For the March 08 quarter Google’s revenue was USD 5.186 billion, with AdWords advertising apparently making up 96% of this. Now, if they were greedy folk, Google would let market forces alone direct the cost of those clicks and therefore the price of their stock. Fortunately they aren’t.

You see, to them, searcher relevance is the name of the game. The quicker a searcher finds what she is looking for, the greater the chance she will come back again and again to the Google engine. This theory has affected the rankings a website achieves in the organic part of Google for a while now. More recent changes to the Google AdWords system are revealing how this same mantra of improving searcher relevance is being carried across to Google’s sponsored listings.

One important gauge of how relevant Google judges your keyword advertising is your Google Quality Score, which is shown as a rating level (on a scale of Great to Poor) that Google places on each of the keywords you bid on.

A poor Google Quality Score can stop a campaign dead in its tracks as it can push your bid price into the stratosphere of multiple dollars from a previous one of a few cents. And likewise, at the other end of the spectrum, those with high Quality Scores can bathe in Google love with a drop to their minimum bids, allowing them to start enjoying traffic at a much cheaper rate than their competitors.

Here are just a few points to work on to help improve your own score.

Firstly, you need to configure your AdWords account so you can see how you score at present. The data is there, it’s just that Google doesn’t make it that obvious to find. To locate the option to add in your Quality Score to your data, view the keywords section of your account under the option ‘Customize Columns’ – see the image to follow.

Once you have allowed the Quality Score column to show (by default it is hidden), you should see an extra column in your results – hopefully similar to the one to follow.

To improve your results, first take a leaf out of your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) manual and ensure that the pages accepting traffic from your keywords are optimised for the keywords themselves. As normally applies, when it comes to SEO the top areas to concentrate on are Title Tag – META Description tag and then the page copy, starting with the headline and then working your way down into the main copy areas.

For those sending their AdWords traffic to a specifically designed landing page with minimal navigation options (a good idea in almost all situations to increase your AdWords conversions) it pays to help Google see that this is not the only page of the website. You can do this by including some links along the footer of the page. They don’t have to be too obvious – just so that they are picked up when the Google Quality Score Bot comes a-visiting.

Another metric this Bot stores when it comes to assess your Quality Score is the time it takes to load the page your AdWords ad points to. Also monitored is the number of times people click the back button from your page and start searching again on Google. Your Website Analytics reports of average page time and bounce rate will reveal your existing results here and chart your progress as you improve your page content.

Improving your Quality Score can take time and, in some cases, when you are trying to improve a ‘Poor’ result you will need to apply all of these changes and more to make some progress. But for most situations these few suggestions should help you improve your standing with Google.