AdWords Quality Score: What Has Changed?

Google is a dynamic anmial that we will always be chasing but may never catch up to completely.  Both Google search engine optimization and Google AdWords are always updating algorithms, strategy and requirements.  Its like having a boss that you are always trying to figure out and impress.  As soon as you think you have figured him/her out are in their good graces, they all of a sudden no longer care about that particular skill you may have acquired (just to impress them).  It can be a frustrating path, but like anything else…all we can do is persevere!

First, lets define what the Quality Score is in reference to Google AdWords (PPC).  The Quality Score is a dynamic metric or calculation that assigns a score or rank to each keyword in your ad group.  The score is calculated to display how Google thinks that particular keyword fits within your ad group and the user’s search queries.  Basically, the higher the Quality Score is for a particular keyword, the lower the cost per click (CPC) and the higher the ad position will be on the page.  The Quality Score is yet another effort by Google to improve the quality and relevance of ads and results that appear in their SERPs.

With Google’s latest updates, it no longer uses the “inactive” classification for keywords in your ad group that have a maximum bid below what is required for first page placement.  Now Google assigns those keywords using the “first page bid” qualifier.  Before you could still tell when your keywords were not appearing on the first page but this defines it more clearly and puts it right there in front of your face.

So why does Google do this?  In my opinion it is largely revenue based.  This shows Pay Per Click advertisers how much they have to increase the bid to appear on the first page.  Once you do, very soon others will follow.  By doing this, Google is creating a new sense of urgency among the bidders.  Previously, when you saw the inactive classification you might delete that keyword from your ad group.  Now, the ads are actually active but simply assigned a classification as “not being on the first page”.  This causes PPC bidders, Internet marketing firms, and PPC management companies to increase bids more frequently and sooner than they would have in the recent past.

So keeping all this in mind what can we do to “impress” Google now and make sure our keywords and ad groups are assigned good Quality Scores?

The best thing to do is always stick to the basics:

(1) Do some keyword house cleaning.  You don’t need your Quality Score to tell you a keyword is not working well within your ad group.  You can simply look at click through rates, bounce rates, and conversion rates to see what is going on.  Sometimes you may have keywords that are assigned a “Poor” Quality Score but actually have decent conversions rates.  However, the click through rates are propbably so low that it may not be relevant enough to keep in the ad group.

(2) Look at your ad groups and make sure there is not too much redundancy in the keywords.  Naturally, you will want to have a bunch of different variations in keywords but consider separating them into different ad groups as Google might penalize you if you do not.

(3) Always make sure your ads are targeted to the pages that are as relevant to the ad as possible.  Ideally, we would all be creating a landing page for every keyword but that of course is not at all realistic.  Laning pages are not just important anymore for conversion rates.  Google will take into consideration the pages that your ads are directed to.  Make sure those pages have the keywords at least once or twice in the meta tags and content.

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