How Does AdWords Determine a Keyword's Quality Score Before It's Even Activated? Find Out!

Recently, I was creating new campaigns and ad groups within a Google AdWords account. I loaded all of my keywords and ad texts, set my bids, reviewed my campaign settings, and I was ready for launch! Once I finished up all the necessary tasks in Google, using AdWords Editor, I downloaded my new campaigns in order to upload them into Yahoo and MSN. This is when I noticed that the keywords I had just launched a few seconds prior already had an AdWords Quality Score attributed to them. Needless to say, I had to do some investigating.

If you’ve missed our plethora of other articles on the AdWords Quality Score, I will give you a quick review of how a keyword’s Quality Score is established. The key factor that determine a keyword’s relevancy, and this indicates to Google how to rank a given keyword, is its click-through rate. The higher the click-through rate (on the search network), the better your Quality Score will be. Keep in mind, there are numerous other factors that comprise your overall AdWords Quality Score, but an individual keyword’s Quality Score is majorly determined by its click-through rate.

This is why I needed to find out how my new keywords were assigned a Quality Score before I accrued even one impression, much less a click-through rate. After some research and placing a call to my AdWords Representative, I came up an answer that all PPC managers should consider when loading new keywords.

The moment you load a keyword into AdWords, it receives a Quality Score. This initial Quality Score is determined by each keyword’s performance history for other advertisers. Google AdWords has monitored this keyword’s historical performance for multiple advertisers who have targeted this keyword, Google determines an aggregate score and this is your “base score.” This is your keyword’s starting point in regards to Quality Score.

From here, your fate is your own. If your keyword performance is better than the historical average, then your Quality Score will improve. However, if your keyword’s click-through rate is lower than this “base score” then your Quality Score will begin to decline.

What can we take away from this information?

Better keyword targeting: If you load a series of new keywords and they all have a low Quality Score, then you may want to re-think these additions. This is because other advertisers have not had success with these keywords. On the other side of the coin, if the Quality Score for a keyword is 9 or 10, this means that previous and current advertisers are having success with this keyword, and competition could be more fierce. You may want to give this keywords special attention and place them into their own ad groups.

Deeper insight into how the Quality Score works: We now know that keywords are working against a base score from the beginning. This means that you need to have a clear strategy for a keyword before it is activated, and a successful keyword launch is crucial from day-one. This doesn’t mean that you can’t optimize your way to an improved score, but you want to get off to the best start possible!