The history of your keyword quality scores tells you how to improve PPC returns

Tom Sangers
By Tom Sangers
28 Jul 2017

Understand your quality score

On a simple level your Quality Score gives you a general sense of the quality of your PPC ads. On a more business focused level your Quality Score indicates how much more you are paying for each click than you need to, how many low quality clicks you are paying for, and how many sales conversions you could be missing.

Quality Score measures the relationship between your keywords and their associated ads and landing page. Quality Score is provided on a 1 - 10 scale for each keyword. 

Historically, all that was provided was a single average value for each keyword. While this is a helpful indicator of overall performance it doesn’t always help brands to identify precisely which aspects on their PPC campaigns they need to improve. 

New status columns

New status columns for Quality Score

Google is adding three new optional status columns to the Keywords tab that track expected click through rate, the relevance of your ads and the landing page experience separately. The added granularity of the reporting arms PPC account managers with the data they need to make better decisions and achieve more rapid improvements in account performance.

The status columns are labelled “Exp. CTR,” “Ad Relevance” and “Landing Page Exper.” Simply add these columns to your keyword reports to get a comprehensive snapshot of your keywords’ current scores.

Tracking Quality Score History

"Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it,”so the saying goes. Certainly, with any PPC campaign, it’s essential to understand the effect of changes to your account (like ad optimisation) on Quality Score. 

You can now view historical Quality Score, and its components, for all of your keywords to understand how they’ve changed over time. This data will be available via four new columns: “Qual. Score (hist.),” “Landing page exper. (hist.),” “Ad relevance (hist.)” and “Exp. CTR (hist.).”

Previously Agencies have applied Quality Score scripts to track overall account score over time. For some clients, we also report on the historical impact of changes. For example, any recent changes made by the Google Adwords editor will have an impact if you are monitoring your overall quality score day by day. Changes can have a negative effect on Quality Score until improvements in CTR are shown and the benefits outweigh the negative short term implications. 

Tracking quality score

Pain and Gain - Improve PPC Performance

In eCommerce PPC, campaign changes can be a sensitive issue. Campaigns can trundle along giving a more or less acceptable return, while all the time Quality Scores indicate that costs are higher than they could be, clicks are not adequately qualified and conversion opportunities are being missed. 

To see real improvements you need a major overall. But to achieve the uplift by making the campaign more relevant there may be an initial downturn in sales and an increase in the CPC. This is where you need supreme confidence in the capabilities of your agency. It’s also the difference between an agency that ‘maintains and reports’ compared to one that proactively manages your accounts to deliver the highest possible levels of value and long term ROI.

Normally, adding a negative to improve the value of clicks will give a short term increase in CPC, as lower value traffic is bringing down the true CPC value. Eventually, the real improvements in the CTR are seen and the CPC reduces. 

Time scales can vary depending on the nature of the account, overall spend and volume of sales. The added ability to track the components of the Quality Score over time should help brands see the long term impact of changes. They can then have greater confidence in implementing essential changes to their campaigns.

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