Ian Lurie // Nov 11 2011
You may bid more than anyone else for the phrase ‘rubber duckies’ in Google Adwords. But that doesn’t guarantee you a top ranking.
Your quality score influences your position, too. You may, for example, be able to get a #1 Adwords ranking while bidding for the #2 spot.
Bizarre, I know. But here’s how it works:
In case you don’t know, these are the sponsored or ‘pay per click’ (PPC) ads:
Like the ‘organic,’ unpaid rankings, PPC listings are all about keeping visitors happy. If I search for ‘bicycle tires’ and click the #1 PPC ad, I want to see a site about bicycle tires. In fact, I want to see the best site about bicycle tires. I don’t care if they’re paid ads.
So Google can’t make PPC ad position completely bid-driven. If the #1 PPC position went to the highest bidder 100% of the time, ads might end up pointing at totally crappy sites. That would make their users unhappy. And that would reduce their stock price. Not good.
Enter quality score.
[emailoptin type="ppc"][/emailoptin]If you have an Adwords account, log in and go to the keywords listing. Click the little speech bubble icon next to the word ‘Eligible’ for one of your keywords. You’ll see something like this:
The fraction you see (6/10 in the example above) is the keyword’s quality score for that ad.
The quality score box on Adwords gives a nice hint to how Google measures PPC ad quality:
Google keeps a running tally for your keywords and ads. That’s why, when you start a new campaign, you may be stuck bidding $5/click just to get your ad displayed: You’ve got no campaign history. It’s a form of PPC sandbox: New stuff isn’t as trustworthy.
And yes, I think this is a nifty way to extract more money from hapless advertisers. I bow to Google’s insane genius.
That’s enough for one day. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about all the lovely ways you can completely screw up your quality score.
I’m not a PPC nerd. At Portent, that’s Elizabeth’s job. But I do sometimes have to explain stuff, so I try to keep up-to-date.
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More