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Adwords Quality Score slap after account reorganisation

I moved some adgroups and split campaigns for better targetting

6:58 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Yesterday I made some structure changes to one Adwords account I run.
What I did:
- I am using broad match in many ad groups and now decided to add some of the keywords as exact match with higher bids.
- moved adgroups between campaigns - I had products divided into several campaigns that had the same settings. Wanted to have them all in just one campaign to make it easier to manage.
- once all ads were in one campaign I made 2 copies of the new big campaign and targetted each copy at different locations and languages to be able to play with CPC.

Today I logged in to see how my changes worked and I was extremely surprised to see my QS go extremely down.

Before these changes I had QS of 8-10 for all of my traffic and money making keywords. After these changes my QS went to 3-4 and only some keywords have the default QS of 7.

Now, I cannot really understand what I've done wrong.
I did not disconnect keywords from ads - was moving entire ad groups.
I understand that new copies of the big campaign are new to Google but why the non-copy campaign receive a slap, too?

My website is not affiliate site and I only advertise on Google search and the website itself did not change.

Now, can anyone somehow explain what was done wrong or just give some hint what I've done wrong?
4:39 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Our Quality Scores are still low, but we haven't noticed any significant change in impressions or positioning as a result of it. Seems like everything is the same except the reporting of the actual scores.
6:27 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

On the google forum an adwords rep states this was resolved on Friday. I am struggling to believe this as I have several high competition keywords appearing in the 'across the top' premium positions with a QS of 3/10 and charging me 0.03 a click. Something's not right there!
6:34 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Just to clarify - these were 10/10 kewords before the issue hit.

For me, either theres a change in the QS formula and it didnt correctly score all keywords but now does, or there's still a fault in there somewhere or the fix hasn't fully rolled out.

Having looked fully at my account I do believe I'm not being charged the going rate for 3/10 QS keywords and they are similar to the previous CPC's, but I do think other people may be upping their bids to counter the low QS and indirectly increasing my CPCs.
7:29 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing the same thing Chris. Nothing has gone back up, which makes me believe they haven't fixed it, at least not across all accounts.
7:35 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Something I've just spotted is some keywords are slowly drifting upwards, although I would have expected this to happen much faster for high volume keywords with double digit CTR's if it was simply a case of ad history having to build up again. Interestingly, all keywords marked down are still graded no problems for the three measures in the diagnostic box popup.

Something else I've meant to ask before is about people seeing QS of 8 and 9. I very occasionally see 9, I don't think i've ever seen an 8, and frequently a 10 becomes a 7 and vice versa, i just rarely see anything in between. Do other people frequently see an 8 or 9?
7:41 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing 3/10 graded No Problems as well.

I don't think I've ever seen an 8. Just 7, 9 and 10.
11:28 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I've noticed the exact same phenomena as chrism. What the Adwords reps are saying now at the Adwords forum is that the fix is in and if you don't like what you are seeing you can ask support. There is no official confirmation or denial of a recalibration of Q.S. but to me it is certainly looking like QS is scored differently now. Either for business or legal reasons Google may not want to acknowledge this. Once again we have to read the tea leaves.
1:41 am on Nov 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

By the way, where is Adwords Advisor? He confirmed it was a bug which would be fixed in 24 hours, made apologies for it and then promptly disappeared as quick as a witch in a puff of smoke.
8:46 am on Nov 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thats the keyword - Adwords Advisor!

I feel like we all are shooting in the dark, and the Adwords Advisor is the one who should finally stop that.
11:37 am on Nov 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Neocortex, You make it sound as though he is superman...

I don't think he can stop this, he can't even give us a definitive answer that fits what we see in reality (see "24 hours" comments above).

Then again, he didn't actually say what 'resolved!' would mean for us...

Anyone experienced a real Slap since this began? [webmasterworld.com...]

I wonder how far this (error?) might have gone...
7:52 pm on Nov 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

It would be nice if Google provided some official confirmation that the problem was fixed or not.

I still see quality scores that don't appear to have recovered but I would like to know for certain that it's not just the reporting interface before I make some changes.
2:59 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm 90% sure at the moment that an algo update has in fact taken place and the QS bot is stable now. What I am seeing is that my QS scores are a lot more diverse now. For example I have 9s and 8s in my account that I never previously had. Hitherto my keywords went from 7 to 10 and vice versa with nothing in between.

Right now I'm sitting on a spread which is about 15-20% less than 7 with 8s, 9s and 10s. So it's still looking pretty healthy for me. Having said that I have purged quite a lot of 3s and 4s in the past few days.

For the life of me I can't understand why Google didn't just come and say "Hey guys we tweaked the algo. It was a bit buggy at first but what what you are seeing now is your new QS reality so get on with it."

In general I think the QS idea has merit but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Altho QS has purged a lot of rubbish from the SERPS the "collateral damage" is breathtaking - if you read some of the Adwords forums. Based on the regular and quite arbitrary application of game-changing activity we have seen from the Adwords bosses I am definitely going to be Adwords-proofing my income next year. I don't want to build an empire and end up without an income overnight because the Adwords product manager had a bad day at the office.
10:28 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

At the moment i dont see any changes with my adwords account. QS is still very low 3/10 and 4/10 mostly.
I hope algo update exist, and will work for me too.
11:06 am on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

same for me, no change for a week now...
12:39 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tropical_island is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The thing we all have to remember is that this is an automated system & just a small tweak in the programming can screw everything up.

In our case the "system" can't understand the keywords & how they relate to our business.

if you add the time we are wasting constantly micromanaging the adwords account, and the FEAR of touching anything,

My feelings exactly. I can't do without AW however it's causing me a LOT of stress.

How can "bed & breakfast in area" be rated 4/10 when we are a bed and breakfast in area.

It is so frustrating.
9:00 am on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

An update: I'm seeing some keywords revert to their previous (or better) QS scores--not all though which is disappointing.

I can't help but think that what's happened is a new round of QS calculations rather than a bug: why would some keywords suddenly rise out from bad QS and others remain low otherwise?
9:22 am on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

How can "bed & breakfast in area" be rated 4/10 when we are a bed and breakfast in area.

It is all about CTR. Just write more ads to get better CTR. CTR is normalized per position so CTR for your ad at position 6 will not compete with CTR for an ad at position 1.
1:37 pm on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

i wish ctr weren't weighed so heavily, i'd rather it be relevancy... in some cases, off target ads from a super strong brand or something click worthy bring irrelevant results that get clicked - and there you sit with a horrid qs wondering why your on target ad and product and page are whacked for low qs. it's frustrating! g doesn't mind throwing a shiny object across the room if people click on it - long term, i think they'd be better served themselves by putting shiny less relevant things into a separate boxed area.

the overall account ctr scoring is also a shame - if they listened to people running ppc, they'd realize they are inadvertently complicit in trademark poaching by rewarding those who don't do deep product marketing, but just scalp name traffic (very high ctr), often against the merchant's terms of service. if g allowed simple guards against third parties dropping certain traffic, their big clients would see a higher cpa / roi and spend more driving deeper - so it's also a bad biz move by g to not provide tools to make managing your allowed ad partners more easily... and it would make no diff to the consumer.

ctr ain't perfect, but as a consumer, it sure beats a price auction (without qs) where spammy ads would litter, and ppc would be a contest of who will go furthest to buy share.
9:04 pm on Nov 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

today my QS goes eaven more down!?
This situation leads to the death of my campaign.
I will not pay 30 times more per click than before this mess.
9:07 pm on Nov 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It is all about CTR. Just write more ads to get better CTR.

It's not ALL about CTR. I've got a lot of historically double-digit CTR keywords with previous 7/10 and 10/10 QS that dropped as low as 3, 4 and 5...and I've been waiting for so-called return adjustments before I pause, delete or re-work them...and getting high CTRs in the meantime...but avg positions have dropped, CPCs have risen...and a tell-tale indication on one account...for many of the keywords the 'est first page bid' has risen from $.05 - $0.25 to well over $1.00 and in some cases over $5.00...ALL from very low QS which I would never under other circumstances keep active.

There's no question in my mind that they've altered the algo...'test' or not...ostensibly in the never ending pursuit to increase revenue returns.
9:27 pm on Nov 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Something else I've meant to ask before is about people seeing QS of 8 and 9. I very occasionally see 9, I don't think i've ever seen an 8, and frequently a 10 becomes a 7 and vice versa, i just rarely see anything in between. Do other people frequently see an 8 or 9?

I have one account that I get 8s and 9s for...but all the rest I've never seen even one. Makes you wonder about their 1 to 10 scale to begin with...and how it evolved from poor, good & excellent...or whatever it used to be, I forget now. Also, with QS being as important as it is I wonder why it's not a default field...you wouldn't believe how many people I talk to that didn't know about it...even some heavy spenders.
12:19 am on Nov 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think my dilemma is related to earlier reports in this thread..

We were going along just fine for several years.

Monday I got the dreaded Landing Page/Site Policies violation email for one Adgroup - no explanation of what exactly was wrong.

I suspect everyone promoting this product line received similar as all ads for the market are gone except for a few tricksters. There is nothing inherently wrong with the product, my ads or the site itself though it is a market that invites misleading claims.

Though this Adgroup is not disapproved, all QS dropped to 1 and had $10.00USD bids.

At the same time all my impressions stopped campaign wide, even for unrelated products. QS and bids in my other Adgroups have not changed as of yet.

I suspect I have been flagged for manual review as the same thing silently happened about 5 years ago. I survived then and all my ads resumed after about a week. However, that was then and this is now-- has anyone else received the "surprise" review recently and survived?

I almost fear the answer....

3:48 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Has anyone seen additional information regarding this bug? I'd like to think it is fixed, but I still feel like my QS are lower than they were before the bug.
4:02 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

i have a feeling this "bug" is here to stay...
5:02 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

A bit telling when AdwordsAdvisor has conveniently made him/her-self scarce.

As I mentioned on Nov 5th, this seems like a QS update rather than a bug--if it's a bug Google's got some major problems with it going this long.

I've got KWs that pull 25-30% CTR and they're QS 4 through 5...which pains me as it furthers Google's agenda of pushing down organics--but I have no choice; where are all those "non-monopolists" now?
9:42 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Normally I would tend to agree that this "bug" is here to stay, but this "so called update" is not in Google's best interest. The "new" first page bids make absolutely no sense. No one in their right mind would go from paying 50 cents a click to 2+ dollars a click. Sure, Google makes more money, but not if advertisers can't afford it and drop off. And Google makes no money from Organics and after all, they are a publicly traded company who's goal is to make a profit.

And why is it when you hover over your kws to find out the quality score you'll have no problems with keyword relevance, landing page quality, etc, yet Google rates you a 4/10? If CTR and account history play a role in your quality score then shouldn't Google make this known to you? Instead they don't tell you and make you play guessing games about why you're getting poor quality scores.

Finally, the Google Advisers are staying away from most questions about quality score. If you notice, they are taking the time to respond other questions. Truth is, if there still is a bug, they probably aren't in the loop. Do you really think they give their top level employees who know the inner workings of everything the task of dealing with mind numbing tech support questions? When you call Microsoft for tech support you get some guy in India, not a person who can really help you (at least most of the time).
2:20 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Here's my take on what's happened. Google rolled out a major QS algo update between 25-28 October. As someone else pointed out, that algo was "set to kill" whereas the present one is "set to stun".

As admitted by their reps there was a bug which got released along with the update but that was fixed within 24 hours. What we are seeing now is the long-term impact of the algo update, namely that Google has raised the QS bar even higher. 3/4 is the new 6/7 for a lot of people.

Google usually makes these kinds of changes prior to the holiday season to give people time to adjust and recalibrate their accounts so as not to throw the web economy into crisis.

As a wise man once said, "It's just a sh*t sandwich and we are all going to have to take a bite".

The sole consolation here is that its just as hard for everyone.
11:31 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately that speculation isn't logical. If you have NO PROBLEMS with any of your "quality score" factors and Google won't tell you that the reason your QS is low b/c of your CTR or Account Performance then how is one to "fix" those issues? If what you say is true then Google has ultimately shot themselves in the foot, which again makes no sense.
10:30 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

havenrut43 I think there is a fundamental point that you are missing. Once you understand this idea it will put your mind at rest a bit. The key part you are not getting is that Google doesn't care about your money. They have enough money to execute their business plan. Their goal is to organize the world's information. Financial considerations are secondary to that primary goal. Their business apps like adwords and Gmail flow on from that primary goal of organisation. This means they won't show your ad for love or money if their quality score bot doesn't deem it to be "relevant" to what a searcher is looking for. They don't get care that they are flushing millions down the drain when their bot blocks thousands of advertisers.

Now that would all be fine if the bot was perfect but it's not. The bot mostly gets it right but just as often screws up. Particularly after the most recent update the bot is more aggressive now than at any time since it was introduced. If it was a junk yard dog before it's now a Tiger.

I think the way forward for you is to try to get feedback directly from the QS team about your specific case. Be polite but persistent and eventually they will help you. Don't take no for an answer. Other than that try to build a site that doesn't fit the profile of sites with low quality score. These kinds of sites are well documented on their help pages - thin affiliate, get rich quick, endless sales letters etc. Always use plenty of orginal content and make your site a substantial site - an authority site in its niche. Be persistent and don't give in. Hope this helps.
11:20 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

bluemamba - You think I don't already know all those things? I know we're all up a creek without a paddle and that Google doesn't care. I think everyone in this thread is taking the path of least resistance and assuming that this isn't really a "bug" and is some sort of update.

Go look at the AdWords Forums on Google. Read the replies by the Gentleman who posted 7 different ads for a passive FTP software website and all he gets is 3/10 no matter what he does. And even the high level folks in the forum are clueless. Go read the threads about the Google reporting being broken. Obviously Google has issues and like you said they just don't care.

But don't try and spin it like this is some sort of update. Their system is just broken and they don't care to fix it.
This 83 message thread spans 3 pages: 83

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