Google continues to make changes to the way the AdWords system calculates your Quality Score, with mixed results for marketers and advertisers. One never hears about those advertisers positively affected by the most recent wave of changes, but there's quite a bit of buzz about the negative.
Google continues to insist that all the changes are being made to improve the user experience and reward relevant advertisers. However it isn't unusual for there to be a trickle-up effect on CPCs (define) required to maintain a position, even for highly relevant marketers who saw no immediate change.
Many in the SEM (define) community are hatching conspiracy theories about Google implementing Quality Score changes and applying them arbitrarily to marketers' campaigns. Others think Google simply cranks up the hidden metric thresholds used to calculate the Quality Score any time it needs to squeeze out a bit more revenue from advertisers. It's easy to see why these conspiracy theories have proliferated, but we all must remember Google has often taken actions that sacrifice immediate revenue for improved user experiences and relevance.
There's no reason to believe Google is singling out individual marketers based on arbitrary methods. However, it may not have the modified algorithms perfectly tuned. If your site and accounts have been affected by the recent Quality Score updates, instead of simply griping, let Google know through a rep (if you're a large spender) or via the "contact us" link within the AdWords interface. There's no guarantee you'll get a positive outcome simply by complaining, but if you feel you are highly relevant, have your campaigns well structured, and have relevant landing pages, you may have mistakenly been disadvantaged by its algorithm.
The best solution, however, is to optimize your campaigns and understand the key drivers to keeping Quality Score high. No one knows how large a factor the landing page is, so even if your landing pages are used exclusively for PPC (define) (due to higher conversion or more control), make sure all landing pages are at least somewhat search-engine-friendly. This means your relevant content needs to be readable. Here are some additional actions you can take:
There will always be some areas of Google's Quality Score that will remain opaque, but knowing how to optimize a campaign structure and maintaining good landing-page quality can help you outsmart your competition.
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Kevin Lee, Didit cofounder and executive chairman, has been an acknowledged search engine marketing expert since 1995. His years of SEM expertise provide the foundation for Didit's proprietary Maestro search campaign technology. The company's unparalleled results, custom strategies, and client growth have earned it recognition not only among marketers but also as part of the 2007 Inc 500 (No. 137) as well as three-time Deloitte's Fast 500 placement. Kevin's latest book, "Search Engine Advertising" has been widely praised.
Industry leadership includes being a founding board member of SEMPO and its first elected chairman. "The Wall St. Journal," "BusinessWeek," "The New York Times," Bloomberg, CNET, "USA Today," "San Jose Mercury News," and other press quote Kevin regularly. Kevin lectures at leading industry conferences, plus New York, Columbia, Fordham, and Pace universities. Kevin earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management in 1992 and lives in Manhattan with his wife, a New York psychologist and children.
May 22, 2013
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June 5, 2013
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