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AdWords Quality Score FAQ Continued: 5 More Questions About Quality Score

May 2, 2018

We received the following questions during our recent webinar, "Improving Quality Score." For more help with understanding and improving AdWords Quality Score, check out these resources:

Do site links improve CTR and Quality Score?

According to data from Bigmouth Media, "ads that run with Ad Sitelinks typically result in an average click through rate increase of 30%." RKG reported similar results: "To take seasonal shifts out of the picture, I looked at the brand performance since the links were launched, and compared this data to the same time period last year. We are seeing a 30+% lift in brand CTR year over year. One client in the mix is enjoying a 99% lift in CTR!"

So yes, using sitelinks can improve your click-through rates. However, according to Google, clicks on sitelinks have "no measurable impact" on your Quality Score. (But ads with high Quality Scores are more likely to display with sitelinks.)

(More: Revisiting the Economics of Quality Score: Why QS Is Up to 200% More Valuable in 2013)

I have seen ads in search results with little to no related keywords that are in top positions. How is this possible?

It's possible because some advertisers use broad match across a wide array of keywords and have very large PPC budgets (think Amazon). If there are no competing ads that are sufficiently more relevant, those advertisers can get top rankings just by placing high bids. Most companies, however, can't afford to bid their way to the top, so it becomes important to focus on relevance and Quality Score.

What is a good click-through rate? 5%?

In the past, Google has encouraged advertisers to aim for a click-through rate of 2%. Other PPC experts recommend 2-5% for competitive industries and 5% for less competitive niches. It's important, however, to monitor your CTR as well as your conversion rates and cost per conversion. Clicks aren't free, so a higher click-through rate isn't always better. You might find that you're paying for more traffic that doesn't convert. Learn more about what constitutes a good CTR here.

How do you balance the need to qualify leads vs. getting a high CTR? We are a B2B company that provides custom projects, so we need to weed out clients looking for a commodity, but it sounds like this could affect our Quality Score.

One approach is to try to qualify leads through the keywords you bid on instead of with your ad. Longer-tail keywords reveal more intent, so by focusing on long-tail keyword research, you may be able to get high CTRs while also ensuring that your traffic is qualified. For example, if your business provided custom carpentry services, you could focus most of your budget on long-tail keywords like "custom cabinet installations" instead of broad terms like "cabinets" and "carpentry." This way, you'll know that the people who are seeing your ad are in the market for services and not a commodity.

Negative keywords are another way to filter out low-value, non-converting traffic; this is why people often set "free" as a negative keyword. This will help keep your PPC costs down, but keep in mind that negative keywords don't affect Quality Score, because Quality Score is only calculated for exact-match queries.

I can't find clicks information at the match type level in Google Analytics. So how do I determine which of my match types for the same keyword is performing best?

All other things being equal, your Quality Score for the same keyword in the same ad group will be the same regardless of the match type – Google only calculates Quality Score for exact matches.

In terms of other performance metrics for different match types, you can see them in Google AdWords Editor or a PPC platform like WordStream. In Google Analytics, you can view certain AdWords metrics, like how different keywords and match types perform in terms of bounce rate and time on site (in fact this is data you can't see in AdWords). However, many of the metrics that you’re used to seeing in AdWords, like cost per click, aren't in there. So you can't rely on Google Analytics alone to get the full picture of your PPC keyword performance. By syncing AdWords and Analytics, you can get more information in the Clicks and eCommerce tabs.

If you have more questions about Quality Score, please drop them in the comments!

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is WordStream's Sr. Manager of Content Marketing and SEO. Likes include wine, karaoke, poker, ping-pong, perfume, and poetry.