Google Quality Score Misconceptions

Ryan Faria - January 14, 2009

Anyone who has ever run a Google AdWords account understands the importance of the Quality Score, not only at the keyword level, but also with the campaign as a whole.  Recently, we had a meeting with Google and I learned some of the perceptions that I had about the quality score were not entirely accurate.  The following are some myths and the facts surrounding the Quality Score.

One common myth is that changing the keyword match type of your search terms from broad match to exact match will increase the quality score.  This is not true.  According to Google, the Quality Score is calculated using only data from queries that exactly match your keyword.  While keyword types are effective at further targeting your audience, they do not influence the quality score.

Many advertisers have the impression that having their ads show up in higher positions will improve their Quality Score.  Google uses several different factors to determine an advertiser’s Quality Score, and it is not possible to, in essence, buy a better Quality Score.  In fact, if an advertiser has their ad displayed too high on the search results page, they could damage their click through rate (CTR).   The CTR is the amount of clicks divided by the amount of impressions; therefore, if your ad is displayed an excessive amount, and there are no clicks, you will drive down the CTR.  It is best to test different cost per click bids to adjust positions and analyze the campaign data to determine the best position for your ad.

While having a high CTR is important, this alone will not automatically equate to a better Quality Score.  Quality Score is determined by multiple factors such as historical keyword performance, webpage load time, ad/keyword relevance and ad/search query relevance, just to name a few.  Keeping all these elements in mind, it is possible have a high CTR, but a low Quality Score.

Some advertisers are worried that if they optimize their Google Adwords account, that they will lose their account history.  Luckily, the keyword, ad text and landing page history will all be preserved.  While the visible history of the account may be erased, the historical performance of the Quality Score remains intact.  Google fully encourages advertisers to test different campaign methods to determine what will work best.  If after testing, your previous ad performed better, you can change your ad without worrying about damaging or erasing the Quality Score.

It is important to keep in mind that the Quality Score is determined by a multitude of things; therefore, a poor quality score may not be caused by one element.   Try to review several Quality Score campaign elements to further determine causes.  By reviewing your campaign components, you can not only improve your Quality Score but campaign performance as well.

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