Quality Score Is Not A KPI

I know there’s a lot of focus on Quality Score in the paid search world. I even co-authored the Ultimate Guide to Quality Score back in 2011. But as important as QS is within your paid search accounts, it is not a KPI for your business.

Your KPIs should measure whether or not you are on track to achieve your business goals. Unless your business goal is improving how relevant Google thinks your ads and landing pages are, you should not be evaluating the success of a keyword based on its Quality Score.

I’ve worked on accounts where QS was the main focus for clients. “Pause all keywords with a QS of 4 or lower” and “CTR must be 4% or higher” were common asks. Should you always try to improve QS and CTR? Of course. But not at the expense of your true marketing goals.

Click-through rate is a main factor in Google’s quality score. But sometimes, a lower CTR is more beneficial in achieving a client’s overall business goal. I find this especially true for a lot of my B2B and luxury item clients.

Let’s say you own a company that specializes in training business on how to use Office products. It would be great if you could target searches relevant to the services you offer, like “excel training for businesses.” Often times however, this specific searches don’t have a lot of volume.

Keyword Search Volume

If you want to generate traffic, you’re going to have to bid on more generic terms. How many people who are searching for “excel training” actually are looking for training for their company? Likely, not many. But that’s where the importance of your ad copy comes in. Your ad should specify the intended

Ad copy can be used to qualify users. The ad should specify who the intended customer of your product or service is. Make it clear that your Excel training is only intended for companies, not individual users. This will most likely result in a lower CTR, but quality of clicks is more important to your business goals than quality.

If they don’t click, you don’t spend any money. You should always try to be improving CTR, as long as higher CTR brings you closer to your goals. What matters more, that my QS might decrease from a lower CTR or that I save money by deterring someone who isn’t a customer from clicking my ad in the first place?

Some of the best performing keywords in my accounts have a 3 or 4 QS. If the keywords are generating conversions at a return than meets or exceeds my goals, that’s what matters.

By no means am I implying that QS is something you should ignore. But I’ve seen far too many instances where account decisions are being made based on metrics that are not a factor in the overall goals of the business. Remember, Quality Score is based on Google’s preferences, not yours and not your customers.

What do you think? Do you count Quality Score as a KPI in your accounts or an outcome? Why? Share with us in the comments!