Quality Score & Account Structure

, ,

When I work with new clients, one of the first things I do is review their existing PPC accounts for keyword data, and if I’m really lucky I get some conversion data, too.

Too often I find an account with one campaign and one ad group with hundreds or even thousands of keywords showing one text ad. I have a couple thoughts run through my head when I see this–either this client is simply using PPC to buy traffic for their website, or they need some education because they think this is the correct way to use PPC to sell product. Think of it like an old beat up car–it runs and usually gets you around, but not very well. You need a car that runs on all cylinders and can bring home the bacon.

In search marketing, relevancy is king

Every time a query is searched, Google holds a little auction to determine your ad rank, i.e. whether your ad will show or not. Ad rank is determined dynamically for each query using a simple formula: bid x quality score = ad rank. The higher the ad rank, the better.

The auction gives equal weight to your bid and quality score. So how do you earn a good quality score? Answer: relevancy. Google gives your keyword a quality score depending on a few variables including relevancy among the keyword, the ad copy, and landing page.

Quality scores are on a scale of 1-10, 1 being very bad and 10 being the best. Google rewards higher quality scores with a better position and better CPC. If your quality score is too low (1,2 or 3), Google probably won’t let that keyword trigger an ad because it’s not relevant enough.

Yahoo and Bing use similar methods to determine relevancy & quality.

How to improve relevancy

Let’s take a campaign like the one mentioned above for example.  If you sell shoes, shorts, and jerseys, how relevant can one ad group be for the three different products? Not very relevant at all. It is much more effective marketing to break them out into more targeted campaigns and ad groups. It would make sense to create a campaign for each product with more specific ad groups and landing pages.

  • Shoes Campaign
    • running shoes
    • basketball
    • casual
  • Jersey’s Campaign
    • running
    • basketball
    • soccer
  • Shorts Campaign
    • running
    • basketball
    • soccer

This kind of structure allows you to build a tight, relevant list of 10 to 20 keywords per ad group. Along with a tight keyword, list you should have targeted ad copy that includes the root keyword somewhere in the ad copy. This practice will improve the keyword quality score.

Improving relevancy also improves management efficiency

One of the biggest advantages to relevant PPC marketing over other traditional forms of marketing is that its completely traceable. Lumping everything you sell into one campaign or ad group becomes overwhelming to track. This basically will suck the efficiency right out of PPC. Tightening your PPC structure makes it easy to identify products that are winners and losers at a glance, so you can quickly allocate more budget to products that are bringing home the bacon. Improving you quality score and saving time managing the campaign is a huge win.


Ben Brown

Great article Ben! I think this is a key point that any “newbie” to PPC needs to understand. Even those that have been running for some time can improve their relevance and PPC performance.


last week our group held a similar talk on this subject and you point out something we haven’t covered yet, appreciate that.

– Kris

Comments are closed.