Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official Google Ads Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
(703) 828-5811‬
Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing How to benchmark your keyword’s quality scores against the competition

How to benchmark your keyword’s quality scores against the competition

imageWhen you first add a new keyword to your account, your keyword is given a quality score. This isn’t actually your keyword’s (or landing pages) quality score.

The initial quality score is a default quality score for everyone who has used this word before you. That’s an important benchmark as you can compare your quality score to your overall competition.

After you add several keywords, run a keyword report and save the quality score info for those new keywords.

After those new keywords have accrued enough data for Google to make a statically significant decision about what your actual quality score is (which could be a day to a few weeks depending on how many impressions, clicks, and when Google crawls your landing page) then your keywords are updated with your actual quality score.

Run another keyword report on your actual quality score.

Compare this data to the original quality score.

If yours is higher, fantastic, you’re above average. That doesn’t mean you should be satisfied – but you should note you’re in a good starting place.

If yours is lower, then you will end up paying more than average for the same ad position. If this keyword has a lot of traffic; stop raising bids and work on improving your quality score.

If your quality score drops at a later date, then use this checklist to investigate the reasons why it dropped.

Your ad rank is Max CPC times Quality Score. It’s just as important to optimize your quality score as it is to raise your bids. However, what’s very useful is to know your quality score compared to your competition – which is data that’s not too difficult to obtain.

No Comments

  1. Internet Marketing Raleigh
    March 25, 2009 at 8:27 am · Reply

    Great Idea on saving first QS and comparing it to QS after a week or so!

  2. Josh Wexelbaum
    March 25, 2009 at 3:38 pm · Reply

    Interesting insight- Are you sure that the original QS is not also determined by your Google account history?

  3. derek.newman
    April 8, 2009 at 12:10 am · Reply

    “However, what’s very useful is to know your quality score compared to your competition – which is data that’s not too difficult to obtain.”

    Hi Brad,

    how do you obtain the competition’s QS? I would have thought that information was impossible to obtain.


  4. Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
    April 8, 2009 at 9:08 am · Reply

    Individual competitors- can’t get.
    Overall competition is the default when you add a new keyword to your account.

    If you want…. (note, it’s possible but I can’t recommend this…)
    you could create an ad group (or a new account w/ an adgroup)
    and duplicate your competitors ad copy
    and take a good guess at their keywords
    and take a good guess at their bid or use position preference
    and run the ad group for a little while
    the QS won’t be perfect (different bids, location settings, history, etc)
    but it will give you a rough idea.

  5. Chris Crompton
    April 20, 2009 at 2:47 pm · Reply


    Thanks for the benchmark idea. I realize various google reps have told people lately that the initial quality score is the average quality score for all people bidding on that keyword — but the evidence I have seen indicates this isn’t entirely true.

    I duplicated 6 campaigns — everything was the same in these campaigns except display and destination URL. (They were actually on different domains.)

    I uploaded them to AdWords in “paused” state since the landing pages hadn’t all been build out yet. These were brand new campaigns with zero history.

    When I downloaded the first page bid estimates, the initial quality score values came along as well.

    The keywords’ initial quality scores were different among all the campaigns. In fact, one campaign had a display URL that resolved to an error page… the keywords in this campaign were all “1” with $10 minimum bids. Yet even the landing pages that didn’t give an error ended up yielding slighly different initial quality scores among the keywords.

    So it appears google looks at your landing page when giving an initial quality score. This is a personal benchmark that you should try to beat — but is not reliable as a global keyword benchmark for your competition.

    (You may wonder why I was creating duplicate campaigns with the same keywords and ads. I was setting up a test to see which domain we wanted to go with that would have the highest CTR. Since google doesn’t allow different domains in the same ad group, we decided to create duplicate campaigns and use day parting to raise and lower bids among the campaigns to force traffic to each of the campaigns over a period of time.)

  6. Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
    April 20, 2009 at 3:13 pm · Reply


    That’s interesting.

    How long before you downloaded the information?

    I recently uploaded about a dozen campaigns (and mine were for testing purposes) in the paused state.

    I found that the one resolving to a 404 was all 1s.
    Two campaigns domains which had been used before in the account had slightly higher QS.
    The other 3 had very similar (but not exact) QS information.

    I would be very surprised if 20 different people uploaded the same campaigns and saw the same numbers. Between different data centers, storage vs syncing data, account history differences, geo targeting (country or state), etc – there’s just too many other random things going on.

    I like to thing that it’s a good benchmark – but not an absolute.

    I like that test: I actually test book titles (if it’s a good search CTR – probably a good ‘off the shelf’ pull or ‘whitepaper name’ as well) and domain names that way.

  7. Chris Crompton
    April 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm · Reply


    It was within an hour that I pulled the quality score info after uploading the paused campaigns.

    Yeah, assuming you have a decent landing page, the initial quality score should be fairly close to a benchmark for your competitors. Since CTR is the highest driver of quality score, they are more than likely using average CTR for the keyword as the basis for their calculations.

    One important insight from this is that you shouldn’t upload paused campaigns until your landing page is completed. Even if you change your destination URL, it could be up to a week or so before the landing page is re-spidered by google to re-evaluation the landing page portion of your quality score. So if you get ahead of yourself, you may have to suffer with a below-average quality score for a bit.

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