Truths and Myths about Quality Score
Quality Score remains one of the most important aspects in Paid Search. Quality Score is a diagnostic metric that affects cost per click and ad positioning and therefore has a direct impact on efficiency and profitability of any Paid Search campaign.
Google never published a full list of factors impacting the Quality Score. However, in the last months, Google released the “Settling the (Quality) Score**”** whitepaper and shed some more light into the metric and its common misconceptions. Here are the most important takeaways:
- Quality Score Is a Helpful Diagnostic Tool, Not a Key Performance Indicator
Many advertisers track and monitor Quality Score as if it was a main KPI, which contradicts the Google whitepaper. However, considering the influence Quality Score can have on your costs and performance it’s hard to de-emphasis this point. The three key components that affect the Quality Score are:
- Expected Click-through-Rate
- Ad Relevance
- Landing Page Experience
The whitepaper points out that the Quality Score is not a real-time quality measure for each auction, but rather a general diagnosis metric that presents your overall performance. Other factors such as search query, device and locations also contribute to the real-time auction.
Furthermore, any improvements such as changes to site and ad text will take time to be reflected in the reported Quality Score.
- How You Structure Your Account: Doesn’t Matter
Google states that account structure doesn’t matter, a point that sparked the most conversation since it can be easily misunderstood. In practical terms, this would mean that we could move a keyword to an ad group with different ad copy and landing pages without affecting the Quality Score. However, this is not true, as that would affect the overall user experience.
Technically, the account structure will not affect the Quality Score, however, for optimizations, every advertiser should adhere to the basic AdWords practices of similarities, meaning similar keywords should be grouped together in ad groups, the ad copy should derive from them and the user should be directed to a relevant landing page.
- Your Ad’s Placement On The Page: Doesn’t Matter
Google clarifies that ad positioning doesn’t affect your Quality Score. Therefore, increasing bids and ranking in the top positions will not improve your Quality Score. It has to be clarified that expected Click-through-Rate is one of the components for the Quality Score – not the actual Click-through rate. That means that advertisers need to optimize Quality Score without considering ad placement on the page.
- The User’s Device: Does Matter
Google also indicates that devices will impact Quality Score and therefore it’s crucial to optimize not just your desktop landing page, but also your landing page for tablet and mobile.
Your Quality Score will suffer and drag down the Quality Score for all other devices if you can’t provide optimized mobile experience. Google doesn’t require you to have a mobile site, but landing pages should be optimized for all devices. If that is not the case, it’s advisable to hold off with the activity, but considering the strong mobile growth in the last years, mobile optimization should be a priority for any organization.
For optimizations, consider the entire customer journey from ad copy to landing pages to improve your Quality Score across all devices.
Overall, Quality Score is an important metric in Paid Search, that when combined with a cultural paid search strategy helps to optimise the overall customer experience. The main goal is to serve the perfect ad to the user’s search query and direct them to an optimised landing page. Focus on the overall customer experience and the Quality Score will follow.