Google AdWords Adds Quality Score Column & To Improved Quality Algorithm

Google will be adding a quality score column within your AdWords accounts by weeks end. In addition, within the next couple of weeks, Google will be rolling out a significant change to the AdWords quality score algorithm. I had a conversation with Nick Fox, the head of Google’s ad quality team, to review some of these changes.

(1) Quality Score Column:

The new quality score column should be visible in your AdWords account by the end of this week. The column will show you how the keyword/ad is performing on a three point scale and the minimum bid required to have that keyword rank in the ad network. The three scales include Poor, OK and Great. Ads that have a “Great” score will typically have a lower minimum bid, while ads with a “Poor” score will typically have a higher minimum bid.

Google is adding this column, in order to help advertisers understand what their quality score is. In the past, the only way to really know if a quality score was good or bad, was to look at your minimum bid. For example, higher CPC prices typically meant a lower quality score, but a lower CPC price typically meant a higher quality score. By adding this column, it should make this information clearer to the advertiser.

In addition to showing the quality score, Google will also be showing you the minimum bid required for that keyword. Before, Google typically only showed the minimum bid (clearly) if your keywords were inactive – now Google will show minimum bids for all your keywords, directly under the quality score.

Google has been testing this feature out for a couple months. They have learned from beta testers that they want even more transparency. So Google is planning on adding more transparency to the quality score. They hope to give advertisers more details on what specifically is working and not working about the ad. One such example is if an ad has a good CTR, but poor landing page. I asked if this is kind of like how AdSense is testing optimization reports and Nick confirmed it will be similar but not exactly the same. And yes, these reports will be automated, so that they are scalable.

(2) Improved Quality Score Algorithm:

In a couple weeks, Google will be rolling out an improved quality score algorithm. The most significant change in the algorithm is that they will now be handling keywords that have very little data, in an improved way. In the past, new keywords with little data, typically received a high CPC. Now, the advertiser will get the benefit of the doubt and typically be given a lower CPC – unless Google has data on that keyword.

This will impact a fair number of advertisers and keywords, Nick Fox told me. Some advertisers will see their quality score increase and some will see it decrease. Some keywords will see a higher CPC and some will see lower CPC. Some keywords will become inactive and some will see inactive keywords become active.

The reason Google is launching the Quality Score column is to give advertisers a heads up on their score. This way advertisers can be prepared for the new quality score algorithm, when it comes into play in a couple weeks from now.

Here is Google’s official post on the changes.

Postscript: eWhisper tells us How to find your AdWords Quality Score, if you want to see it.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Dave N

    This is encouraging, but I suspect it won’t actually help advertisers. It seems like a move to placate advertiser complaints without actually helping them.

    The real issue is that advertisers have no information about the perceived ‘quality’ of their landing pages.

    A transparent approach would be to give the advertiser a ‘landing page score’, and then to give advertisers an equation to determine the rank: CTR * Bid * LPS = ranking value

    CTR is clear and easy to understand. You can look at it over time. You can make a change to your ad and find out the next day if it was a good change or not.

    You know your bids.

    Landing Page scores are totally opaque, and this Quality Score doesn’t provide any additional information because it munges a whole bunch of factors together.

    So, is there really any information here that we can use to improve landing pages? It doesn’t look like it yet, but I’m hopeful.

  • webprofessor

    This will impact a fair number of advertisers and keywords, Nick Fox told me. Some advertisers will see their quality score increase and some will see it decrease. Some keywords will see a higher CPC and some will see lower CPC. Some keywords will become inactive and some will see inactive keywords become active.

    Way to be specific… lol…

  • rustybrick

    It depends on the quality score. You will see for yourself by the end of this week.

  • Tony Comstock

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