Google Quality Score FAQs

Posted by Stephanie Norman, Manager, Strategic Partnerships

How Does Google’s Syndication Network Affect the Overall Quality Score?  

The Quality Score assigned to the keyword is an aggregate of the scores from all of the performance within the Google network.  It is possible for an ad to have a low Quality Score despite having a strong click-through rate (CTR) because it’s not performing well within the Google network.  Google constantly strives to make changes for your ad to appear on the content partner sites where the ad performs better.

Why do I Have a Keyword with a Low Quality Score?

If a keyword has a low Quality Score, it may be the case that the keywords, ads, or landing pages aren't as targeted or relevant as they could be.  This can equate to higher cost-per-click (CPC).  In most cases, the creative assigned with the keyword is not relevant.  Sometimes relevant keywords can have a low Quality Score due to poor click-through rate (CTR) of that particular keyword over the last 48 hours or 30 days.  In the case of a relevant keyword with a low Quality Score, you may want to bid more to meet the First Page Bid and closely monitor ERS.  Another benefit of meeting the first page bid is that it will allow the keyword to accrue as much traffic as possible.  If the keyword accrues enough impressions and a good CTR, its Quality Score should improve, thus decreasing the CPC.  However, if the keyword receives few impressions, then CPC may remain high.

Why is my CPC Rising?   

Google used to shut down keywords if they fell below a certain click threshold to weed out irrelevant ads.  If you notice an extremely high CPC, Google is forcing you to assess this keyword. This can happen if Google has little historical data to use when assessing the keyword’s particular Quality Score.   In this case, the AdWords system will be especially conservative in its Quality Score judgment so that an unknown keyword does not negatively impact user experience.  This can happen with new keywords or brand terms in which Google has less data to determine the initial minimum bid.  You may see a higher min bid to start.  Once the ad proves its relevance, the Quality Score will improve and the CPC will drop.  If the CPC continues to rise, the best practice is to chart the CPC and check the Quality Score of the keyword. 

Can Changing Match Types Affect my Quality Score?

Quality Score is calculated using data only from search queries that exactly match your keyword. Google uses the exact match variation of the keyword to determine the Quality Score.  Therefore, if everything remains equal, the same keyword in each match type should have the same Quality Score.  Because Quality Score doesn’t depend on the match type, you won’t get lower costs by using all three match types. Negatives help eliminate irrelevant queries, which in turn improve the account’s performance.

Does Flash on Landing Pages Negatively Affect Quality Score?

The use of Flash, images, and video will not impact Quality Score. The landing page negatively affects Quality Score only if it is not relevant to the ad or if it provides a bad user experience.

What is First Page Bid?

This metric, also called the “First Page Bid Estimate,” approximates the CPC bid needed for the ad to reach the first page of the Google search results when a search query exactly matches your keyword.  First Page Bid is calculated on the exact match version of the keyword on, and also incorporates the recent competition on for that keyword.

Which Factors Affect First Page Bid, and Ultimately Quality Score?

First Page Bids estimate the CPC needed to place an ad on the first page of the Google search results. These estimates are made at the keyword level and are based on each keyword's Quality Score. They are not a guarantee of placement.

Optimization and Best Practices to Improve Quality Score

  • Review recent history and assess all changes made to ad.
  • Make sure to move keyword and creative as a pair into a new ad group if you wish to move keywords.
  • Do not delete a keyword, but pause the keyword instead in order to retain history.  Pausing an ad doesn’t impact the Quality Score because no performance data is accrued.              
  • Review all keywords that have a Quality Score of 1-4.
  • Choose relevant keywords and placements and create straightforward, targeted ads. 
  • Review Web site and landing page quality, relevancy, and load time.

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