Account Level Quality Score: What about it?

I recently had a situation arise that made me take a look at quality score beyond the keyword level. I needed to understand what changes at different levels could actually do to affect the performance of my account as a whole, beyond the mere assumption that everything will have an effect on everything. The need for this understanding stemmed from having campaigns within an account that are completely unrelated and managed by different individuals. This isn’t the first time I’ve run into this either. Sometimes we have different employees working on shared accounts and I’ve also been a part of different agencies working within one account in the past as well. What I was after, is knowing the worst-case scenario; with two people managing different campaigns within one account, what would happen if one of those individuals were to mess their campaign up from a performance standpoint? I’ll answer this at the end of this post. In the meantime, here is an outline of my journey to find that answer.

So here began the search for the mythological account level Quality Score. Does it actually exist? The answer is yes. The problem is, there isn’t a lot of information about it. Believe me, I went back through all of the Google supplied study documents for their certification tests and couldn’t find one reference to an Account Level Quality Score. I also don’t recall a single question in taking the cert test that referenced account level quality score. It makes me wonder why Google is so hush-hush on something that I think is a fairly important piece of information. One thing those materials do define is Quality Score as a whole:

Quality Score is the basis for measuring the quality of your keyword and ad and determining your cost-per-clicks (CPCs). Quality Score is determined by your keyword’s clickthrough rate (CTR), relevance of your ad text, historical keyword performance, and other relevancy factors. The higher your Quality Score, the lower the price you’ll pay per click.

No mention of account level there, just keywords and ads. I had to continue my search elsewhere, digging through the depths of the AdWords Help Forum. I was able to find two references to an account level quality score from a Google employee. Turns out, both instances were written by the same employee, “AdWordsPro Sarah.” Feel free to read article one about testing keywords for products with low traffic and article two, which answers a question about degraded account quality score. Here is the most informative quote from the articles, one that proves the unicorn exists:

If you test a large number of keywords and they don’t perform well, they start to drag down your account Quality Score. And, to make matter worse, having a low account Quality Score, makes it harder to introduce new keywords (they tend to start with a lower Quality Score in a low Quality account). To avoid this, I recommend that low performing keywords be deleted immediately. If you have 100-200 impressions and no clicks, its time to think about deleting. If you have 200-300, it really is time. Advertisers tend to think if they wait just a little longer, a click will come. However, while they wait, the keyword drags down the account. If you want to test a lot of keywords, you have to be willing to give the non performers the ax.

You can make your own decision about deleting your poor performing keywords but I don’t necessarily think it’s bad advice. What’s the most important thing to understand is that the things you do within your account can have a negative effect on the account as a whole (beyond the obvious). I feel it’s often easy to disassociate one campaign from the next within an account but it’s extremely important to always consider what your doing within an account and to evaluate every decision you make at an account level.

If you have 5 campaigns that are running smoothly and one that is terrible, what purpose does the terrible campaign serve? Can you delete keywords, ads, adgroups, or even the campaign as a whole? Is it worth keeping around, knowing it could have a negative effect on the campaigns that are actually working? Could the “good” campaigns be better if it were gone? These are the questions you should be asking yourself when looking at your account as a whole. Keep in mind that these are the same questions you should be asking yourself regardless of how granular you are analyzing your account performance. The strategy shouldn’t change from keyword level to account level. You should ALWAYS be filtering yourself for relevance and always be structuring your accounts with purpose.

When it’s all said and done, the definition for quality score listed above is probably very similar to the (unknown) definition of account level quality score. If you do the things at the keyword level to make your account perform optimally, you shouldn’t have to worry about your account dragging new keyword additions down. With that said, it wouldn’t hurt to take a good hard look at your account as a whole every once in a while. Sometimes when you are focused on things at a more granular level it can be easy to lose track of things from a more broad perspective.

So to answer my original question, if two people are managing different campaigns within the same account and one were to perform terribly what would happen? To put it simply, what one does effects the other. If you want the account to perform well as a whole, it’s best that all the individual parts are working optimally. Sharing accounts can be difficult but when it isn’t avoidable, it’s best that all parties involved understand the relationship. There really isn’t a definitive solution on how to work it out because every shared situation is going to be different but my best advice is to coordinate and help each other out as much as possible.