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I’ve been going back and forth with Google for 3 months trying to get to the bottom of ‘Account Quality Score’. I’ve heard rumors that it only affected how many keywords you could have active. I’ve heard conflicting reports that it’s based on overall keyword quality and spend (which would make sense if it’s only purpose was total number of keywords in your account).

Those rumors were from Google, and the clarification finally came from Google. Here are the answers to four difficult questions:

  1. How many keywords can I have active in my account?
  2. What determines an account’s quality score?
  3. How does it affect my keywords?
  4. Can under preforming keywords affect other keywords (i.e. should I axe them)?

How many keywords can I have active in my account?

A normal account starts with a 50k keyword limit. This limit can only be adjusted by a Google employee, it is not automatically adjusted. There are some reps who keep tabs on accounts and will raise this limit for you without you having to talk to them; hence it appeared that this number was an automatic shifting scale. Turns out it was behind-the-scenes manual work.

What determines an account’s quality score?

Account quality score is a roll-up of all the keyword quality scores in your account. These quality scores aren’t just averaged, they are first weighted by impressions and clicks, and then averaged.

How does it affect my keywords?

The account quality score is factored into two areas of your account.

The first is your actual keyword quality score. Keyword quality score is made up of: ad copy, keyword CTR (overall and most recent history), account quality score, and ‘other relevancy factors’.

The second is minimum bids. If you have a high account quality score, Google will be a bit more forgiving on new minimum bids where they don’t have much historical knowledge (this and combined with the min bid update coming next week should make for some nice changes for new keywords). If you have a low account quality score, your min bids could be a bit higher.

Can under preforming keywords affect other keywords (i.e. should I axe them)?

In the past, this question has always ended in conflicting answers. Sometimes you’d hear a ‘yes’, but the explanations were around content match or management. Sometimes you’d hear ‘no’, with the explanation that keywords don’t affect other keywords.

With the explanation of the ‘account quality score’, it seems this is now a firm ‘Yes’.

Since account quality score is impression weighted, a few under preforming keywords aren’t going to make a large difference. However, if you have many under preforming keywords with low impressions, or a few low preforming keywords with high impressions – they are worth removing from a quality score standpoint.

From a quality score standpoint… – Not Conversions

This was the important statement from above. If those keywords are under preforming and don’t convert – then axe them.

If they are converting and are profitable keywords, then of course, you might not want to get rid of them. You might want to figure out how to raise their quality score, but in the end, it’s your dollars. You’re the one who is being (or not being) profitable by keyword.

Google has a sophisticated ad serving technology. An advertisers job is to understand enough of that technology to manage their account to what is profitable. If you have a lot of ‘poor’ quality keywords that all convert – then by all means, if that’s profitable, don’t kill the keywords just to satisfy AdWords. Either find out how to make them higher quality, or just keep them as they are making you money.

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