One of the great misnomers in our space is the phrase “Quality Score”. The name implies that it is a measure of the ad copy's merit when in fact it measures more than this. I'm not talking about "relevancy" or landing page quality, I'm talking about "commercial intent." This last piece has been neglected in our industry's discussions about QS. It is simpler to think of QS as something wholly under an advertiser's control. We control the ad text associated with each keyword which directly impacts the CTR and the relevancy of that copy to that keyword, and we control the landing pages. The only excuse for poor Quality Scores seems to be advertiser malfeasance. Indeed, QS is a favorite target of outsiders who don't know much about the paid search game. It is easy to download an account and run a pivot table on the number of keywords by QS and conclude: "25% of your KWs have a QS of less than X; that's money left on the table, you need to fix that, harrumph harrumph!" The trouble with this simplistic view is:
- A higher QS may not be in the advertiser's best interest. More compelling copy may increase CTR but may simultaneously decrease conversion rate to a degree that the trade off isn't worthwhile. Drawing in "bottom feeders" with promotional copy can sabotage performance.
- A higher QS may not even be possible. If the commercial intent of users searching with that phrase is low, there may be no wording under the sun that can improve the QS beyond a certain point.
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