How Does Moving a Keyword Effect Your Quality Score in Google AdWords?

I was recently reading the Quality Score Fact of the Week over at the AdWords Agency blog. This week’s Quality Score tip inspired me to do more research and expand upon the topic that was discussed. First, here is the Fact of the Week:

Restructuring your account does not cause you to lose your historical Quality Score information. The historical performance of your keywords, ads, and landing pages is preserved when you restructure your account. Therefore, we encourage you to restructure or optimize your client’s account structure as needed.

Let me first say that I agree with this statement. The historical Quality Score for a particular keyword does transfer when the term is moved into a new ad group.

However, keep in mind that when you move a keyword you can temporarily reset its Quality Score, therefore negatively effecting your ad position and overall performance.

Why does this temporary set back occur? AdWords needs to re-acclimate to this keyword’s new location and possibly new ad text. This means that when you do a major account re-structure, you will see a fluctuation in your performance. If you have optimized your account for the better, then your performance will begin to pick up after the restructure – but it will take a little time.

Another reason a temporary set back can occur is due to the relationship between your keyword and ad text. As your keyword builds its click-through rate, it is invariably tied to a specific ad text within your ad group. In a way, they share the Quality Score. When you move a keyword but neglect to bring the ad text with it into the new ad group, you have effectively severed that relationship.

If your keyword has performed well historically, then it will gain back its Quality Score, ad position, and performance relatively faster than a keyword that was performing poorly in another ad group, or a completely new keyword. So, what was said in the Fact of the Week is true, you won’t lose your historical Quality Score and that historical Quality Score will help you re-gain your keyword’s traction.

And this brings me to another topic on restructuring: moving a keyword that is doing poorly will not automatically help improve its performance. If you have a keyword that is relevant and has more potential if it’s in a different ad group, then move it. But if you are moving a bunch of keywords to try and reset their historical performance, that won’t work. And this is why historical performance does follow a keyword even if its moved. A bad keyword in any group is going to have a low Google AdWords Quality Score.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t restructure your account. In fact, we highly encourage you to optimize your account structure in order to enhance your account’s performance.

This is why I want to expand on this Quality Score tip. It isn’t wrong. It just doesn’t give the full picture. Restructuring your campaigns is a great to make your ad groups more focused and write better targeted ad texts. But there will be some bumps along the way.