Once Upon a Quality Score: A PPC Bedtime Story (Volume I of II)

Here at Point, we did a training course on how storytelling can be a communication tool to effectively take people on a journey. I’m sure they meant “storytelling” a little less literally than I’m taking it, but I’m a parent to a toddler. Telling stories is my life (paid search, is now too).

So, grab a glass of warm milk (or wine) because today, I share with you the epic tale of an account on its journey to slay dragons (acquire conversions) in the vast and complex Kingdom of Google. This account is guided on it’s journey by two fair maidens, armed with sharp minds and an increased transparency into a previously nebulous metric…the quality score….


Once upon a time there was an established account that slayed dragons as an advertiser in the merry Kingdom of Google. This account was in a mature stage in its life cycle and slayed it’s dragons in a very competitive industry.

This merrily continued until one day, when two fair maidens knocked on Account’s door. “Account,we bid thee a visit to talk to about quality score. We re-launched you a few months ago and since then, poor Account, your keywords have sad and lonely quality scores.”

The account knew about quality score and shuddered. It was a metric from the black of box from deep within the Kingdom of Google. Quality score impacted what the account had to pay to slay dragons through Google, but the account never knew why.

“We pray thee account, it isn’t just a black box to throw money at with no cause and effect,” the fair maidens said reassuringly. “It’s now more of a semi-transparent box. We can’t identify everything inside, but know what some of it is. We also see room to move the pieces around inside the box. And that is exactly what we want to do – move some of your pieces around and take you on a quality score journey.”

The account agreed to this quality score journey. The fair maidens got rooms at a local inn for a day or two – these ladies needed a good plan. And thus, the adventure begins. Nothing will ever be the same again for this account, but as with all stories, that is part of the magic…


After sequestering away in a conference room at the inn of Point It for a couple of hours, these fair maidens emerged with road map for their journey with the account.

STEP ONE: Identify what is worth helping – picking keywords

After looking at the keyword quality scores in AdWords, the fair maidens scratched their heads. The following screen shots are all from the same ad group:

The fair maidens read of other wizards and warlocks the Kingdom talking with confusion, and even frustration, about this, too.

But the maidens have a mission. A mission to increase the account’s dragon slaying within the Kingdom of Google. They decided to not put in too much emphasis trying to understand the WHY, but focus more on the WHAT.

Herein lies the maidens assumptions and hypothesis:

  1. Expected CTR matters most – The Kingdom of Google wants people to click on ads. That’s how they make their sacks of gold.
  2. Ad relevance matters almost as much – The Kingdom of Google wants to ensure that searchers click on ads. If it’s relevant to searchers intent, it helps the Kingdom bring in more sacks of gold.
  3. Landing page experience – it matters, but we’re betting it matters more to our account than it does to Google. Google wants users to have a good experience because they’ll come back to play in the Kingdom, but the fair maidens know that the account cares a lot more about what happens on that landing page. The account wants to slay dragons and they can’t slay dragons if the dragons don’t engage.

First, the maidens pulled their keyword performance report for the last 6 months. Anything that had low impression volume, zero conversions and a quality score less than or equal to 2 qualified for the unremitting pause in the Kingdom of Google. Next, the maidens focused on quality score and it’s components as their next metric. They took a closer look segment their keywords by the following criteria:

  1. Average or above average across the board, good impression volume (will likely get to 1064 impressions within the next 30 days), but a quality score of 3 or less. These keywords get new rooms in the inn with a scrub on ad copy, landing page check, etc. These keywords will also get upgraded to new campaign suites in the inn.
  2. Average or above average CTR, but below average ad relevance. These keywords also get new ad group rooms in the inn. And they get new ad copy. They might get upgraded to new campaign rooms in the inn.
  3. Average or above average CTR and ad relevance, but below average landing page relevance. These go into a category where the maidens will landing page test with the best converting page for the campaign. These keywords will get new ad group rooms in the inn.

The maidens now have a concise list of keywords and an action plan for each.

STEP TWO: Move keywords with the quality score plague to their own rooms in the inn.

The maidens created new ad groups, and where needed, new campaigns, across the account. This is where they will quarantine any quality score plagued keywords to help nurse them back to health. These keywords will need extra attention if they are to recover. TIP: Do like the fair maidens and stick to your naming conventions for filtering, reporting, pivoting, etc. More on this from one of our own wizards.

STEP THREE: Account architecture. More concise and segmented than ever before.

The maidens decided this is the time for single keyword ad groups. Lots of them. TIP: Take the time to think about searchers intent and then ahead to ad copy. Set these up ad groups so you can create opportunities for relevance all the way through the funnel. Your ad copy relevance component of the quality score will thank you. You will slay more dragons.

STEP FOUR: Ad copy. More concise than ever before.

The maidens wrote their concise ad copy hearts out. If the ad copy didn’t contain the maidens’ keywords – they looked at it long and hard before agreeing to send to the account for review. TIP: If you went through the thought process creating all those ad groups – take the time to write the most targeted, relevant ads ever. Again, your ad copy relevance component of the quality score will thank you. Use keyword insertion if it makes sense. Looking for relevance includes taking a look through site links too – make sure they are relevant!

STEP FIVE: Assess landing pages.

The fair maidens realized there was opportunity to optimize the landing pages. This was very important to the maidens. They gave campaign optimization suggestions on the highest performing landing pages for their campaigns.

They also added keyword level destination URLs to all their keywords to closely track the conversion path as well as searcher behavior.

STEP SIX: Commit to budgets that maximize clicks.

The maidens set their budgets. Every account is different. Every stakeholder has a difference risk tolerance, especially around words like budget. The maidens are setting aggressive campaign daily maximums for the new campaigns to allow their plan a chance to work, but they also need to stay within their account’s monthly budget.

The maidens have their journey’s road map! They checked out of the conference room at the inn of Point It, gathered up the account to forge ahead into the Kingdom of Google. Their quality score quest will not be in vain. Success is on the horizon.


And that concludes Volume I of Once Upon a Quality Score: A PPC Bedtime Story. The maidens will release Volume II, titled Once Upon a Quality Score: A PPC Results Story in the weeks to come. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, let the Point It maidens know what successes or opportunities you’ve experienced with this new transparency into quality score calculation.

Allison Danforth About the author

Allison Danforth is a Paid Search Client Manager at Point It. When not knee deep in excel pivots, Allison enjoys kickboxing, wine, and seeing every classic rock god in concert.

No Comments

Leave a Comment: