In recent years, automated bidding has become more consistent in order to provide solid performance to search engine advertisers.

You no longer have to choose a CPC bid for every keyword and instead set CPA or ROAS goals and let machine learning calculate the correct bid to meet the specified goal for each individual search.

However, as part of this step towards simpler campaign management, it is worth knowing the details of how the underlying system works.

Working hand in hand with automation can save you money and get even better results than the machine alone can deliver.

When you turn on auto bidding, an advertiser's job is still a long way from being done.

While there are many levers for optimizing automated campaigns and bids, this chapter is about using Quality Score to increase awareness of an ad while reducing costs.

How the Quality Score (QA) lowers costs can be a mystery to new and old advertisers.

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Given that thousands of advertisers are vying for top rankings with the same keywords, and many are using the same tools to automate their bids, how does the search engine decide which ad comes first and how much each advertiser pays?

QA is a big part of the equation and something that advertisers can influence even if they may no longer control the other lever that accounts for it: the bid.

Why is Google using QS, how do they calculate it, and how can advertisers improve it?

I worked on the QA team for AdWords while working at Google. So let me shed some light on this.

What is the quality factor?

Quality Score is Google's measure of the relevance of a keyword based on data from previous ad auctions.

Once Google has enough data, keywords in an advertiser's account are assigned a QA number between 1 and 10, with 10 being the best.

Before you have enough data, the QA will show up as "-" in the interface or as zero (0) in some reports.

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This number is a representation of the keyword's aggregated relevance across the many auctions it participates in.

It is meant to guide advertisers, but it is Not is used to rank ads.

What is Quality Score and why is it important?Check the Quality Score columns to see the value next to each keyword.

What is used to place ads behind the scenes at any ad auction is the QA at auction time, which takes many additional factors into account.

The number 1-10 is a great way for advertisers to gauge how well they're choosing the right keywords, writing good ads, and driving users to helpful landing pages. Real-time QA is crucial, however.

The auction time QA is more detailed than a number from 1 to 10, but it is not passed on to advertisers as it fluctuates constantly.

It is also different for each individual search on Google and depends on the context of those searches, e.g.

  • Where the user is located.
  • The time of day.
  • The type of search term and how it relates to your keyword.
  • And other factors.

As a side note, there are two types of automated bidding tools available from Google.

One is only called "automated", the other "intelligent".

The main difference is that smart bids can set different bids for each auction. The QA factor is taken into account in real time and “smarter” bids are set that are more in line with the advertiser's goal.

Why does Google have a Quality Score?

All of this sounds complicated. Why does Google have a Quality Score?

They use it to show users more relevant ads with each search.

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Google is dependent on advertising revenue. Therefore, there is a great incentive for Google to make sure that users find the ads interesting and click on them.

Finally, remember that the Google ad auction is based on a cost-per-click (CPC) model, so Google only makes money when ads are clicked.

If low quality ads could take up space that could be filled with more relevant ads, they would make less money in the short term and run the risk of alienating users in the long term.

While QA can be tricky to improve at times, it's also useful for advertisers as they like to get the kind of high quality leads that Google Ads can provide.

To keep those leads coming back, advertisers need to do their part in selecting relevant keywords, writing compelling ads, and directing users to high-quality, helpful landing pages.

And when they do, it can lead to big profits by reducing their CPCs.

How the quality factor is calculated

Google has so much data on how users interact with search results that they can use machine learning techniques, big data, to determine the expected relevance of each ad, keyword, and landing page relative to each search.

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That's a mouthful so it's called QS.

Instead of asking Google employees to assess the relevance of each keyword (as it did when Google Ads was invented), a process that would be very time-consuming, subjective, and error-prone, they use the "wisdom of the crowd" principle to Assign QS.

In particular, their algorithms monitor what users interact with on the search results page (SERP) to make predictions about future interactions.

At its core, QS is a forecast click-through rate (CTR).

In the early days of AdWords, before QS, they used click-through-rate to determine whether keywords were of little relevance and should be disabled or had to pay more to enter the ad auction.

Over time, as machine learning techniques got better, Google considered more factors in determining the expected click-through rate. The term Quality Score was introduced to replace the click-through-rate component that was previously part of the ad ranking mechanism.

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The easiest way to think about QA is to measure how likely it is that users will find your ad relevant to what they were looking for and the likelihood that it will lead to a click on your ad.

Why quality factor is important

Advertisers value their QA as this is one of the deciding factors:

  • Which ads are eligible to participate in the ad auction?
  • How the eligible ads are classified
  • What actual CPC does the advertiser have to pay?

Participation in the auction

Google doesn't want to serve irrelevant ads and it's easy to see why.

They primarily charge advertisers clicks on their ads. If an advertiser uses a very high bid to get a high position on the page with an irrelevant ad, they won't get clicked and Google won't make any money.

Search advertising is primarily about getting users to respond to an ad, not just building a brand.

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For example, while an automaker thinks that an ad for a new pickup truck really resonates with someone looking up the big game score, that ad is unlikely to get a click and is therefore detrimental to Google Ads.

If Google predicts a particular keyword as very irrelevant and gives it a very low QS, that ad may not even get auctioned off for most searches.

On the other hand, a high QA ensures that an ad is eligible to participate in more ad auctions so that it moves on to the ranking step.

Ad ranking

Once Google has selected the keywords and ads that are likely to be relevant to a search, they will be entered into the ad auction.

This is a split second auction where Google rates:

  • How much everyone offers (max CPC).
  • How relevant they are (QA).
  • What other factors, such as B. Ad extensions can increase the click rate.

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Each ad is given a score, and the resulting rank determines who shows their ad in the top slot and who misses the first page of results.

Advertisers benefit from a higher ad rank as ads in higher positions tend to get more clicks. This means more leads and sales opportunities.

But what if advertisers use automated bidding and instead of a maximum CPC they have a target CPA, a target ROAS, or some other target?

Even in these cases, the ad auction still works with a CPC bid. The automated bidding process simply translates the advertiser's goal into a unique CPC bid for each auction.

CPC discount

Finally, the actual CPC an advertiser has to pay for a click is calculated based on the CPC. They would need to keep their rank above the next ad in the auction.

This discount is why most advertisers have an average CPC that is below their max CPC.

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Advertisers benefit from higher QA as they have to pay less to hold their position against their closest competitor.

The higher the QS, the less they have to pay for the same click.

This applies to all advertisers, including those who use automated bidding.

If an advertiser has great real-time QA on a particular search, the automated bidding process may determine that it can meet the advertiser's goal with a lower CPC (and save money), or it may find that a higher bid will do it can do more conversions.

In both cases, the advertiser wins because they worked to get a high QA. This is explained below.

How to improve the quality factor

You can improve QA by improving the relevance of your keywords, ads, and landing pages.

To focus your efforts, first consider the relative scores of the three sub-components of QA:

  • Expected click rate.
  • Ad relevance.
  • Landing page experience.

What is Quality Score and why is it important?Hovering over the Status box next to a keyword can help advertisers see if their ad might not be eligible for serving due to low QA.What is Quality Score and why is it important?Advertisers can view details about the QA, its components and their historical values ​​by adding the appropriate columns to the Keyword View.

The value for each component is Below Average, Average, or Above Average. So this can help you optimize.

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There are also historical values ​​that advertisers can use to tell whether recent changes have improved or affected the various elements of QA.

Notice that the historical field represents the value on the last day of the selected date range.

In order to display daily values, advertisers can activate daily segments.

What is Quality Score and why is it important?Use time segmentation to display historical QA values ​​for all days in a period.

Expected click rate

This is a measure of the likelihood of your ad generating a click if the search term matches your keyword exactly.

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This rating is normalized to remove any impact on the ad's position on the page, the presence of ad extensions, and other factors that aren't a direct measure of relevance.

If it's low, make sure the keyword is specific and relevant to what you're offering.

Also keep in mind that this may only be relevant in a limited number of cases.

For example, a dog walk can sometimes be relevant to the keyword "dog".

However, there are many searches a user can do, including the word "dog" when they are not looking for your service and need a veterinarian, dog food, or photos of dogs instead.

This has a negative impact on the keyword's click rate. It may be time to add more relevant keywords to the account.

If your keyword is relevant but that score is low, try writing a stronger ad that is more compelling by highlighting relevance to the keyword or including a stronger call to action or a clear value proposition.

What is Quality Score and why is it important?Avoid generic keywords that can mean many things. Instead, use specific keywords for the things you can help users with.

Ad relevance

This component measures how well the message in your ad matched the keyword.

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If this component is low, it could be because your ad groups are covering too wide a range of topics.

One solution could be to break the ad group into smaller ad groups with more narrow topics.

For example, if you're a pool contractor, keywords like "pool design," "in-ground pool construction," and "pool renovation" may be highly relevant, but if they're all in the same ad group in which they are in the same ad text some relevance is lost.

If the list of keywords in an ad group is too different, it could result in the ad being displayed too general or on the wrong subject.

As well as relying on dynamic keyword insertion, take the time to structure your account properly by creating separate ad groups for each set of closely related keywords.

In the previous example, each of the three pool-related keywords is a different topic and should be placed in different ad groups.

What is Quality Score and why is it important?Divide ad groups according to common topics so you can write ads that better match the core topic of each ad group's keyword.

Landing page experience

This final QA component measures what happens after a user clicks on the ad.

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When they get to your landing page, are they glad they came or did they turn right and leave?

If this component is too low, make sure the landing page is closely related to what the user was looking for and delivers on the ad's promise.

Usually deep linking is better than getting someone on the homepage.

Make the landing page easier to use on mobile and desktop devices.

Load the page quickly and use an AMP.

Offer unique and valuable content and treat user's data with respect.

What is Quality Score and why is it important?The user has already done a search to say what they were looking for. Your ads should lead directly to related and relevant landing pages on your website.

Conclusion

In addition to the bid, the quality score plays an important role in Google's decision which ads should be shown and how they should be classified.

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So a good QA can be just as beneficial as a high bid.

Ads with lower bids can outperform those of higher paying competitors with better relevance.

This makes PPC very attractive, as not only the advertiser with the deepest pockets always wins.

Monitor your QA and tackle tweaks if a low QA prevents you from meeting your goals.

But at the end of the day, don't get so stuck that you lose sight of your ultimate business goals for revenue, profitability, and growth.

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