Quality Score can seem like a bit of a mystery to new search advertisers.

The promise of search advertising is that ads will be shown for selected keywords, so long as the advertiser is willing to pay for the resulting clicks.

But with thousands of advertisers vying for top rankings on the same keywords, there’s clearly more to it.

That’s where Quality Score comes into play.

Why does Google use Quality Score, how do they calculate it, and how can advertisers improve it?

I served on the Quality Score team for Google Ads (then AdWords) while I worked at Google, so let me shed some light.

What Is Quality Score?

Quality Score is Google’s measure of how relevant a keyword is. As soon as Google has enough data, keywords in an advertiser’s account are assigned a score between 1 and 10, with 10 being the best.

This number is a representation of the aggregate relevance of the keyword across the many auctions in which it participates. It is meant to guide advertisers but it is not used to rank ads.

What is used to rank ads behind the scenes of every ad auction, is the real-time Quality Score that takes a lot of additional factors into account.

While the 1-10 number helps advertisers gauge how good a job they are doing at choosing the right keywords, writing good ads, and driving users to helpful landing pages, it’s the real-time Quality Score that really matters.

The real-time Quality Score is more granular than a 1-10 number but it is not shared with advertisers because it fluctuates all the time and is different for every single search that happens on Google. […]

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