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Why I Disagree With Google on Quality Score

I agree with Google on most things, but I must admit that I have to disagree (respectfully) with them on one point today related to Google AdWords Quality Score.

Just to set the groundwork here a little bit, quality score in AdWords essentially determines what you pay each time someone clicks your ad, where it's shown and how often it's shown. If you want to pay less, you should have a higher quality score. Sure, there are other things that will affect what you pay as well such as competition, the keyword itself, etc....but that's not what we're talking about today.

One great point from the article I'd like to make clear before going too far, quality score is not a KPI. It cannot tell how how things are doing overall, it can only tell you where things can improve. Just because a keyword may have a quality score of 10, it doesn't mean it's bringing in the customers or you aren't paying too much for it. It means that your keyword, ad copy, landing page, and other aspects are right in-line with one another, but it doesn't take into consideration whether or not the keyword is actually providing you positive return on investment (ROI), and ultimately that should be more important. However, it's much easier to achieve a high ROI if you pay less for ad clicks.

Google recently released a whitepaper called, "Settling the (Quality) Score: Using Quality Score to Guide Optimizations". There have always been misconceptions about quality score, and even after this whitepaper there still will be, but regardless it's great that they are sharing this information. Overall this whitepaper will do a good job of explaining what's important in regards to quality score and what's not.

So, when we talk about quality score we explain it like this:

By making your keywords, ads, etc. the most relevant they can be, you are helping Google with what makes them exist today, relevancy! By helping them, they reward you. Overall that's what this whitepaper covers...how to maintain relevancy and what they actually mean by that from user intentions to the devices they are using. If you're interested in reading more about that, please do so by checking out the whitepaper here.

So Why Do I Disagree with Google?

On the very last page the whitepaper says:

How You Structure Your Account: Doesn't Matter
If it doesn’t affect user experience, it shouldn’t affect quality or Quality Score. Set up your account in whatever way lets you manage it best, and feel free to restructure things like campaign names or the number of ad groups as needed. There is no such thing as ad group-level, campaign-level or account-level Quality Score.


Note also that breaking keywords into new ad groups or campaigns (without changing the ad text or destination URL) has no effect on their Quality Score. But moving a keyword to a new ad group that has new ad text could change your Quality Score, because that can affect user experience.

I agree that campaign, number of ad groups, and how these things are named doesn't matter...but I absolutely don't agree that how you structure your account doesn't matter.

As an agency that handles numbers AdWords accounts, we've taken over accounts or consulted on accounts that have been self managed or managed by a different agency. One thing we've come across is the account that contains the dreaded, "Campaign 1" and within the campaign exists "Ad Group #1".

This has happened numerous times and by businesses both large and small. Generally it happens because a business goes into the AdWords environment with a "getting my feet wet" mentality and follow the most basic Google instructions on getting up and running in minutes. These businesses or individuals aren't necessarily lazy (sometimes they are), but usually it is the result of a lack of understanding. Both a lack of AdWords understanding in general and how their business will use it long term.

Now, it's not all Google's fault. Even if Google were to explain more thoroughly step by step and long term consequences pieces of this as the new account holder set up their first account, they would still not pay attention. When you have the "getting your feet wet" mentality you think, I'll fix it later. So you find a bit of success in AdWords, get past that stage, keep the ads running...but never come back to fix "Campaign 1".

To clarify, it's not that I care that a campaign is named Campaign #1. The problem arises when there is only 1 campaign, with 1 ad group, containing a number of keywords that are unrelated to each other. To accommodate the fact that the keywords aren't related, the ad group will have ads that were written to be very general, NOT RELEVANT. It is near impossible to keep keywords, ad copy, and landing pages relevant when they all live within one ad group.

Structure Does Matter

In order to run relevant ads that are relevant with your keywords, your ad groups MUST be structured in a format in which a relevant ad can be written and served only when one of those keywords are triggered. This can even be done using "Campaign #1", but it needs to go beyond 1 ad group. Imagine I'm a retailer that sells A's, B's, and C's. I've got 3 ads written, one for my A's, one for my B's and one for my C's. If I were to throw all of these in one ad group, there is a chance a C ad could run when a B search term was searched...that's not relevant. But if I had an ad group for A, an ad group for B and an ad group for C, I could then control which ads appear for which keywords, thus making them more relevant. We've already covered this, but relevancy is what matters most. Your landing page should also be relevant, but that can be assigned at the keyword or ad level, so that doesn't really matter.

In Conclusion

I'm sorry Google, but your wrong (at least in our experience). Maybe a quality score isn't directly derived from account structure directly, but relevancy is derived from account structure...therefore it does have an impact. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there is an account structure magic potion. However, if new advertisers continue to follow the most basic instructions they will still end up with 1 campaign and ad group that houses everything in their account...and that is just not right.

We'd be happy to review your AdWords Account and provide a bit of advice, just let us know!