Today we’re going to detail exactly how to improve Google Ad quality score in 2020.

In fact, the 12 specific strategies in this post helped us decrease Google ad cost in one of our accounts by 33% last month.

Improve quality score and reduce cost per click by 33%

So if you want a simple way to quickly improve quality score (and lower costs), then you are going to love this guide. 

Point Blank: When you implement these tips, you will (likely) make more money.

Table Of Contents

  1. The Unicorn Hunter
  2. The SKAG
  3. Tennis Pro Testing Tempo
  4. Think Outside The Keyword
  5. The Google Compass
  6. The Crumb Trail
  7. The Negative Nancy
  8. The Time Dweller Technique
  9. The Quality Boost
  10. The Turbo Boost
  11. The Long-Tail Iso
  12. The Device Optimization

1. The Unicorn Hunter

One of the best ways to improve quality score is to improve click through rate with more clicks.

The easiest way to get more clicks is to split test ad copy. In other words, test a new ad against an ad you currently have running 

Split testing is kinda like unicorn hunting. The unicorn being an ad with a clickthrough rate in the top 1% of all ads.

You fire an arrow with a new ad then see if it hits. A hit is a new ad that gets more clicks than the previous. Over time this strategy works like magic.

According to HubSpot the average paid search clickthrough rate across all industries is 1.91%

Running split tests helps you land unicorn clickthrough rates (top 1%) on non-branded search terms.

There are two ways you can split test ad copy. 

You can run a campaign experiment using Google’s built in tool. 

Or you can simply create new ads and monitor performance.

So throw on your ad copy quivver and go unicorn hunting. Start split testing your ads.

Now you’re ready for our second strategy to help improve your quality score.

2. The SKAG Account Structure

SKAGs stands for “single keyword ad groups.” It’s an account structure strategy.

This is a ninja trick that increases your chances of landing unicorn ad performance (and higher quality scores). 

The reason is, when an ad group only has one keyword you can write an ad that is directly relevant to that keyword.

Make sense? 

Best part is, it’s simple to do.

Create a new ad group, then add one keyword with each match type.

For example, let’s say you wanted to target the keyword: “high yield savings account.”

When you build your keyword you would add

[high yield savings account] = Exact match
“high yield savings account” = Phrase match
+high +yield +savings +account = Modified broad match

Using the SKAG account structure this way sets you up to run relevant ads to large audiences..

That’s how you score big breakthroughs (and higher quality scores).

3. Tennis Pro Testing Tempo

Have you ever watched Pete Sampras (the professional tennis player) waiting to receive a serve?

It’s impressive. 

He never stopped moving. Never. The whole time he was bouncing on his toes. Swinging side to side. Twirling his racket. Rocking back and forth. It’s what most tennis players do, actually.

The reason is, this sets them up to return the serve with power and precision. 

Optimize your ad campaigns the same way. Never stop moving. Always test, tweak, and improve (WITHOUT breaking what’s working). 

Your pocket book will thank you.

A few regular activities include:

google ad optimization checklist

The important part here is:

  1. Keep moving. Tweak often.
  2. And for the love of profitable advertising, do NOT kill what’s working. 

Test, tweak and optimize in a way that preserves your winners.

4. Think Outside They Keyword

Traditional wisdom says “include the keyword in your ad headline.” 

In some cases this makes sense. 

In other cases it does not. Not because it doesn’t work, but because it doesn’t work BEST. 

We want the best. Ya? 

So here is what you do instead. 

You think outside the keyword. 

You think about your audience—the person staring at the screen reading your ad. 

Ask yourself, who are they? What do they want? What is their intent? Their motivation? What color socks are they wearing?

Ok. Too far. But you get the point. 

Go deep. 

Then when you’re done talking to yourself, and your cat gets spooked, write ad copy that speaks to their deep motivations.

Here’s why this is important: 

  1. You stand out. Everyone thinks “inside” the keyword. 
  2. You win the click because you’re novel and interesting.

The intrigue increases click throughs, which gives you better quality scores. 

5. The Google Compass

Did you know Google will tell you how to improve your quality score? 

For real. 

Google gives you a below average, average and above average rating for all three quality score factors: 

  • Ad relevance
  • Landing page experience
  • Expected clickthrough rate
quality score criteria

You can also see changes over time by selecting the history of each. Then segment your reporting by day, week or month. Here is a walkthrough on how to find the report.

quality score history

When you have this level of detail you don’t have to take swings in the dark. Use Google as your compass. Prioritize what to optimize first based on the ratings they give you.

Pro Tip: This level of tracking detail is best suited for high-volume and high-value keywords.

6. The Crumb Trail Technique

This one is a clickthrough play. 

The display URL is the URL someone sees above your ad.

When you fill it with keywords, clickthrough rates go up. 

It’s kind of like giving someone a crumb trail to exactly what they’re searching for.

google ad display url
Lead them to the goodness they’re searching for

This is another reason why SKAGs are effective. Because when you do this inside a SKAG, the keywords you use for the display URL are more likely to be on point. 

This increases relevance. Which increases clickthrough rates. Which… wait for it… improves quality score. 


7. The Negative Nancy

Irrelevant keywords produce low click through rates.

And the clicks they do get cost you money.

Because when someone clicks your ad, they’ll scan your landing page, discover its irrelevant, then bounce. It’s a wasted click. It’s like burning money. It’s like burning money.

And it lowers your quality score.

Here is a simple four-step process for finding negative keywords that save you big money:

  1. Pull your search term report: These are the actual keywords people searched.
  2. Sort by number of impressions: This ensures you isolate the biggest money wasters.
  3. Select irrelevant search terms: Scan high-volume terms and consider intent.
  4. Is search intent relevant to your offer? If yes, keep it. If no, click the box next to it.
  5. Click “add as negative keywords”: Boom.

You’ve now excluded it from future searches. 

Click throughs will go up, and quality scores will follow 


8. The Time Dweller Technique

Many believe dwell time is an important factor Google looks at for quality score. I agree.

Dwell time is the amount of time someone spends on your landing page. 

Visitors who quickly bounce from your landing page and reload search results are low quality visits. They hurt the “landing page experience” portion of your quality score. 

Low dwell time = low quality score

Which means increasing the amount of time someone spends on your landing page will increase quality score (and conversions). 

How do you increase dwell time? 

Put a video on your landing page. 

For example, I recently compared the bounce rate of landing pages with and without a video. 

The pages with video had a 14.4% lower bounce rate. Others have seen up to a 34% decrease in bounce rate by using video.

That’s why we always consider adding video to our landing pages.

Pro Tip: Embed your videos with YouTube to maintain page speed. 

Which leads us to the next optimization.

9. The Quality Boost

It is no secret that the quality of your landing page experience matters. 

But the definition of “high-quality” is a little mysterious.

That’s helpful, but vague. If you’re like me you’re probably wondering, “what am I supposed to DO with that??”

Here are some specific tactics we’ve found for creating an “above average” landing page experience.

1. Copy Congruency

To guarantee your landing page is useful and relevant use congruency. In other words, use their search terms on the landing page. Use your ad copy on the landing page. Also, go deeper with copy that is congruent with the visitors intent.

We’ve used this specific strategy to increase conversions by as much as 86% in some cases.

2. Trust Signals

There are specific things you can do to signal your trustworthiness. Two proven signals Google loves are a Terms of Service and Privacy link in the footer. These signal transparency to visitors and Google.

3. Cross Browser Optimized (including mobile).

Run a cross browser test to ensure your landing page works on the most popular browsers (at least). There are a handful of great tools you can use to do this, like Lambdatest.

4. Simplified Navigation

In specific terms, put links on your page. Make it easy for visitors to navigate deeper into your site. This improves your overall experience. It also gives the Google crawlers the warm and fuzzies… which improves quality score (and lowers costs).

5. Single Call To Action

Make it clear what the next step is. Eliminate distraction. This increases the likelihood of your visitor taking that action, which sends a signal back to Google that they experience is top-notch.

Put those in play, high-five your dog… then move on to the next. 

10. The Turbo Boost: Increase Page Load Speed

This is a way to increase landing page conversion rate WITHOUT having to come up with creative new ideas. 

Because how quickly your page loads affects landing page conversions.

Google also found that page load speed is important on mobile.

mobile page speed benchmarks for improving google quality score.

So it’s clear, if you want to improve quality score, your pages need to load fast. 

Here is how to improve. 

Get a quick snapshot of how your page performs using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

Compare your page speed to industry averages.

Average page speed index for improving google quality score.
Google says best practices for page load speed is 3 seconds.

See how your page stacks up, then get additional ideas on how to increase page speed from Google

If you want to go even deeper, run a diagnostic test using

In general, page speed will improve when you: 

  1. Remove unnecessary third-party scripts from the page. 
  2. Compress images on the page. 
  3. Reduce page file size (i.e. condense CSS, etc).
  4. Upgrade your hosting (here is the fastest)

Those four things will increase page speed. 

All without changing one word of copy. 

11. The Long-Tail Iso

Want to find low-cost keywords that convert at a high rate? Of course you do. We all do.

But how?

Easy. Isolate long-tail keywords in single keyword ad groups. 

That’s what we call a “long-tail iso.”

It’s when you isolate long-tail keywords by putting them in their own ad group. 

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you’re bidding on the term “life insurance.”

Pretty straight forward, right? You’d assume everyone searching for insurance is searching to buy, right? 

The search term report told a different story. Here is a sample of the searches we found: 

  • simplified term life insurance options
  • compare term life insurance plans
  • cost of term life insurance 
  • what is the best life insurance
  • best life insurance rate

As you can see, that’s a wide range of intent. One is looking for prices. One is looking for information. Another is looking to compare.

The fact is, the more words you have in your keyword, the better you understand the intent of the search. 

Therefore, when you isolate long-tail keywords you’re able to create hyper relevant experiences with better ad copy and landing pages. 

To take advantage of this, isolate the most valuable long-tail keywords in their own ad group. Then create ads and a landing page for that specific phrase. 

Clicks will go up. Conversions will go up. And, you guessed it, your quality score will too. 

That’s the power of isolating long-tail keywords. 

12. The Device Optimization

Most ad groups perform differently on different devices. Average cost per conversion is drastically different on mobile and desktop.

Google Ad Average Cost Per Conversion

Average conversion rate is also drastically different on mobile compared to desktop.

google ads average conversion rate

A large difference in click through rate between mobile and computer will lower your quality score. The reason is because one of your devices is not delivering a quality experience. 

Here is how you fix it. 

Go to the ad group level. Select “segment” then choose device. 

You’ll see a breakdown of how each ad group performs on computer, mobile and tablet. 

If your mobile performance is worse, you can use Google’s tool to run a test on the mobile experience of your landing page:

Next, create a mobile specific ad. Then create a landing page experience unique for each. 

Your click through rates will go up and your quality scores will follow. 

Conclusion On How To Improve Quality Score 

The quality score metric is kind of like a barometer. It gives you an indication of how you stack up against the competition. 

In reality, increasing quality score should be the remnants of overall account optimization. It should rarely be the goal itself. 

My hope is that after reading this guide you see that improving quality score is a lot like improving the overall performance of your account.

Now that you’re equipped with this insider info… go get it. 

And be sure to report back when you start racking up those big wins.