Google tells us it’s a helpful diagnostic tool, but treating Quality Score as an internal key performance indicator, and building and optimising around this, can have a huge impact on your account’s performance and client’s topline KPIs.

Quality Score should be at the forefront of your thinking when it comes to PPC. It continues to be at mine.

Over 7 years as a certified AdWords expert, I’ve developed a set of best practices around Quality Score that have consistently delivered results for my clients. Here is my 10 point Quality Score checklist…


o   Quality Score Tracking Script

First, and very important to the overall process, you need to track Quality Score.

Traditionally Quality Score is tracked and displayed at keyword level. So, what if you require an account-level snapshot?

Thankfully, Martin Roettgerding over at PPC Epiphany has put together an expert script to do just that. This easy-to-use, free AdWords script keeps track of an account’s keyword Quality Scores, processes them, and provides an easily consumable output in Google Drive.


o   Keyword Selection

Quality Score is primarily a measure of relevance, through keywords, search terms, ad copy and landing page. With that, keyword research and selection is pivotal to the foundations of your account’s Quality Score.

Discover, research and then select highly relevant keywords that’ll become the building blocks of your account.

Think about user intent. Stay clear of information seeking variations.

Start with a small pool of Branded and specific keywords, catered to the budget you’re working with. If budget allows, expand from there, increasing the number of specifics and adding the most relevant semi-generics.

Use a similar strategy with match types. Start with exact match keywords as these are likely to deliver your strongest quality scores. Grow the keyword list with phrase and BMM variations. Stay away from standard broad match and their bad influence on CTR and Quality Score.


o   Tightly Themed Ad Groups

So, you have your keyword list. The worst thing you can do now is dump all your keywords in a single ad group and press the start button. Please don’t do that.

Group your keywords into small, granular themes that will make up your ad groups.

Aim for 1-5 keywords per ad group, creating a new ad group when the theme changes or another identifier is added to the keyword makeup.

An example ad group might be…

[north devon adwords expert]

[adwords expert in north devon]

[adword experts in north devon]

[north devon adwords experts]

The smaller and tighter the ad group, the most relevant ad copy you’ll be able to write and serve to the user. We’ll pick this up again in the ad copy point a little later.


o   Match Type Segmentation

When utilising more than one match type, consider segmenting again by ad group.

For example…

North Devon AdWords Expert_BMM

North Devon AdWords Expert_EX

Devon Freelance PPC Professional_BMM

Devon Freelance PPC Professional_EX

With exact match keywords delivering the higher quality scores, use negative keywords to drive the correct exact match search queries to the appropriate exact match keywords. Take the matching process out of Google’s hands.


o   Relevant Ad Copy

Now your keywords are grouped into tightly themed ad groups, and segmented by match type, writing targeted and relevant ad copy should be simple.

Your ad copy should be…

  1. Relevant to your keyword
  2. Relevant to your product
  3. Relevant to your landing page

Ensure the core keyword is included either in Headline 1 or Headline 2 (this can be A/B tested), and another variation in the description line if character limits allow. Be conscious not to spam the keyword though, and leave characters for unique selling points and a call to action. Path 1 and Path 2 also present an opportunity to tailor the ad back to the keyword and ad group theme.

Wherever possible, deep link your destination URL to the most relevant landing page, not just the homepage.


o   Negative Work

Many think of negative work as an ad hoc task completed off the back of search query report analysis. This is true, but what’s stopping you adding relevant negatives prior to your campaigns going live?

I have a self-built, generic list of negative keywords that commonly crop up on SQRs, added at campaign level prior to activating any content. Why be reactive when it comes to negative work, when you can be proactive?


o   Ad Extensions

While extensions don’t make up the core components of Quality Score, their expected impact, alongside Quality Score and Max CPC Bid, is how Ad Rank is calculated.

Ad extensions also influence CTR, which carries the heaviest weighing in the Quality Score algorithm.

Provided they’re relevant, you should be looking to add the full range of extensions, including Sitelinks, Callout Extensions, Structured Snippets, Call Extensions, Message Extensions, Location Extensions, Price Extensions, App Extensions, Review Extensions and automated extensions like Seller Ratings.


o   Landing Page Experience

Landing page experience is one of the big three contributors to Google’s Quality Score algorithm and is a measure of how seamlessly and quickly your website gives the user the information they’re looking for.

When building new, or optimising existing landing pages for user experience and quality score, use the following 5 best practices…

  1. Offer relevant, targeted, useful and unique content
  2. Be transparent and instil trust in the user
  3. Simple and quick navigation across all devices
  4. Speed is key. Quick load times
  5. Responsive and mobile first mindset

Not only will you see benefits in quality score, but conversion rate, bounce rate and more.


o   Device Optimisation

The user’s device is considered when ad quality is calculated.

Make sure your site experience is optimised and responsive for mobile and tablet, and target with specific ads based around the user’s device.

Google doesn’t require that you have a separate mobile site, but you should make sure that information is easily accessible and the navigation is intuitive for mobile users.


o   Drip Feed The Content

10th and final point to make up my Quality Score Checklist, is drip feeding the keyword content.

By drip feed, I mean splitting your keywords into categories and uploading in stages, based on keyword relevance. For new accounts, this will generate a history of high CTRs and Quality Scores from the start.

Start by only uploading and running on Brand keywords, following this with your specific keywords, then semi-generic and finally generics.

The strategy’s impact is argued by some, but if you have time on your side, I’ve found benefits in building accounts this way.


Continual and regular best practice optimisation is key to maintaining and improving Quality Score, but in these 10 points you have the foundations to secure high quality scores from the start.

In my years as a certified AdWords expert, Quality Score is a topic of conversation that crops up time and time again, and rightly so. If you have any questions on the points covered, or any other marketing topic you’d like to discuss, please drop a comment below or contact me on Twitter or Facebook.


10 Ways To Increase Your PPC Conversion Rate In 10 Minutes

Optimisation doesn’t always have to be super complex and lengthy. If your time is limited, don’t write off or devalue the impact of small, focussed optimisation. Completing a few of these concepts every couple of weeks is far more beneficial than a stagnant account receiving optimisation every few months.

Like anything in life, learning and progression, consistent small wins can compound into major improvements over time