Fact vs. Fiction: Dispelling 4 Myths of the Google Quality Score

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Today’s topic is the first in a series of 5 blog posts focused on Quality Score. Whenever there is a phenomenon that affects many people, and this phenomenon is shrouded in mystery, there are bound to be rumors, myths and misnomers that are mistaken for facts. Most of the time this misinformation is based loosely on truth, but it gets more distorted with each re-telling.

The one phenomenon in the PPC world that has generated the most buzz, speculation and questions is the Google AdWords Quality Score. Before we expand our view on the Quality Score, we first need to dispel some myths that are floating about in the SEM world.

Let’s go ahead and get the hard facts straight and then we’ll begin our myth busting. The formula that determines your ad rank is as follows:

Ad Rank = (Quality Score) X (Max CPC)

There are many factors that make up your quality score; some known, some unknown (this is how myths are born). The main factors that contribute to your quality are:

  • Click-through rate on Google.com
  • PPC ad text and keyword relevancy
  • Landing page relevancy
  • Historical performance

Knowing this, let’s begin demystifying some of these the misnomers!

1. Your account is assigned only one Quality Score

Your overall quality score is an aggregate of numerous quality scores. Each component of your account is assigned an individual score. Here is the break down, from top to bottom:

  • Overall Quality Score
  • Content Campaign Quality Score
  • Search Campaign Quality Score
  • Ad Group Quality Score
  • Ad Text Quality Score
  • Keyword Quality Score

This seems like a lot of scores that you have to keep in check; however, it’s not so daunting if you keep your wits about you. When trying to improve your quality score you should focus on improving your ad texts and keywords and everything else will naturally fall into place.

2. Optimizing your account deletes your history

“Optimizing” your account consists of restructuring your campaigns and ad groups so that your keywords and ad texts are as specific and relevant as possible.

In order to deliver the best user experience, increase your click-through rate, and enhance your Quality Score, your keywords need to be tightly grouped and your ad texts need to highlight these keywords. As your account grows and matures you will learn how best to group your keywords so optimizing is a natural progression for account management.

When restructuring your account you will move keywords and ad texts from one ad group, or campaign, to another. Moving your keywords does not delete their history. However, your keywords may lose their history if you delete and re-insert them into another campaign or ad group. And moving keywords within your AdWords account is extremely easy when you use AdWords Editor.

3. Dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) is a sure-fire way to improve your Quality Score

DKI is a helpful tool. Simply using DKI does not automatically improve your quality score. Crafting your ad texts so that they are relevant and appealing to your audience (and you may utilize DKI to this effect), will increase your click-through rate, which can have a positive impact on your Quality Score.

Keep in mind that you should use DKI sparingly. Or, you should need to use it sparingly. When your ad groups have tightly-themed keywords, then you shouldn’t have to use DKI within your ad text. If the only way the majority of your keywords can appear within your ads is by using DKI (because you have hundreds of keywords in your ad group) then you should think about restructuring your campaign. And since optimizing your account doesn’t delete your account history, what do you have to lose? In summary, DKI doesn’t automatically help your Quality Score, and you shouldn’t use it as a crutch.

4. Higher ad positions benefit your Quality Score

Increasing your bids to get a higher ad position is not a good way to enhance your Quality Score. Sure, if you increase your bids and a get higher position, this may increase your click-through rate which in turn could have a positive impact on your Quality Score. With this method you will certainly increase your cost-per-click, and that’s the only certainty you’ll get.

The Quality Score actually works in reverse of this theory. If you take measures to increase your click-through rate (other than raising bids) and create great landing pages, then your rank should increase and your cost-per-click will actually decrease.

I am certain there are dozens of other questionable “facts” we could discuss about the Quality Score, but I think this is a good start. Now that we’ve done some myth busting, tomorrow we’ll continue discussing the cold, hard facts about the 3 Quality Score components that everyone should know.

These common misperceptions about Google AdWords are adapted from an AdWords presentation dated July 2007 and from an Inside AdWords blog post dated November 30, 2006. Was today’s post helpful? Stay tuned to PPC Hero, our Google AdWords Quality Score Guide is coming soon!

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