Jeff just posted about the addition of the Quality Score column to the Google AdWords platform. This is excellent news for SEM professionals. We hear often of the Quality Score. Indeed, in nearly every help document, article, or blog post by Google, the Quality Score is mentioned. Nevertheless, no one knows what the Quality Score actually is.
Quite simply, the Quality Score is Google’s way of expressing its quest for world domination and the annihilation of standard conventions of search engine marketing. In a typical, conventional PPC auction, advertisers bid for placement on keywords. The logic is simple: He who hath the highest bid gets the highest position. Makes sense, right? Of course.
The Quality Score takes all of this logic and throws it out the window. Positioning is still partially determined by bid, but Google (and as of February 5, Yahoo! as well) evaluate your ad, your keywords, and the relevance of your landing page, and come up with a numerical representation of overall relevancy that is multiplied by your maximum CPC. I am, without a doubt, an advocate of relevancy, as relevant ads and landing pages lead to a better user experience. Yet, I still find myself repulsed by the Quality Score. You see, Google doesn’t disclose the factors and the weighting of the variables that go into the quality score.
So, we’re effectively told to make our websites more relevant to the keywords we wish to target, but we’re left with no indication of what relevancy actually means, or how to make our landing pages more relevant. So what are we supposed to do? I guess we’re supposed to put our faith on Larry and Sergei’s algorithm, or pay off Google’s Matt Cutts to pull some strings for our ads. Just joking on that last part. I realize non-disclosure is part of the Google mystique, but for many advertisers whose livelihood depends on the positioning of their ads, this is quite unsettling.
So here’s the harsh truth about AdWords, ranking, and the Quality Score: You can do anything you want, set any Max CPC that you want, and choose any keywords you want, but the harsh reality is that Google is still the boss. You have literally no control over what position your ad occupies.