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Google Updates AdWords Keyword Quality Score Reporting


Google announced Monday that it is changing the way it reports keyword quality score in AdWords, effective immediately. The change only affects the numbers you’ll see in AdWords, not the way quality score is calculated or the ad auction.

Google explains the reason for the update:

“Behind the scenes, this change will allow us to simplify some of our core systems, letting us focus our attention on improving reporting accuracy for keywords with traffic.”

The most visible change to the reporting is that before they receive traffic, keywords will now default to a reported score of 6. Scores will update when enough impressions accumulate in a day or so.

Google last updated AdWords quality score reporting in July 2013.

Update: Based on the first couple of valid comments here about wanting more details, here’s a go at that. Google hasn’t shared much on this other than to stress– and this is worth reiterating — that the change isn’t going to impact ad rank calculations or ad serving.

What we know is that the main change we’ll see on the front end (what we see in our accounts) is brand new keywords will automatically get assigned a score of 6. Once the keyword gains enough impressions, the score will recalibrate. This is different from what used to happen. Previously, new keyword quality scores were derived based on that keyword’s performance system-wide, plus the account’s historical performance. (That link is to an excellent overview by Frederick Vallaeys, by the way.)

Google’s explanation is that this new default score of 6 will alleviate the need to dedicate heavy processing to assigning quality scores to keywords that haven’t even seen any impressions yet.

For account managers, it means the quality score you see on new keywords is just a placeholder for the first day or so. It wouldn’t really matter if Google opted to show a default starting quality score of 1 — but that would cause people to panic unnecessarily; 6 doesn’t cause stress, which is good for everyone.

For more background on quality score and how it works, check out the links to Google’s AdWords Quality Score Primer and video included in this article.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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