Historical Quality Score Analysis and Reporting: the Complete Guide

QUALITY SCORE REPORTING · 11-MINUTE READ · By Supermetrics on July 26 2017.

Back in June, we introduced AdWords’ newly-released metrics Historical Quality Score in this post. Historical Quality Score is a very valuable metric for marketers – it reflects how relevant your ad is to the user-specific search query. Quality Score, together with other parameters, such as user’s location, device, time of the day when the query is made determines where your ad should be positioned and how much you should pay for the bid.

The article will help you understand what Historical Quality Score consists of, what role it plays in your AdWords account, how you can report it with Supermetrics.

We also offer a Historical Quality Score reporting template in our template gallery to help you see the performance of each QS component and compare Quality Score to other metrics. If you wish to use the template straight away, you can find it from the Template Gallery in Supermetrics Add-on

Digging Deeper into Historical Quality Score – what does it consist of?

There is no doubt that QS is an important metric – by increasing it your ad gets more exposure and you CPC decreases. Next, I will tell what is a Quality Score comprised of and how it is calculated.

3 components of Historical Quality Score

Quality Score consists of 3 components, which are:

  • Expected CTR reflects how well your keyword has performed in the past, based on your ad’s position;
  • Ad Relevance (Creative Quality Score) indicates how well did you manage to come up with keywords that would match the user’s query exactly (note, that this doesn’t mean that a keyword’s match should be “exact” type) and how relevant are those keywords in your ad copy;
  • Landing Page Experience is an evaluation of how well-designed, relevant and informative your landing page is for the user.

Each of those factors is graded as “Below average”, “Average” or “Above average”.

How is Historical Quality Score Calculated?

But how much exactly does each of those factors affect the calculation of Quality Score? This calculation is an algorithm that Google keeps in secret, however some marketing experts have run experiments to find it out. Brad Geddes, the founder of AdAlysis, thoroughly researched this question and described how he came up with the formula for QS calculation in his article on Search Engine Land. According to Brad’s theory, both landing page experience and expected click-through rate account for 39% of the Quality Score, whereas Ad relevance accounts for 22%.

The formula for QS calculation is: 1 + Landing Page Experience weight + Ad Relevance weight + CTR weight.

In the article, Brad gives a great example for the Quality Score calculation:

“For instance, let’s say you have these factors:

  • Landing Page Experience: average — 1.75 points
  • Ad Relevance: above average — 2 points
  • CTR: average — 1.75 points

Then your Quality Score is: 1 + 1.75 (LPE) + 2 (Relevance) + 1.75 (CTR) = 6.5. As Google doesn’t show fractions, this is rounded to a 7, which is seen inside your account.”

Key takeaway: after QS is broken down by 3 factors it is easier to see a change in what factor affected an increase/decrease in QS. 

How QS is it related to other metrics?

As Google has already mentioned in their AdWords “Best Practices” series of articles explaining Quality Score:

“Another way to think of the Quality Score reported in your AdWords account is as warning lights in a car: something that alerts you to potential problems.”

Google suggests that marketers focus on long-term performance goals, and improve user experience while they achieve those goals. Quality Score is an indicator of how well your ads are performing.

As I mentioned earlier, Quality Score is an estimate of the quality and the relevance of your keywords, ads, as well as landing pages in relation to the users’ search queries. Hence, Quality Score is related directly and indirectly to all ad performance metrics of your ad.

Metrics directly related to Quality Score

Wordstream in their white paper, “Improving the Quality Score: the Value of Being More Relevant” has identified 2 main important metrics that the Quality Score affects, which are Impressions and Cost per Click.

According to Wordstream, the higher your Quality Score is, the lower your minimum first page bid estimate is, which consequently allows you to rank higher and then get more impressions. Cost Per Click is calculated according to the following formula, where Quality Score plays a big role:

(Ad rank to beat/Quality Score) + $0.01 = Actual CPC

Quality Score should not be looked at in isolation from other metrics. Our template provides you Impressions – , Cost – and Click – weighted Historical Quality Score. Why are those weighted averages important? Let’s look at the Impressions – weighted QS. Imagine that you have 300 keywords in your account. 150 of those keywords have very low Quality Scores and all get hundreds of thousands of impressions. The other 150 have very high QS’s, however the total number of those keywords’ impressions is much lower than the total number first 150 keywords got. In a situation like this the overall Quality Score is much lower than 5 (average), and reflects the true situation.

In addition, with the template you can easily see each of the three components weighted by impressions.

Metrics indirectly related to Quality Score

The main idea behind Quality Score is not to manage an account and ads to optimize them for better QS, but rather to use this metric as a diagnostic tool. Quality Score is indirectly related to CPA and ROAS among other metrics, which altogether reflect the “health” of your account.

As mentioned earlier, Quality Score affects how much you pay per click. Johnathan Dane from KlientBoost went further and described how impactful Quality Score is on other metrics:

Thus, the higher your Quality Score is, the easier it is to have a lower CPC and consequently a lower CPA. “However you should be extremely careful” – Jonathan continues – “Quality Score is not a key performance indicator. Cost per conversion and conversion rates are.”

Quality Score reflects the performance of your ads. However, it does not reflect the post-click experience or the final results of your marketing efforts. Conversion rates, Cost per Conversion and ROAS are a better reflection of your results.

Also, an excellent Quality Score does not necessarily mean that your cost per action becomes lower. For example, you have a great ad that receives a high Quality Score and gets top Ad Rank after many auctions. The visitor enters the landing page, which loads fast and contains all the relevant information about the product. The visitor is content and starts making a purchase. However the process of purchasing becomes difficult due to poor user flow. The visitor decides not to make a purchase after all, and quits the website. After that happens to many of your visitors, your CPA increases.

That is to say, not only is it important to get high QS, it’s equally crucial to make sure the post-click user experience is great and leads to many conversions.

Key takeaway: It is important to remember that Quality Score reflects the only quality of each ad and always analyze Quality Score together with other metrics to get a better understanding of whether your marketing efforts lead to success.

Supermetrics’ Historical QS Template – what is in it and how to use it

In order to make Quality Score analytics easier for you, we’ve put together a nice reporting template, which allows you to:

  • Track how your QS has changed over time for each particular campaign and immediately see campaigns that have low QS and require attention.
  • See Quality Score, weighted by Clicks, Impressions and Cost metrics
  • See the scores of Expected CTR, Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience, each weighted by Impressions
  • Compare QS with metrics, such as CTR, CPC, Average Position, and others
  • Set up automatic refresh and alerts for monitoring your QS

The template also offers a powerful query builder to analyze your QS in different granularities and answers various questions on QS. The query builder helps you:

  1. Monitor each keyword’s’ quality score along with other metrics (CPC, Conversion Rate, Cost and many more)
  2. See what keywords have high/low traffic and high/low QS to decide whether you should get rid of those keywords or keep them or change them.
  3. Filter keywords and their matchtype by campaign to easily locate them in your account.

All you need to do to start using the template is to Install the Supermetrics Add-on , and add the template from the Add-on’s Template Gallery!

I’ve got QS analyzed. What next?

After you have analyzed Quality Score, each of its’ components, other metrics and identified your areas for improvement, it is time to start working with them! You can run experiments to see if your metrics are improving, and monitor the results to compare with the old data. I have put together a list of useful resources to help you get started:

Profit With AdWords: 3 Steps to a High Quality Score by Neil Patel

5 Tips for Increasing Your AdWords Quality Score by ClickZ

Improving Quality Score: the Value of Being More Relevant whitepaper by Wordstream

Useful articles on how to improve Ad Relevance (Creative QS):

Keyword matchtype and negative keywords:

Match Types & Quality Score – The Truth At Last by Acquisio

Keyword grouping in the campaign:

AdWords Keyword Grouping – How Keyword Groups Lower AdWords Costs by Wordstream

Useful articles on how to improve Landing Page Experience:

Landing Page Relevance: Can You Optimize for Quality Score? by Wordstream

6 Easy Landing Page Update To Improve Quality Score by PPC Hero

Useful articles on how to improve Expected CTR:

2 Little Known Ways To Increasing CTR And Quality Score by Certified Knowledge

Conclusion

In this blogpost we digged into the topic of Quality Score a bit deeper and saw that it is a very useful metric, that reflects the performance of your ads. QS provides great insights when broken down into components and analyzed together with other metrics. I hope you learned more about Quality Score from this article, and I will be happy to hear your thoughts on QS reporting in the comments!

8 Responses to “Historical Quality Score Analysis and Reporting: the Complete Guide”

  1. Daniel

    Awesome! Have been looking forward to seeing a Supermetrics QS template with the new metrics & this looks great. If I’m not mistaken, bit of a bug when changing the date range to 90 days though, the graph does not update to include all the dates, so in case anyone’s reading this it can be fixed by:

    – Changing the data range of the top left graph to AT227:AV317
    – Changing AN265 to AN317 in the filter at cell AV228

    Reply
    • Anna Shutko

      Hey Daniel, this is Anna from Supermetrics. Great that you liked the template! And thanks for the heads-up, I will fix this issue so that it would not appear anymore.

      Reply
    • Anna Shutko

      Hey Daniel, thank you for the heads up, the fixes are made to the template — Supermetrics

      Reply
  2. Fridtjof

    If you can do campaign and ad group level historical QS calculations in the back-end give us the metrics in supermetrics you will win the world.

    Reply
    • Anna Shutko

      Hey, thanks for the comment! Anna from Supermetrics here. Actually, you can get Historical QS values for Campaign or AdGroup with Supermetrics Add-on, after connecting to AdWords data source, just choose “Campaign” or “Ad group” as a split by option in the sidebar, while building the query. I will take a look at whether campaign/Adgroup values can be included in the template.

      Reply
  3. David Jaeger

    Just a quick note about your link to the acquisio article about match types. Google introduced an update to their Quality Score algorithm in 2013/2014; where QS is now stored on broad terms for their match types. (Sorry, I can’t find the reference right now, so take this with a grain of salt)
    I used to hack the bids, so we had a broad match with negative exact match, to take advantage of this bug, and then this loophole changed.

    Google DOES now create/store the query/accounts quality score, even if you are just bidding on the keyword in broad or phrase.
    Bottom line, it’s essentially a loophole that went away.

    Create relevant copy to get higher CTR’s for every query you are matching to. Low CTR’s on broad keywords are calculated against those queries competing CTR’s, and won’t affect your exact match QS (though bad relevance/copy will impact QS on those broad queries).

    Bottom line, focus on improving your offer, and stay relevant. Let Google, their bots and AI’s worry about the rest…

    Reply
  4. Alex

    Hey Guys, thanks a lot for that! I have a question though, in the upper left graph (historical QS per campaign), how is the AS weighted (impr / clicks / cost) ? Also, would be awesome to be able to select multiple campaigns for that one, as it would be easier to differenciate brand / non brand / competitor campaigns.

    Reply
    • Anna Shutko

      Hey Alex, this is Anna from Supermetrics. The QS on the upper left graph is not weighted, this is the original value. And thanks for the suggestion! We will take a look at how we can include it into the template.

      Reply

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