BlogGoogleGoogle AdsGoogle Ad Strength vs Ad Relevance. What’s the difference?

Google Ad Strength vs Ad Relevance. What’s the difference?

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Following recent confusion over UI updates in Google Ads & comments from Google, there seemed to be indications that Ad Strength had expanded its remit to influence ad auctions (traditionally reserved for Ad Relevance). This article seeks to bring clarity to the hubbub, as well as giving you advice on what you need to do. 

What is Ad Strength in Google Ads?

Ad Strength is a diagnostic tool, not a ranking factor.

Ad Strength in Google Ads is a diagnostic tool that helps you improve the effectiveness of your advertisements. It analyzes various aspects of your ad copy and assigns a rating ranging from “Incomplete” to “Excellent”. There are two things to consider when thinking about Ad Strength:

  • Rating: It reflects the overall relevance, quality, and diversity of your ad compared to Google’s best practices.
  • Actionable feedback: Along with the rating, Ad Strength provides specific suggestions for improvement. For instance, it might tell you to include more relevant keywords in your headlines or add more ad variations.

It is important to note that Ad Strength is not a direct ranking factor for the auction, therefore it does not directly affect your ad position. 

Why is Ad Strength important?

It can be useful for optimisations and recommendations, but don’t focus on it too much if you are an experienced advertiser. The team at Optmyzr explain why… 

I’ve definitely seen cases where Ad Strength shows ‘Excellent’ and Ad Relevance is labelled as either ‘Below Average’ or ‘Average’. To understand how this can happen, it’s important to understand how Ad Relevance is defined. 

What is Ad Relevance in Google Ads?

Ad Relevance is a factor of Quality Score and therefore ranking.

Ad relevance refers to how closely your ad connects with the intent behind a user’s search. It essentially measures how well your ad matches what a potential customer is looking for. 3 aspects are important here in Ad relevance:

  1. Understand user intent: The core idea is to understand what a user is trying to achieve with their search query.
  2.  Keywords and ad copy alignment: Your ad’s keywords and the actual content of the ad (headline, description) should reflect the user’s search intent. 
  3. Connection to the landing page: Not only should your ad be relevant to the search query, but it should also seamlessly connect to the landing page users will arrive at after clicking your ad. The landing page should maintain the theme and provide what the user was expecting based on the ad.

Why is Ad Relevance important?

Ad relevance is one of the three factors that contribute to your Quality Score in Google Ads. A high Quality Score can lead to lower costs and better ad positions. This is more important to focus on than Ad Strength. 

What are the differences between Ad Strength and Ad Relevance for ranking?

Ad Strength does not impact ad rank or quality score. It's correlation, not causation.

Ad Relevance has a direct impact on your ad position, whereas Ad Strength can help influence your Ad Relevance. You can use Ad Strength to find ways to make your Ad Relevance better, but having a ‘Poor’ Ad Strength will not stop your ads from serving/ranking. 

Here’s the simple difference between ad strength and ad relevance:

  • Ad Relevance: This is a specific aspect of your ad. It focuses on how well your ad connects with what a user is searching for. Imagine it like a single puzzle piece.
  • Ad Strength: This is a broader concept that considers the overall effectiveness of your ad. It takes into account ad relevance, but also other factors like ad quality and diversity of your ad copy. Think of it as the entire puzzle.

You can read more about this in a guide that Google has created which states that Ad Strength is a mechanism for creative optimisation. 

Why is there confusion over the importance of Ad Strength and Ad Relevance in ranking?

Confusing communications from Google

Search Engine Land reached out to Google for comment on the confusion that was being faced in the industry around the definition. Brendon Kraham, Google’s Vice President of Search & Commerce, replied with the following:

I don’t know where [the idea that Ad Strength is not important] comes from. Ad Strength is at the centre of what we’re trying to do is because creative is going to be incredibly important, and Ad Strength is going to be the mechanism which we use to evaluate that both in Performance Max and channels like search.
Brendon Kraham
Brendon Kraham
Vice President of Search & Commerce at Google

The full article is available on Search Engine Land here

Ginny Marvin to the rescue

Ginny Marvin (Google Ads Liaison) was quick to help clarify the differences between Ad Strength and Ad Relevance, and therefore the relationship between the two in ranking.

"...to be clear, Ad Strength is not used in the auction.... It’s a feedback mechanism for creative content and meant to be used as a helpful guide to improve the effectiveness of your ads. Again, it isn't used directly in the auction."
Ginny Marvin
Ginny Marvin
Ads Product Liaison at Google

You can read the full post and comments on LinkedIn here. Thank you Ginny for the official clarification!

What do you need to do?

Continue to monitor your Ad Strength. Whilst it's not that important, it can give you valuable insight for optimisation.

Here’s what advertisers need to do with both Ad Strength and Ad Relevance:

1. Prioritize Relevance: Ad relevance is the foundation. Strive to create ads that deeply connect with a user’s search intent. Use targeted keywords throughout your ad copy, write headlines that directly address user needs, and ensure your landing page delivers what the ad promises.

2. Leverage Ad Strength for Optimization: While relevance is crucial, a strong ad goes beyond that. Use Ad Strength as a guide to improve your ad’s overall effectiveness. Here’s how:

  • Review Ad Strength Ratings: See which ads are flagged as “Poor” or “Average” and prioritize improvements for those.
  • Review Actionable Feedback: Ad Strength often provides specific suggestions, like adding more relevant keywords or including a stronger call to action. Address these points to strengthen your ad, but use your own logic and creativity too. 
  • Incorporate Quality and Diversity: Don’t just focus on keywords; ensure your ad copy is clear, concise, and grammatically correct. Include high-quality visuals and write multiple variations of headlines and descriptions to cater to different user preferences.

3. Aim for the Synergy: The best outcome is when your ad achieves both high relevance and strong overall quality. By focusing on both aspects, you create ads that resonate with the right audience and stand out in the competitive ad landscape. Remember:

  • Relevance attracts the right audience.
  • Strength keeps them engaged and clicking through.

By working on both, you can create Google Ads that deliver exceptional results.

Be mindful of the closed loop feedback.

Again, the awesome Frederick Vallaeys shares valuable insight on the dangers of feedback systems such as Ad Strength. They can create closed loops whereby it can disincentivise experimentation through the homogeneous recommendations it can give. You can find all the detail you need on this here

Don't stop experimenting.

What can set you apart from the competition is experimentation. This is truly what will help you win and understand what is happening. Please don’t stop coming up with your own original ideas for creative so that you can find new ways of improving your Ad Strength and Ad Relevance. 

We’ve explored the world of Google Ads and two key concepts for crafting high-performing ads: ad relevance and ad strength. We learned that ad relevance is like a bullseye – it focuses on how well your ad hits the mark of a user’s search intent. By ensuring your keywords and ad copy directly connect with what users are looking for, you can attract the right audience and improve your ad’s click-through rate, therefore CPCs and performance. 

Ad Strength takes things a step further. It’s a health check for your ad, considering not just relevance, but also quality and the variety of your ad copy. A strong ad is well-written, visually appealing, and offers multiple options to resonate with different user preferences. By using Google Ads’ Ad Strength tool and the insights we’ve discussed, you can refine your ads and unlock their full potential in Ad Relevance. 

Of course, we now know that Ad Strength does not have a direct influence on the Ad Rank of your ads. However, there is some correlation between Ad Strength and Ad Relevance – but it’s not a direct link. It’s a diagnostic tool, and that’s it. It can help you with optimisation decisions, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s your primary metric for ad creative optimisation. You need to look at the full picture, including your Ad Relevance and Ad Relevance (history). 

Remember, the ultimate goal is to create ads that are both relevant and strong. By understanding these concepts and putting them into practice, you can attract high-quality leads, improve your conversion rates, and get the most out of your Google Ads campaigns.

Dan Roberts
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