What Happened to my Quality Score? – PPC Tuesday



On today’s PPC Tuesday, I’ll be addressing the recent possible recurrence of a Google AdWords bug that negatively affects advertisers Quality Scores. We’ll take a brief look at what a Quality Score actually is, what influences Quality Score, and what online retailers can do now in the light of the new AdWords problem.

Today for the second time in 3 weeks, many online advertisers are experiencing plummeting quality scores within Google AdWords. The first glitch occurred in October, when many advertisers overnight saw a noticeable drop in quality scores. The issue was addressed by Google, (see http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/AdWords/thread?tid=5a04f1a746033841&hl=en) and for a few weeks appeared to be resolved. Starting again Friday, November 19th, the issue appears to have resurfaced. Many AdWords users noticed Quality Scores that were 7 or 8 out of 10 fall to 3 out of 10 or less in the period of one day. This can be very concerning – but is it an issue that we need to be really worried about right now? Is there anything that can be done?

When Google addressed the issue in October, advertisers were reassured that although the Quality Score reflected in the Adwords interface had dropped, that the problem was only one of reporting, and cost per click would not be affected. It has been suggested that there is a good chance that this error is a reporting error as well, but until Google releases an official resolution, we can’t say for sure. At this time, Google has noted that this issue appears to be a separate bug from the one reported to have been fixed in October. You can read more by going to SearchEngineLand.com which is covering the issue along with many other industry publications.

What does this mean for Online Retailers right now? Well, we hope that this issue is similar to the issue in October. If that is the case, then cost per click won’t be affected by this issue, and so far as we have seen it hasn’t been. We recommend that at this time you continue to monitor your Quality Scores and costs, don’t panic, and continue to follow best practices.

That brings us to- What are best practices for Quality Score in general? How does an online retailer create and maintain a good Quality Score?

Initial Quality Score of a new keyword is based largely on Keyword Relevance and Landing Page quality. In order to win high quality scores, start with keywords that are relevant to your site, the product you are advertising, and the landing page that your ad is going to direct users to. Make sure that your ads are directly related in copy and content to the keyword you are trying to target. Chose landing pages that are the most relevent to the keyword and supporting ad copy. If your business sold surfboards, and you were targeting the keyword “Longboard,” you’d want your ad copy to be specific to longboards, and you would want the landing page to be the page with all your longboard product listings, rather than your surfboard general page.

Going forward, make sure that you check in regularly on the click through rate for your keywords. Tweak your ads to achieve better performance and click through rate, and don’t over-saturate your campaigns with too many keywords that are too similar. Constant testing and retesting for better performance will keep your Quality Scores high, and as a result you’ll be rewarded with a lower cost per click.

Keep following these and other best practice suggestions, and after the storm of Quality Score Bugs passes, you’ll continue to be in a good position with your Quality Score.