Google AdWords Quality Score Evolution

Over the years Google AdWords has worked to improve pay-per-click ad relevance for users, while building a strong steady revenue stream. As a way to increase ad relevance, CTR and user confidence in PPC ads, the Google Quality Score was born.

In 2005 Google assigned Quality Score to keywords based on the users’ experience with a keyword/ad/landing page combination. But Google doesn’t sit on its laurels.

Since its original inception Quality Score has evolved regularly, attempting to create a better searcher experience while increasing return on investment.

Here is a timeline of notable changes made to Quality Score since its inception:

July 14th, 2005: Quality Score is introduced, the next generation of keyword evaluation.

December 2nd, 2005: Quality Score determines if position #1 is attainable.

December 8th, 2005: Landing page quality becomes a part of the Quality Score calculation.

November 6th, 2006: Quality Scores calculated on the Content Network & another landing page quality algorithm update.

February 14th, 2007: The introduction of transparent minimum keyword bids.

July 5th, 2007: A combination of bid and Quality Score determines what share of total available impressions your ad is eligible for.

August 22nd, 2007: The improved top ad placement formula means Quality Score becomes the most important factor in determining eligibility for position #1.

September 18th, 2007: Select categories of sites could receive low Quality Scores by default.

June 18th, 2008: Landing page load time can now negatively or positively affect keyword Quality Scores.

August 21st, 2008: Quality Score is now calculated at the time of the search, every time.

September 15th, 2008: Minimum bids will be displayed as ‘minimum first page bid’, meaning that keywords will no longer become inactive for search.

I point out all these changes because each caused advertisers to revise PPC strategy by researching new keywords, building new quality score friendly landing pages and/or reworking ad copy strategy.

In September “minimum first page bid” went live for all advertisers. Google says, “‘First page bid estimates’ replace ‘minimum bids’ in your account — providing a more actionable and useful metric to advertisers” and, “Remember that you can bid less than your first page bid estimate and still show on subsequent pages”.

This sounds great! Now advertisers will have clear insight into the required bid to be on the first page of sponsored results.

But, is anything crystal clear when it comes to Google’s algorithms? Why would ‘minimum first page bid’ be any different? It’s not.

This has caused many advertisers to increase bids, ensuring that first page positioning is maintained. The final impact felt by advertisers by this change is still undecided. One thing is for sure, this type of change leaves advertisers in one of these three categories:

1. Upset and frustrated because suddenly their best converting keywords now have unaffordable minimum bids, causing traffic to dry up.

2. Annoyed with the inconvenience. But once the required strategy changes were made the campaigns perform better as a result.

3. Happy because the Quality Score changes reduced cost and put them ahead of competitors who have poor quality campaigns.

Oneupweb’s clients fall into the second and third categories. We work very hard to ensure our clients are ahead of the curve. When sudden changes happen, we evolve our campaigns to capitalize on the new ranking models, rather than complain about them.

The market is always changing. Having nimble PPC campaigns and a creative, open mind is very important. The decisions we make with our clients are based on testing and statistical analysis. We don’t buy into hype, because numbers don’t lie.

The solution isn’t always clear. Oneupweb can help you find it.