By designing high-quality Google ads, you can reduce your costs per click and increase your visibility — all while serving customers effective, helpful content.

There’s no question that Google Adwords is a valuable tool for establishing a robust, affordable digital presence that offers data-driven insights for small- and medium-sized businesses. In inexperienced hands, however, the platform can be opaque, especially for those who have limited exposure to online advertising. Thankfully, Google’s Quality Score feature helps businesses understand how their ads are performing, and what that performance means for their marketing spend.

This makes it essential for online advertisers to familiarize themselves with what the Quality Score is (and what it isn’t). Essentially, your Quality Score is an aggregated estimate of your ads’ overall performance during auctions — that is, the near-instantaneous process that determines whether your ad will appear in a user’s search results, what position your ad will take, and how much Google will charge you for any subsequent clicks.  

Conversely, your Quality Score isn’t a definitive key performance indicator (KPI) of your ads’ landing page experience, the efficacy of your ad copy, or vital metrics such as click-through rate (CTR). While each of these factors does in part influence how your ads perform during auctions, they’re just a few factors among many that determine where and to whom an ad is served.

Improving your Quality Score may take work, but the benefits are worth it. From lower costs per click to premium placements in search results, an impressive Quality Score will help your ad spend go further and reach a wider audience.

Design Relevant, Responsive Landing Pages

When a search engine user clicks on your ad, they expect to land on a page that’s relevant and useful to them in fulfilling their original query. If your landing page loads quickly, is easily navigable, and includes copy that reflects the user’s initial search, then congratulations! You probably have a high Quality Score — and satisfied site visitors. If you need to improve your rating, however, here’s what to do.

First, ensure that your landing page reflects your keyword targets and ad text. If a visitor clicks on an ad that’s been served to them because they searched for history books on influential women, they should land on a page that includes relevant titles, not your catchall historical nonfiction section.

Second, optimize landing pages for navigation, with special attention paid to mobile. If a smartphone user can’t make heads or tails of your site even if the content is relevant to their needs, they’re likely going to abandon it — and that’s going to negatively affect your landing page rating. In addition to clarity, make sure that drop-down menus and headers function properly on both desktop and mobile devices.

Third, do everything in your power to improve the navigation speed of landing pages, as well as the amount of time it takes for your page to load. Even if you’re new to website optimization, Google offers tools to make your pages as fast as possible. Consider converting your site to Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, a Google platform that can load sites in less than a second.

Craft Compelling Ad Copy

The more users click on your ads, the more likely Google is to serve those ads to users making related search queries. To drive as many interactions as possible, you need to write ad copy that explains three things: what your brand does, how your products or services can benefit the user, and how that user can learn more about your product or make a purchase.

To do this, you need to be savvy about how you use keywords. If you sell products for pet owners, for instance, you’ll probably want to optimize for a term like pet products, writing ads that promote premium pet products or affordable pet products. Pet products in both versions of the ad will be bolded if the search term contains those words. If you can choose keywords that you know have high commercial value, your copy can do more legwork toward attracting clicks.

You can also make your ads more clickable by taking advantage of extensions. With extensions, you can frontload the most helpful links that users might be looking for based on their queries. For example, you can direct potential visitors to reviews, click-to-call buttons, location information, or the contact us page right from the search results. If users feel like you value their time by offering exactly what they’re looking for from the get-go, they’re more likely to give your site a try.

Divide and Conquer with Distinct Ad Groups

Since your Quality Score is primarily a measure of relevance, you should be dividing your keywords into organized groups that fit well with specific ad campaigns. Doing so will boost your click-through rate (CTR), one of the key factors influencing your Quality Score, and make sure that your ad spend is optimized for users who are likely to generate new business.

For example, if you wanted to target pizza delivery in New York City and Jersey City, you should create separate ad groups for each city’s ad campaign in addition to a list of pizza delivery terms specific to each location. This will help keep your ad groups as relevant to their corresponding keywords as possible. Additionally, grouping your keywords this way can make your ad spend more efficient. If, instead of creating discrete campaigns for New York City and Jersey City, you kept them all as one group, you’d risk wasting money on users in Jersey City clicking on ads for New York City delivery options, and vice versa.

With well-curated keywords incorporated into organized ad campaigns, you can improve your CTR for the users who are most likely to make a purchase. In turn, a better CTR overall will earn you a higher Quality Score, because it shows that your ads are relevant to user needs. For Google, this shows that you’re designing quality campaigns, leading them to serve your ads on a more consistent basis.