Increasing Transparency in Mobile Quality Score

Increasing Transparency in Mobile Quality Score

In April 2012, Google announced that they were increasing transparency in quality score (QS). Increased transparency is always good news. As searches performed on mobile phones continue to increase every day we welcome any insights into how we can maximize effectiveness and profitability in our mobile campaigns. If we can increase quality scores, we can decrease Costs Per Click (CPCs) and increase our clients’ profitability.

By using the status hover for a keyword you can see your QS and how Google rates that keyword against the three major factors that affect QS. On the surface this sounds great. If your Click Through Rate (CTR) and ad relevance are above average, but your QS is low then you need to focus on your landing page experience. If your keyword scores below average in all three factors, you will have a low QS and vice versa.

Accelerate’s Point of View

Quality score is still not as simple as Google makes it sound. Look at these four examples we pulled from one of our mobile campaigns.

As you can see, these four different keywords all scored Average across all three categories, but they have very different quality scores. So what else is missing?

You can see in the table below, that in order to maintain the same ad rank for a 3 QS keyword as a 7 QS keyword, you would have to bid more than double. For example: company A and company B are both bidding on the same keyword and want their ad to show in position 1. Company A has a QS of 3 and company B has a quality score of 7. Company A will pay more than double what company B will pay to get to the same position. This seems like a HUGE discrepancy for two keywords that score the same across all three categories.

If you look closely at your keyword diagnosis, you will see that Google is scoring your expected CTR. According to AdWords Help this is totally different than your actual CTR. The article explains that expected CTR is a prediction, so it’s different than the actual CTR shown in the CTR column of your account. The expected CTR considers how a keyword performs both within your account and across all other advertisers’ accounts.

This means that if you are bidding on the same keyword as 100 other people, you can have a phenomenal CTR, but if your competitors have terrible CTRs your QS will always score below average.  This means that your mobile campaigns could be suffering because your competitors aren’t managing their campaigns as well as you are.

For example, this keyword below has a 14% click through rate,  the exact keyword appears in the ad copy and appears multiple times on the landing page. In other words, we are doing everything that Google has asked us to do in order to achieve a high QS. It also scores above average on two of the three areas. So why a 4? The only thing we can figure is that our competitors who are also bidding on the same keyword are doing a less than phenomenal job and that is hurting the keyword across the whole category.


We love that Google gives us specific guidelines to follow in order to achieve a high quality score and lower our costs. However, it seems like there are some mystery variables in the quality score algorithm. We’re sure Google understands that if our ad spend becomes more effective, we will spend more money, and then everyone wins. So in order for everyone to win, we want Google, and Bing for that matter, to be even more transparent with their quality score algorithm so we can increase our efficiency and in turn increase our ad spend.


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