Google Adwords – Quality Score Explained

17 Rebecca D'Cunha

A Brief History of PPC

The pay per click model came about in the late 1990s and differed from previous methods of advertising which were based on CPM (cost per thousand impressions) rather than cost per click. (later Overture, now part of Yahoo) were the first search engine to offer PPC in 1998.  Google were a little late to the party, adopting the PPC model in 2002.

Back in the bad old days it was literally an auction with the advertiser who was willing to pay the most per click securing the top position.

However, it quickly became obvious that this wasn’t the best model – a pretty irrelevant ad which gets only 1% of the clicks @ £10 per click generates less revenue than a relevant one which gets 10% of the clicks @ £2 per click.

As such in the mid-noughties Google introduced quality score – an algorithm which essentially ensured that most relevant ads (i.e. the ads which generated the most revenue) would get pushed to the top of the results. Yahoo and MSN later followed suit with algorithms of their own.

This changed the face of PPC – as instead of fighting an auction war, PPC-ers had to get a little bit cuter and make sure their ads were as relevant and attractive to users as possible in order to secure a decent position on the page and (potentially at least) reduce the cost they pay per click.

Quality Score Explained

Quality score is calculated every time your keyword matches a search query – that is, every time your keyword has the potential to trigger an ad.

So, how is it calculated?

Quality score on the search network is calculated based on the following metrics:

  1. Historic click through rate of the keyword, ad and display URL
  2. Relevancy of the keyword and ad to the term which is being searcher for
  3. Relevancy of the keyword to the ad copy
  4. Relevancy of the keyword to the landing page
  5. Landing page quality
  6. Historic account click through rate

You can read more here.

For obvious reasons Google don’t reveal quite how these factors are weighted, however it’s easy enough to guess 🙂

It’s pretty much all about click through rate.

This a nice metric as high click through rate indicates that users think that your ads are relevant/offer an attractive proposition AND of course clicks = money for Google.

Should you *always* worry about Quality Score?

Frankly, no. Whilst having a high quality scores is good from a cost per click point view (as you’re likely to be paying less per click) – you shouldn’t necessarily let it bother you overly. Obviously Google want you to play by their rules and create relevant ads that people want to click on so they can continue to rake it in; however – on some occasions you might want to bid on certain keywords, but limit the number clicks you get.

For many clients we use ad text to pre-screen clicks. For example, we may bid on a term like ‘taxi insurance’; but because our client only wants to insure taxi drivers over a certain age we might elect to run an ad like this:

Low Cost Taxi Insurance
Over 25? Compare Leading Taxi
Insurers & Find the Cheapest Quote!
 Now here, we’re actively trying to limit the number of clicks which we’ll get – which of course may impact our quality score – however it’s far more important for us to deliver the right sort of leads to our client. So it’s not necessarily something you ought to be tyrannised by 😉

 Questions, comments, etc? Hit up the comments my dears.