What Makes Google Adwords Tick? 2 More Quality Score Formulas You Need to Know: Keyword Targeted Content Ads and Placement Targeted Ads


Welcome to day 2 of our up close and personal examination of Google’s Quality Score. Yesterday I wrote on the two fundamental formulas used to calculate Quality Score for Minimum Bids and Ad Position. However, those 2 formulas don’t give you the whole AdWords picture, and certainly won’t help you if you advertise on the Content Network! So, buckle up tight and get ready to cram your brain full of Quality Score formulas for Keyword Targeted Content Ads and Placement Targeted Ads.

Quality Score Formula #3: How do your keyword targeted ads get ranked on the Content Network?

What are keyword targeted content ads? Imagine an a-typical ad group with a well-themed list of keywords and a couple of well written ads, the only difference is that you’re letting this ad group run on the Content Network (Placement Targeted ads don’t use keywords, but I’ll explain that in a minute). This particular Quality Score formula involves two very important processes of the Content Network: First of all, this formula calculates your ad’s eligibility to be displayed on particular content sites. Before you can be ranked, you must be eligible! Secondly, of course, this formula determines your ad’s position on said content sites. Here are the factors of this Quality Score:

  • This ad’s history, or past performance, on this Content site and similar sites.
    • Google loves performance history. Working with the Content Network requires that you think in “themes.” If Google sees that your ad performed well on celebrity gossip site “A,” then this past performance will be a positive influence in your ad being eligible and highly ranked on celebrity gossip site “B.”
  • The relevance of the ads and keywords in this ad group to this Content site.
    • Remember I mentioned that you need to think in themes. In one of the many arguments for running Content separate from Search, it is a basic principle that you create ad groups based on common themes, with more general keywords (i.e. broad strokes, you don’t need every variation). But at its core, this factor literally pairs the context of your ads and keywords with the context of Content sites. If your stuff is relevant to their stuff, you’re going to see higher ad positions. Be warned, however, as this can also work against you. Run frequent Placement Performance reports and block sites that don’t work and implement negative keywords to “teach” Google where your ads should be displayed.
  • The quality of your landing page.
    • The content of your landing page is extremely important to ranking well on Content. Your landing pages should be written in such a way that the subject matter can be nothing but obvious. Use your ad group’s keywords in the body content (duh!), and Google should semantically determine what Content sites will be relevant to your ad group.
  • Other relevance factors.
    • I’m thinking that this will be the name of my new band. Ambiguity is the name of the game, baby! I’m holding auditions this weekend.

Quality Score Formula #4: How do your placement targeted ads get ranked on the Content Network?

What are placement targeted content ads? Placement targeted ads are those campaigns where you hand pick Content sites instead of keywords, and write ads relevant to those sites. For advertisers who don’t want to wait for Google to match their campaigns with relevant sites, this is the shortest distance between two points. In case you haven’t caught on yet, the difference between today’s two Quality Score formulas is the existence of keywords! Because placement targeted ads don’t rely on keywords for relevance, Google has to look elsewhere for their ranking data. This formula is split in two depending on your bidding strategy, so this is a two-parter. Here are the factors for this Quality Score:

If you bid on a CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) basis:

  • The quality of your landing page.
    • Listen up. If you bid on a CPM basis for your placement targeted ads – the only way Google can assign a Quality Score, and thus your eligibility to be ranked and position on Content sites, is based solely on your landing page! This is huge. If you have a horrible landing page, you will have NO LUCK running placement targeted ads. Enough said.

If you bid on a CPC (cost-per-click) basis:

  • The historical CTR of your ad on this and similar sites.
    • Now this feels a little more comfortable. For the shear fact that Google includes historical CTR on this bidding strategy leads me to run CPC bids every time.
  • The quality of your landing page.
    • This is still huge. All you have going for you on placement targeted ads is historical CTR in one hand and your landing page in the other. Use a good landing page, get a good Quality Score (and rank higher!).

Well, that about sums it up for the 4 primary Quality Score formulas. Understanding how Google calculates each score gives you an immensely powerful asset in managing successful AdWords campaigns. I hope you find this information helpful and can put it to good use. Leave me a comment if you have any questions or would like to add to the discussion!

Check back in tomorrow when Joe will be discussing the best methods for improving your landing page quality score.