Are Your Quality Scores in Shape for the Holiday Season?

Earlier this week, Michelle clued us in to some great info on AdWords Quality Score: Hype, Changes, and Tracking Tools. Since optimizing quality score helps bring down CPC, it’s important to ensure accounts are optimized with good quality score as high traffic seasons like holiday approach.

Let’s think about this for a second…

What if your account is not in the best health in terms of quality score when traffic begins to ramp for high seasons like the holiday season? Well, the increased competition flooding into your keyword space during these high seasons could cause two things may happen:

  1. Higher spikes in CPC
  2. Less visibility due to low ad rank

Higher CPC’s are expected during the holiday months due to increased competition. But I’ve also seen more pronounced CPC spikes in years when an account has poor quality scores as compared to those years with good quality scores. Of course there are many factors, but quality score is one metric that we can at least attempt to influence with optimizations in relevancy, landing page quality, CTR, etc.


I usually consider account or campaign in good quality score health if 70% of the impressions come from keywords with quality scores of 7 or above. But the recent changes to how AdWords reports representative quality scores with in the accounts give some leeway depending on how that change affected your account’s scores. Make sure to account for this in your analysis. If you saw quality scores move from 7 to 6 in your account when this change took place, then you’re probably safe if most of the impressions on your keyword inventory are at ore about at least 6.

You can use Brad Geddes’ method to learn How to Identify Google AdWords Quality Score Problems across your account and gauging the quality score health of your keyword inventory in this video.


Quality score cleanup is a common task, especially in ecommerce accounts, prior to holiday or high season traffic spikes for a few reasons:

  1. Ensure the chain of relevance from search query to landing page for all campaign components is tight.
  2. Ensure all landing pages are high quality and all landing page tests are accounted for with decisions about running them through the high season are thought out.
  3. All sources of ad spend leakage are found and plugged.
  4. Ensure account health heading into a higher spend season.

Quality score is also the next area in-line for optimization once you’ve got target CPA’s identified and in place in the account. If you choose to use some of the CPA bidding tools, you’re no longer able to manually adjust individual bids. So the next step is to optimize quality score to ensure the tools are set up for success and running as lean as they can.

Tip: Remember that these tools do not adjust for promotions or traffic spikes and have been known to cap volumes if run into high traffic seasons.

Quality score is a great place to start in terms of sorting an account and getting it ready for seasonal spikes in traffic. We’d love to hear about other ways you prepare your accounts. Share your tips in the comments!