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What is Pay Per Click Quality Score?

Quality score refers to a method of evaluating Pay Per Click ads. This method of evaluation is use by Google and MSN, it is also used by Yahoo, but Yahoo refers to it as quality index.

When running Pay Per Click, each ad is evaluated based on the both the bid and the quality score. This is one of the main reasons why PPC experts are constantly adjusting their bids, in order to create the best relationship with their quality score as possible. The main goal is to allow an ad to rank in a position that will result in the highest conversions. Most times, positions 2 through 8 are the highest converting, however, this can alter based on keyword group and industry.


Quality score for PPC was invented to allow search engines to display the most relevant ads. This allows advertisers to get more clicks, and the search engines to make more money off those clicks. Quality score was implemented about the same time as the minimum bid. The minimum bid had a large effect, as it allowed search engines to better qualify competition and make more money for certain keywords.

There are many factors involved in determining quality score for PPC. But like search engine optimization, many of the factors are discussed in general but real detail is never given. While this is the case, here are some of the known factors in determining quality score.

Click-Through Rate

The amount of times an ad is clicked in regards to how many times it is shown, or CTR (Click Through Rate) is a major factor in quality score. This takes into account the keyword, the matched ad and the display URL being shown.

Keywords in Ad Copy

When determining quality score for PPC, the search engines gauge the relevance of the ad copy in relation to the keyword the advertiser is bidding on. Because of this, it is important to use keywords in your ad that match the keywords you are bidding on.

Landing Pages

Landing pages can play a role in your quality score. Search engines crawl the pages copy and code to evaluate the relevance of the keyword you are bidding on to the destination URL. Furthermore, landing page load time can also impact PPC quality score, as Google announced this in 2008.

Other Considerations

Google does have a slightly more advanced quality scoring system for PPC. Google takes into account the ads performance in a geographical location and some feel that it evaluates other items such as on site conversion data.

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More on Quality Score

According to Google, this is how quality score is determined for the Google search network:

  • The historical clickthrough rate (CTR) of the keyword and the matched ad on Google; note that CTR on the Google Network only ever impacts Quality Score on the Google Network — not on Google
  • Your account history, which is measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account
  • The historical CTR of the display URLs in the ad group
  • The quality of your landing page
  • The relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group
  • The relevance of the keyword and the matched ad to the search query
  • Your account’s performance in the geographical region where the ad will be shown
  • Other relevance factors

Google mentions that there are slightly different factors that effect ad position and first page bids:

  • For calculating a keyword-targeted ad’s position, landing page quality is not a factor. Also, when calculating ad position on a Search Network placement, Quality Score considers the CTR on that particular placement in addition to CTR on Google.
  • For calculating first page bid, Quality Score doesn’t consider the matched ad or search query, since this estimate appears as a metric in your account and doesn’t vary per search query.

Quality Score for the Google Display Network

According to Google, the quality score for calculating an ad’s eligibility to appear on a particular display network site, as well as the ad’s position on that site, consists of the following factors:

  • The ad’s past performance on this and similar sites
  • The relevance of the ads and keywords in the ad group to the site
  • The quality of your landing page
  • Other relevance factors

If the campaign uses cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) bidding, quality score is based on the quality of your landing page. If the campaign uses cost-per-click (CPC) bidding, quality score is based on the historical CTR of the ad on this and similar sites and the quality of your landing page.

In Summary

Ultimately, the higher your quality score the better off you will be from a ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) perspective. A higher quality score means lower bid prices and higher ad placement.

Have questions about quality score for PPC? Add them below!

About Garry Grant

Garry Grant is a veteran expert in search engine optimization and the digital marketing industry. With nearly 20 years of experience, Garry has successfully built a multi-service operation at SEO, Inc., developing proprietary technologies through complex strategic solutions. He has extensive experience in key initiatives and operational responsibilities grounded in information technology and performance management.

Garry’s expertise and esteemed reputation, coupled with SEO Inc.’s impressive client success record has earned him such accolades as Entrepreneur Magazine's 2005 Hot List for the Hottest Internet Property, Inc. 500 2007 Honorary award for Fastest Growing Private Company in America, an Inc. 500 top 50 Company in San Diego, and interviews with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post.

Garry Grant began his online career in 1993 creating strategic Web and e-business solutions for, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Premiere Radio Networks, Clear Channel Communications, EarthLink and Artisan Motion Pictures. Today, Garry and SEO Inc.’s highly skilled digital strategists develop proprietary technology and strategic digital marketing direction for Fortune 500 companies including, SC Johnson, McAfee,, Inc Magazine, IGN, Tacorri, LPL Financial, National Kidney Foundation, G4 TV, Fuel TV and Sony, just to name a few.