There were widespread reports from Google AdWords users towards the end of March that their keyword quality scores had dropped considerably overnight. Exact brand keywords that had a quality score of 10 suddenly showed a score of 6, and some even reported increased click prices.
Later, Google announced that the sudden decline had been caused by the AdWords Quality Score bug, and that it had been fixed. The fact that it was a bag also implied that only the reporting of the Quality Score had been affected, and there was no effect on the actual campaign costs or effectiveness.
The bug episode was a reminder to AdWords managers of the importance of the keyword and Quality Scores the effectiveness and success of any AdWords campaign.
All about AdWords Quality Scores
Also referred to as the Keyword Quality Score, Google AdWords Quality Score is the measure of quality and relevance of any ad campaign with reference to the keyword(s) you are bidding. It is a rather straightforward concept, though the Score interactions taking place at the account, keyword, and group level can be intricate. Your score depends on the overall performance of your account. It is also influenced by Google’s perceived relevance of your keywords, landing pages, and ads to each other. For instance, if the keyword you are bidding on in AdWords is “pink leather”, Google would examine two things:
• Does the ad contain that keyword? If so, that ad is relevant
• Does the landing page contain that keyword? If so, that landing page is relevant
Once the initial keyword Quality Score is assigned, it is the duty of the AdWords manager to optimise campaign performance and ensure the maximum possible click-through-rate (CTR – measured as the ratio of number of ad clicks to ad views). Once your ad is running, regardless of the Quality Scores, a big part of the AdWords Quality Scores will be decided by CTR.
Google’s system for Quality Score depends on the audience. A keyword/ad combo with a high CTR is seen as relevant, since people notice it and proceed to click on it. If your keyword/ad combination has a greater CTR than your rivals’ ads, you are assigned a higher Quality Score for that keyword.
Fixing an account with poor Quality Scores
If your competitor’s Quality Score is higher than yours, you will have to pay more for that same keyword. Conversely, if your Quality Score is higher, then you are likely to pay less for it. A Higher Quality Score translates to lower bid costs, and the converse is true. This explains the hysteria when marketers realised that their quality score had reduced by nearly half – it would have increased the cost of advertising to maintain their normal sales.
If your account has been affected by poor Quality Scores, you can salvage the situation by doing two things: first, set up good campaigns to build back Google’s trust and get things back to where they used to be; and second, review your ads and delete poor performing keywords. This will contribute significantly to your account’s recovery.