Quality Score: The Unwritten Manual For Google AdWords & Bing adCenter

Quality Score: The Unwritten Manual for Google AdWords & Bing adCenter

Matt Van Wagner, President, Find Me Faster – @mvanwagner

Craig Danuloff, President, ClickEquations,
Ping Jen, Product Manager for Quality Score, Microsoft
Joseph Kerschbaum, Client Services Director, Clix Marketing – @Danuloff
David Rodnitzky, CEO, PPC Associates – @rodnitzky
Frederick Vallaeys, Product Evangelist, Google


Hi everyone, I’m your live blogger for Click2Rank, covering the Google + Bing Quality Score sessions. Kind of early here at the moment, speakers and conference folks are just starting to filter in.
Matt started the session. If you want to follow it, the conference hashtag is #smx and the session’s hashtag is #11b so for both: #smx #11b.6

//// Inside the adCenter Quality Score

Joseph Kerschbaum is up first:

  1. Dissect the attributes of the adcenter quality score
  2. Review the differences between AdWords and adCenter
  3. missed
  4. missed

Your adCenter quality score indicates the competitiveness of your campaigns in the overall marketplace. Quality score or competivive score?
3 core metrics of the quality score:

  1. Keyword relevance: how well your keyword competes against others bidding on the same keyword
  2. Landing page relevance: how relevant your ad and landing page are to queries
  3. Landing page user experience: whether you site meets adcenter relevance and quality guidelines

Keyword relevance: (adcenter quality score attributes)

  1. Search vs search partners
  2. Core metric: click through rate
  3. Match type level scores
  4. No scores on mobile
  5. Normalized CTR and ad position
  6. Not on content network
  7. Calculated everyday

Landing page user experience:

  1. Page load time
  2. Ad links on page
  3. Original content
  4. Interstitial landing pages

Landing page relevance

  1. Keyword targeted
  2. Description meta tag
  3. Keyword meta tag
  4. Image alt tag
  5. Title tag

Google AdWords Quality Score

  1. Influences your CPC
  2. Determines keyword eligibility
  3. Affects your ad rank
  4. Influences 1st page min bids

Microsoft Quality score:

  1. Indicates competitiveness
  2. Doesn’t affect ad position
  3. Doesn’t affect CPC (Cost Per Click)

Findings, Trends & Research
Objectives for quality score analysis:

  1. Determine which match type has the highest quality score
  2. Understand how click through rate influences attributes of the quality score
  3. Understand how conversion rate correlates to landing page quality score attributes
  4. Determine QS – (missing)

Optimization plan for adcenter quality score:

  1. Exact match variations
  2. Negative keyword list
  3. Less broad match variations
  4. Remove low performing keywords (click through rate + conversion rate)
  5. Pause weak text ad variations
  6. Opt out of search network


Ping Jen (cool name) for Microsoft is up next:
Starts out saying keyword relevance and landing page is most important for quality score. Focus on relevance. He spoke for less than five minutes.


David Rodnitzky for PPC Associates is up next:
How to overcome a Quality Score Slap:
What is a quality score slap?

  1. Advertiser is banned from Google AdWords due to either manual review or automated analysis
  2. Includes all accounts linked to “bad account” and potentially IP addresses too

A quality score slap applies across the board. More reason to keep all your accounts separate.
How do you know if you’ve been slapped?

  1. Email from Google telling you about the violation
  2. QS of 1s across the board
  3. Can’t get clicks on your account
  4. Having some ad text disapproved or a few keywords with QS 1 is not a slap
  5. A decline in traffic is not a slap unless the decline goes to 1 or zero clicks per day

Other reasons include: errors by Google, miscategorization, site outage, no phone number, egregious one-time offenses such as advertising for ‘get rich sites’ or thin affiliate sites.

Step 1: Figure out the problem. Talk to your Google rep – they have a tool to help figure this out. No rep? Call Google customer support or find someone with a rep – shoot Google an email and you’ll get to customer support (he’s right here).

Step 2: Start your investigation. Who’s responsible for this bad stuff at your company? Was it a mistake or intentional? Has it been corrected? How do you know it won’t happen again?  Find out why this happened.

Step 3: Prepare your case and keep a summary of potential arguments. Keep your arguments unique and applicable to your company. This is for the potential Google engineer looking at your case.
There are many different kinds of arguments. Prepare well. 5 main types of arguments are listed below:

  1. Unique – we were the first company in this space to offer 24×7 customer service.
  2. Relevant. Relevance arguments are big. Stuff like we buy keyword ‘widget’ and ‘blue widget’ because we sell these items.
  3. Legitimacy – we’ve raised X millions of dollars, served more than 500k customers, we have an A+ rating in the business, etc.
  4. Lucrative – in the last year, we’ve spent $xxx,xxx on Google AdWords. Our financial plan calls for an X% increase of this ad budget.
  5. Reformed -  we have mechanisms put in place to make sure this won’t happen again. The guy who did this was fired. We will strive to exceed minimum AdWords compliance standards. Make it look like you are a reformed criminal.

Step 4: submit request for reinstatement. Be polite, not combative. Don’t talk about the competition. Ask your rep to personally plead your case (office hours – this is where a good relationship with your rep helps). Be prepared to follow through on promises immediately.

Follow up until you get an answer.


Craig Danuloff is up next.
He’s the author of a book called Google Adwords: Quality Score in High Resolution.

  1. Visibile quality score is not quality score:
    1. The quality score AdWords reports is not the quality score AdWords uses
    2. It doesn’t consider search queries
    3. It partially considers geography
    4. It blends performance of all ads
    5. It uses a different numeric scale
    6. It’s updated far less frequently
    7. It’s a clue. It’s all we’ve got.
  2. Actual Quality Score Factors are hard to see
    1. Historic CTR of the account
      1. Home Tab
    2. CTR of keyword-ad copy pairs
      1. Ad Tab, DI. Report with Kw + PL segment
    3. Search Query CTR
      1. Dimensions, View Search Term
  3. There is no Formula for Quality Score
    1. Adapts to the situation
    2. Uses best available information
    3. It favors one set of factors for new accounts
    4. It favors another set for established accounts
    5. It treats new keywords differently than old keywords
    6. New ads or testing have an impact too
  4. Everything is irrelevant
    1. The dictionary definition of ‘relevance’ is not applied in QS
    2. Google relies on the ‘wisdom of the crowd’
    3. A set of CTR clues drive the relevance portion of QS
    4. They DO NOT check for keywords in ad copy
    5. They DO NOT look at the copy on your landing pages
  5. There are two kinds of relevance
    1. Relevance still matters, because it drives clicks
    2. Horizontal relevance – query/keyword/copy/page
    3. Vertical relevance – % of all searches about xyz
    4. You can control vertical, but you can’t control horizontal
    5. Some keywords aren’t for you – he’s talking about words that different nuances and can mean ten different things depending on how the query is entered.
  6. Good quality scores are not a G-given right
    1. Just because you want to bid on a keyword doesn’t mean people will click on it
    2. Advertisers are insanely stubboron in sticking with keywords that aren’t working
    3. A poor quality score says: fix it or kill it (unless google has made a mistake)
    4. There is no shame in turning off ‘relevant’ keywords. Not everything works (take heed – he knows what he’s talking about too).
  7. A better quality score delivers worse metrics?
    1. As quality score gets higher (for a keyword)
    2. Keyword is eligible for more queries
    3. For those ‘edge’ queries that a keyword has a relatively low ad rank
    4. And probably higher CPC (cost per click)
    5. So keyword averages can go up when you expect them to go down.
  8. Think quality score big picture first
    1. The only way to get the ‘big picture’ of overall QS performance. Show revenue distribution by keyword quality score.
    2. Even better when impression weighted.
    3. Act on the overall before reacting to any individual keyword
    4. Report in clickequations and new tenscores (proprietary technology – I think)
    5. Book bonus = free download of an excel worksheet to calculate / plot the stuff he’s talking about.
  9. Quality Score Myth List (partial – note the sarcasm)
    1. There are ad group quality scores
    2. There are campaign quality scores
    3. There are account quality scores
    4. QS only calculates when keyword = query
    5. Keyword in text ads improve quality score
    6. Single keyword ad groups improve QS
    7. Some (old) accounts always get good QS
    8. Test text ads can have a negative QS impact
    9. You can know the cost/savings of a QS change
    10. There are no keywords with QS 8 or 9
  10. Quality score is your friend
    1. Google has engineered a win-win-win system
    2. If you treat people well, and satisfy them (clicks), then you’ll do well
    3. Answering specific questions in persuasive ways works
    4. Exceptions exist but should be treated as such.
  11. Book link: www.clck.it/qscore
  12. Website link: www.highresolutionppc.com


Frederick Vallaeys from Google is up next – @SiliconVallaeys
Started talking about how landing page is a determinant of quality score because it’s exposed to the end user. Click through rate is another determinant because people have to interact with the page and keyword and it shows relevance. Also spoke for less than five minutes.


  1. avatarChris says:

    Cool stuff. Thanks for putting it together.

    Btw,  Tenscores is simply a web app for tracking and managing QS. It’s at Tenscores.com

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