Tomorrow June 8th @ SMX Advanced in Seattle I’m digging deep into AdWords Quality Score in the 10AM Session. But I’m not going to have time to cover the issue of what to do with poor performers. This post offers some thoughts on that topic, as an addendum offered in advance. I’ll post some version of the entire presentation online next week.

In the dark ages of AdWords, (before quality score) you couldn’t just bid on any old keyword. There was a minimum CTR requirement. When a new keyword was added to your account, Google gave you about 1000 impressions to prove that you could earn a click-through rate of at least 0.05%. If you didn’t meet or exceed that CTR level the word was paused. Game over.

Yes, they did allow you to try to improve by writing a new text ad, or editing your bid to test a higher position. But after another 1000 impressions or so, if one-half of one-percent of the users didn’t click, the keyword was shut down again.

The Age of Quality Enlightenment

In the AQ era (after quality score) things are more complex. Poor performing keywords are sometimes denied all impressions, but more often they’re pushed down in position and generally shown less frequently but still shown occasionally.

More importantly, you are allowed to compensate for bad quality with high (or extra-high) bids, and still get your ads shown regardless of performance.

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At the quality score session at SMX Advanced London yesterday, a question was asked about what to do with low quality score keywords. It was framed as a query of when you should turn off keywords because they were below a certain quality score level.

I helped answer the question, and then tweeted some quick advice on the subject. It got a few RT’s and the interest and some more thinking drove me to elaborate in this post.

While the virtues of high quality score, and the techniques to try to achieve it have been covered here often, the truth is that for many reasons most accounts sometimes have keywords with low quality scores – which we’ll define as those of 5 or lower.

Broadly speaking you should work to improve those scores, and often if you can’t the best answer is to pause or delete those keywords. But that isn’t always wise or feasible.

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The process of High-Resolution PPC was developed as a way to structure the management of paid search around a new set of beliefs about how paid search really works.

The recent issue of SEM Journal published an article I wrote called ‘Shifting Paid Search to High Resolution’, which outlines the workflow that captures these beliefs and applies them to the day-to-day task of managing paid search accounts. You can download a copy of the article here.

Once the current post series about the Secret Truths is complete, I hope to turn my blogging attention back to this workflow.

For now, if you enjoyed the ebook, or the Secret Truth blog posts, check it out.

High-Resolution PPC has a FaceBook Fan Page. If you like us, please ‘Like’ us.


Quality Score is the secret formula that drives AdWords, and some form of quality score impacts your PPC ads on Yahoo and Microsoft too.

About a year ago, I began to get very interested in quality score, and learning exactly how it was calculated, was applied, and the impact it had on paid search campaigns.

The results so far:

Much of what I learned about quality score was summarized into a 10-page white paper that is available from ClickEquations. This is a complete and yet not overwhelming introduction and overview of Google AdWords Quality Score.

If you’d like a clear understanding of what quality score is and how it effects your life managing paid search accounts, I highly recommend you get this great resource.