Why historical Quality Score matters

When all of the search publisher metrics available are considered, Quality Score always seems to receive the most attention; yet it’s also the metric which search marketers have the least amount of visibility into. It’s difficult to know how to effectively improve it and assess its impact on performance. What we do know, however, is that every time a user conducts a search that triggers ads, a Quality Score is calculated based on a number of factors, including:

•           The keyword’s historical click-through rate (CTR)

•           The display URL’s historical CTR

•           The account history

•           The quality of the landing page

•           The keyword/ad relevance

•           The keyword/search relevance

The first three factors here on Google’s list reference performance history, despite the history of a keyword’s Quality Score being unavailable within the AdWords interface. Rather than showing different Quality Scores across time, Google displays a single Quality Score that provides an estimate of that keyword’s overall quality.

For the most part this is adequate – search marketers analyse Quality Score at specific moments in time to understand keyword relevance and performance issues. However, this one-off-style approach to analysing Quality Score fails to provide insight into how search marketers’ ongoing efforts to optimise campaigns impact upon Quality Score, either positively or negatively.

Whether it’s testing brand new creative or introducing additional negative keywords, improving a keyword’s Quality Score can lead to a lower cost-per-click (CPC) and a higher ad position. Changes in these two metrics can subsequently impact upon CTR, costs and return on investment (ROI), among other things. Unfortunately, the influence each of these best practices has on keyword Quality Score is frequently lost with time, especially within larger accounts. Imagine having to record the daily Quality Score for two million keywords affected by new creative messaging.

To understand the impact of optimisation efforts on Quality Score, search marketers need the ability to trend historical Quality Score, against other performance metrics, over time.

For example, by trending Quality Score and average CPC over a 3-month period, search marketers can understand the exact impact on cost that comes from an increase in Quality Score from 6 to 8. Trends that include other metrics like ROI and conversion rate highlight the indirect impact that Quality Score has on conversion and revenue goals.

Roland Irwin
BY Roland Irwin ON 20 May 2013
Roland is the general manager of Marin Software Australia. Roland co-founded the Sydney office in 2011 and has helped grow the business since its inception. Roland’s hands-on experience has given him extensive local search industry knowledge and a high-level understanding of global trends. He is passionate about how Marin Software can acquires revenue for advertisers and agencies and loves a yarn about emerging digital trends and Marin’s predictions for the future.