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The Importance of Quality Score in 2013

As average Quality Scores have fallen over the last 4 years, the benefits of an above-average score is up to 200% greater in 2013 than it was in the past.

The Importance of Quality Score in 2013


Everyone in search engine marketing knows that Quality Score is important. But you may not realize that Quality Score is more important now than ever. That’s because as average Quality Scores have fallen over the last 4 years, the benefits you get from having an above-average score is far greater in 2013 than it was in the past.

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How much greater? And how can you get a piece of those cost benefits? Let’s start by looking at what a typical Quality Score distribution looks like in 2013.

The Typical AdWords Quality Score Distribution Today

Earlier this year, I manually analyzed several hundred AdWords accounts too look at what the average Quality Score distribution looks like today. Here’s a picture of what the impression-weighted average Quality Score looks like in a typical account:


The key takeaway here is that the average Quality Score is now 5/10 (this is down from 7/10 back in 2009). You can see from the chart that Quality Scores of 3/10 and 4/10 are much more common than they were 4 years ago.

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Why Quality Score Is Up to 200% More Valuable in 2013

Without getting too technical, I’d like to share some quick data that illustrates the increased importance of Quality Score in AdWords. These tables show the kinds of discounts (or penalties) you can expect to see based on your Quality Score for a given keyword, relative to the average Quality Score of 5/10.


In 2013, if your keyword has a Quality Score of 10, you can save an estimated 50% on the cost of each click. Note that this is 67% more than you saved four years ago for the same Quality Score. Why? Because average Quality Scores have fallen over time, meaning that higher Quality Scores are even more beneficial and save you more relative to other advertisers.

Figuring out Your Average Quality Score

A quick and easy way to figure out your Average Quality Score is to run the my Free AdWords Grader application, which will generate you a Quality Score report card that shows the distribution of your keyword Quality Score and computes the average value as shown here:


3 Non-Obvious Ways to Improve Your Quality Score Now

So how can you raise your own Quality Scores and start seeing these cost benefits? Easy – just raise your Click Through rates. There’s a near straight line relationship between Quality Score vs. CTR. Recently I took a look at a bunch of accounts with +8/10 average quality scores and found the following 3 things in common among the over-achievers.

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  1. Bid on Branded Keywords – Branded keywords get on average CTR’s of between 30-80%. This generates a tremendous uplift in your account average CTR, and creates a remarkably beneficial uplift on all the other keyword quality scores in your account. You absolutely must try this out.
  2. Target The Long Tail – Ideally +75% of your impressions should be accrued to keywords with 3+ word keyword phrases.
  3. Stay Active in Your Account Many PPC account managers are lazy bums that do nothing at all in their AdWords accounts. These clowns go nowhere. All of the top achievers with above 8/10 average Quality Scores were active in their accounts every week, regularly trying out new keywords, deleting lousy keywords, trying out new ads, employing negative keywords, etc.

These are just 3 ways that you can increase your Quality Scores. The key takeaway is that an above average CTR and Quality Score will help you beat your competitors – both in terms of getting more exposure and paying less for your clicks, and that taking action today is worth more than ever!

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Larry Kim

Chief Executive Officer at Mobile Monkey

Larry Kim is the CEO of Mobile Monkey and founder of WordStream.

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