How to recover from terrible “Quality Scores” in Google Adwords

Google’s Quality Score system is fairly straightforward, but the Quality Score interactions at the account, group, and keyword level can be a bit more complex to get through.

In essence, account Quality Score is based on the overall performance of the account, and Google’s perceived relevance of the keywords, ads, and landing pages to each other.  The relevance of the ads to the keywords is first calculated in a similar way to one component of how search engines rank pages — keyword visibility.

For example, if the keyword you’re bidding on in Adwords is ‘red widget’

  • Is the keyword included in the ad? If so, the ad is relevant.
  • Is the keyword included in the landing page? If so, the landing page is relevant.

It all ads up, so the keyword is “good” and receives an initially “good” Quality Score.

Though, historical account performance is also taken into account here…

After the initial Quality Score is assigned, campaign performance takes over and it’s all about maximizing the clickthrough rate (CTR, measured as a ratio of the number of ad clicks to ad views). For keyword Quality Scores, once ads start running, a big portion of the keyword Quality Score is decided by CTR.

The system can be seen as “democratic”. From Google’s perspective, a keyword / ad combination that has a high CTR must be relevant, as people take notice of it and click on it. If the keyword / ad combo has a higher CTR than competitor’s ads, you get awarded with a higher Quality Score for that keyword.

This can result in a lower minimum CPC, and higher ad position.

All of this is an oversimplification of the system, but I hope it makes sense.

Campaign optimization comes down to structuring the account’s campaigns and ad groups in a way that facilitates the above.

If a keyword / ad has a high CTR, it can overcome low “relevance” over time. If the Quality Score  for most of the keyword in your campaign is 1/10, and other keywords have a very low CTR, dragging overall ad group performance — and account Quality Score — down.

You may even have some high performing (relevance and CTR) keywords in an ad group, but if there are a lot more keywords that are poor, it drags down the overall relevance of the ad group itself — incurring another hit.

This is where we’ve run into issues in the past after picking up a clients existing PPC campaign that has a low Quality Score.

Google’s “trust” of the account is down due to the low Quality Score and now new campaigns are seen with a slight measure of “suspicion”, if you will.

To fix an account that has been severely affected by poor “Quality Scores”,

  • Set up some good campaigns and build back Google’s trust to get everything back up to normal.
  • Go through and trim out (delete) poor performing keywords and unpause the campaign.

This will help the account along its way to recovery.

Once you’ve rectified the initial issues creating your low Quality Scores, read up on 10 Ways To Increase Your Adwords Quality Score.

It’s easy to make expensive mistakes when it comes to PPC Advertising and it’s in Google’s favor that you do! Get your Pay-Per-Click campaigns started off on the right path by working with our experienced PPC experts today.

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Colin Greig

Insight written by Colin Greig

Director, Marketing at Rand Group

14 years experience in online marketing with expert emphasis on B2B lead generation and marketing automation. He has been the backbone of many of his own successful online businesses and has worked with some of the best online marketing gurus in the business.

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  • Great article Rodriguez.

    Thanks for the mention too!