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New Techniques For Getting Higher Quality Scores

October 18, 2012
AdWords Tips

As PPC experts we’re always plagued with low AdWords Quality Scores. Over the past 3 years I’ve had clients with ads so perfectly written and landing pages so perfect I don’t know why they didn’t get a 15 out of 10. But that wasn’t the case. In this post, I will teach you some new techniques for getting higher Google Quality Scores for your PPC ads.

Write Ads That Convert

You need to be writing ads that have a high click-through rate (CTR). This has been one of the biggest indicators of Quality Score for my ads. Write clickable ads.

But it’s not enough to just write a good ad, ads that inspire people to click. Google is no longer just looking for clicks, but interactions on pages. If you’re writing ads that have a high CTR but bounce back to Google 2 seconds later, your Quality Score may go down. Make sure that people who click your ad are staying on your landing page and moving on to other pages. Google doesn’t use your conversion rate directly when calculating Quality Score, but metrics like time on site, bounce rate, dwell time and other on-site behavior can affect your Quality Scores, because they speak to your landing page quality.

A/B Testing

Again, this isn’t directly related to Quality Scores, but if you’re paying attention to what’s converting then you’ll have much better luck with your Quality Scores. Make sure you’re A/B testing everything. Google likes better user experiences, so the goal is to find the ad text and landing page variations that resonate with the greatest amount of users. If you’re giving your clickers a better user experience, you’re going to find Google is giving you much better Quality Scores.

To prove the importance of A/B testing and to show you how much difference a little change to your website can make, I’d like to share an example from a client of ours, He recently came out with a book on Amazon called Confessions of a Six-Figure Blogger. We wanted to push people to a landing page to collect subscriptions and drive sales of his book. We put up a landing page and started driving traffic. A couple days later we changed up that landing page to test something new, and then a combination of the two. Which one converted better? See the results below. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Improve Quality Score with Landing Page Tests

The first landing page was very bland with nothing really going on. The page converted at 2.5% on the back end, not all that bad. We drove 1,000 clicks to it to give it a really good shot. The total cost for this was around $1500.

Landing Page Quality Score

The second landing page we tested had arrows pointing to where we wanted them to go, big huge arrows that no one could really ignore. What were our results? The page converted at around 2.9% of everyone that visited it. Total cost was around the same amount through AdWords. But the back end delivered another handful of people. This is positive in our opinion.

Most people stop here. They found a better page; they would then juice that page for everything it’s worth. No, we kept testing. We decided to add flashing arrows pointing to the desired outcome. Drove 1,000 clicks to that. CTR was the same as the others as we weren’t testing the ad copy but just the landing pages. We had an increase in conversions on the back end of around 5.8%. Total cost was the same but our campaign doubled in profitability. Make sure you’re always testing! We are currently still testing this landing page but haven’t been able to get better than the current landing page.

Control Your Landing Pages

Landing pages have more of an effect on Quality Scores than most people think. Make sure your landing pages load fast – aim for a load time quicker than 4 seconds. If it’s slower than this it can bring down your Quality Score. (Google will let you know if your landing page quality is below average.)

Also make sure that the keywords you’re targeting appear on your landing page. I always recommend that you have tightly themed ad groups with only 2-3 keywords per ad group. I have found that small ad groups, with a separate landing page for each ad group, is key to getting top quality scores.

Software Can Save Your Tail

Writing ads can take tons of time. Paying attention to detail is key to getting higher everything! More companies are switching to PPC software nowadays to increase efficiencies and get help paying attention to the little details. It’s often in the small details that your business can save the most money. Most of the time, when bidding with AdWords, we aren’t paying attention to the smaller click costs. Even a savings of a penny per click could save us thousands of dollars in the long term.

I use several different types of software to manage my ads for me. This helps me keep the edge and manage the things that I might otherwise miss. I recommend WordStream (obviously), AdWords Editor (free software that helps me organize everything), and a few other reporting tools. These are the best on the market.

If All Else Fails

I’ve had clients that, after trying everything mentioned above, still ended up with a 4/10 on Quality Score. One particular client has the same company name as a large band. They own the trademark and keyword domain. I still only had a 4/10 quality score. If this is a problem that you’re having, give your Google Rep a call. If you’re an agency and having problems, give them a call. They are really good to work with and want the best possible outcome for you and your ads. It’s what pays their bills. It’s a pain in the butt but well worth the time you take to get it fixed.

Getting a higher Quality Score will help you lower your CPCs, increase your ad placements, and make your clients much happier!

by John Rampton, a PPC entrepreneur, author, and founder at & Follow him on Twitter @JSRampton.

(Read more: How to Create the Best Landing Pages for Your Google AdWords Account)


Oct 18, 2012


You're absolutely right about paying attention to quality scores, the penny, and split testing. It's important to only be split testing one thing at a time and documenting the whole process. I love split testing!

It's all in the little details, if you don't pay attention to them... it could cost you tons!

Excellent write up! It's always so crucial to continually split testing your landing pages and traffic sources. It's time consuming and can be a big paid, but in the long run you will only improve your conversions and profit margins.

Thanks Zac, and thanks for letting us use your site as an example.  Split testing landing pages is key to to improving conversions and profit margins.

Oct 18, 2012

John, thanks for the article. Attention to detail is so important these are good insights to keep in mind!

It's all in the little details.  Most things we don't pay attention to can have huge impacts in the long run.

Quality scores can help you save the big bucks!  Also, this is a great way to test your SEO.  If you think a page should be ranking for a certain keyword, advertise for that keyword on Google with that particular page as the landing page.  You'll then get to see your quality score for that page.  If it's low, you've got some more SEO work to do on your page (possibly ad copy as well).  If it's high 7/10 or 9/10, you're doing pretty good.  Not a valid method in all instances, but one that I use sometimes and works well. 

I personally say, if it's not a 7/10... you're not doing well enough.  Figure it our or call your Google rep to get it worked out.  Thanks for the great comments.

Thanks for the tips John! Anything that helps make the clients happy is worth reading (and bookmarking).

Clients happy = more future money for everyone!

i am very confused about AB Testing. i want to learn it well.

Please help me.


Love to help you out in any way possible.  A/B testing is great for conversions.  Test out your different landing pages, find which one works the best and then keep testing more with new pages.  Get those QS's up!

These are some great ideas. I think that using software to streamline processes is one of the best ideas. No need to do repetitive work when your software can handle that stuff for you!

Yup, software can give your PPC agency an edge.  It's a great way to have computers do the heavy lifting for you.  Thanks for the great comment Mitchell.

Victor Pan
Oct 18, 2012

"If this is a problem that you’re having, give your Google Rep a call"

Goodness, what a great advice that's practically never followed. Too many people never try the right methods, give up, and declare PPC doesn't work.


Agreed, many people give up after a couple $100.  So many more options, PPC works for 90% of businesses out there.

Tony Cohn (not verified)
Oct 18, 2012

Spot on post by John. Love it when experts share some of their ppc knowledge

Glad you liked it buddy, thanks for the comment!

I think A/B testin is under rated!

I agree with you, more people need to be A/B testing.  It's hard to do because it takes a bit of extra time and work...but the results can help you 100 fold.

Great article man! I have been working on tailoring some of my campaigns to get a good quality score and I hope I will achieve it real soon!

Great work man, if you need any help let me know!

Hi John

Thanks for your interesting article.  We are always looking at ways to improve quality scores and suspect that you might be right about landing pages.

One tactic we have tried to get visitors to stay on the landing page longer is to include "interactive devices".  These can be things like calculators, forms that when completed, deliver the visitor some information of interest etc.  These definitely improve time on site but, in our case, don't seem to help with conversions.

It's a challenge indeed to get the balance right. 

Thanks again for the interesting article!

Anything that will cause a specific action is very good for a landing page.  If you're trying to get people to stay longer on your site then widgets and interactive devices are perfect for this.  Its a great way for people to gain some trust with your website.  Once a person trusts your website you've got them for a long time!  Not to mention referrals.

Hi John,

Split testing your ads an landing pages is really the way to  go these days. Google is considering CTR of ads and Conversions a really impotant factor in calculating QS.

But the most concerning question for me is. We can not  change landing pages when we are working with small businesses.

And there is not that much of Budget availble to test things out (Sometimes May Be). What is your advice about this?

How to use small business service pages as landing pages?

I would make small changes that can be made when incorporating the original desing.  Even little things like in the example above of putting an arrow towards the subscribed helped improve our results and save us tons of money.  It's the little things that people don't pay attention too. is a great place to get really cheap labor if you're struggling with money as a business.  Keep in mind that this little change could save you tons of money in your conversion costs.  It could also be the difference between getting a customer and not getting them.

Tough call but I would always recommend testing out 2 pages.

Thanks John for your reply,

I work on odesk actually the companies i am working with hired me through odesk :)

Should we create landing pages instead of targeting them to our services pages?

The benefit of landing pages will be that we can optimize there onpage accordingly as we can not do that with services

pages as they are optimized for link building and seo.

So, we create landing pages seperately even though it is a small business like computer repair service providers?


Really great post.  A/B testing is definitely underrated and often overlooked, but so incredibly important!!

Couldn't agree with you more.  Important thing now is doing it!

Karisma (not verified)
Oct 22, 2012

Killer post, we all need to be paying attention to our quality scores. Even a small improvement will help lower your costs significantly. Thanks a lot!

Glad you liked it, most people don't realize that a qs of 5/10 and 7/10 can mean $1000's a day in costs... crazy.  Pay attention to the small details.

Very helpful tips.  So often I've read to have 10 to 20 keywords per group, but then when we look, only one of the keywords in the group has a good quality score.  Your advice to have two or three keywords in the adgroup makes much more sense.  And, at various times, google Reps have told me that they see many ad groups with only one or two keywords in them.  This post ties it all together for me.  Thank you!

Nov 15, 2012


everything you wrote is ok, but:

1. A/B tests - assumes same time for each landing page (what I mean - many landing pages tested parallel)! If not, you cannot exclude influence of other factors - like seasons, another medium campaign etc.
2. QS depends on onsite factors (time on site, bounce rate etc) - I don't think it's true - not all LP has analytics code! (and google officially says that GA metrics are not used in other products). Google cannot punish them for that fact.


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