AdWords Quality Score

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “AdWords Quality Score..” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: How do you track quality score changes (if you do at all)?

  • Download a keyword report once a month for comparison with the QS column. – Bethan Bey (@Bethany_Bey)
  • Sort in Adwords every month or so. There tend not to be many changes for a week or 2. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • I use a quality score script to track the changes…don’t necessarily check every day, but it does run nightly. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • Have not tracked in the past, but just started testing a couple AdWords Script/Google Spreadsheet combos to do so. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Adwords Scripts + we’ve also been in the Alpha of . Great for aggregation. – Mark Jensen (@Just_Markus)
  • Normally don’t track quality score unless its 2 or less. If a campaign and landing page are set up right, no need to worry. – Gil Hong (@ghong_af)
  • Don’t – Noticed too many inconsistencies when optimizing to quality score alone. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
    • Agree with Nicole, Optimise important factors (keywords, ads, landing pages, CTR) and if you’ve done it right QS will follow. – Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
  • I don’t track the changes on a large scale, except for KW’s I am trying to increase after I adjust LP & ads. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • We don’t keep track of them historically; however, I know where everything falls enough to notice a change. – Courtney Cox (@CC_Creative)
  • Marin Software has a nice feature that tracks historical QS. If you don’t have Marin, download monthly reports in AW. – Jordan Meyer (@jordonmeyer)
  • As a part of overall “health” of account. Don’t usually track specific kw. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • Automatic emailed reports each week so if there is a crash I can go back and look at history. – Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
  • I check avg. positional trends and monitor quality score if I see a big spike upward or downward trending. – Brian Gaspar (@BGaspar)
  • I use third party tools which track historical quality score trends, but only focus on it after ROAS & CPA. – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)

Q2: How important is quality score to you when making optimizations?

  • I look at QS. If it’s low, then it matters. If it’s not, then it doesn’t. – Theresa Zook
  • Not very important. Look at 1s, 2s, and 3s, but rest almost don’t matter. Some entire industries have bad QS. – Jeremy Brown
  • It’s only important to show clients to give us more control over their landing pages. – Gil Hong
  • With Adwords especially, you can use QS to help make predictions about potential bid leverage for KWs. – Mark Jensen
  • Not very. More concerned about return from a keyword than QS. – Bethany Bey
  • Agree with others ROI > QS, but if possible improve QS to help ROI, or at least test. – Mark Kennedy
  • Not very important. Mostly keep an eye on QS for correlation not causation factors in regards to metrics. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Only important if they are impacting brand performance. Otherwise if low, I look at other factors on top of bids. – Brian Gaspar
  • Somewhat important but i’m getting good clicks, ctr even though the QS is low..i don’t bother. – Hyderali Shaikh (@hyderali_)
  • I like to use QS to help forecast profit maximization esp. when an account has proven to drop CPC when QS for up. – Mark Jensen
  • I’ll look at it for areas to cut (e.g. if there’s low q-score keywords floating around doing nothing) but that’s it. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Also, Google changed the game in November without telling anyone: AdWords Keyword Quality Score Shakeup. Visible QS means less now. – Jeremy Brown
  • QS is a bonus, ie. it reflects my focus on relevance and granularity. I keep an eye on it if costs rise or visibility falls. – Heather Cooan
  • If I have KWs with QS’s of 4 or below that are getting low search volume, I generally pause but if a KW has a QS of 4 but is converting well, I’m going to keep running. – Matt Umbro
  • Not very importance overall, but for high traffic or high cost keywords I test to see if it can be improved further. – Rehan Zaidi (@RehanZaidi)
  • I’ll peel out higher volume keywords into own ad groups if they have QS of 4 or lower if I think it will improve ROI. – Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)
  • I use QS to guide keyword expansion activities – positive and negative. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • My theory is that as long as you are creating finely segmented campaigns that are relevant throughout, good QS should follow. – Matt Umbro
    • Good point. Low QS on high-impression keywords is a good area to improve or turn off. – Jeremy Brown
  • I will however label KW’s at 4 or below to keep an eye on them. I don’t want them to drag down the account. – Heather Cooan
  • Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t deleting keywords w/ bad QS typically better than just pausing? – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
    • I delete vs pause on poor QS terms. – Mark Kennedy
    • I’ve heard it both ways. – Alma Smith (@Alma_Smith)
    • Supposedly deleting is better, but pausing should help them stop accruing impressions. – Jeremy Brown
    • I err on the side of pausing KWs vs deleting, but that’s just me. – Matt Umbro
    • So can having poor paused keywords sitting hurt your campaign? seems I’ve generally been told to never delete. – Timothy Jensen
    • Paused KW’s = QS doesn’t count/register unless their un-paused. Paused = neutral ground no damage. – Heather Cooan
    • I prefer pausing, but deleting can help clean up if you know you never need the kws. – Jonathan Meyer (@jwmeyer)
  • QS is an effect, not a goal. – Theresa Zook
  • I actually look at QS as the closest SEO related metric used in PPC. – Brian Gaspar
  • We use conversion tactics (ad copy that qualifies/DQs clicks), not QS tactics. – PPC Associates (@PPCAssociates)
  • Optimize for business goals first. Best practice architecture should solve most QS issues. Build it right, QS will come. – Jordon Meyer
  • I think poor QS can indicate you are not fully understanding user intent either in kw choice or ad copy Or there are multi-intents. – Lisa Sanner
  • Might be jumping ahead on a possible question, but it would be interesting to gauge some GA insights such as Bounce rate vs. KW QS. – Brian Gaspar
    • I haven’t seen a connection. Many lead-gen companies obviously have high bounce rates (that’s the point of the LP). Within one account, it might be useful to look at. Just plenty of accounts with high-bounce rates and high QS. – Jeremy Brown
  • Frequently low-QS keywords should be moved into a new ad group with better-related ad – not deleted or paused. – David Szetela (@Szetela)
    • Only if they’re important, i.e., conversions you can’t get another way. – Theresa Zook
    • Yes, but what if the existing ad group is just that KW or KW is performing well despite QS? – Matt Umbro
      • Performance is all that matters. If perf is good, then QS is irrelevant in my eyes. – Theresa Zook
  • Bad QS can also be an indication that your LP needs work. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
    • GA columns in AdWords are super helpful for looking at this – definite correlation with high bounce rate & low QS. – Timothy Jensen
    • Often this is the case, glad Google is reporting this now. – Heather Cooan
    • People still overplay the impact of landing page. Easy to check if it’s an issue. – Jeremy Brown
      • Agreed. Worked on account that had only one landing page for thousands of keywords and QS was still high. – Bethany Bey
  • This is what my AdWords rep told me re: move low QS kwds to new ad grp & write btr ad. – Eric Bryant (@GnosisArts)
  • For sure. Bing’s indicators of LP relevance are also very helpful. – Melissa Mackey
  • At it’s core, QS comes down to what we discussed a few weeks ago in Understanding Search Intent. – Matt Umbro
  • Quality Score is important in my strategy but I know my competitor keywords will be low. – Jonathan Levey (@jlevey)

Q3: When optimizing for quality score, have you seen better results? How so?

  • I would rather see improvement in bounce rate than quality score. QS feels overrated and Bounce Rate gets ignored too often. – Chris Haleua
    • Agree. QS is overrated and bounce rates are a good micro-conversion and proxy. – Jeremy Brown
      • Disagree that it’s overplayed. Often can make a huge improvement in QS and performance. – Melissa Mackey
        • We make large QS improvements, but it’s not by focusing on QS. It’s by focusing on CTR and ad copy and structure. – Jeremy Brown
    • Agree, I prefer to think about what is the proper context for using and interpreting QS. – Jonathan Meyer
  • I haven’t optimized specifically for QS in so many years I can’t remember. – Theresa Zook
  • I’ve consistently been able to use QS optimization to help increase impression share. – Mark Jensen
  • Only during an inital overhaul of an account, deleting/pausing QS 2 or less across the account. It definitely affected CPC&ROI. – Gil Hong
  • Moving a low QS term to it’s own adgroup with more specific ad and LP can help, but sometimes it’s not enough. – Mark Kennedy
  • I feel that optimizing for QS is a recipe for trouble and could take you down the wrong path. As has been discussed, many more metrics are more important to optimize around than QS. – Matt Umbro
  • CTR and QS are my go to opt metrics for brand new accounts, then I switch to bottom line metrics and begin to balance. – Heather Cooan
  • When optimizing for quality score, I have seen better CTR, improved Avg Ad Position and a lower CPL. – Jonathan Levey
  • Generally yes, but not always. Depends what you are doing. Killing 1s and 2s? Yes. Trying to get 7′s to 10s? Rare. – Jeremy Brown
  • I believe in optimizing specifically for Quality Score, only for important low QS keywords. If QS is fine optimize other things. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
    • Good point, fine focus on low QS keywords that will contribute to account history. – Heather Cooan
  • See better results when kwds move from 3/4 to 5/6 bc of increased visibility. Not much difference in moving from 5/6 to 7/10. – Bethany Bey
  • My QS optimization generally comes in the form of optimizing account structure. Better QS just kind of follows as a result. – Alma Smith
  • I haven’t but it’s worth noting as a pain point if performance drops over time and is not backed by seasonality trends. – Brian Gaspar
  • Again, I feel that if you are creating the most structurally sound account as can be you are indirectly optimizing for QS. – Matt Umbro
  • Directly optimizing for it? No. Indirectly/inadvertently by optimizing for other metrics? Yes. – Lisa Sanner
  • The beauty of wireless mouses is no wires… the bad part if they crap out you can’t join. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
  • It’s all about profit maximization. Your KPIs within your accounts will shift as goals and needs change. – Mark Jensen
  • I do find it comical that Google puts such importance on QS, yet doesn’t make it a default column in the interface. – Matt Umbro
  • Yes have seen good results but it takes time. Especially when accounts are all low QS. Low QS keywords take time to recover, two big things to remember is domain QS history and Display URL QS history. – Bryant Garvin
    • The QS death spiral is painful, hard, brutal. Test the best PPC skills you can muster. – Lisa Sanner
  • For newbie advertisers, QS is a bad metric to focus on. I think it makes sense to hide it at first/by default. – Rehan Zaidi
  • QS is like credit score in that way, if it is low, it is going to take time to see a big change. – Stuart Draper (@Stu_Draper)
  • Absolutely QS is an indicator used to guide for improvement. Not the end goal but still very important. – Bryant Garvin

Q4: How do you feel quality score has evolved over the years? For better or for worse?

  • It’s a roller coaster in my opinion. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • More vague IMO. They make changes to the algo for QS and don’t tell you when where why or what like they do Panda, Penguin. – Stuart Draper
  • Visible QS has diminished in value, but true QS hasn’t unfortunately. – Bryant Garvin
  • I think QS was initially a good idea to help the smaller guys compete, but along the way it’s been devalued/de-emphasized. – Matt Umbro
  • I don’t think it’s evolved. I think availability of better, more important metrics has rightly pushed QS out of the limelight. – Theresa Zook
  • Only good thing of vauge QS calculation is that it helps reduce the onset of blackhat ppc. – Gil Hong
  • Still can use visible QS though as an indicator, like your check engine light. – Bryant Garvin
  • That’s the part we don’t know, because we don’t really have the data on our “true” QS. We get some KW data, but that’s it. – Mark Kennedy
  • Also used to be able to open a new account and “reset” QS now not so, because domain and display URL are tracked for QS. – Bryant Garvin
  • Don’t think much evolution around this metric. It is what it is, Compeition will make having higher NB QS KW’s more challenging. – Brian Gaspar
  • Less reliable of a metric (Or I know better now). Too many odd patterns that you cannot make solid decisions from. – James Svoboda
  • Worse. Making CTR the #1 factor in QS is good for google but sometimes detrimental for advertisers. – Jessica Fisher (@jessicamfisher)
    • Agree. QS is Google’s metric, not the advertiser’s metric. Sometimes you don’t want a high CTR (qualifying ad copy). – Jeremy Brown
      • Exactly. Higher CTR only means higher spend and doesn’t correlate to better customer experience or higher conversion rates. – Jessica Fisher
  • Obviously was a great way to set up the auction. Game-changer. At this point, focus on CTR and super-low QS terms. – Jeremy Brown
  • I feel that QS is more important now than in the past because it affects actual CPC & Ad Position. – Jonathan Levey
  • Actually like that there aren’t set rules because then you would have everybody doing the same thing to game the system. – Bryan Cisler (@Bryan_Cisler)
  • I don’t think they are using bouncey stuff or you would see lead gen sites get hammered. – Jeremy Brown
  • QS really is Google’s way of manipulating (with out transparency) the auction… but when you play their game it’s by their rules. – Bryant Garvin
  • Optimizing for CTR is good for Google, & only mostly good for advertisers. Google’s #1 metric is potential revenue per search (RPS). – Neil Sorenson
    • Or in other words eCPM the one metric in Adwords hardly anybody looks at. – Bryant Garvin
  • QS still needs to be less of a black box. There needs to be more transparency into changes in QS to pricing. – Alexander Dao (@the_dao_jones)
  • QS feels much more tied to Google’s P&L report than to help me with mine these days. – Mark Jensen
    • If that was so, then last fall’s algo change to improve QS wld have been to lower them & avg CPCs would have changed. – Theresa Zook
  • Great CTRs (and therefore great QS) increase potential RPS. Which says nothing about increasing revenue for the advertiser. – Neil Sorenson
  • Perhaps, my overall feeling is that it’s not as important as it was once thought to be. – Matt Umbro
  • As a side note (and quick defense of Google) I get why QS doesn’t take into account conversion rate as conversions can be pageviews. And in many accounts conversion codes are placed on the wrong pages and inflate conversion metrics. – Matt Umbro
  • Especially w/ how many advertisers screw up their own conversion code (i.e., place it on every page of the site). G shouldn’t care. – Neil Sorenson
  • I don’t think CVR needs to be accounted for as it does differ, I just don’t think CTR should be weighed so heavily. – Jessica Fisher
  • The metrics they REALLY care about is CTR & CPC = eCPM, CVR helps advertisers not Google. – Bryant Garvin
  • At times I neg out queries w/ 10% CTR b/c they aren’t the right kw. Technically, that impacts my QS but the business doesn’t care. – Peter Hughes (@hughespjh)

Q5: How do you explain Quality Score to clients (if you do at all)?

  • Score out of 10, 10 being the best 1 being the worst. Plan is to be in the 7-10 range. – Brian Gaspar
  • QS is a relevance measure: indication of KW-ad copy-LP matching. Low QS = higher CPCs. – Melissa Mackey
  • Unfortunately most clients may know the word QS “and it’s importance” so you have to dig in and explain some things. – Bryant Garvin
  • Bad landing pages & irrelevant keywords = low QS => Higher advertising costs & less conversions. – Gil Hong
  • I don’t think I’ve ever explained quality score to a client. – Jason Manion (@JasonManion)
  • May touch on it in some rare cases, but mostly focus on ROI and best practices when talking to clients. – Mark Kennedy
  • I don’t, b/c I can never remember what the exact equation is. – Eric Bryant
  • Aids in you positioning your ad as well as spending less than your max bid to show. – Brian Gaspar
  • I let them know that the metric is there, but as long as we stay relevant throughout we should be fine. – Matt Umbro
  • It is like credit score. Write relevant ads + create relevant landing pages to show up higher on the page for less per click. – Stuart Draper
  • I try to avoid it. :) Otherwise, complete honesty. – Theresa Zook
  • Generally agree, although not all Google’s fault. People legitimately and illegitmately worry about Google’s power. – Jeremy Brown
  • Lots of times I just leave in in layman’s (sp?) terms. – Stuart Draper
  • Clients never understand QS. We explains them how good or bad is their landing page. – Solid Radicle (@solidradicle)
  • This is Google’s way of seeing how relevant your business is to the user query… and how much money they get from you. – Bryant Garvin
  • Nice thing about QS in UI, is you can place it right next to CPC, CTR and Conversion data. Helps steer convo to better metrics. – James Svoboda
  • Google’s signal that you are relevant according to their rules. Generally higher QS = lower CPCs. – Jeremy Brown
  • A relevance metric which you should get at least 7/10. – Onur Dogan (@honurdogan)
  • Rather be more focused on business results (ROI, etc) & strategy when talking to clients rather than tactical details like QS. – Jason Manion
    • That’s true but some clients hear all the buzz and freak about wrong things that’s when you have to explain & redirect. – Bryant Garvin
  • I also think that it’s a good opportunity to chat about why we don’t bid on certain keywords. – Jill DuPre (@JillTruJillo)
  • Savvy clients get it and don’t ask. The hardest are ones that don’t get it and need education. Never an easy discussion. – Lisa Sanner
  • Sheepishly, it’s a great metric to help convince clients to let us restructure accounts for better targeting relevance. – Mark Jensen


More PPC Chats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPC Chat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Alexander Dao (@the_dao_jones)
• Alma Smith (@Alma_Smith)
• Bethan Bey (@Bethany_Bey)
• Brian Gaspar (@BGaspar)
• Bryan Cisler (@Bryan_Cisler)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
• Courtney Cox (@CC_Creative)
• David Szetela (@Szetela)
• Eric Bryant (@GnosisArts)
• Gil Hong (@ghong_af)
• Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
• Hyderali Shaikh (@hyderali_)
• Jason Manion (@JasonManion)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• Jessica Fisher (@jessicamfisher)
• Jill DuPre (@JillTruJillo)
• Jonathan Levey (@jlevey)
• Jonathan Meyer (@jwmeyer)
• Jordan Meyer (@jordonmeyer)
• Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)
• Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
• Mark Jensen (@Just_Markus)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
• Onur Dogan (@honurdogan)
• Peter Hughes (@hughespjh)
• PPC Associates (@PPCAssociates)
• Rehan Zaidi (@RehanZaidi)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Solid Radicle (@solidradicle)
• Stuart Draper (@Stu_Draper)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Streamcaps Quality Score Remains 10/10 for 2 Years and Counting!

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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4 Responses to AdWords Quality Score

  1. [...] AdWords Quality Score, PPC Chat Streamcap [...]

  2. [...] people swear that it is very important to track. Others say it is totally unnecessary. See this PPC Chat stream cap to get an idea of the varying opinions. Obviously, the folks at Get Found First still see value in [...]

  3. [...] people swear that it is very important to track. Others say it is totally unnecessary. See this PPC Chat stream cap to get an idea of the varying opinions. Obviously, the folks at Get Found First still see value in [...]

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