Google revises AdWords Quality Scores — again

quality score variation

What Quality Score do you give an AdWords keyword that hasn’t yet competed in enough ad auctions to earn a score?

Google has already changed its mind once on this. It used to be that the keyword’s Quality Score was calculated based on its recent performance for all advertisers, with an adjustment to factor in the comparative historical performance of the advertiser’s account.

On the surface, this early calculation provided a reasonable assessment of the likely Quality Score for the keyword. The problem was the additional computing requirements that came into play when determining ad auction results.

Just over a year ago, Google decided that all new keywords would start with a Quality Score of 6.

Now Google has decided not to show a Quality Score at all — instead, starting September 12, a null result (“-“) will be shown.

Why should you care?

Quality Score can be a useful guide as to AdWords keyword and ad group performance. To a lesser degree, it is also indicative of overall account health, but can be misleading if ad impressions overwhelmingly favour brand-related keywords (which are most likely to have the highest Quality Score).

In practice, most keywords worth adding to an account will quickly generate sufficient ad impressions to earn their own Quality Score.

Google’s change, then, is unlikely to have any major impact for advertisers. However, anyone running scripts to track Quality Scores over time will likely need to be make some adjustments to their reporting — ourselves included.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.