Google is rolling out updates to how the AdWords quality score is determined and how much impact that score has on the ad’s ranking. These changes were first tested in Brazil, Spain, Portugal, and portions of Latin America.
The changes, which were first implemented on a limited scale in August, increase the weight given to keyword relevance and landing page quality when it comes to determining the quality score for a page. These two factors will also have a greater impact on how ads are ranked on the Google SERP.
Google stated that, "As the changes roll out, some campaigns will see variation in keyword Quality Scores and typical ad position. Within a couple weeks, things should stabilize and we expect most campaigns will not see a significant change in overall performance." Google has not released figures for the portion of campaigns that will likely be affected or exact how substantial the AdRank and quality score changes will be.
Google officially announced the impending global spread of the changes on October 3rd, stating that all AdWords users should see the changes "over the coming weeks." This means that October is the time for making fixes to exact match keyword relevance and landing page quality.
What to Change, and Why
For those who need a reminder, the quality score of an ad allows you to have higher visibility for the same per-click cost. This happens thanks to both a lower average cost-per-click and more opportunity to have the ad displayed on the front page (whether the ad shows up at all for a given search term depends in part on this score). So what can you change to ensure the maximum quality score?
While there are plenty of factors that go into calculating this 1 to 10 figure, the factors now receiving more weight are your landing page quality and keyword relevance.
The landing page quality is determined by the overall performance of your landing page, likely based at least in part by the page's bounce rate, which Google tracks by looking at the portion of visitors who return to the SERP from your landing page. Other quality factors, including the presence of unique content, appropriate navigation, and business transparency, still apply.
Keyword relevance is determined by the presence of keywords, especially exact matches, in your ad copy, URL, and landing page. On the landing page, the presence of keywords in the meta and headers is especially important.