When I’m not typing away creating marketing content, you can often find me mashing keys while playing video games. Whether I’m surviving the night in Minecraft or fending off enemies in Skyrim, I’m almost always checking my health bar to see whether I should stand my ground or flee to fight another day. While the marketing landscape certainly isn’t a battlefield, there’s still stiff competition, and monitoring the health of an ad campaign can mean the difference between achieving unprecedented success or disappointing the department.
Fortunately, Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) has come to the rescue with a valuable new function: the Google Ads optimization score. Now, with a quick glance, you too can check on the “health bar” of your Google Ads account to monitor campaign performance and find new tactics that will help your ads rank higher on the search engine results page (SERP).
But what is this optimization score exactly? How does it work? And should you use it?
What is the Google Ads Optimization Score?
A Google Ads optimization score uses the latest in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology to provide you with an estimate of how well your Google Ads account is set to perform (i.e., its overall health). Your account is scored on a percentage scale of 0% to 100%, with 100% meaning that Google’s machine learning couldn’t find any opportunities for improvement at this time. In other words, the higher your score, the more profitable your account will be in the long run. This overall optimization score is further divided into 3 levels: Campaign, Account and Manager.
In addition to this detailed visibility, your Google optimization score also comes with a recommendation list to help you optimize your ads and account. The Google Ads recommendations not only show you what you should do to improve each ad rank, but they also provide you with a prediction of how these changes will impact your overall optimization score.
However, it’s important to note that Google will only provide you with a score for specific campaign types, such as:
- Paid search ads.
- Dynamic search ads.
- Responsive search ads.
- Digital display ads.
- Video action campaigns.
- Shopping ads.
What Is a Good Optimization Score?
While keeping your health bar at 100% is ideal, it’s not always practical in every circumstance, and you could be wasting valuable food or health potions to achieve it. Similarly, you don’t necessarily need a Google optimization score of 100% for a successful ad campaign. In fact, most accounts have a score of around 80%. You can always push to get it higher, but that can often lead to overspending for your Google Ads campaign.
That’s not to say that the optimization score is a useless metric. It can be a great way to quickly audit your account, and the out-of-the-box suggestions can help you identify problems you might otherwise miss. Overall, your score can point you in the right direction, providing helpful hints and insights to improve the efficacy of each campaign.
What Does It Tell You About Your Account?
It might seem like a health meter of 0% to 100% is a little ambiguous, but your Google Ads optimization score offers a lot more than a simple percentage point. You also get in-depth reports with real-time metrics to help you track things like:
- Number of clicks generated from paid search ads.
- Click-through rates (CTRs).
- Google ad impressions.
- Total ad spend for each campaign.
- Conversion rates.
With these metrics, it’s easy to compare performance across campaigns and devices to see what’s working and what isn’t. Plus, you also get insights into areas to improve, such as keywords that are generating too many irrelevant search results. And with the Google Ads quality score, you can even diagnose specific problems in ad relevance and underperforming landing pages.
Optimization Score vs. Quality Score
Before we dive into the inner workings of the Google Ads optimization score, it’s important to cover the differences between this and the quality score. While optimization gives you a glimpse at the overall health of your campaigns and account, the Google Ads quality score shows you an estimate of how relevant your ad copy, keywords and landing pages are to potential viewers. The more relevant the copy is to a search query, the better your ad position will be.
Using performance metrics, such as expected CTR, landing page experience and ad strength, the quality score can also help you determine the cost per click (CPC) you’ll spend on a given advertisement.
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How Does the Google Ads Optimization Score Work?
According to Google, “[The] optimization score is calculated in real-time, based on statistics, settings, and the status of your account and campaigns, the relevant impact of available recommendations, and recent recommendations history.” Your account’s unique score and Google Ads recommendations will change depending on a variety of elements. While the exact calculations behind them are kept secret, we at least know what types of metrics Google takes into account during the process.
Let’s take a closer look at these key factors and see how Google arrives at your final optimization score.
Key Factors Impacting Your Optimization Score
While evaluating your account, Google considers several critical metrics, including:
- Google Ads campaign settings.
- Current account status as an advertiser.
- Your bid strategy and campaign goals.
- Trends developing in the account data.
- Recent recommendations history.
- The implementation of available recommendations.
- Historical preferences.
Your Google Ads optimization score is updated in real time to provide you with actionable insights. That means that, whenever these metrics change, so does your overall score. After taking all of these elements into account, Google then measures the impact percentage that adopting its recommendations will have.
How is Your Optimization Score Calculated?
The exact methodology for calculating your optimization score remains behind Google’s black box; however, the overall process is relatively straightforward.
It starts with Google’s AI and machine learning tools combing through your account’s past performance data. Next, Google assesses your setup based on your unique account structure and specific conversion actions. Once they’ve gathered enough data, Google recommends tailored ad suggestions based on the predicted impact on your account and campaigns.
What Recommendations Does Google Make?
Google Ads recommendations introduce you to new features that help you improve your bidding strategy, keywords and ad strength to get the most out of your marketing budget. While these recommendations are tailored to your business and evolve over time, they’re generally divided into 5 main categories:
- Ads and assets recommendations help you create and refine your ads, showing the best ones most often and organizing them into a better ad group.
- Automated campaign recommendations simplify the management process to maximize performance with automated bidding, ad creation and audience targeting capabilities.
- Bidding and budget recommendations identify the best bidding strategy to meet your business goals while making the most out of your ad spend.
- Keywords and targeting recommendations empower you to reach more people to whom your ads are relevant.
- Repair recommendations assist you in fixing issues to improve the overall health and performance of your account.
How to Check Your Optimization Score
Checking your Google Ads optimization score is pretty easy. Once you log into your account, all you need to do is visit the recommendations tab in the menu on the left side of your screen. Here, you’ll find a blue percent score for both Manager accounts (MCCs) and regular Google Ads accounts.
Personalizing Your Metrics
As mentioned, your Google optimization score also comes with recommendations that relate to your unique business goals. To determine these objectives, Google looks at your bid strategy. For instance, if your campaign targets a return on ad spend (ROAS), your available recommendations will focus on driving conversion value in this area.
To further personalize your optimization score and Google recommendations, you can disregard their assumed performance goals by using parameters, such as:
- Target ROAS.
- Target cost per action (CPA).
- Maximum conversions.
- Maximum conversion value.
Selecting any of these options allows you to override Google’s inferred strategy. That way, you can modify default conversion goals to match with specific business objectives.
How to Improve Your Google Ads Optimization Score
From the moment you set up your Google Ads account, the search engine’s algorithms get to work calculating a baseline optimization score along with key recommendations for improvement. While these suggestions can provide helpful tips and a boost in your overall score, they aren’t always a perfect match for your business goals. So how can you tell which recommendations you should take and which you can ignore?
The first thing to remember is that you shouldn’t strive for a score of 100%. Just like how smashing keywords together to hit a target SEO score doesn’t make for relevant, engaging content, accepting each recommendation won’t necessarily improve campaign performance. Instead, consider how they’ll help you reach your business goals. If a recommendation doesn’t apply to you, you can simply dismiss it.
These can include things like:
- Suggested or redundant keywords.
- Enabling search partners.
- Adding suggestions.
On the other hand, accepting certain recommendations allows you to achieve fast results. To help improve your optimization score, you can make adjustments, such as:
- Adding a new target audience.
- Fixing conflicts with negative keywords.
- Adjusting campaign settings.
- Incorporating an ad extension.
Benefits of Using the Google Ads Optimization Score
Optimization is an essential part of any successful ad campaign, so it’s no surprise that many marketers use Google Ads metrics to monitor and improve their ad performance. Here are a few benefits you can expect when using the Google Ads optimization score:
- Identify issues in your campaign: Uncover actionable tips to rectify issues in your PPC campaign.
- Understand the impact of changes: Gain clear insights into the results of any change you make.
- Estimate ad progress: Use recommendations to boost your score by the predicted amount.
Drawbacks of the Google Ads Optimization Score
While many people use the Google Ads optimization score and its accompanying recommendations with great results, we’d be lying if we said there weren’t any downsides. To help you gain an honest perspective, here are some of the common pitfalls associated with Google Ads:
- Focusing too much on the optimization score can leave blind spots in performance monitoring, especially around critical KPIs.
- Because Google makes recommendations based on past performance, recent bad results can lead to inaccurate guidance that could harm your overall campaign performance.
- To boost impression shares, Google sometimes suggests changing your CPC bid which could drive up ad spend.
Should You Use the Google Ads Optimization Score?
In today’s digital advertising landscape, aligning your accounts with Google’s best practices can be an excellent way to improve campaign performance. As such, the Google Ads optimization score is a great tool to have in your belt, saving you time and effort while optimizing your campaigns. Ultimately, however, the results are all that matter.
If you’re successfully managing your Google Ad campaigns without checking the optimization score, it may be wise to keep at it. On the other hand, if you want a helpful tool that offers an overview of your account’s health with actionable recommendations, the Google optimization score can be incredibly useful.