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Quality Score | Its Value to AdWords Management re-addressed

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# 1
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Earlier this year, after five long years of deafening silence, Google published a whitepaper which they titled, “Settling the Quality Score,”. We had not seen anything substantial on the subject since the trusty Hal Varian-

AdWords Quality Score video posted so long ago.


The update is mostly a rehash of information that people who charged with the task of Google AdWords Management, there are a few new bits and pieces which are well worth going over in this article.

    Quality Score In Measuring AdWords Management


In the past we refereed to our Quality Score get an idea of how our advertising flow was seen in terms of relevance and quality.  The update seems to indicate that its important as an isolated metric isnt as important as we onec thought.


“Quality Score is a helpful diagnostic tool, not a key performance indicator,” says Google in their recent white paper. “Your Quality Score is like a warning light in a car’s engine that shows how healthy your ads and keywords are. It’s not meant to be a detailed metric that should be the focus of account management.”


Lets just stop here for one moment. In the “What is AdWords Quality Score and Why Does It Matter?,” video posted on Googles own AdWords channel on YouTube in 2011, Quality Score seems to me significantly more important for assessing AdWords Management than a blinking engine light.


‘Quality Score is important in order for your ads to be successful, however, Quality Score also plays a key role in determining your ad’s position and how much you’ll pay for a click.


In general, the more relevant your ad, the higher your QS – and the higher your QS, the better your position and the less you will have to pay for a click…Being successful with AdWords means getting your products or services in front of the people who are most likely to become your customers and a high Quality Score can help make that happen.’


                         Google on Quality Score


Ok… now I’m confused – that sounds like a key-performance-indicator to me, and an important one at that. So what do we know about Quality Score and its relationship as a KPI for AdWOrds Management and its performance?


We know that there is a direct link between Quality Score and determining the position of an ad, impression share, and ultimately Cost-Per-Click, which for most business is the KPI of a truly successful AdWords Management Strategy.


If we have learnt anything at all over the years of looking at AdWords Management, its that the importance of Quality Score has increased as the average Quality Score acorss the board has trended downward over the years  – the Cost Per Click savings associated with an above average Quality Score on keywords is currently worth up to 200% than it was no less than four years previously.


At this stage, I’m still thinking its a really important metric for an account that generates a strong return. Dare I say it – a KPI!


Device Influence On Quality Score


In Google’s recent white paper , Google clearly states that device targeting and mobile optimisation has a direct impact on QS – In short:


The User’s Device: Does Matter


The User’s Device (laptop, tablet, smartphone, or whatever) is taken into consideration when calculating Quality Score.


At the end of the day, Mobile advertising have lower expected Click Through Rates ads delivered to the desktop search market. Nevertheless, Google knows this and factors that into their calculations.


Related Keyword Performance In AdWords Management Creation


While I was doing some recent Return On Investment Analysis, I noticed that even keywords that had little or no impression or click activity (in some instances there were no clicks or impressions) still had quality scores assigned to them. I wanted to delve deeper and see if the performance of the account had an impact on new keywords with no traffic activity. What I found was quite interesting.


The quality scores of new keywords in accounts that we managed were high, despite having no activity. When i compared our accounts to accounts that were being self managed, the result was quite different – I was seeing lower quality scores over all and when new keywords were added, their quality scores reflected the quality of the account.


This is interesting because Google never confirmed that existing landing pages, related keywords or ads had any significant impact on other keywords in your account.

This is what is said now:

‘Instead of measuring new keywords from scratch, we start with info about related ads and landing pages you already have. If your related keywords, ads and landing pages are in good shape, we’ll probably continue to have a high opinion of them. Always invest in growing your coverage on relevant searches, especially in areas where your ads have the potential to be high quality.’



So what does all this mean?


To get your account to perform at its best and generate the highest possible return for the lowest possible cost, you need to make sure you are adhering to Google’s best practices as they will result in a higher quality score so you give any new keywords you do add chance.


So KPI Or Just An Insight Tool?


The unfortunate reality is that Google’s whitepaper prompts more questions than it answers. If you are responsible for the ongoing AdWords Management you really should dedicate some time to reading the whitepaper and seeing how Quality Score is affecting your ability to generate Return on your AdWords Spend. Its important to not rely on one metric for all your answers but in this case i would say that it would be detrimental to discredit the potential value having a high quality score has on the profitability of your account.





2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Quality Score | Its Value to AdWords Management re-addressed

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# 2
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Hey James,


Thanks for the great article, I enjoyed reading it :-)


I think more more new important factor that Google added to the "Check and understand Quality Score" page is the one that talks about "Geographic Performance" ("How successful your account has been in the regions you're targeting").


On of the tips I got from Googlers was that in some cases its better to have a different account and domain for each country (When we're talking about BIG accounts...).







Re: Quality Score | Its Value to AdWords Management re-addressed

Top Contributor
# 3
Top Contributor

Hi James,


Hal updated that video earlier this year. A must see for folks interested in how the auctions are executed.

Insights on the AdWords Auction.




Also, I can see that you're re-purposing your content here. Thank you for not doing it in such a way to be overly promotional or self serving...this is good stuff for the community.  Smiley Happy

Tommy Sands, AdWords Top Contributor | Community Profile | Twitter | Philly Marketing Labs
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’

Re: Quality Score | Its Value to AdWords Management re-addressed

Google Employee
# 4
Google Employee
Hey James,

I was part of the team that put together that white paper and I'd love to try and clarify what we were trying to say about Quality Score not being a KPI for your account.

The most important part is all about what you should value when judging your account's performance. Having Quality Scores of 10 doesn't mean that you're automatically doing everything you can be doing, or even that your account is successful. You have other metrics available to you (like CPA or profit) that should be a lot more important to you than Google's measurement of your ad quality. When you identify what to improve in your account, our recommendation is to focus on those metrics that matter to your bottom line. Our intent is that they should align with our quality measurements, but your metrics should have preference. They're more useful and important to your account than Quality Score is.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that Quality Score is a summary of your performance across all of the auctions you participate in throughout the day. That 1-10 number isn't nearly as detailed as the quality ratings that we use when we evaluate the quality of your ad in one specific auction. Whereas your performance metrics (like CPA and profit) are going to be a lot more concrete than the 1-10 summarized number that we provide to you.

PPCBossman mentions an updated video from Hal Varian that I think does a great job explaining the auction (as that 2011 video that you mention is a bit out of date). I've also hosted an HOA based off of that white paper, so you could check that out if you're interested.

Hope that helps!

Hal video -
My HOA -