No matter what side of the fence you site on about Google’s Quality Score in determining your paid search strategy, one thing that has not entered into your mind is that it would have performance issues. To me Quality Score (QC) is as much as a gray box as SEO algorithms but for the people who believe it is the end all be all of your strategy in paid search marketing, I think it is safe to say it is not what you thought it was and here is why:
In October, there was a major AdWords Quality Score reporting bug (you can read more at http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/023300.html) which the Quality Score believers got extremely nervous. The reports showing ones quality score was much lower than the true score. This may have caused some to change their ads or boost their cost per click prices, to counter the report.
It “seemed” to be fixed but in November there was an outcry in the Google AdWords forum again about this. Google has at least admitted the problem still exists and they are fixing it but I go back to the original theory of how important is Quality Score?
In October, I had a group of keywords for a client that targeted “kids organizations”. The Ad Group Quality Score was a 6. The Click Through Rate (CTR) was .88% and Cost Per Click (CPC) was .91. In November, the QC went to a 3 (poor relevance). The CTR was .25% and CPC went to .97. So we had a seven cents increase but was it because of the QC bug? No! My impressions doubled and CTR dropped 3/4ths (ouch) and this is where the hit in CPC has come from. Again, I will go to my grave that QC is primarly about CTR and very little about other factors such as load time and the treaded “landing page quality”.
I have always viewed Quality Score as “a nice to have” but not as “the bible”. Did my impressions drop due to the drop in QC? Nope, matter of fact they doubled! I continue to see scores of clients whose quality scores hover in the 3-4 range, yet they still get top positions, impression share percentages in the 90s, low CTRs and have a strong position in their respective markets. So the first diagnostic question in the face of this bug is, “Does it even matter?”
Here is the official forum discussion for your view pleasure – http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/AdWords/thread?tid=5c65547ebafbb184&hl=en