AdWords is one of the best places to advertise and get your share of the PPC game. The average advertiser can expect to double their return on the platform. But for many, that’s not the case.

How can you make sure that your PPC campaign is cost-effective? How can you estimate the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages to lower your cost per conversion and gain better ad positions?

Having a good AdWords quality score is the answer.

You can target the right keywords, create great ads and have a supreme call to action, but if you don’t have high quality scores you’ll be paying through the roof for terms that shouldn’t be that expensive.

Low-quality scores can destroy your bottom line and produce subpar performances, while high AdWords quality score will set yourself up for a higher return on investment (ROI).

Here’s everything you need to know about quality scores (yes, plural, because there are four different values) and how you can improve them fast to see better, cheaper results for your next campaign.

Bonus: Get the free template to easily craft a detailed profile of your ideal customer and/or target audience.

What Is AdWords’ Quality Score and Why Does It Matter?

Quality scores are often touted as one of the biggest things to fix on your AdWords account.

You’ve probably heard it all: “You need to fix those quality scores,” and “What are your quality scores?”

First of all, what even are quality scores?

Knowing how to improve them fast requires in-depth knowledge of the top factors that make up a quality score rating.

When hovering over the quality score column in AdWords, Google defines it like so:

Quality Score is an estimate of how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing pages are to a person who sees your ad. Higher Quality Scores typically lead to lower costs and better ad positions.”

adwords quality score

From this, we can gather that three main factors are taken into account when assessing a quality score for a given account:

  • Ads
  • Keywords
  • Landing pages

These three factors are all analyzed for relevance, and a score is then generated.

According to a study by AdAlysis, the top two factors of the quality score are your landing page experience and expected CTR:

adwords quality score
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Meaning a better landing page or increases in your CTR above the average could have seriously large impacts on improving your quality score.

So, why does this all matter? What benefits do you get from a quality score that’s 8/10 instead of 6/10?

Quality score is a big portion of how Google determines your Ad Rank, otherwise known as what position you hold on paid search results.

Simply bidding more than someone doesn’t necessarily mean you will rank first. If they have a better quality score, they could be outranking you for half the price that you pay on clicks. And that’s simply not sustainable.

Just like AdWords, Facebook contains a relevance score that assesses the same factors, assigning a score from 1 to 10.

In an in-depth AdEspresso study, the findings of how relevance score impact CTR and CPC were astounding:

Let me summarize it for you:

The higher your relevance/quality score, the better your click-through rate and the cheaper your cost per click.

Meaning you will get more traffic and pay less for that traffic if you can produce a better relevance/quality score.

A study on Search Engine Journal backs this up, showing that higher AdWords quality scores lead to lower costs per conversion:

adwords quality score factors
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Quality scores are critical to both ranking first in paid search results and decreasing the costs of your clicks, leads, and conversions.

They can help you raise the number of clicks you get in relation to your impressions and are a vital portion of successful campaigns.

Plus, when you’ve got a higher quality score it’s almost always an indication that the user experience is well-optimized.

It doesn’t mean that you’re always the fastest, most user-friendly site, but it means that the expectations are addressed and met from keyword search to landing page conversion.

Now that you know the ins and outs of quality scores and how they work (and the benefits), here are a few actionable ways that you can raise AdWords quality score today.

Utilize Message Match From Keyword to Ad To Landing Page

Quality scores are dependent on your landing page experience and expected CTR.

And nothing gets people to click faster and convert faster on your landing page than being explicitly clear as to what they are getting.

For example, let’s say you search for “blue track jacket” and you find the following ad:

So far so good, right? It tells you exactly what you were expecting to see.

You searched directly for a blue track jacket. So any ad that doesn’t explicitly say it, you probably won’t click it.

Now you click through to the landing page and find this:

Excellent! A full page showing blue track jackets and even highlighting the exact keyword phrase that was searched in the beginning.

If you are looking to buy a blue track jacket, chances are, this process was as smooth as can be.

Throughout the entire journey, there wasn’t a single step that made you think you weren’t getting what you were looking for.

And that’s message match. According to Unbounce, message match is defined as:

A measure of how well your landing page copy matches the phrasing of the ad or link that brought the visitor there. For PPC marketers, this means matching your ad copy to your landing page headline. Strong message match increases conversions because it reassures people they’ve come to the right place.”

And it makes sense.

Imagine searching for a blue track jacket and landing on a generic page of track jackets that aren’t blue.

Meaning you have to do multiple extra steps even to see what you searched for in the first place.

That’s if you haven’t bounced yet, which you likely would have.

Adding in more steps or not delivering on the specific search is a huge downfall in quality score. If the landing page experience is bad, your quality scores won’t be anything to write home about.

Message match is the key ingredient to ensuring that doesn’t happen.

It works to perfectly tie in your keywords, ads, and landing pages to create an experience that lives up to searcher expectations with perfect relevancy.

Message match can produce conversion rate lifts of over 212 percent. Years ago for a client, I was tasked with redoing their landing pages and website.

They were big spenders on AdWords with lots of room to work with in terms of improving conversion rates, costs, and quality scores.

By utilizing the concept of message match and creating individual landing pages for each ad group and each keyword, conversions increased by over 212 percent.

Quality scores skyrocketed, and costs dropped by 69.39 percent. Why? Specificity. The experience from keyword to conversion nailed all aspects of the quality score.

Specificity of the ad relevance was easily met by creating ads for every keyword. Expected CTR was subsequently massive due to the specificity. And landing page experiences were met with the same messaging and promises of the ads, leading to smooth conversions.

Message match is a great tool in your PPC arsenal for just about everything you do on the search network.

People are searching for specific items or services, so give it to them and make it abundantly clear that they are getting what they asked for!

To get message match right, it all stems from your keywords and ad groups…

Bonus: Get the free template to easily craft a detailed profile of your ideal customer and/or target audience.

Get the free template now!

Use SKAGs to Improve AdWords Quality Scores Fast

When setting up new campaigns on AdWords, Google gives potentially budget-sinking advice:

Really, Google? Still? 10-20 keywords in a single ad group?

That’s a recipe for disaster.

Google literally sets you up to fail from the start.

Let me explain why this is a problem.

Let’s say you run a clothing company and are looking to boost sales. You head to AdWords and fire up your account. You use the keyword planner and start to scout potential keywords to target.

AdWords tells you to “start with 10-20 keywords per ad group.” So, naturally, you do just that.

And you’re left with a list like this:

  • Men’s t-shirt
  • Men’s black t-shirt
  • Men’s long sleeve shirt
  • Men’s henley
  • Men’s short sleeve shirt
  • Black t-shirt for men
  • Red striped shirt for women
  • Women’s black coat
  • Women’s long sleeve

Are you starting to see the issue?

If quality scores are heavily dependent on (1) expected CTR (2) ad relevance and (3) landing page experience, which they are, it’s impossible to nail any of those in a single ad group.

You simply can’t write ads that specifically target all of those different keywords and expect a large CTR.

Someone searching for a men’s henley isn’t going to click on a generic ad for clothing. They want an ad that says “men’s henley.”

And on the off chance that they click on your landing page, it’s impossible to have all of those different products on a single page and remain relevant.

It’s not specific enough.

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Boring, generic, non-search term specific ads won’t lead to CTRs that outperform the average.

To combat this, there is a relatively simple fix: Single keyword ad groups.

These can be structured a few different ways depending on who you ask.

For example, it could be using three different match types:

[Red women’s dress]

Red women’s dress

“Red women’s dress”

Or it could use a single match type:

“Red women’s dress”

Each one performs very well.

CRO experts at CXL conducted a study on SKAGs, finding that CTRs on their ads increased by 28.1 percent in two months. Subsequently, quality scores increased from 5.5 to almost 8.

adwords relevance score
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SKAGs help you zero in on terms and create specific experiences that directly correlate to the searcher’s expectations. This in turn nails all three portions of the QS, improving your performance and decreasing costs.

Use Expanded Text Ads and 5 Ads Per Ad Group

Standard AdWords ad lengths are pretty limited in space. Writing them can quickly become a headache.

Especially when trying to improve your relevancy and quality scores (ad relevance).

Trying to fit keywords in naturally into a short headline is next to impossible.

Currently, the character length limits for AdWords are now fully updated as expanded text ads:

Headline 1: 30 character limit

Headline 2: 30 character limit

Description: 80 character limit

But if you haven’t taken the time to edit ads or still have old ones running, you likely aren’t running fully-expanded text ads.

Meaning you’re limited to nearly half the amount of text that you could be using.

For example, maybe you’ve got old ads that are still performing well, but you’re nervous to update them to the new format and mess up performance.

But with the new updates to AdWords, now is the time.

First, do a quick audit of your ad groups. How many ads do you have in each ad group? Are any of them expanded text ads?

If you have less than three ads in each ad group, create up to five and run them equally. Having more high-quality ads can generate up to 15 percent more clicks and conversions than ad groups with just one.

After a few weeks, you can determine if your new expanded text ads produce better results. From there, keep testing. Keep writing new ads weekly to see if you can increase CTR.

This will allow you to create minor A/B tests in just a few minutes to help increase your quality score by improving CTR.

With expanded text, you will have more room to work.

If you’re struggling to write ads, here is a super easy, simple format to follow that nails all of the perfect aspects of message match and ad relevance:

adwords quality score
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Keep it simple and specific, and you’ll be improving quality scores fast.


Quality scores are critical to success on AdWords. They can both raise your rankings and reduce your costs. Magic!

But achieving a high-quality score isn’t easy, and most people don’t live up to their quality score potential.

Meaning wasted positions and dollars are left on the table.

To start, utilize message match from keywords to ads to landing pages. Every step of the user-journey should involve their original keyword search to provide relevancy and keep the user around.

Implement SKAGs in your ad groups to create specificity, a key ingredient for good quality scores. If you are targeting generic ads to dozens of keywords, your CTR will be very low, negatively impacting your quality score.

Lastly, use expanded text ads. These are a great way to provide more detail and improve your CTR, a big function of the quality score.

Put these three tactics together and you’ll be developing high Google AdWords quality score for years to come.