Focus on Quality Score Factors

By Matt Duffy, Account Supervisor

On the second day of the SES Conference, I attended a very informative lecture on the subject of Quality Scores titled, “Ads in a Quality Score World.”

The panel of speakers included the following (in order of apearance):

- Joel Lapp – Reprise Media
SVP, Acct. Management & Media
- Jon Kelly – Sure Hits
- David Miller – Yahoo Search Marketing
- Frederick Vallaeys – Google
Adwords Evangelist

The opening speaker, Joel Lapp, began by giving a brief history of the evolution of Quality Score and how the Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) have altered their process over the years. The major theme preached by all speakers was the importance of relevance as the main method of improving a particular ad’s Quality Score.

In the early times of QS indexing, the engines would rely heavily on CTR and historical ad performance as a dominant factor. Though these items still play a very large part in the overall QS of an ad, the engines found that CTR does not always mean that an ad has significant relevance. The question became does traffic equal quality?

During Jon Kelly’s (Sure Hits) presentation, he mentioned some areas of QS indexing where the engines need improvement. The main point was the desire by advertisers for greater transparency into the ‘secret element’ that goes into the QS equation process for each engine. Knowing this information would provide advertisers with a deeper understanding of how to adapt their ads and LP consumer experience.

The other item was in regards to very specific areas of advertising and the lack of historic data that a search engine may have for a particular ad. As stated before, historic performance plays a vital role in determining QS.

However, if the ad is brand new or if the advertised item is new to the search industry as a whole, the historic data will be very limited. In this instance the QS of a particular ad may suffer, even though all other elements could be very relevant to the consumer search queries. The panel mentioned that the engines could give advertisers the benefit of the doubt on particular cases when the level of data is small.

David Miller with Yahoo Search Marketing stressed the importance of advertisers to constantly review and optimize their account structure. He noted that a big part of improving QS begins at the keyword level, and making sure that the account is organized so keywords that are performing well are not grouped with poorly performing keywords that will bring down the QS of the entire ad group.

The best part of the discussion came from Frederick Vallaeys with Google. He mentioned that advertisers should avoid slow Landing Pages, which is something that is important to note as some companies still prefer to use flashy microsites that take longer to load than static pages. In terms of Google’s QS indexing, he noted that Google has no plans to add conversion rate as a metric when determining Quality Score. He summed up the lecture by saying that advertisers should, “Obsess over user experience, not Quality Score.”

All in all, this was an informative and useful session. While the details of how engines decipher quality score remain a mystery – any time the belief that user experience is key to SERP success is relayed, it’s a beneficial lesson to marketers.


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