Does Quality Score Matter for Google Ads?
Many business owners like to stay informed and review their analytics – especially on their Google Ads account. After all, that’s where you’re spending money with the aim of making more.
One of the most perplexing metrics within Google Ads is the “Quality Score.” Does it matter? What does Quality Score mean anyway? How does it affect our ad campaign results, and overall profitability?
While there are some incredibly helpful Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) Adwords, we don’t believe that Quality Score is one of them.
Here are the reasons why:
Quality Score is Not Actionable
One of the frustrating things about Google’s Quality Score metric, is that there is no definitive way to track or improve them. Having a high quality score is useful, as it will drive down the cost of ads. However, even Google Partner Ad Agencies do not have clear indication on how to increase them. What’s more, is that the claims that quality score decreasing ad costs are largely anecdotal.
We have not found any case studies claiming quality score has caused enough shift in ad costs to justify extra dedication to the metric.
At the end of the day, if your ROAS (return on ad spend) is there… this isn’t really a metric worth fussing over.
Even Google tells you it won’t affect things too much.
The reason this topic comes up, despite any definitive ties to profit, business owners love quality – in their products, their service, and their customer interactions. When we see the word “Quality,” we want a good score! Perhaps it was a mistake for Google to use this phrasing. We can’t seem to separate our internal perception of the world’s meaning, versus the low impact this metric has on our ad results.
It’s one of those unnecessary items that can drive business owners nuts, as they try to understand their ad performance, but ultimately doesn’t matter.
What you do not want to do is go on a hardcore side quest to get the quality score higher, undoing all of your profitable optimizations and high-performing ad campaigns. Tinkering with your best results is a great way to undo previous improvements, or cause new issues.
Sometimes the old adage applies: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Quality Score Doesn’t Correlate to High Performance
We recommend focusing on the revenue-focused KPI’s: your cost per conversion or acquisition, your conversion rate, and you return on ad spend.
When it comes to PPC Campaigns, you’re spending money to make money. Focusing on metrics which do not contribute towards the bottom line is not going to benefit you as much as finding improvements to already profitable strategies.
If you’re seeing a profit on your ad spend, this isn’t going to come crashing down overnight due to a low quality score. In fact, if you’re current campaigns are profitable, there are likely other optimizations worth paying attention to instead.
Quality Score is Inconsistent (and Debated)
One of the more persnickety elements of this concept is that the quality score metric itself is inconsistent. If you want to test this yourself, simply duplicate the same ad copy and landing page several times. Weirdly enough, you’re likely to see different results!
You may see a quality score of 4 for one version of the advertisement, than see a quality score of 3 for the next. Google has not provided too much insight in how it determines quality score.
Perhaps this is why Google actually omits Quality Score from your default columns in Google Ads. If they’re not placing it in the same tier of importance as your go-to metrics, that says something.
This is an ongoing debate between PPC experts, with qualified opinions on either side of the discussion. Simply Google “Does Quality Score Matter?” and you will find full articles both in favor of (and against) the focus on this metric for these campaigns.
You’ll also find plenty of examples of what, by all other standards, is a great ad, with a quality score that is less than ideal. If the ad converts and makes you money, does it really matter how Google feels about it?
Quality Score is Bot-Driven
Unfortunately, the reason for these perspectives makes a lot of sense. While we enjoy the amazing potential Google can bring to a business, bot-driven metrics can often leave a lot to be desired.
For example – if the CTR is high, the conversion rate is strong, and you’re making money hand over first… but your quality score is “below average,” does it make sense to focus on it?
What Do I Do About It?
At the end of the day, we make the best ads we can, and hope for the best. There are professionals on our team and on other teams who pull different levers to get their results.
At Target Points, we focus on the KPI’s which truly impact your bottom line as a business owner. If there’s a “best practice” that doesn’t make you money, we avoid it. We do the same for vanity metrics: impression count is a big one we see touted by newspapers, for example.
Yes, there are ways to generate huge impression counts or “visibility” for a business. What’s really important is how qualified this traffic is – are they truly potential prospects? What about what they’re searching shows you they’re likely to convert? If you aim for traffic for traffic’s sake, you’re probably wasting money. This method is often called “spray and pray,” and for good reason. It often results in a lower CTR (click-through rate), and a low conversion rate.
While there are some advantages to focusing on traffic for SEO content writing initiatives, that’s not what we’re looking for when we’re ponying up and paying for traffic with PPC strategies. You want to the money you’re spending has the intended result – it can become a paying customer!
As you improve your targeting, yes, your CPM (cost per mile – the way we count impressions) will go up. You are paying more to reach a prospect more likely to buy. That’s often worth it if you know these targeting options represent who you really want: those most likely to buy. Making sure your cost per end result (the conversion – your phone calls, form fills, inquiring leads in general) is what matters the most in a paid campaign. This is the cost we want to drive down.
Which would you rather have: 10,000 impressions and a cost per lead of $100, or 1,000 impressions and a cost per lead of $57? The choice is obvious.
Similarly, when we look at quality score, as long as those profit-facing metrics are performing well, a “below average” quality score shouldn’t deter your progress.
Remember, not all KPI’s are created equal – and depending on the individual project, some are irrelevant. If people are buying, and the buys are secured at a competitive cost, we’re advocates of turning a blind eye to the quality score.