A few weeks ago Google announced an update to Keyword Quality Score and it was the first update that the system had seen since 2013. Google assured us that the change would only impact reporting and not ad serving or Ad Rank. There has been significant press coverage of the update that has helped to alleviate any concerns Adwords user may have had.
Fortunately a few weeks before Google’s update we had begun a process of logging, charting and analysing the Account Level Impression Weighted Quality Score of some of our accounts. Because of this we were able to see if the recent Google update actually impacted our accounts in anyway.
- Drop in Quality Score has not impacted (positively or negatively) Adwords Account Performance
- Despite Google’s claims, it is unlikely that this change only impacted new Keywords
- Any performance changes are most likely due to market forces and seasonality than any change in QS.
Capturing Quality Score
In an effort to analyse our clients’ accounts at a more granular level we had begun to calculate and store account level Quality Score that was also weighted by impressions, we began creating a system to monitor this over a period of time.
By using Google Scripts we’re able to specify and create a calculated analysis and output to Google Sheet (or database). Once in this format it becomes easy to analyse and feedback relevant information to our clients. This project started off as a test to see if collecting this information could lead to medium or long term improvements in our clients’ accounts. By collecting this data we were also able to see how the recent Quality Score reporting change impacted on our client’s accounts.
At the macro level we’re pleased to confirm that there has not been any negative impact on accounts. Whilst account level quality score did drop for almost all accounts this did not negatively impact either average position or average CPC and all accounts now show Quality Score increasing again with a positive trend, although no account as yet fully returned to its previous Account Level QS.
We did not see any significant increase in Average CPC which verifies Google’s claim that this change has not impacted Ad Rank. However, whilst our calculation of Account Level Quality Score may not be as sophisticated as Google’s, our work does show that overall Quality Score did drop, and that it is highly unlikely that this only impacted new keywords. The drops in QS for each account has typically been around one full point and it is highly unlikely that this was impacted only by new keywords due to our calculation being impression weighted.
Within finance we were able to see both an increase in average position and a decrease in CPC both on a trend that was in line with the drop in QS at the account level. However given the high levels of competition and the quitter ‘summer period’ of the Middle East we can presumptively conclude that this is likely due to market forces than being directly related to the Quality Score reporting change.
Overall the retail sector appeared completely unaffected by this change. Average CPC did increase during the period but quickly returned to normal levels even after that change occurred. Similarly average Position did see a small increase just prior to the reporting change on 28th July. The retail sector has begun to increase in pace again post Ramadan so we consider any spikes in performance to be entirely market related.
Finally classifieds saw the weakest correlation between Quality Score & CPC as average CPC dropped significantly over the period. When comparing this against the average position maintained and also the volume of clicks (won & available) we saw average Position hold steady over the period and appeared completely unaffected by any drop in account level Quality Score.
Despite only considering a small number of days I’m confident that Google’s claims of it not impacting account performance are just, although the change is likely to have impacted more than just new keywords. The Middle East is subject to a seasonally quiet summer period and any changes that we did see are to be expected as commerce and activity return to more ‘normal’ levels.