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Anyone that’s ever delved into the murky waters of Pay-Per-Click advertising has likely heard of the term ‘Quality Score’.

And with good reason. Quality Score is a vital aspect of creating and maintaining a successful ad campaign. Affecting Cost-Per-Click and Cost-Per-Conversion. 

I’m going to show you how to use Quality Score to maximise Return on Investment. 

With tips that helped my own business increase return on ad spend three-fold!

Here’s what we’ll cover…

  1. What is Quality Score?
  2. The Three Levels of Relevance
  3. How Important is QS?
  4.  What’s a Good Quality Score?
  5. How Do I Find My Score?
  6. How to Boost Quality Score
  7. Research
  8. Account Segmentation
  9. Testing & Refining
  10. Landing Pages
  11. Negative Keywords

What is Quality Score?

To understand how to use QS to our advantage, we’re first going to need to know exactly what it is. 

The first, rather obvious thing is… it’s a measure of quality. How good is your ad or your landing page?

In a nutshell, though, Quality Score can be explained using one word; ‘relevance’.  Google scores you directly on relevance.

PPC Quality Score Screenshot

Just by knowing this, you can already create better ad campaigns. At every stage of creation, you should be thinking about relevance.

Search engines are determining the quality of your ads using three different levels of connection…

  • Search (intent) to Keyword
  • Keyword to Ad
  • Ad to Landing Page

And of course, this is best when all three are working together. 

PPC Quality Score Venn

How Important is Quality Score?

When it comes to bang for your buck on PPC campaigns, Quality Score is the single biggest factor. 

A high Quality Score leads to lower cost-per-click which in turn will almost always mean lower cost-per-conversion. 

Remember, QS is essentially a search engine’s way of deciding that your ad is relevant to the user’s wants or needs. 

Meaning ads with a higher quality score will show above other ads even with larger bid amounts

This has a huge effect on how much you’ll need to spend too. 

Quality Score Bid Adjustments

What is a Good Quality Score?

As mentioned, Quality Score is marked out of 10 and to measure your performance effectively, I’d advise splitting keywords into three categories.

  1. Branded Keywords  People Searching for your brand or a specific brand you sell. A Quality Score of 8-10 is expected here as there’s no reason you can’t maximise relevance and specificity. 
  2. High Intent Keywords Keywords that match the intent of your business. I.E you sell and the user wants to buy. Aim for at least 7-9.
  3. Low Intent Keywords whilst most of the time, I would avoid these like the plague. there is an argument by some for having them. Aim for 3+ and expect to pay way more than businesses that match the intent.

Finding your Quality Score…

Quality Score can be found by customising your columns in the keyword section of any ad group. 

Click on ‘columns’ then ‘modify columns’ shown below. Then check the box next to ‘Quality Score’.

Doing so enables you to put your keywords in order of QS too, meaning you can quickly identify those that need attention and areas you’re likely to be overpaying.

Columns PPC

How do I Boost My Quality Score?

Now for the really useful bit.  

To boost your quality score, the first thing you need to do is boost relevance, there’s a few ways to do this:


Any PPC campaign should have been built on a solid amount of high-quality research. Find valuable search terms that match user intent and add in longtail queries to contribute to overall performance. 

If you’re going to increase relevance, you need to know what your audience are looking for. 

There’s a host of keyword research tools available, varying from the free and freemium (Neil Patel’s SEO Analyzer) to the more expensive dedicated SEO tools (like Ahrefs and SEMRush).


PPC Account Structure
image from wordstream

This is the single biggest mistake I see when taking over the management of a PPC campaign. Ads are not segmented enough.

*TOP TIP* You should never have a campaign where your only landing page is your homepage. 

If I’m setting up a PPC ad for my SEO marketing services and my ad clicks through to my home page, I’m losing a ton of indicators to Google that the page is relevant.

Yes, my homepage mentions ‘SEO’ but the SEO page on my website is way more relevant. With titles and H1’s and H2s all indicating that.

Likewise, if you’re advertising a brand/specific model… don’t take the user through to a category page, take them to the actual product they’re looking for.

Test & Refine

CTR is a massive factor for search engines determining the quality and relevance of an ad. 

There’s no need to guess which ad headline or description is going to offer you the best click-through. You should be testing this on a regular basis. 

Google’s ad variations is the cleanest way to do this but if you’re looking for a method a little less scientific, you can run multiple ads (with varying headings, copy etc.) with your ad rotation settings set to ‘Optimize’. 

Google will then prioritise ads with the best CTR and you can review this weekly or monthly.

PPC Ad rotation settings

Get the Landing Page Right

As already mentioned, the landing page is an important part of the Quality Score mix. 

The best practice is to have a bespoke, purpose-built landing page for each of your ads but let’s face it, this is time-consuming and expensive. 

Simply making sure that ads click through to a page that is clearly representing the specific service or product the ad is advertising. 

As a rule of thumb try to remember: the more specific the ad the more specific the page content needs to be.  

Aside from this, bounce rate is another important metric. It’s vital to keep your bounce rate low. Make sure your page loads quickly enough and is engaging.

Use Negatives

You’ll have heard or read this at least a hundred times but utilising negative keywords is an absolute must for boosting relevance and reducing wasted spend. 

Adding in a negative keyword is as simple as putting a minus sign before the word (e.g -free) and they’re a great way to weed out searches for freebies, trials, lessons and reviews, for example.

There you have it!

Follow these tips and your Quality Score will improve. This, in turn, will reduce your cost per click/conversion and allow you to better your chances of getting high ROI from your campaigns. 

For more PPC tips, visit our blog.

About the Author

SEO and PPC expert Stefan Cardwell

Stefan Cardwell is a digital marketer with over 11 years experience. A specialist in Search Engine Marketing and enthusiast for all things inbound and digital. 

Owner of Keyk. Digital Marketing, Stefan has helped a huge number of businesses increase revenue through effective marketing strategies and high return digital advertising campaigns.