Recently, there’s been a debate going on in the PPC world over whether you should pay attention to quality score.

I suspect this has, in part, been triggered by Google making a mess of quality score reporting.

Now we don’t really know what our Quality Scores are, it encourages people to conclude they should ignore QS and focus on clickthrough rate – the argument being that, as CTR is the biggest part of QS, focusing on CTR alone will suffice.

I disagree with this.

Quality Scores go from 7 to 3 – and back again

A couple of years ago, I had a PPC client whose web designer carelessly added an extra h1 header to some of his landing pages. The header was blank:

<h1>&nbsp;</h1>

(&nbsp; is the code for a space)

After doing this, his quality scores dropped from 7 to 3.

When this rogue h1 was removed, his quality scores went back up to 7.

A couple of weeks later, the designer repeated this mistake and quality scores dropped again – and, again, returned to their previous levels when it was removed.

What does this tell us?

I’m going to suggest this means…

#1: If Adwords doesn’t understand what your page is about, your Quality Scores can drop significantly.

#2: Adwords isn’t very smart when it comes to working out what a page is about

I also think this shows that QS isn’t a sum of 3 factors – ctr, ad relevance, and landing page relevance – but is, instead, some sort of multiple of these factors.

This would explain how you could lose 4 points by only changing one of the 3 factors – one which supposedly isn’t the most important of the three.

How should we approach Quality Score?

While we should be optimising ctr (as long as it increases profit), I believe we also need to understand that Adwords uses very flawed algorithms to establish ad relevance and landing page relevance… and make sure we don’t fall foul of these flaws.

Just my 2p,

Steve Gibson

Categories: google

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