qualitytime Don't know much about Quality Score? If you're just getting started with Google AdWords, you may need a little help figuring out how Quality Score works and how it will affect your PPC campaigns.

Basically, Quality Score is a rating system that Google uses to determine when and where your ads appear in the sponsored results for a given query. Higher Quality Scores across your AdWords account generally mean that your ads receive more impressions for lower costs. So it's definitely in your interest to understand the system.

Below you'll find answers to five basic FAQs about Quality Score:

How do I check my Quality Score?

Here are two ways to find your Quality Score in Google AdWords:

The Customize columns command tells you whether each keywords Quality Score is Poor, OK, or Great. To enable the command:

1.    Sign in to your AdWords account.
2.    Select the relevant campaign and ad group.
3.    Select the Keywords tab.
4.    Click Customize columns at the top of the ad group table.
5.    Choose Show Quality Score from the drop-down menu.
6.    Click Done.

The Status command tells you the actual numerical value of your Quality Scores. To access these values:

1.    Sign in to your AdWords account.
2.    Select the relevant campaign and ad group.
3.    Select the Keywords tab.
4.    Click the icon in the Status column next to a keyword. The Keyword Analysis field appears. The second section of this field indicates the keywords Quality Score.

What are the main factors that determine Quality Score?

According to Google, the main determinants of Quality Score are:

  • Click-through rate (CTR).
  • Relevance of a keyword to its ad group.
  • Landing page quality.
  • Relevance of your ad text to the keyword.
  • Historical account performance.

There may be other minor factors, but relevance, especially as demonstrated through CTR, is of primary importance.

Is Quality Score specific to campaign or ad group?

According to AdWords, neither. You have Quality Scores at the account, keyword, and ad level, but not for campaigns or ad groups. The only Quality Scores you'll be able to see are your keyword Quality Scores for the Search Network and your ad-level Quality Scores for the Content Network.

Is it better to start with a low bid or a high bid? How will initial bid affect Quality Score?

Starting with a higher bid can be risky because youll appear in more auctions and build history more quickly. If you build good history, thats a good thing. If you build bad history, its not.

Note that bidding up to a high position may improve your click-through rate, but Google normalizes your CTR for your ad position, so you can't improve Quality Score simply by raising your bids.

How fast can we improve Quality Score?

Unfortunately, Quality Score isnt something you can necessarily right overnight if youve had poor account performance for a significant period of time. However, more relevant ad text and negative keywords are the best way to turn around Quality Score in a timely fashion. It's recommended to completely restructure accounts that have poor Quality Scores with extremely relevant keyword groupings and ad text. This will increase click-through rate significantly, getting you on your way to higher Quality Scores. Establishing a good foundation and practicing smart PPC management are critical to success with AdWords.

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is the Senior Content Development Manager at WordStream, a provider of Internet marketing software, including AdWords management tools and a Keyword Research Suite.

WordStream Internet Marketing Blog

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