Fixing AdWords Quality Score Issues (Part 4 of 4)

Note: this is the fourth part of a four part series detailing how to improve AdWords quality score issues at each level of your account. Check out part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here.

In this final installment of our “Fixing AdWords Quality Score Issues” series, we’ll be covering quality score issues on the Google Display Network. Quality score on the display network is calculated a little differently than your search campaigns, because the user experience is so different. Users are actively searching for information in search network campaigns, but have information presented to them passively on the display network. Here’s what Google has to say about display network quality score, taken from their help topic on the subject:

The Quality Score for calculating an ad’s eligibility to appear on a particular Display Network site, as well as the ad’s position on that site, consists of the following factors:

  • The ad’s past performance on this and similar sites
  • The relevance of the ads and keywords in the ad group to the site
  • The quality of your landing page
  • Other relevance factors

The Quality Score for determining if a placement-targeted ad will appear on a particular site depends on the campaign’s bidding option.

If the campaign uses cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) bidding, Quality Score is based on:

  • The quality of your landing page

If the campaign uses cost-per-click (CPC) bidding, Quality Score is based on:

  • The historical CTR of the ad on this and similar sites
  • The quality of your landing page

So you can see that a lot of the factors that influence quality score in the search network also have bearing on your display network quality score. You still need to make sure that you have high-quality, relevant ads (that will help you achieve a high historical click-through rate), and your landing page is highly relevant to your ads and appears to be a quality site to Google (basically, it should not seem spammy).

The unique quality score factor that you can control only on the display network is the placements in which your ad appears. You can’t exclude Google or the search partner sites from showing your ads in search network campaigns, but you can pick and choose which web pages your ads appear on in the display network. Remember – a single bad placement could impact your ad-group and campaign-level quality scores in display network campaigns. It could be even worse if you’re not picky about your placements and you have a lot of low-CTR ads as a result. To fix this, you need to periodically review the placements in which your ads appear, and remove targeted placements or add negative placements whenever it’s appropriate. Cutting out the low performers should help your ad CTR improve, which will help repair any quality score damage as you accrue a good account history.

You should also take note of the relevance between the product you’re offering and the sites your ads are appearing on. Whenever your ads don’t match up well to the page content, you’ll not only notice worse performance, but you might actually incur a relevance penalty from Google that could cause a dip in quality score. If a placement is not relevant (determined either by common sense, or poor performance stats like CTR and conversion rate), then you should exclude it from your display network campaign to prevent potential quality score damage.

And finally, be aware that Google is not only rating your quality score based on the sites your placement is appearing on, it’s also taking into account your performance on similar sites. If you start to see your quality score really suffer, you may need to take out entire categories of placements (i.e. coupon sites or auto blogs) to repair the damage.

And that’s it for quality score. If you have any personal successes with quality score improvement, I’d love to hear about them – just leave me a note in the comments.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
This entry was posted in Display Network, Google AdWords, Landing Pages, PPC Basics, Quality Score, Search Engines, Text Ads. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fixing AdWords Quality Score Issues (Part 4 of 4)

  1. Kenneth Trueman says:

    Thanks for this series, Shawn. I learned a lot in just those 4 articles.


  2. firewater says:

    Sadly this article was too vague. Basically what I got out of it was ‘if you have a bad account history you are screwed’. If you have a good account history you can follow these guidelines to keep it, but it didn’t really tell you how to fix anything.