5 Ways to Build PPC Quality Scores

By Eric Leuenberger, founder, Ecommerce Amplifier, and owner, Voom Ventures

PPC scores

Managing pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns involves monitoring a number of variables that demand careful attention. Some variables are uncontrollable, while others, like the quality score, are completely controllable and are a big key to the profitability of many campaigns.

Quality score, in its most general sense, is a measure of the relevance and performance of an advertising campaign.  It is calculated in real-time, every time the keyword being bid on matches a search query placed on the Internet and has the opportunity to trigger an ad. Quality scores influence several factors of an advertising campaign, including cost-per-click (CPC), first page bid estimates and ad positioning. They are also partly affected if a keyword is eligible to enter an auction.

Higher scores equal lower cost-per-click

Because higher quality scores indicate better overall relevancy, the reward is lower cost-per-click (CPC) and higher ad positions. This often means that an advertiser with higher quality scores will be charged less to get a visitor than an advertiser with lower quality scores bidding on the same keywords.

Google calculates quality scores using a combination of the following elements:

  • The historical click-through rate.
  • The relevance of the keyword within its ad group.
  • The relevance of the keyword.
  • Account history.
  • The historical click-through rate (CTR) of the web address in the ad group.
  • The quality of your landing page.
  • Landing page load times.

The following are five ways you can increase your quality scores.

1. Develop tightly focused small keyword lists for each ad group. A tighter focus helps structure ads to relate to those searching for what they contain. It is very difficult to develop relevant ads with keyword dumps consisting of 25, 50 or 100 keywords. If you are selling a red coffee brewer, for example, relevancy will increase with keyword combinations that use red + coffee + brewer.

2. Take the time to write high quality ads. Use keywords from your ad group in the copy of the ad itself. Proper calls to action can increase both relevancy and quality of traffic. High quality ads not only help scores, they also attract more targeted traffic, providing a better opportunity for generating sales. In the example of the red coffee brewer, a high quality ad might look like this:

Buy Red Coffee Brewers

Red Coffee Brewers on Sale.

Fast, Free Shipping. Shop Now!


3. Drive traffic to appropriate pages. Writing quality ads and targeting tight keywords does not do any good if your landing page has little or nothing to do with the product being advertised. Rather than driving traffic to the home page of the site, send visitors to individual product or category pages that contain the product that matches the keyword set and ad copy. Doing so often results in a boost in both quality score and conversion.

4. Increase ad click-through rate (CTR). Writing quality ads with strong calls to action, such as “Shop Now” or “Buy Here,” in conjunction with incorporating numbers one through three above, can increase CTR. This leads to better quality scores as well. Still, advertisers are rewarded more when clicks turn into sales.

5. Ensure proper tracking is in place to measure success. Quality is a measure of the effectiveness of a particular keyword to turn clicks into sales. As a result, the best way to ensure that sales are recorded is to confirm that the proper conversion tracking code is in place. This is provided by the search engines themselves. If it is not, an accurate quality score cannot be derived, since sales performance is part of the equation.

High quality scores translate to greater opportunities for profits from PPC advertising efforts.  Upper ad positions attracting visitors at the lowest CPC will increase margins by decreasing expenses, and that is an ideal situation. Advertisers seeking to maximize return on investment from PPC advertising should understand the role of quality scores in the big picture, and focus on factors that keep those scores as high as possible.