the quality of your landing page, search term or actual relevance to the person doing the query.  It is directly related to the bid you make on each term, regardless of the quality of the other factors.  This is easy to prove.  Take an ad you know is relevant and test different bids (which should have NOTHING to do with the QS), but change nothing else on the keyword.  You will see the quality score change.


There is little to nothing mentioned about bid value when you read about QS, and rightly so, again, because it should have NOTHING to do with the quality of the user experience.  QS should be solely based on the factors outlined in the Google synopsis.

December 2012

QS is one of these metrics that google implemented at the beginning of time when adwords accounts used to be simple and only had a few keywords in them. You should See QS as something similar to PageRank, e.g: a relevancy and perofrmance potential indicator, what Theresa_Zook explains in her 3rd paragraph...


The truth is google doesn't really remember how it works... Whenever you pinpoint QS / CTR / ad position anomalies, you will get one of these "i will submit this to our specialist team and will get back to you"... ZzzZzz...


Oh, BTW, yes, the formula QS = this times that divded by the number of carrots in your bag... You can forget it...


In response to Ed Weiss':

One thing is for sure, QS is highly influenced by the Bid level. And even though, I understand your point, if you consider QS as "perofrmance potential indicator" it has to take your bid level into consideration... I've had multiple identical phrased match keyowrds in different campaigns with $0.01 bid difference, same ads, same campaign structure, same landing URL, almost same "age" (as in: created by mistake simultaneously). and the QS wasn't identical. the reason being that... say you bid $0.97 on a specific KW, and 8 other competitors also bid $0.98 or above... you will have very little chance to get displayed and the few times you get displayed, noone will click on your ads because you will be at the very bottom of the paid list... so, 0% CTR = low QS... Increasing your bid will get you higher in the disaplyed ads ; you'lll be fighting for more impresison shares, or what google calls the minimum amount for entering an auction, you ad will appear more often, whcih will be more likely to get clicked on and if it performs well and the end user find it relevant (see below for "relavancy"), QS should increase, position will improve, CTR too, etc... happy wolrd Smiley Happy


In repsonse to Joan_Rubio

I work on thoushands of complex campaigns with multi million keywords targeting mulitple countries and here is what I gathered:


- The same KW will have a different QS for 2 differnt countries (even if these country are similar... Say Wales and Scotland for example...) One of the reason being the ad depth, e.g: the number of ads google chosses to display for the same query - and here you thought that google had reach its maximum advertising revenue potential with standard ads Smiley Wink. So QS is related to search volume.


- The same KW will also have a different QS depending on the landing page... But what  influences and what gogole calls "relevancy" is a combination keyword concentration, bounce rates, average time spent on the site, customer behavior, customer journey, number of "checkpoint" pages reached (with bounce rate the strongest factor)... 


- Then QS fluctuates much much more on broad keywords than on phrase / exact match. Say you sell disney dolls and broad bid on: Disney princess Doll ; google might display your ad for the phrase query "disney princess", because it will consider it as a close match... and guess what, you will have a lot of disney princess queries completely unrelated to dolls (think of the number of disney princess that disney has been throwing at you since the beginning of times and all the associated products). Your ad will be completly lost in the middle of thousands and thousands of ads adevertising for other franchised products... which will translate in high imressions, low CTR and low "relavancy" and therefore, low QS... ==> MAKE SURE you advertise on phrase match term for all your braod matche kewyords, generally QS are higher (excepet when search volumes are low, as explained above).


- still on the keyword topic, your keyword must not only be closely related to your site, but also closely related to the industry they represent. Same logic as above, with a little twist, say that you sell watches and you have nice new star wars watch for sale.... yes you see it coming... don't bid on "watch star wars" if you don't want to lower your account's QS... Or at least not without the appropriate negative kewyords...


...what else about QS...


... (10 min later) ...Yes, use Keyword insertion ads with longtail KW. Even better if you have borad match campaigns with very strong restrictive negative keywords... firstly you will have a chance of getting more than 25 characters dispplayed on the headline ; secondly your broad KW will give a new pool of phrase KW you can add ot your campaign which will over time, increase your overall QS.


So, Joan_Rubio their might be many reasons why you QS is low, keep us posted if you see improvements!


Have a great day everyone Smiley Happy





Vineet V
May 2013
My own observations are that in case you have manual bidding, then more than QS, you should perhaps look out for those keywords that give you the most no. of impressions & hence a probability of best CTR. For example, for my own AdWords consultancy campaign, I use a keyword "googleadwords" in broad sense with very low bidding. I think because of the very low bid level it has a QS of 4/10, yet it gives me a lot of impressions & CTR. Over a period of time, by using search terms & negative keywords I have driven away a lot of irrelevant traffic...and I regard this as one of my most valuable keywords. Ultimately, the truth is, more impressions lead to clicks & more clicks lead to business. And by looking at the Search Terms regularly & using a combination of broad modified & phrase search, you can achieve relevance as well. QS then becomes an almost abstract, mystical indicator of "relevance" & "future performance"