High keyword quality scores mean the search traffic my campaign is getting is good for my purposes, that I'm attracting the "right" searchers--because high quality scores are closely related to high click-through rates. They also mean I'm paying less for each click!
Each keyword phrase in a Search campaign has a Quality Score assigned to it. This score reflects the system's evaluation of how "appropriate" the keyword phrase is for the campaign--whether or not it's closely related to the ad(s) and the website.
When you add new keywords or keyword phrases to a campaign, the initial quality score is based on an evaluation of how well they have performed for advertisers who have used them in the past. After they have been active in your campaign for a while, the Quality Score will change to also reflect how well (or poorly) the keyword phrase is actually performing in your campaign. The longer the keyword phrase is active in your campaign, the more closely the quality score reflects onlyperformance in your campaign.
Quality Score is important for two reasons. First, the higher a phrase's quality score, the less you have to bid and pay for each click. Second, the quality score is used when figuring the Ad Rank for the ad, and only the ads with the highest Ad Ranks are shown to the searcher.
Quality Score is a dynamic, not a fixed number. It's calculated every time a keyword phrase is eligible to be matched to a searcher's query. A keyword phrase can have a Quality Score of 9 when matched against one search term, but a Quality Score of 4 when matched against a different search term.
Having said that, let me add that it's more common for quality score to vary by only a point or two, as long as you're using Phrase or Exact as the match "type" for your keyword phrases.
To improve quality score, add three simple steps to your weekly campaign performance evaluation.
#1 - Always check the search terms to see what search phrases your ads have been triggered for--make sure you add any search terms that aren't appropriate to your negative keyword list.
#2 - At the same time, keep an eye out for new keyword phrasess--search terms that get a reasonable amount of traffic and are good descriptions of your product or service. People don't always search using the words or phrases we thought they'd use--there's no better source of new keywords than your search term report.
#3 - Monitor the performance of all your ads, testing new messaging to constantly improve performance (CTR).
Do pay attention to your quality scores--they control how much your advertising is going to cost, but lowering cost is the end result of performance improvement.
Focus on the improvement. Eventually your quality scores will start to rise--and in the meantime you'll already be reaping the benefit of attracting more interested website traffic and probably seeing higher conversion rates.
Check your scores weekly or monthly, mine your search terms for good positive and negative keyword ideas, and make sure your ad messaging is the best you can create.
I am co-owner of All About Clicks, an agency focusing on SEM & SEO for SMBs. To explain that jumble of acronyms, we work with our clients to enable their businesses to compete successfully in today's connected marketplace. Contact us (at http://www.allaboutclicks.com/contact-us) for information or to discuss having your account reviewed.
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