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Month: June 2009

Paid Search Quality Scoring – Inside the Marketers' Studio

Editor's Note: This "Inside the Marketers' Studio" post, where we ask savvy marketers for their take on the burning marketing questions of the day, is inspired by a panel on quality scores for paid search ads at the upcoming Search Engine Strategies Toronto conference.

Getting good insight and information about the quality scores that are assigned to keywords used in paid search campaigns can be difficult for the uninitiated. I asked a couple of experts in this field for their thoughts about this key component of Paid Search campaigns and to answer the following questions:

  1. What mistake do you see marketers making most often as it relates to paid search?
  2. What is the top tip you can offer marketers who want to optimize their paid search ads?
  3. What are your top 2 or 3 favourite resources/tools/blogs for marketers who want to be more effective at search marketing?

They've shared their experiences and insights below – we'd be delighted if you shared YOUR answers in the comments!

First, though, I thought we should get clear on what a quality score is and why it matters.

Editor's note: this was originally a description of Quality Score from Rob Jones at Search Engine Watch (thanks, Rob!), but we just received a definition and explanation of Quality Score from the moderator of the panel – Anne Kennedy.

Anne-Kennedy Anne Kennedy is the Managing Partner of Beyond Ink

Quality score is an algorithm Google uses to determine rank AdWords listings, in general by which ones are likely to produce revenue; this of course from Google’s point of view, is the purpose of AdWords. Quality score has two main factors, the maximum bid an advertiser makes, combined with the potential for the ad to draw clicks, which Google determines with complex predictive calculations. 
Relevance is as key a factor in this as it is in organic search success. AdWords listings as well as landing pages should contain the same keywords as searchers’ search phrases. Quality score now means that while it is easy to set up a campaign in Google, creating ads that gain successful exposure on Google SERPS requires skill and diligence, especially for new entries to a market.
To be sure, quality score has eliminated a lot of trashy bidding on any old keyword, and improved searcher experience. At the same time it has served to make sure precious space in increasingly competitive first-page paid results produces revenue for Google.
Kind of like organic with money, you could say quality score introduced art and science to what once was a pretty straightforward advertising process.

Andrew Goodman

Andrew GoodmanAndrew Goodman is on the SES Advisory Board and is Principal, Page Zero Media

1. What mistake do you see marketers making most often as it relates to paid search?

Tough question! I'm currently working on a guide to the top 21 mistakes, actually.

In the past, I would have said that people tend to control their spend with the overall budgeting, such as the daily budget set at the campaign level. But that should be done by other means, such as appropriate bids. Low daily budgets combined with high bids and high ad positions result in poor ROI *and* limited delivery during the day.

Equal time must go to vastly underestimating the power of ad creative in driving performance. Keywords and account size/complexity get a lot of ink today. Not enough people are fascinated by the amazing triggers we have at our disposal in terms of direct response. Primarily, ad copy.

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