Three Things Google Doesn’t Want You to Know About Quality Score
October 12, 2010
As most online advertisers know, Quality Score is a key determinant in how high your ad appears in Google search results. A high Quality Score (say between 7 and 10) will push up your ad, while a low Quality Score (say between 1 and 4) will bring it down—or prevent it from showing at all, unless you raise your bid. Your exact ad position is determined by both your Quality Score and your keyword bid.
Google has communicated a fair amount about its Quality Score algorithm, and the importance of the metric. Still, Google has kept mum on a number of topics related to Quality Score. Here are three things Google doesn’t want you to know:
- What “other relevance factors” are
- The main purpose of Quality Score
- Low Quality Score keywords aren’t always bad
Google provides the public with eight Google and Search Network Quality Score factors, and four Display Network Quality Score factors. Most of those factors are pretty specific, but one—which applies to both the Google and Search Network, and the Display Network—is pretty vague. That’s “other relevance factors.”
Users don’t know if Google is referring to relevant inbound links, an ad’s bounce-back-rate, conversion rates, or something else entirely.
One reason Google likely keeps this information secret is so potential competitors don’t copy its Quality Score algorithm. Another reason may be to cover itself in case the algorithm doesn’t work perfectly. A third reason may be that it keeps people guessing, hoping and spending more money.
Over and over again Google communicates that Quality Score is all about the user experience. The more relevant ads and landing pages are to search queries, the happier users will be. They’ll find what they’re looking for, and all will be well in the world.
Google also emphasizes that advertisers will benefit from relevant ads. Users will spend more money, the ads will get more exposure, and minimum bids will drop.
But Google tends to gloss over its own interest in Quality Score, which is greater than that of any individual user or advertiser. When users find what they want and convert more, Google earns big. That’s because advertisers keep advertising, users keep clicking, and AdWords revenue keeps coming. Also, when the most relevant ads are at the top of the search results, they are clicked on more, bringing Google more money.
As I detailed in a previous guest post on the PPC Hero Blog, sometimes low Quality Score keywords are OK. Google wouldn’t want you to know this, as it undermines its whole paid search philosophy.
But it makes sense when you think about it. Think about, for example, if you had some low Quality Score keywords whose corresponding ad was garnering a hefty net profit (possibly due to a low click-through rate and high conversion rate). It might be wise to put up with the low Quality Score keywords for the overall monetary benefit.
Or, imagine that your ad’s main purpose is brand exposure. You don’t really care if people click on it, so long as they see your product or company name. In this case if you have low Quality Score keywords it’s not the end of the world.
Since Google doesn’t reveal everything there is to know about Quality Score, it’s your job to learn as much as you can from other outlets. Some helpful information can be found on the PPC Hero Blog, the Red Fly Marketing Online Marketing Blog, and Search Engine Land.
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