Google Ads: ‘Bid Amount’ and ‘Quality Score’ explained

Published on August 18, 2022 by Michael Scanlon

While the technical processes behind PPC advertising are incredibly complicated, it is surprisingly easy to visualise how PPC works from a high-level perspective. Normally, when a user makes a search, Google’s complex systems search for and rank the most relevant and focused results. This ranking forms the ‘organic’ listings we all see. The order in which the listings appear is influenced by the SEO efforts of each website on that list. 

A similar process is applied to the PPC ads that appear in your search results. Just as they do with normal webpages, Google ‘rates’ your paid ad based largely on two main factors: ‘bid amount,’ and ‘quality score’. 

These two factors determine if, and in what position, your ad appears on a search page. 


Bid Amount

What does Bid Amount mean?

This is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the maximum amount you have chosen to spend for each click on your ad. 

How much should I bid? 

This varies and there’s not really a one-size-fits-all answer here. When creating your campaign, you should consider the potential number of clicks you will receive and the potential ratio of clicks to orders, and then compare this with the cost of each click. This gives you a general idea of how much each click is worth to you and how much you should be bidding. (If you’re a client we can help you with this so just ask if you’re feeling unsure about your bid amounts).


Quality Score

What is a Quality Score in Google Ads? 

Quality Score is a metric that Google uses alongside your bid amount to decide where to position your ad on a page. In simple terms, if your Bid Amount and your Quality Score are higher than a competitors’ ad, then you will rank higher (of course, in real life it’s often not that simple). Your advert’s Quality Score is determined by many factors including ‘click through rate’ (CTR) and historical data. 

Why is Quality Score important? 

Surely if you bid enough then your Quality Score doesn’t matter? Well, no. No matter how much money you bid, Google can decide not to show your ad if they think it is irrelevant, using the wrong keywords or links to a bad landing page. That’s because their main focus is on user experience and ensuring their audience has the best experience possible. Quality Score can be used to determine if a keyword that you’re using is eligible to enter the auction and be shown, and ads with a poor quality score might rarely (or even never) be shown. 

Maximising the Quality Score of your ad is extremely important, as it will boost the likelihood of your advert being displayed with a minimised bid amount, increasing the potential return on your investment.

How can I improve my Quality Score? 

The three main things that we can control to positively influence quality score are: 


Keywords (are your keywords relevant and natural)

Ad copy (is your copy well put together?)

Landing pages (Is the page that your ad links to highly relevant to the ad and does it contain good content?) 


If these three elements have a common theme connecting them, and they are all ‘on-topic’, then you should be close to getting a very healthy Quality Score. If one of these elements is misaligned then the Quality Score suffers. If you don’t get any of these elements right – you don’t do proper keyword research, your ad copy is weak or ambiguous, and your landing pages have bad UX – then you will have low quality scores, resulting in high CPC (cost per click), low engagement and, ultimately, failure.   


What happens once I have a Bid Amount and Quality Score? 

Once you’ve created your ads and decided on a Bid Amount, it’s over to users to make searches and to Google to show your ads for those searches. 

When someone makes a query, Google will hold a digital auction. This auction will look at the Bid Amount and Quality Score for each advert that is supported by that particular keyword query.

Google will then show the paid ads with the highest scores at the top of the search results page. Remember – up until this point everything you’ve done will be free and will not impact your ad budget. You are not charged by Google until someone clicks on your ad, hence the term Pay Per Click. Whether the user then carries on and buys something from you depends on how persuasive your ad is, and how well you have designed your website and the landing page they click on from your ad.


If you want more information about paid ads and PPC check out our book 


If you want help building, managing and optimising a Google Ads account (or Microsoft or social ads) get in touch and we’ll talk to you about what our PPC team can do for you