There are many elements of an effective paid search campaign. While
much of the discussion often centers on bidding, there is an equally
important component: quality score.

Quality score was introduced by search engines looking to receive
maximum yield from advertising. By understanding the search engines’
approach, search marketers can take steps to improve their ROI,
independent of their bidding strategy.

Every paid search ad that goes unclicked represents a lost opportunity for the search engines to make money. The search engines use quality score to minimise this loss; ads with a higher clickthrough rate receive a higher quality score. This incentivises marketers to optimise the relevance of their ad copy to specific keywords, allowing search engines to increase yield and paid click rates.

Visitors are more likely to click on ads that are relevant to their keyword search. Hence, more clicks lead to a higher quality score. This whole act in itself is completely independent from your bids, making quality score vital to one’s search campaigns.

Boosting quality score is easier said than done. Therefore, I’ve proved a couple of useful tips that will help deliver a clear competitive advantage.

Maximise your Keywords Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
Clickthrough rate is one of the most important factors contributing to your overall quality score. One of the simplest ways to dramatically increase CTR is to cut out the irrelevant impressions that your keywords are being exposed to.

To do this you should regularly review ‘raw search queries’ that drive traffic to your site. These are the actual queries that visitors type into the search bar before clicking on your ads. You may find clicks on your ads triggered by keywords unrelated to your business, resulting in a low CTR and a lowered quality score. To prevent these unwanted clicks (and cost), add negative keywords to cut out these unwanted impressions.

Protect your star performing keywords
The overall CTR and relevance of keywords within your ad groups contribute to your quality score. Your best performing keywords could easily be dragged down by other keywords that are not performing as well. Once you have identified these star performers, protect them by removing other lower performers from the group and placing them in their own ad group. This will leave your star keywords to flourish in the existing ad group.

Expand to all match types
Reviewing raw search queries can also determine which match types drive the most traffic. Broad or expanded match keywords are an easy way to grow volume quickly. But, achieving a high quality score comes from a tight alignment between keyword, ad group, and creative.

Improve this alignment by adding new keywords you discover and setting them to phrase match. For example, let’s say the BROAD matched keyword ‘womens golf clubs’ generates a click from the search ‘womens golf driver’.  Assuming you sell women’s drivers, add ‘womens golf driver’ as a new keyword on PHRASE match. 

By closely matching what visitors are looking for, this new keyword has a better chance of garnering a higher quality score and making better use of your marketing spend.
Top Tip
This is a simple one but can make a huge difference if you receive a significant amount of traffic through your brand terms.

Create a new ad group and have only your brand term in this ad group on exact match. Now create a second ad group with just your brand term in it but this time on Broad match. Now add the very same term to this second ad group as a negative exact match keyword. 

By doing this, all the queries from customers that are looking for your brand (and only your brand) will be presented with the ad in the exact match ad group. Due to the high relevance and high expected CTR you should see a dramatic decrease in the cost-per-click for this traffic through the improved quality score.

If the user typed in something else that included your brand term it will be directed to the second ad group. The performance of this ad group will initially fall because you have taken out its most relevant queries, so combat this by adding negative terms and new phrase and exact match keywords to refine this traffic until you are comfortable it is relevant to your business.


Clearly, boosting relevance and CTRs throughout your campaign can dramatically improve performance. Applying these techniques to your search campaigns can be a cumbersome task. And just like with bidding, automation can scale these efforts far beyond what a team of search marketers could do manually.

With the vast scale of many paid search accounts today, improving quality score requires tools, machine intelligence and automation. A search engine marketing tool can analyse your raw search queries, suggest new negatives, split ad groups as well as measure relevance and performance. Combining automated techniques to boost quality score with effective bid management is a potent combination with the potential to deliver results that will not only maximise ROI, but give the marketer a strategic advantage over their competitors.