June 16, 2021 | 9 min reading time

The Google Ads Optimization Score is a valuable new tool that gives you a glimpse of how well your account is doing, and what you can do to get better results. We’re shining a light on what the Google Optimization Score is, how to calculate it, and how to leverage it to optimize Google Ads. 

What Is the Google Ads Optimization Score?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell at a glance how your Google Ads are doing? Google comes to the rescue with its Google Optimization Score. In a nutshell, Google gives you a score that tells you how well it believes your account is performing.  

The scale ranges from 0% to 100%, with 100% as the maximum Google Ads Optimization Score possible (obviously). Don’t be too disappointed by a low score, though. Think of it as having more opportunities to try new strategies and test them out. 

You get more than a number with the Ads Optimization Score. Google also gives you a list of recommendations to assist you in optimizing your ads and account. To make things even easier, Google tells you how making the recommended changes will impact your Google Ads Optimization Score by providing you with the new, potential score you’ll nail after you make the recommended changes. You have the ability to check your Optimization Score at the following account levels:

  • Campaign
  • Account
  • Manager  

Note that Google will only give you an Ads Optimization Score for these types of campaigns:

  • Search
  • Display
  • Video auction
  • Shopping

Google has recently been expanding on this feature, so be on the lookout for upcoming changes and updates. 

How Is the Google Ads Optimization Score Calculated?

Your Optimization Score and Google’s recommendations will change depending on various elements, like your settings and trends in the world of Google Ads. Let’s take a deeper dive into what goes into the Google Adwords Optimization Score. 

Here’s what Google takes into account:

  • Your current results
  • Your settings
  • Your status as an advertiser
  • How well your account matches Google’s recommendations
  • Your recent recommendations history
Google Optimization Score Factors

Google considers all these elements and then measures the percentage of the impact if you fully adopt its automated recommendations. 

There’s no real magic going on here, though. Basically, what happens when your Optimization Score is pulled is this: 

  1. Google leverages automation and machine learning tools to dig up past performance data on your account. 
  2. Next, Google takes your unique account structure and conversion actions to assess your setup. All the data goes through a predictive modeling process in search of new opportunities to optimize Google AdWords. 
  3. Where there’s enough data, Google produces a recommendation, and each one gets weighted according to the projected impact on your account. 
  4. The recommendations become the basis for your Optimization Score. 

A nice thing about the Google Ads Optimization Score is that it only makes recommendations when they relate to your business goals. 

Google looks at your bid strategy to determine your campaign’s goals. Your goal is openly expressed if your campaign is in the Smart Bidding strategy (which we don’t really recommend, and here’s why). Otherwise, they get your campaign goal from the recommended Smart Bidding strategy which is based on your campaign data and other account information. 

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

  1. With a campaign bid strategy of Target ROAS, your Google Ads Optimization Score will make a recommendation that drives conversion value at a similar ROAS (expanding targeting, modifying your budget to avoid constraining high-value conversions).
  1. Campaigns that use “Maximize Clicks” and are reporting conversions may get a recommendation to adopt a Smart Bidding strategy that’s focused on performance like target CPA to help increase conversions.  

To personalize your Optimization Score even further, override the performance objective that’s inferred. You can do this by expressing the performance objective by opting into the following parameters:

  • Max conversions
  • Max conversion value
  • Target CPA
  • Target ROAS
  • Target IS

Use the “Include in Conversions” setting to choose the conversions for optimization to match your business goals. If you go to the recommendations page in your account, you can see the focus of your Google Ads Optimization Score.  

View the top of the page to see these details:

  • The focus of your Optimization Score (impression share, conversions, clicks, etc.)
  • The basis of your focus (bid strategy, Google recommendation, etc.)
  • A status icon
    • Green checkmark — Google understands your bid strategy and is focusing on a goal based on your strategy.
    • Yellow question mark  — Google doesn’t understand your bid strategy and bases recommendations on your focus.
    • Red minus  — You need to set a new bid strategy because your Optimization Score defaulted to a conversion focus.

To achieve your goals, set up conversion tracking that matches your objectives and uses the most optimal Smart Bidding strategies. 

Should Your Google Ads Optimization Score Be 100%?

What kind of Optimization Score should you look after? Most accounts will have a score of around 80% and that’s a good score to shoot for. If it’s lower than that, you may want to make adjustments. If you go higher, you risk increasing your ad budget more than you’d like.

Be aware that your Optimization Scores will be different on different campaigns (Search, Display, etc.) as each type of campaign has different sets of criteria. All Smart campaigns default to an Optimization Score of 100%, for example, considering Google has all the control over bids and optimizations. Depending on your business goals, a 100% score doesn’t always perform the best. 

Google’s optimization tool makes it easy to see how changes will impact your results. Rather than strive for a high Optimization Score, use it to identify opportunities to improve your accounts. The Optimization Score and associated recommendations will help you do that. This is a good way to spark your imagination about how to drive better results in your Google AdWords accounts.

In the end, the whole Google Ads Optimization score matter boils down to one thing: there's a lot of value in testing. The more data you have and the more you test things out to fine-tune your ads, the more successful you will be. Same general rule applies to pretty much every other area of digital marketing, be it SEO, content marketing, or social media marketing. 

How to Improve Your Google Ads Optimization Score

Starting from the first day you set up your Google Ads campaigns, Google’s algorithms are busy as bees calculating a baseline Optimization Score for you (based on which it will produce recommendations on how to improve your score).

There’s a reason they’re called “recommendations”, though: you don’t have to apply all of them -- not unless you want to nail a perfect 10 (or, in this case, a 100% Optimization Score). 

How to make the selection, then, and know which of Google’s recommendations you should take? 

Well, first of all, don’t think of striving for a “good grade” (or a shiny Google Ads Optimization Score). A better way to think of it is to take your Optimization Score and the recommendations into consideration, and make changes based on your needs rather than Google’s push to get you to adopt new features. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Which recommendations are easy to implement?
  • Which recommendations give you direct control?
  • Which recommendations will improve your campaigns based on your account and business needs?

Think about the types of adjustments that yield fast results like these:

  • Add new “observation” audiences
  • Fix conflicts with negative keywords
  • Fix ad groups without keywords or ads
  • Fix ad disapprovals
  • Adjust campaign settings
  • Add ad extensions
Improve Google Ads Optimization Score

What do you do about recommendations that don’t align with your current account goals? Simply dismiss them by clicking on the three dots in the recommendation box at the top right. By doing this, you will prevent them from bringing your total Optimization Score down. Be aware that notifications will resurface if the issue persists. Be sure to tell Google why you’re rejecting their recommendations. They like to be “in the know” (which should probably not come as a surprise to anyone, marketer or not, right?) 

When it comes to the Google Optimization score, take their advice cautiously. You are the ruler of your ad kingdom đź‘‘. You know your business better than they do. It’s better to fix the root cause that resulted in a recommendation, and the problem will dissipate on its own. 

Some of the more common recommendations you may want to ignore include:

  • Redundant keywords
  • Enable search partners
  • Certain keyword suggestions
  • Add suggestions

If your score is a perfect 100%, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re a digital marketer rockstar. It might just mean that all individual recommendation scores add up to over 100. As you apply some recommendations, it invalidates others. 

Don’t completely dismiss all the tips Google’s giving you either. 

The recommendations that Google provides for you are helpful in a number of ways. You may be able to identify mistakes in your account structure or keywords that are below the first-page bid. There are lots of ways to make your Google Ads work better. Google can be pretty good at highlighting some of the things you may have otherwise missed. As long as you put each recommendation into the proper context and test your results, you have nothing to lose by trying to improve your Optimization Score. Remember, algorithms only work properly if the data they are “fed” is of a good quality. 
We hope that you feel better informed about how to maximize the potential of Google Optimization Score. Also, do check out what we have to say about intent optimization for Google Ads, as it might be a more suitable option for you (especially if you are data-driven and want to have full control over your Google Ads data).

Jason is the CMO @ ClickGUARD. He is passionate about all things PPC, SEO and has extensive customer acquisition experience. When not writing about SEM he can be found surfing the wildest ocean waves of the South American coast.