How To Master the Google Landing Page Quality Score

SMS Text

So you’re bidding on a keyword. You have the keyword in the title, description, display URL and destination URL. Your click through rate is over 5% and Google still says your quality score is poor? Your landing page has links to your privacy policy and your content is useful and relevant. So what’s the deal?

First of all it is important to understand that the Google AdWords quality score bot is not a person. It is a robot. It is unable to understand the context of text on a web page the way a human can.

The quality score bot does a reasonably good job most of the time, but sometimes we need to point them it in right direction. To do that, we need to structure our web pages semantically and structure our documents logically.

There are two very useful and free tools at our disposal when troubleshooting landing page quality scores. These are the W3 Semantic Extractor and the Google site related keyword tool. What better way to get information about what Google thinks your site is about then using a tool designed by Google to figure out exactly what your site is about?

Google Landing Page Quality Score

Google Landing Page Quality Score 2

What’s the problem?

Let me first start with an example of a landing page that does not correspond or relate to the keywords and ad text used.

The Keyword is: “Directory Submit

Here is the ad:

Google AdWords Quality Score 3

Here is the Landing Page:

DMOZ Directory Submit Guide

They appear to be a perfect match right? Wrong! After 1 day of running this particular keyword/ad with this particular landing page, our quality score went to “POOR”. The CTR was was 7%. The words “directory” and “submit” appear numerous times on the landing page too.

When we run the site through the semantic extractor, we can see that this page does not appear to outline anything to do with a “directory submit”.

Google AdWords Quality Score 4

When we run the site through the site related keyword tool, our keyword does not even show up in the list of terms Google thinks is related to the page!

Google AdWords Quality Score 5

So what can we do?

The above example may seem familiar to you. If you have been “Google slapped”, the first thing you might do is complain that your site is obviously relevant and that Google is just out to squeeze you for every drop of cash you are willing to part with. First of all lets look at an example of what a good site/ad/quality score is:

Keyword(s) targeted: “Search Engine Marketing

Here is the ad:

Google AdWords Quality Score 6

Here is the landing page:

Search Engine Marketing

Here are the semantic extractor results for that page:

Google AdWords Quality Score 7

And here is the Google site keyword tool results:

Google AdWords Quality Score 8

This particular ad/keyword/landing page combination has our quality score at “GREAT” and our minimum bids at $0.01. See the difference?

We need make sure that we have our site marked up correctly. Use headings correctly , utilize at least the h1, h2 and h3 tags and make sure the content of each is related in the semantic extractor outline. So if your site sells shoes, your landing page heading tags would be made up something like:

h1 : buy red shoes

h2: best place to buy boots

h3: why red shoes are better than blue boots

This not only helps Google AdWords identify what your content is about for organic search rankings it also helps the quality score bot understand that your landing page is indeed related to the keywords you are bidding on.

While the above steps and tools are clearly not the only way to help Google understand the content of your site, they are free and a great place to start. The next time you get “Google slapped”, make sure you don’t deserve it.

Dave Davis
Managing director of online marketing company Redfly LTD
Dave Davis

Latest posts by Dave Davis (see all)

Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • http://www.targ8.com Targ8.com

    What code do you need to use to mark up your pages using h1, h2 and h3 tags? Have you got an example?

  • http://www.lonelymarketer.com Patrick Schaber

    Dave,
    Great work on this! I have not had that problem, but I bookmarked this in case I do. I’d also be interested in the code tip as Targ8.com requested.

    Thanks,
    Pat

  • Kris from Florida

    Good tips, thanks for sharing . Stumbled this for future reference .

  • http://www.forwardslashmarketing.co.uk Gidseo

    Thank you for a great post. I’m off to run a few tests…

  • http://www.tos-ae.com Suki

    Thats how a good Seo Consultant should work.. nothing new but itll help newbies stop bugging us “profesionals” with bad optimized websites.

  • http://www.redflymarketing.com/ Dave Davis

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    There is no sample code required, just standard:

    Main Keyword
    Main Keyword and something related to keyword
    Get Main Keyword at rock bottom prices

    And possibly
    synonym of Main Keyword from the keyword tool

    Hope this helps.

  • Arnold M.

    Very good article! One thing about the heading tags: Use only one H1 tag per page, and do not break the hierarchy, H1 should be followed by H2, H2 can be followed by either H2 or H3, do not jump directly to H3 from H1.

    • http://www.epoboost.com Debbi

      Thanks for this info on the ordering on H1 H2 tags…. will check my site.

  • http://www.esensuality.com/blog Tomche

    No wonder I was getting poor click rates. Got to start working!

  • http://www.universosvirtuais.com Universos Virtuais

    Thank you for the nice tip. I am trying to learn about SEO, there isn´t much about SEO in portuguese, so, i am glad i find your article.

    Have a great weekend!

  • http://100ideen.at/ Neu Kunden

    Sometimes it takes a differnt approach to discover the obvious. Thanks a lot!

  • http://www.ibrian.co.uk/ Brian Turner

    Thanks for the heads up on the tools – will definitely be using the semantic extractor tool when I get into PPC over the coming months. 🙂

  • http://www.seoworkers.com John S. Britsios

    Great article Dave, even if I follow all above already since years. But I sure will share this excellent article on my blogs and my forums. Keep up the excellent work!

  • http://www.fatinfo.com Billy

    This is great. One of my clients had issues with quality score where Adwords were charging $10 per click, and they didn’t know what to do.

  • http://www.loanchecker.com.au craig

    Hi Dave,

    Wonder if you may be able to point me on the right with this.

    I’m new to this and trying to get some ppc up and running. I’m having problems getting a decent quality score.

    I used the semantic extractor you mentioned in your post on two pages of my blog and it came back with the folllowing code related problems.

    Do you think that these are litterally code errors preventing it from completing the scan of the pages?

    If so that would I assume also prevent googles bot from ranking the page?

    I haven’t written the blog in code form only used the visual writting tool of wordpress .

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.

    semantic results:

    Using org.apache.xerces.parsers.SAXParser
    Exception net.sf.saxon.trans.DynamicError: org.xml.sax.SAXParseException: The element type “font” must be terminated by the matching end-tag “”.
    org.xml.sax.SAXParseException: The element type “font” must be terminated by the matching end-tag “”.

    and on another page.

    Using org.apache.xerces.parsers.SAXParser
    Exception net.sf.saxon.trans.DynamicError: org.xml.sax.SAXParseException: The element type “span” must be terminated by the matching end-tag “”.
    org.xml.sax.SAXParseException: The element type “span” must be terminated by the matching end-tag “”.

  • BrianE

    Thanks for the free semantic extractor tool. I’ve always used h1 /h2 tags but can see they need improvement. I have several main keywords , some are the plural version of the main ones. Should all keywords be included/distributed among the different h1/h2/h3 tags and/or should seperate landing pages be used?

  • http://www.redflymarketing.com/blog/10-ways-to-increase-your-adwords-quality-score-a-mini-case-study/ Dave Davis

    Craig,
    The error that you are getting is simply that your page is not coded semantically . Of course this does not matter to Google, but in my opinion is essential when troubleshooting for yourself.

    Brian, the tool is not ours. It was created by W3C. Keywords SHOULD be included in your HX tags but not spammy. As I noted, something related. Use the Google keyword tool to find related phrases and make sure Google thinks they are related to each other. That gives you the best chance.

    If possible, use a separate landing page too for each ad group.

  • http://www.emomsathome.com Wendy Piersall

    I’m not sure I buy it. I put up a landing page with some blogging products on it. I custom wrote a tutorial for the page about how to set up and install wordpress with your hosting company. I put “WordPress installation” not only in the title tags, but in my H2 tags.

    I still got hit with $5 clicks for low quality scores on the term “WordPress installation”. It was relevant to both the products I was promoting as well as the content.

    Now, if you can actually explain this one to me, I will PayPal you $20, just because it would be THAT worth it to me to know why the #$% Google seems to want to milk me dry! 😉

  • http://www.AssociatePrograms.com Allan Gardyne

    Wendy, Here’s something which may help. Jeremy Palmer has just published a 10-page report (PDF file, free) on what you need to do to get a good Quality Score – http://www.quityourdayjob.com/qualityscore.pdf

    He goes into a LOT of detail.

    (I’m an affiliate but that’s not an affiliate link.)

  • http://www.seoibiza.com SEO Ibiza

    excellent info thanks so much for this. dont kn ow how we havent seen your blog before now

  • http://www.1seoexperts.com SEO mkguyver

    Nice, but using superlatives is not a good thing. The best shoes for example. Also the keyword tool reference is out dated.

  • Seb

    Your findings is what I initially thought when I got slapped, so I used Google’s keyword tool to add keywords that Google recommend from the landing URL. After adding these to in to adwords, Google then gave these keywords stupid minimum bids like the rest of them.

    Been using Google adwords for some years now, and it used be quite effective tool, but without harding changing anything over the years other than minor tweaks, I’m lucky to get 10 impressions.

    I feel I’m going to be deleting the adword account very soon – its just not worth the effort.

  • http://www.iphonehub.com iphone

    OK I’m a newbie and have a question on usage of the Semantic Data Extractor. I put in the URL I want to analyze and I got back this error:
    Using org.apache.xerces.parsers.SAXParser
    Exception net.sf.saxon.trans.DynamicError: org.xml.sax.SAXParseException: Content is not allowed in prolog.
    org.xml.sax.SAXParseException: Content is not allowed in prolog.

    Is there a format I need to use to use this tool?
    Thanks,

  • http://www.eurolope.com toplist

    An excellent overview with some sound advice. I wonder whether you consider the id and name attributes (where applicable) as another type of alternative text. I’m not sure whether screen readers or other Internet devices can actually extract this kind of text – the name or id of a form, for example – in a meaningful way, though. That said, however, it seems to me to make sense to name a search form “SearchForm” or a subscription form “SubscriptionForm”. Content management systems and authoring tools have a tendency, in my experience, to insert their own text like “f_box” or “f_r_t012” which is hard enough for developers to follow, let alone a site visitor. I believe there are the beginnings of a trend, particularly when it comes to labelling div elements with meaningful id attributes. Certainly the magnificent Mr Z (www.zeldman.com) describes this in his book, Designing With Web Standards.

  • http://www.pitstopmedia.com Sahaj

    Hi Dave

    Nice Article. I have written an article about Google’s update on Quality Score http://www.pitstopmedia.com/sem/google-refines-quality-score. Check and let me know what you think.

    Cheers

    Sahaj

  • http://www.pitstopmedia.com TraiaN

    It’s good Google provided a little more details on the Quality Score, but even thou QS will remain a big mistery for all of us. Some reverse engineering can be done anyway :). My conclusion is that a highly optimized page in terms of SEO, will have a great quality score. One of my colleagues wrote some articles about Google’s QS. You can find them at Google Adwords Quality Score – Part 1 and Part 2.

  • http://www.okeye4.com okey oyna

    We are considering redoing our site in flash http://www.ibizavillas2000.com, it seems to make the experience much smoother and once it is loaded responds very quickly unlike so many other sites these days.

    I would be interested to hear of any disadvantages? Surely if you code the application correctly navigation is obvious, no large time delays or impressive fireworks shows need to go on when the next click is an important one?

  • http://www.okeye4.com bedava okey oyna

    I remember the days when those nasty poeple were making fun of the young Flash 5, mocking him, saying that it was 99 % bad, poeple are so cruel.

    But they were not so self assured when Flash grew up, became stronger, more capable, and more clever !

    Yes, by those days, I was telling them how nice it was to have a friend like Flash, how nice it was to travel the world with him and meet all those beautifull women ! I would have never done that with css, html …

    Yes, those years of fight and hopes were wonderfull…now is time a maturity and responsabilities…

  • http://www.okeye4.com okey

    mersi

  • http://www.okeye4.com okey oynama

    all good advice. saw that dotcom boom and bust the first time round from another angle (IT Recruitment) still just as messy. we had web developers previously earning £75 per hour, a year later scratching around with many months between contracts and lucky to scrape £25 per hour if they did find one.

  • http://www.okeye4.com online okey

    I remember the days when those nasty poeple were making fun of the young Flash 5, mocking him, saying that it was 99 % bad, poeple are so cruel.

    But they were not so self assured when Flash grew up, became stronger, more capable, and more clever !

    Yes, by those days, I was telling them how nice it was to have a friend like Flash, how nice it was to travel the world with him and meet all those beautifull women ! I would have never done that with css, html …

    Yes, those years of fight and hopes were wonderfull…now is time a maturity and responsabilities…

  • http://www.safedietplans.com safe diets

    I think just like what Dave says about matching your Adwords ad to the user experience and expectations, our website description tag should do exactly the same thing. Great post Dave.

  • http://www.chatyeli.gen.tr sohbet siteleri

    thanks

  • http://www.computesocial.com Brian

    Excellent information. I’m gonna add this link to my site for my clients to review.

  • http://www.oyunokey.net okey oyna

    thanks

  • http://www.okeytr.net okey

    danke admin

    An excellent overview with some sound advice. I wonder whether you consider the id and name attributes (where applicable) as another type of alternative text. I’m not sure whether screen readers or other Internet devices can actually extract this kind of text – the name or id of a form, for example – in a meaningful way, though. That said, however, it seems to me to make sense to name a search form “SearchForm” or a subscription form “SubscriptionForm”. Content management systems and authoring tools have a tendency, in my experience, to insert their own text like “f_box” or “f_r_t012″ which is hard enough for developers to follow, let alone a site visitor. I believe there are the beginnings of a trend, particularly when it comes to labelling div elements with meaningful id attributes. Certainly the magnificent Mr Z (www.zeldman.com) describes this in his book, Designing With Web Standards.

  • http://www.okeytr.net okey oyunu

    It’s good Google provided a little more details on the Quality Score, but even thou QS will remain a big mistery for all of us. Some reverse engineering can be done anyway :). My conclusion is that a highly optimized page in terms of SEO, will have a great quality score. One of my colleagues wrote some articles about Google’s QS. You can find them at Google Adwords Quality Score – Part 1 and Part 2.

  • http://www.tasarimciniz.org logo tasarım

    I hope the petty little group that tried to stifle free speech with said spurious DMCAs gets their ass handed to them. I would say this even if it was the creationists who were being picked on through illegal means, really – free speech is free speech!

    Ironically, I’ve never heard of that anti-creationism group before, and what’ll probably happen here is it’ll backfire on the creationist group, creating more publicity for people they perceive to be a threat – thus ensuring that more people will check the other group out, and MAKING them more of a threat. Not to mention the legal trouble the creationist group is liable to get into over this.

    Isn’t justice beatiful when it’s poetic?

  • http://www.oyunokey.org okey oyna

    thanks you

  • http://. Dr. Altaf

    Hi Dave,
    Appreciate for the tips. But irony is that I read millions of pages of such tips, no way to get the actual tricks as no one will just tell that secrets.Why they?
    So it is always interesting to read & get interests in it is the benefit,but all gurus who already know the tips never tell that so…
    If you have an answer to my question please ..
    provide.. Thanks!

  • http://wpbloghost.com John Hoff – WpBlogHost

    Hi Dave. Nice article. I love the point you make about why not use Google’s own tool to discover what it thinks your page is relevant to.

  • http://mobilya.us mobilya

    It’s good Google provided a little more details on the Quality Score, but even thou QS will remain a big mistery for all of us. Some reverse engineering can be done anyway :). My conclusion is that a mobilya http://dekorasyon.dantelix.com highly optimized page in terms of SEO, will have a great quality score. One of my colleagues wrote some articles about Google’s QS.

  • http://sanaldekor.com mobilya

    Hi Dave. Nice article. I love the point you make about why not use örgü dantel dekorasyon mobilya http://dantelix.net Google’s own tool to discover what it thinks your page is relevant to.

  • http://www.bedavamario.com mario oyunları

    It’s good Google provided a little more details on the Quality Score, but even thou QS will remain a big mistery for all of us.

  • http://www.howtowriteebooks.net Scott Brooks – How to Write Ebooks

    Thanks for this great info Dave. This explains a lot to me. I have my main keyword in H1 tags, but there must be other factors affecting my quality score because my rank should be higher and CPCs lower. I’ll use Google’s tool to see if I can improve it.

    Scott

  • http://www.hikaye.biz hikaye

    Nice post. This post is different from what I read on most blog. And it have so many valuable things to learn. Thank you for your sharing!

  • http://www.googleeastereggs.com shiva

    Google Sightseeing takes you on tour of the world as seen from satellite.http://www.googleeastereggs.com/

  • http://www.losasso.com/idrive Maggie

    Here’s a link to Google’s description of Quality Score, its still somewhat vague, but may be useful to newcomers just starting with Google Adwords http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?answer=10215

  • http://www.atlantarealestateinfo.com/ AtlantaRealEstate

    If you do nothing other than pay attention to Quality Score, you will likely have a successful PPC campaign.

    RM

  • Livia

    I am just new at all this, so sorry if what I want to know sounds silly.

    I am trying to find out if there is a different criteria for survey landing pages.
    I am trying to get information what to put onto a website I am working on and keep getting a poor quality on the landing page, which is the survey.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Regards,
    Livia

  • Stupidscript

    Don’t rely on anything Google has provided wrt tools for analyzing why it “sees” your web pages as it does, because NONE of their tools provide consistent results. IN addition, the information they give you about things like Quality Score and Page Rank are also quite inconsistent, and can only be used as general guides to help you see which direction in which to move. They absolutely do not reveal what you need to do to improve on anything. That task is left to you, the SEO.

    A quick example that all of you can try for yourselves:

    1) Go to the Google Keyword Tool:
    https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

    2) Select “Website content” as the type of query you want to use

    3) Enter one of your own complete URLs … pick a landing page that you actually use

    4) Click “Get Keyword Ideas”

    5) Copy and paste the summary results (Following “Showing keywords grouped by these terms”) into a text file

    6) Change any single word anywhere in the page’s text, save the file, and resubmit the “Get Keyword Ideas” form

    7) Copy and paste the summary results below the first set

    You can do this all day, if you want, and as long as you have changed any single word, or more, in the text, you will usually get wildly different summary results.

    One of our pages, for example, is all about “securities fraud” and ranks very well organically for that term. It has many keyphrases that use it for a landing page … all along the lines of “securities fraud” … and all of which are included several times within the page’s text. For a keyphrase that is included 6 times in the text (out of ~450 words) receives a 4/10 Quality Score, noting that “Keyword Relevance” is “poor”. Another keyphrase, also included 6 times in the text (neither in Hx class headings) receives a 4/10 Quality Score, noting that “Keyword Relevance” is “No problems”.

    The Google Keyword Tool gave highest priority to the term “defense lawyer”, which appears twice in the text, and failed to discover keyphrase #2 at all. I changed the sentence: “Available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week” to read “Call us 24 hours per day, 7 days per week”, hit the “Get Keyword Ideas” button again without changing anything else, and now Google’s Keyword Tool gives highest priority to the term “domestic violence”, which appears NOWHERE in the text, and BOTH of the phrases I note above are absent from the summary.

    The lesson here is … Google’s Keyword Tool does NOT reflect how it’s Quality Score algorithm evaluates pages, and is probably not a good indicator of any other Google rating metric. I’m not complaining … I’m still trying to work out the system(s) after many years of running GoTo/Overture/Yahoo/MSN/Google/Bing PPC campaigns. I’m just saying that Google does NOT provide ANY tools that can help you figure out why it is showing the ratings indicators that it shows. If you do something that seems to help, stick with it. But otherwise, you’re on your own. Google’s programming is not there to help YOU … it is there to make their company profitable.

  • http://sixpack.lazyslimmersguide.com/ Stephen

    HI,
    Thanks for the tips – this has recently happened to me – I’ve had dozens of previous campaigns with quality scores in the 6 to 10 range and then suddenly the last few have dropped to a quality score 3 or 4 – seemingly with similar keyword ‘satuaration’. I’ve left one running for a couple of weeks and the keyword qualiy have crept up to 7 – no Idea whats going on here, but I’ll take a look at my headings – most of mine are h3 and h4 🙂
    Thanks again,
    Stephen.

  • http://www.sharepole.com/farmville Jim

    Thank you and it really helps. I manage to solve keyword related quality score but not landing page quality score. Except the h1,h2,h3 tag any other factors that i should consider in order to improve my landing page quality.?

    Thanks
    Jim

  • OzgurDunyamcom

    Thank you for the information your provide.
    sesli

  • OzgurDunyamcom

    thanks admin…sesli

  • http://www.kirzenchat.com Jack

    Great post, great comments.

    I was wondering, what if you have selected more keywords to show your ads for? How would you optimize the landing page?

    Sorry if it's a stupid question, but I'm new to Adwords.

  • http://www.kirzenchat.com Jack

    Great post, great comments.

    I was wondering, what if you have selected more keywords to show your ads for? How would you optimize the landing page?

    Sorry if it's a stupid question, but I'm new to Adwords.

  • Keyword Removed

    We’ve managed to get out quality score from 5/10 to 9/10 by building keyword specific pages.

    Thanks for the tips!