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Transcript: The Truth About Quality Score
If you’ve been running ads for any length of time, you will understand what quality score is. Of course, it’s the score from 1 to 10, given to all the keywords in your account based on how relevant they are to your campaigns and your users’ searches. Of course, there are a number of factors that go into this in terms of landing page relevance, expected click-through rate and ad relevancy, but there are a few other factors to look at as well.
In this video, we’re going to talk about the actual truth of the quality score. What does that score actually mean? Because I think you’ll find you’ll be quite surprised that the true definition of the quality score within your account, and we’re going to explore a little bit more about this very mysterious score that everyone’s trying to get 10 out of 10. Let’s take a closer look at quality score and really understand what it actually is.
Hey, guys. Darren Taylor of the bigmarketer.com here, and my job is to make you a PPC expert. Now if you’re new to the channel, I’m a PPC trainer and consultant specializing in Google Ads training, and if that sounds of interest to you, you should consider subscribing to the channel. In this video, we’re exploring quality score. It’s a score we’ve all seen in our account. We all want that 10 out of 10, but we really sometimes don’t actually understand what quality score is.
Now I’m guessing at this point, like every other quality score article or video you’ve listened to or read, you will be probably expecting me to now say quality score is a score given to your keywords based on the three main categories of landing page experience, expected click-through rates and ad relevancy. Those things still remain true, but that’s not actually what’s the quality score you see in your account is.
Now, listen carefully. Your quality score is an aggregated average of the quality score Google gives your keywords at the point of auction. What do I mean by that? What I mean is if you have a keyword in your account and you can see the quality score is 10 out of 10, when you go into the auction with that search term being triggered for your keyword, it doesn’t mean Google will every time treat your keyword as 10 out of 10. When it calculates the ad rank on the search results page using your quality score, it doesn’t pull the quality score from your account into that calculation. What it does is it calculates your actual real auction time quality score and then uses that as the formula.
The quality score you see in your account is an aggregated average of the quality scores Google has provided at the point of auction. To clarify, if you have a quality score of 8 out of 10, you don’t go into every single auction with your keywords at a quality score of 8 out of 10. Sometimes it will be higher; other times it will be lower. It’s an aggregated average of the quality score you get at auction time.
Now Google never really share much specific auction time data. All you see usually in your account are aggregated averages and totals, and quality score is no different. Bear that in mind when you’re looking at the quality score in your account. Now you know the secret behind quality score. Do you discount it? Do you think it’s not that important? Of course, the answer is no. Quality score is still vitally important.
The higher your quality score, it gives a good indication as to whether or not Google are seeing your keywords in your campaign as high quality in terms of the context of what the user is looking for, so that is still incredibly important, even if it is an aggregated estimation of what Google thinks your quality score is based on historical auctions. You should still optimize your quality score. You should still be tracking the score in your accounts to make sure you’re getting the best score you can, but just remember that one factor.
Now that we’ve clarified the specific definition of quality score, you know the three main elements are landing page experience, estimated or expected click-through rate, and of course, your ad relevance. You know those factors. I’m not going to go into them specifically because this video is all about revealing things you may not have thought of that play into your quality score, so let’s crack on with that.
Before I go on, if you like what you’re hearing so far, be sure to hit subscribe and like this video if you like it as well, and let me know in the comments question of the day. Did you or did you not understand specifically what makes up your quality score? Be honest. You can let me know because it’s a really interesting thing that a lot of advertisers are not aware of.
As you guys know, nothing is ever straightforward in Google Ads, and I’m sure you’ve had one of these scenarios before.
Have you ever run a campaign where you’ve got a great landing page, it’s ridiculously quick, loads all the information well, it’s well-structured website, you have good keywords in your account, maybe you’ve used single keyword ad groups or SKAGs in your campaign, you’ve optimized everything in terms of relevancy, and you still can’t quite get that 10 out of 10 quality score. In fact, sometimes you might even be struggling with 6 or 7 out of 10 even with all those factors in place because I know I have seen this in Google ads, so what gives?
Another question you might have on quality score is what happens if click-through rate is such a major factor. Does it mean you have to bid aggressively, therefore fulfilling a self-fulfilling prophecy, meaning I bid more aggressively to get a better click-through rate, to get a better quality score? If I lower my bids, does it mean that I’m not getting as good a click-through rate or expected click-through rate, and will that negatively impact my quality score? These are questions I hear all the time.
Finally, another question I often hear is, here’s the auction, here are the players in the auction, but what happens if there’s only one person on the search results page in the ads? Who sets the minimum bid? Who decides? How does Google choose what the minimum payment is for that position? Of course, this applies to the main auction as well. Who decides what the minimum bid is to play in the time of auction? Now these questions are difficult to answer, but I’m going to try and attempt anyway.
Now this is just my opinion based on a few factors I’ve seen over the time I’ve been running ads with a bit of evidence thrown in the back me up in between as well. The first question I asked you was, what happens if you have an account where you’ve optimized everything to the best you can? You’ve got SKAGs in place. You have a great website with a perfect amount of information on, well-structured, loads quickly, highly relevant to the user’s search. Your account’s structured well. Your ads are highly relevant. Why haven’t you got your 10 out of 10 quality score? It’s just the discretion of Google. Ultimately, it’s a difficult one to answer because it’s so subjective.
Google can see your website. Of course, they crawl your website and understand the information, but they can’t crawl as well as a human can. So even though you think your website is quick and well-structured, maybe Google see it as slightly worse than your competitors. That’s just something to consider. In terms of the ads themselves, again, ad copy is subjective. Google cannot read text ads, so they’re making their best estimation based on the data points they have available within their system. They don’t disclose specifically what they are, but that’s all we have to go on.
However, I will say this. I’ve looked at an account before when an advertiser was running a campaign, the quality scores were pretty poor, and by virtue of checking their historical account performance with their terrible awful campaigns in, it came to light that their historical account performance was pretty poor. Now Google do look at historical account performance when calculating quality score of campaigns, so that is a factor to be aware of. When we created a brand new account and started again, the quality scores did improve. That’s something you should look at and pay attention to, but again, it’s so subjective. It’s difficult to really answer this one.
This question, however, is really easy to answer. If you bid aggressively, does Google look at that as a factor for your click-through rate or your expected click-through rate, meaning you have to bid aggressively to get good quality scores? The answer is no because Google weights your quality scores aspects of click-through rate or expected click-through rate based on the position your ad is serving compared to other ads that served in the same position. That means Google doesn’t compare the person bidding for position one with the person in position four, and say, the person in position four has got a lower click-through rate, therefore, I’m going to downgrade the ad.
What they do instead is they compare historical auctions for the same searches and look at how position four performed in their ads versus your ad in the same position, and they use that data to understand the expected click-through rate, whether it’s good or whether it’s bad. Really, it’s quite straightforward to answer that one. Google does a weighted decision on the click-through rate, so don’t worry. You don’t have to bid aggressively to get good quality scores. Quality Score is down to the position your ad is in, in terms of the click-through rate aspect.
My final question I asked, which I think to myself is the most interesting, is the minimum bid on Google ads. How does Google decide this minimum bid? Of course, Google are very coy and very quiet on how this is determined. They don’t disclose what that number is, but as you might suspect, that number has been increasing. The minimum threshold for bids has been increasing, and here’s why. A good place to investigate how Google calculates the minimum bid is to start with brand bidding. Because of course, many times a brand paying for their clicks is not massively affected by competition because of course, the quality score of a brand if it’s your brand when you bid is going to be very high. Your competitors quality scores for that brand are going to be significantly lower, so it’s a good place to see how minimum bids are increasing.
You can see that brand CPCs over time have been increasing. Now, you might think to yourself, “Maybe it’s just increased competition for the brand. Maybe the brand has got more competitors trying to bid for its terms”, but I don’t believe that for a second. I believe Google have been raising the minimum allowable bid for brand auctions, and you could see the data trending over time. If they’re doing this for brand keywords, personally, I don’t see why they wouldn’t do it for more competitive generic keywords as well. They need to make margin. They need to make their product more profitable. Year over year growth is expected, and I think this plays into it. This may be anecdotal, but something I’ve seen is brands that run bidding on their brand’s term uncontested for long periods of time and they barely have any competitors coming into play, they have seen their brands increase in terms of CPC as well. That leaves me to believe Google are inflating the minimum bid in the auction, and they’re playing with this number to try and get more revenue. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do. There’s no alternative to Google in the world of paid search, so I think in reality we’re just going to have to accept it.
Hopefully, now you guys have a better understanding of quality score at auction time and you learned a few things today that weren’t the standard quality score optimization things you hear in other videos or blogs out there. Thank you very much for watching. If you liked the video, please leave a like below. Let me know in the comments if you have learned something new in this video or if you knew that was how quality score was calculated. I reply to pretty much every comment I get, so hit me up down below. More important than that, don’t forget to subscribe. Check out the other content across my channel, and I’ll see you guys on my next video.