Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
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Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
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Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing Dissecting AdWords Quality Score Changes

Dissecting AdWords Quality Score Changes

Inside AdWords recently posted that there were several changes coming to AdWords. Some of these changes look drastic, while others seem a bit ambiguous. Let’s break down the changes and what they really mean.

Keywords no longer marked ‘inactive for search’

The new per-query evaluation of Quality Score affects you in that keywords will no longer appear as ‘inactive for search’ in your account. Instead, all keywords will have the chance to show ads on Google web search and the search network (unless you’ve paused or deleted them). Keep in mind, however, that keywords previously marked ‘inactive for search’ are not likely to accrue a great deal of traffic following this change. This is because their combined per-query Quality Score and bid probably isn’t high enough to gain competitive placement.

I think this part is best illustrated with an example (and this is a simplistic example for illustration purposes, you shouldn’t be relying on a single keyword to drive your keyword variations). For instance, if you bid on the keyword ‘dentist’, and your quality score is such that you have a $1 minimum bid, you might not show for other very related terms such as ‘downtown New York city dentist’ due to bidding below the minimum bid. However, if Google is looking more closely at the search query in relation to the keyword variations, your ad now might show for this more specific query.

‘First page bid’ will replace ‘minimum bid’

As a result of migrating to per-query Quality Score, we are no longer showing minimum bids in your account. Instead, we’re replacing minimum bids with a new, more meaningful metric: first page bids. First page bids are an estimate of the bid it would take for your ad to reach the first page of search results on Google web search. They’re based on the exact match version of the keyword, the ad’s Quality Score, and current advertiser competition on that keyword. Based on your feedback, we learned that knowing your minimum bid wasn’t always helpful in getting the ad placement you wanted, so we hope that first page bids will give you better guidance on how to achieve your advertising goals.

Minimum bid will be going away. This will do a couple things. First, it will be harder to tell what keywords might not be on search, but is influencing your content campaigns. However, overall – this is a useful change. Many companies still feel that the ‘minimum bid’ is bid guidance. In other words, its common to hear of someone bidding the minimum bid as that is what Google suggested. While many of us know that is not true; it’s a common item to hear.

Instead, Google is going to give bid guidance for appearing on page 1. If you bid below this bid; your ad can still show – however, it probably will appear on page 2. Again, this isn’t always true – if many companies have small budgets that keep them from showing in results at the end of the day or end of the month – you can show on page 1 while bidding below the page 1 bid guidance. In addition, with users coming into and out of the auction system – there is no guarantee you will show even though you have followed Google’s bid suggestion.

What Google Didn’t Say…

More visibility coming to Quality Score. The ‘OK, Great, and Poor’ will be replaced with a much more transparent system. At present, the easiest way to see many changes is to run a keyword report and sort by minimum bid high to low. With the new system, you will eventually be able to run a report and sort by Quality Score so that you can get a much better view of your keywords quality score.

Landing pages will matter for keyword quality score for search. At present, landing pages are used to determine minimum bids, but then are not used to determine your keyword’s ad rank. Since minimum bids are going away, it makes sense that the landing page factors will be rolled into other

Additional Information…

I will update the Quality Score Factors Chart and AdWords Quality Score Demystified Articles once the changes are finalized and rolled out in mass as well as show some screenshots of the new QS and how to run the reports.

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