There has always been a healthy amount of debate over the importance of Quality Score as an indicator of Google AdWords success and the amount of focus that should be devoted to it.
Today, Google issued a whitepaper called “Settling the (Quality) Score” to help advertisers use Quality Score to guide optimizations. Will it settle the debate? Maybe not, in fact it may just spark more conversation, but if you’re involved in paid search at all, you’ll want to check it out.
Google describes Quality Score being like a “warning light in a car’s engine” as opposed to being a “detailed metric that should be the focus of account management.”
In other words, it’s a signal not a KPI. It’s a mash-up of expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience, but, as we know, the score we’re shown isn’t the actual score given at any moment during an auction. The score we see represents overall performance in the auctions.
The section that will likely garner the most attention is titled “Six Things That Matter (and Don’t) When it Comes to Quality,” on page nine of the ten page paper. It’s aimed at addressing some misconceptions about Quality Score.
Among them: Device? It matters. Account structure? It doesn’t matter. That said, moving a keyword to an ad group with different ad copy can affect that keyword’s quality score because the user experience may change.
Bottom line, Google says, “chasing the number” shouldn’t be the focus of your efforts, but what’s best for your users. The full paper is available for download here.
Postscript: Google has also released an updated video how the AdWords auction and ad rank formula works. Watch it here.