Adwords Quality Score: How Does It Work?

What if I told you your ads can rank higher than your competition, even with a lower CPC?

You just have to be more relevant.

You see, Google is making money by you bidding on search terms. But also Google needs to service the searcher. If the Adwords ads in Google won’t match the intentions of the searcher, then searchers will stop clicking on the ads.

So much like the organic results, Google has build in a ranking system for Adwords. This is called the Quality Score.

What is the Adwords quality score formula?

We don’t know exactly. We do know this.

Your CTR matters a lot

For a good part the score is based on theCTR (Click-Through-Rate) of your keywords. A high CTR will indicate a relevant ad matching the search query.

Although individual CTR’s are important, Google will also factor in the CTR of your whole Adwords account. This means all keywords and ads. This also means that a campaign focussed on competitor-related keywords, which generally will have a low CTR, could affect your account CTR. And with this, your Quality Score.

Beyond the click: your landing page must be relevant

Google will also look at the quality of your landing page. So make sure the landing page matches the keyword and ad. I wrote some tips in this article on how to improve your landing page.

Your ads should be closely related to your keywords and search terms

You could have an awesome ad with a magnificent CTR. This doesn’t mean your ad is relevant, per se. This is why Adwords will also take into account if you ad actually contains the keywords you are bidding on.

But, you could have broad match keywords set that are triggered by non-relevant search terms. So Google will also look at the relevance of your keywords versus the search term of the user.

Display ads are factored in too, though

If you have display campaigns, also mind the CTR here. Be relevant in your targeting and banners.

A really good remarketing campaign with specified remarketing-lists will help you boost your display CTR.

The effects of a low quality score

Chances are you are reading this article because you’re in need of a quality score boost. I’ve been there.

Quality score versus CPC

A good quality score will lead to better positions for cheaper CPC. On the other hand, a bad quality score will increase your CPC. In short: Adwords will reward a good quality score.

How this works? If you don’t know about Ad Rank, have a look at the following video. If you do, you can skip it.

Pre-October 2013 the Ad Rank formula was:

CPC bid x Quality Score = Ad Rank

Post-October 2013 the Ad Rank also takes into account ad extensions. So the formula might look like this:

(CPC bid x Quality Score) + bonuspoints for ad extensions = Ad Rank

Let’s assume you are using ad extensions and your two competitors in Adwords are as well. Let me explain how a good Ad Rank can help you outposition your competitors.


That’s interesting, right? This means you could have a lower actual CPC and still beat your competitor in ranking.

So what is the effect of a high or low quality score? I’ve gone through some data and matched this with reports from other blogs. Have a look at the chart below.


As you can see, the effect of a low quality score is killing. You’ll be paying more or getting less.

So there you have it: Adwords Quality Score, How Does It Work? Are you satisfied with the answer I’ve given? Do discuss and let me know if I should update this article.