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AdWords Quality Score - An Ongoing Conundrum

Posted by Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron is the Director Owner of Advent Communication. With more than 25 years experience he has a deep...
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on Sunday, 19 June 2016 in Google

adwords quality scoreWe all appreciate the importance of keyword Quality Score in AdWords. We know it is something we should be striving to improve with the aim of having 10/10 scores for all our main keywords.

But, whilst we understand the importance, in practice QS is still something of a mystery.


Consider these three keywords. They are in the same ad group and, by extension, the same campaign. They all point to the same landing page. And yet, the differences between the QS of each are striking. 

adwords quality score3

The first is +ghost +writer - the 7/10 score apparently being let down by the expected click through rate.

adwords quality score2

The next is +ghost +writer service with only a 1/10 score.

adwords quality score1

And, finally, +ghost +writer fees - again, with a minimal 1/10 score.

Interestingly, the all time click through rates for these three are 1.22% , 2.27% and 2.70%, respectively - the CTR's shown in the screenshots are for the current month.

It is hard to know exactly how to tackle this kind of QS issue. The development of a specific landing page for each would seem like overkill - and yet the massive differences between the scores suggest that Google are detecting much deeper significance to each. If we have three or four years of CTR data, how is the "expected" CTR calculated? Surely, the expected CTR should be in liner with the CTR the keywords has enjoyed for real searches. And it is hard to understand how the same landing page can be below average for +ghost +writer fees and +ghost +writer service and at the same time above average for +ghost +writer. Why would a keyword with a lifetime CTR of 1.22% be considered above average and yet another with a historical CTR of 2.70% be labeled as below average?

There is no doubt that, in theory, Quality Score is a great way of ensuring that the most relevant search results are shown to searcher, and it is also important that the QS is transparent (perhaps Google would consider making the QS column a "default" column in the keywords report rather than something we have to go and find to activate). But alongside this there should be a better explanation of exactly how the QS is calculated. In this particular instance we are left feeling deflated and without a plan of action.

How do you tackle poor QS - or is it simply something to keep an eye on, but not obsess over?

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