It’s True: Optimizing PPC Campaigns for Quality Score is Still Important

by John Lee

Search Marketing Manager, Clix Marketing

A few years ago, quality score was all anyone in the PPC biz could talk about. All the blog posts and all the conference topics centered around that one theme.

There was good reason for it — the industry lacked in a basic understanding of how quality score worked. But there’s been a marked decrease in the open chatter.

Perhaps the industry has matured and more people understand quality score? Maybe all the PPC pundits got tired of talking about it?

Regardless of the reason for the lack of quality score discussion, it’s still a viable (and much needed) discussion topic. PPC accounts still disregard quality score and there’s lots of misguided or misinformed commentary on Twitter.

Quality score is still important. Let’s look at some simple tips for optimizing your campaigns to improve quality score.

Don’t Disregard Quality Score

Many advertisers still disregard quality score as either unimportant or something that can’t be changed. Both of which are horribly wrong! Running an AdWords PPC campaign with no care for quality score is a costly mistake.

Ultimately, high keyword quality scores will allow you rank higher and pay CPCs that are lower than those of your competitors (it’s all aboutAd Rank = CPC x Quality Score). In essence, improving your keyword quality score reduces the “price to play the game.” This is further proven with First Page Bid Estimates that determine how much you will need to pay to even be on page one of the SERPs.

You can analyze your quality scores in many ways. Review quality score in the native AdWords interface or AdWords Editor to make decisions on how best to optimize.

Just this week, the folks at WordStream released a new tool kit that allows you to analyze Quality Score in a spreadsheet with graphs, etc. So there’s one less reason to disregard quality score.

Improve Quality Score

So you’re going to keep quality score top-of-mind. Now what?

Now comes the task of optimizing your PPC campaigns and keywords to improve quality score. This is where many people over-complicate the process.

My strategy has always been centered on click-through rate (CTR), which is at the core of how Quality Score is calculated. If you can follow three basic steps, you can improve CTR and optimize for quality score. Or, put simply, follow the rules of PPC 101!

Create Tightly Themed Ad Groups

Should be a no-brainer, right? Ad groups are just that — groups of keywords that share an ad text (or ad texts). When you place similarly themed keywords together, this enables you to write super relevant ads that lead to increased CTR.

For new advertisers, make this part of your account creation strategy. If you already have an account launched, make this a part of your ongoing management strategy to break your ad groups down into smaller, tighter keyword groups.

Put Your Keywords in Your Ads

The whole point of the tightly themed ad group is that it allows you to write ads that contain your keywords. If your ad group contains keyword variations that you can’t write into your ad, it’s time to break those keywords out into additional ad groups.

Placing the keyword in the ad improves the relevancy of your ad for the end-user, which in turn garners higher CTR. Notice a theme here?

Test Ads to Improve CTR

Now that your ad groups are tight and you’ve written ads that contain the keyword, your job is to continue on the path of improving CTR.

How do you do this? Put on your split-testing hat and write new ad variations and continually test ads to improve your CTR.

Now Start Improving Your Quality Score!

These three tactics are ripped straight from any PPC basics lesson. But basic or not, they are the foundation of optimizing for quality score and finding long-term PPC success.

This article probably won’t kick off any great quality score renaissance. But my sincere hope is that a few advertisers will be inspired to take a closer look at their accounts and start improving their quality score!

This article was originally posted October 15, 2010 on