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Quality score dropped and min-bids jumped on keywords we rank #1

 7:26 pm on Nov 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

A few months ago we trimmed our Adwords account keywords down to the dozen keywords that both convert the best for us and had the highest quality scores in our account, typically 6/10. We’ve been advertising with these keywords for a few years now.

Sometime in the past month our quality scores for almost all of these terms has dropped to 3/10 and 4/10 causing our minimum bids to spike.

The problem is we rank first for about half of these keywords and at least top five for the bulk of the rest of them so problems with our landing pages doesn’t seem to make sense. The Adwords interface says there are no keyword relevanc, landing page quality, or landing page load time problems.

What/where should we look for the cause of this issue?



 7:59 pm on Nov 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

are there competitors? maybe they improve bring QS requirements higher


 8:02 pm on Nov 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, I was not aware that increased competition would decrease a quality score though.


 10:31 pm on Nov 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

What/where should we look for the cause of this issue?

answer $$$


 9:33 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you take 3 it could be a problem of recent bugs in Google AdWords or not good performances of your keywords in last period of time.

If you take QS= 1 in all the keywords instead It's a problem of landing page quality (it's a manual revision by a quality rater).

And in this case you need to:
1) review your landing page, make it 100% compliant with Google AdWords quality guide lines for landing page
2) contact the AdWords team asking for a review of your landing page.

If you try to add new keyword groups or keywords to your account you'll be always slapped with a quality score = 1.


 2:20 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

> I was not aware that increased competition would decrease a quality score though.

It's not the increase in competition. It's the competition having increased its quality.

The whole system is based on competition. Your QS does not exist in a vacuum. It has to be compared to something. QS is a calculation of your quality as measured by your click rate compared to others. An average CTR for your keyword is determined from all advertisers using that keyword. Say that CTR is 3% and let's say that Google assigns a QS of 6 to the average.

The next calculation is one all mathematicians are familiar with: standard deviation. Let's say that the SD is 0.4. This means that someone with a 3.4% CTR will be one SD higher and their QS will be one point higher than the average. In other words, your QS will be 7.

Obviously, your CTR changes all the time as does that of other advertisers. So the average CTR changes which means that the base CTR to calculate QS moves. If your own CTR stays about the same or drops while the CTR of competitors increase, your QS will drop.

As MisterJinx above mentions, if you are not following rules and policies, your QS is 1, effectively the off switch. Also, a quarter of QS is keyword relevancy. If you're not relevant, you lose 2.5 points off your QS.

Couple of notes about QS. The one you see in your account is an integer number. Google however calculates it in the background to many decimal places. Also important to remember, it is calculated based on position. Google knows that click rates are affected by position so the QS calculation takes that into account. If your QS is 5 in 10th position, it will be 5 in first. Your absolute CTR in first will be higher but it has little effect to your QS.


 5:41 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is just my experience, and I am not one of these people who are spending billions on AdWords. But I have noticed that when a keyword goes to 6/10, it does not matter what I do to the landing page. It will drop farther and next stop is 3, which IMO endangers the whole group of keywords. This can be on a keyword where my entire page is about that keyword, when the clickthrough rate is fantastic, like 25%, where I've had the page up for years, and when no one else has a page on that topic. It doesn't matter: when they decide they want more money for that keyword, quality score is going to sink unless you pay it. When I see a keyword go down to 6 and they are asking for more money, I delete it.


 10:17 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

HRoth, are you trying to improve your ads? You said "it does not matter what I do to the landing page". If that's all you are doing, you are concentrating on trying to improve the wrong thing. It's a common mistake I see people do. They make changes to the landing page when the problem is really with the ads.


 11:01 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

LucidSW is right on target fact is studing now to take the adwords exam and this was in the study material. Google suggest if there is a QS issue it could be either the ad or the landing page. If the landing page is optimized well and there is no doubt about it then the ad is the issue and needs to be optimized.


 11:14 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hmm. Well, for me the QS going south has happened on keywords and ads I have had for years. Still, I will give it a try next time. And I am sure there will be a next time!


 4:35 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I understand the idea of landing page quality.

The thing that conflics with the advice is the landing page has not changed from when these were 6/10 keywords. On the three items next to where you can see the QS, it says no problems for any of the three criteria (landing page, relevance, load time). We actually rank #1 in the SERPs with site links for one of the keywords that has been dropped to 4/10 and it points directly to the same page that ranks #1.

Here’s an example…

Past 30 Days – 29 clicks, 168 impressions, 17.26% CTR.

Keyword Relevance: No Problems
Landing Page Quality: No Problems
Landing Page Load Time: No Problems

Showing ads right now? No

QS – 3

The only ad that does show up is one of those shopping.yahoo type ads that have absolutely nothing to do with the keyword.

We're working on revamping our ads right now but when 17.26% CTR ads are getting hit, I'm not sure what we can do.


 5:26 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

All landing page quality means is, are you compliant with the Adwords rules and policies.

If you sell weapons or tobacco products for example, that's against policies. No matter what you do to your page or ads, you'll never be able to advertise that page with Adwords.

If you have a bridge page, you'll have a poor landing page quality and QS of 1 on all keywords until you fix. Same if you use hype language (lose 20 pounds in 3 days types of sites).

If you pass the policy rules, which is not a problem in the vast majority of cases, and your keywords are relevant, your QS is basically reflected by your click rate. Try to improve it.

Granted, a QS of 3 with a 17%+ rate is unusual. I've never seen such numbers. Probably some kind of glitch in the system. There was one just a month ago so maybe a remnant of that technical problem they had back then. Has your costs per click gone up? If not, it probably is a glitch. But contact Google and get some sort of confirmation/check/reassurance just to be sure.


 7:09 pm on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the feedback. The first page estimate went through the roof but the CPC has remained virtually constant.


 12:15 am on Nov 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Then I would say that the QS you see is likely not your real QS. Strange however that the one shown is apparently the one used for FPBE. I'd contact Google to set things straight. You do want the QS you see to be the real one being used.

Tropical Island

 11:28 am on Nov 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

As has been discussed in another thread there is a definite problem with the calculation of quality score & minimum bids on keywords we have had for years with good CTR & relevance.


As I posted in the other thread part of the problem may have to do with conversion rate. They have taken it upon themselves to guard our money.

Here is a summary of what AW customer service advised me:
However the AdWords system does not merely go
by how closely a keyword matches the landing page and the product. User behavior is also taken into account. Our system finds that the keywords with low relevance do not give you enough leads and rather eat up your
budget. So, they have been marked low on relevance.

My bold.

In our case the conversion rate is not that important for reasons explained in the other thread.

Another suggestion was to remove low relevance keywords however they continually bombard me with keyword suggestions for all my ad groups that include hundreds of completely irrelevant keywords.

I'm running a new test & will advise if I see any changes.


 11:31 pm on Nov 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

it also could be the bug found earlier this week

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