Diagnosing the Impact of Optimization on Your Quality Score

Quality score is an important component in determining the cost per click (CPC) of your keywords. Although we know the main quality score components, we don’t necessarily know the weight of each. However, a couple tools can help you understand and identify the impact that campaign optimizations are having on your quality score.

What is Quality Score?

First, a quick review. Quality score is calculated each time your keyword is served. Quality score is used to determine two main things:

  • Your actual CPC.
  • How high your ad will be ranked.

The components that influence quality score are:

  • The historical click-through rate (CTR) of the keyword and the matched ad on Google.
  • Your account history, which is measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account.
  • The historical CTR of the display URLs in the ad group.
  • The quality of your landing page.
  • The relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group.
  • The relevance of the keyword and the matched ad to the search query.
  • Your account’s performance in the geographical region where the ad will be shown.

When making optimization decisions, quality score is considered, but may not necessarily be the primary motivator. This is OK in most cases.

However, in an ideal world, your optimizations to improve ROI would align with quality score improvements, and certainly Google would argue that these two are frequently aligned. Let’s look at two tools Google gives you to help understand your quality score.

Ads Diagnostic Tool

This tool is located in the keyword tab in the campaign section of AdWords. By rolling over the voice box in the status column, the diagnostic pops up showing you what the current quality score is, and what any potential problems might be for that keyword. This is very useful not only for quality score, but also determining if your keyword is live without having to do an actual search.

Ads Diagnostic Tool

Keyword Level Reports

Quality score is included as a column in the report. The number in the column is the quality score at the time of the report, not historical.

To help track quality score over time, you can create a spreadsheet or database by monitoring the report at various points in the day, or day-over-day, to create snapshots into quality score fluctuations. You can then tie those back to changes made in the account.

Here’s an actual example of the quality score impact of an ad copy update made a couple of weeks ago. This type of analysis can help validate the changes you make, and the relationship to quality score.

Quality Score by Day

Data is the key to winning in paid search. While it takes a bit of work to get these insights, and they aren’t the most scalable, the ability to report on these changes, and align them back to your optimizations can prove valuable.

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